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I just updated the footer of this site. This is how it looks now. © 2024 by Stefan Judis is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0  All rights reserved and content created without AI.

I'm going all corporate and legally official and stuff. Yeah — I hate it, too.

You probably don't pay attention to footers and licenses. That's okay; neither do I. Previously, my site's footer included a meaningless Copyright © 2024 Stefan Judis. Made with love statement. You've seen these footers probably a thousand times. Maybe you have one yourself — there's nothing wrong with it.

Bloggers just want to blog. We prefer sharing thoughts and creating something of value over studying copyright licenses. And what should we do when someone violates our copyright? Should we go out and enforce it? Nobody ain't time for that!

I always loved that Chris had a custom /license on CSS-Tricks:

If you copy an entire article from this site and republish it on your own site like you wrote it, that’s a little uncool.

I’m not going to come after you though. I’d rather play ball with my dog.

I want the web to get better and being all Johnny Protective over everything doesn’t get us there.

I admired this license for a publisher of CSS-Tricks' size because there was so much valuable content. It must have been copied (stolen) without attribution a gazillion times.

The hand-made CSS-Tricks license is gone today, but you can access it on the internet archive.

It must have been changed when Digital Ocean took over CSS-Tricks. The content is now under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International. In short, you must attribute and can't use content commercially. That's fair, and I use the same for my blog now.

Yet, I still hate that I've put this on my site, but when AI companies are slurping (stealing) every word independent bloggers publish, I want to at least signal that the content isn't free to use.

The self-made leaders of these companies think it's okay to go out and reuse and recycle everything out there. Here's Microsoft's AI CEO (that's a thing?) making the news this week:

I think that with respect to content that’s already on the open web, the social contract of that content since the ‘90s has been that it is fair use. Anyone can copy it, recreate with it, reproduce with it. That has been “freeware,” if you like, that’s been the understanding.

"Great stuff"! Really! Let's go out and take every file, image, and other resource accessible on the internet and reuse it to make some money.

Let's visit all these paid media services, "Save as" their content, remove watermarks, polish it and then sell it under our names. And let's automate this process! And then let's talk about the social contract...

As Chris points out in his old license:

I just think you’re better than that and want to see you do better.

Social contracts aren't as much about "freeware" on the internet as they are about how we interact with each other. Don't steal, give credit, follow some rules — these are the things you do when you follow a social contract.

But when wealthy tech CEOs consider the internet a freeware candy shop, we seem to follow different contracts because mine doesn't allow sticky fingers.

So, why did I add a proper license now?

I don't expect this footer license link to change what Silicon Valley companies will do with my content. My self-taught Denglish (German-English) paragraphs will still be copied, repurposed and used for whatever. I can't prevent my content from being sucked in and resold.

But setting up a robots.txt or ai.txt, or blocking requests with specific user agents — all these actions are based on everybody following the same social contract, which isn't the case.

I put a real CC license on my sites now because I want to officially signal that my blog isn't "freeware", but I'm very aware that this signal won't stop anyone from taking my content.

I'm giving up and will go out to touch some grass. But at least I do this with clean hands.

If you wonder what license to choose, this Creative Commons tool is nice.

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Stefan standing in the park in front of a green background

About Stefan Judis

Frontend nerd with over ten years of experience, freelance dev, "Today I Learned" blogger, conference speaker, and Open Source maintainer.

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