Obama-Biden transition site Change.gov now under a Creative Commons license – but why?

A post on the Creative Commons web site celebrates the use of a creative commons license on Obama’s transition team’s web site.

But sorry guys and girls. You can’t have it both ways. Either the transition team IS an arm of the government, or it AIN’T.

If it ain’t go ahead and use whatever copyright policies you want, but don’t use a .gov domain because you gotta be a government agency to get one of those.

See: http://www.dotgov.gov/help_qualify.aspx which states,

“Domain names (such as gsa.gov) are used in websites and e-mail addresses to uniquely identify computers and networks. The domain name is the core of an organization’s or program’s Internet identity, their online brand. Managed domain names require the holder of that name to meet certain eligibility requirements. These strict authorization standards help ensure users that they are accessing an official site. Managed domain names include .gov, -NSN.gov, and .fed.US.

Eligibility for .gov
To preserve the integrity of the .gov name space, .gov domains are limited to United States government organizations at the federal, Native Sovereign Nation, state, and local level, and U.S. territories.

Registrations that qualify for a .gov domain

-U.S. Governmental departments, programs, and agencies on the federal level
-Federally recognized Indian Tribes (-NSN.gov domain)
-State governmental entities/programs
-Cities and townships represented by an elected body of officials
-Counties and parishes represented by an elected body of officials
-U.S. territories

Registrations that do not qualify for a .gov domain

-International organizations
-Commercial firms
-Privately owned organizations
-Military entities (except in special cases)
-Local (e.g., city, county, township, or parish) government programs or initiatives
-Cities, townships, counties, parishes, and other local entities that are not represented by an elected body of officials”

Oh and you might want to read this too and see if the www.change.gov is in compliance with all the policies for a .gov domain name: http://www.dotgov.gov/policies.aspx

If it is a government agency (and it almost certainly is a creature of the government, and rightly so), then copyright is entirely moot and irrelevant. Think Freedom of Information Act instead. Oh and you might want to take another look at your privacy policy just to make doubly sure that it complies with the current policies governing federal agency privacy policies on the web.

See: http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/reqs_bestpractices/laws_regs/privacy.shtml

In any case, any minor inconsistencies with Federal policy I’m sure can be easily fixed and the PTT is to be commended for its open approach and taking advantage of Internet technologies to engage with citizens and document its work!


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