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License translations and summaries

this belongs on its own page

We need to begin collecting descriptions of licenses that are on the XOs so that children can understand the licenses, or at least the ideas behind the licenses. This is a hard problem. This section exist to help get this process started and will provide an overview of licensing, translating, and internationalization of licenses the ideas behind them. The set of licenses that we could be discussing may be quite large, ranging from public domain, free software licenses, free cultural works licenses, Creative Commons licenses, and many others. Ideas behind these licenses range from sharing and ownership to copyright and copyleft.

Summaries on the XO

We need to begin collecting summaries of licenses and short descriptions of the ideas behind the licenses and related concepts. The idea being that we want children and other users of the XO to understand, if not the details of the license of itself, then the basic idea behind the license and what it means. This will involve writing in such a way that can be understood across languages and cultures and that can then be translated easily. A possible model that could be followed for writing style could be the Simple English Wikipedia project. Their statement of purpose is:

"Articles in the Simple English Wikipedia use fewer words and easier grammar than the original English Wikipedia. The Simple English Wikipedia is also for people with different needs, such as students, children, adults with learning difficulties and people who are trying to learn English. Other people use the Simple English Wikipedia because its simple language helps them to understand unfamiliar topics or complex ideas." [1].

However, one must keep in mind that the rewriting of an idea into a simpler form of language is itself a kind of translation. As such, keeping the balance between style, language, and accuracy of meaning is difficult. This may be especially difficult when targetting specific licenses, such as the GNU General Public Licenses, or the various Creative Commons licenses, which themselves struggle with subtlety of language and ideas.

GNU Kids

For the ideas of Free Software and the GNU licenses it may be useful to leverage the interest of the Free Software Foundation in starting a GNU Kids project.

Creative Commons

For getting descriptions of creative commons licenses it may be useful to reach out to those part of the CC international work, which is attempting to port the licenses to various countries and to translate the licenses ot many languages.

The General Problem

To convey the ideas behind these licenses, their purpose, and the ideas behind them is a difficult task in and of itself. Further, recommending how to actually choose and use a license is yet another task, as adding a copyright license (or End User License Agreement) to your work is often non-trivial in and of itself and may vary across the specific type of license. Lastly it is not the problem of a single discussion, but rather many discussion that will vary across age groups, education levels, languages, cultures, and legal jurisdictions.


A license can be translated into another language officially or unofficially. An official translation of a license may or may not retain the same legal meaning across translations due to the complexities of language.


The translation of a license is distinct from the internationalization of a license, in that you needn't translate a license into another language for it to be more applicable across jurisdictions. One approach to internationalization is to adhere to the language of treaties. In drafting version three of the Creative Commons licenses, they discuss such an approach:

"The new license relies on the language of the [ Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Work], the Rome Convention of 1961, the WIPO Copyright Treaty of 1996, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty of 1996 and the Universal Copyright Convention. Because treaties are matters of international agreement between countries and, as a general rule, require adoption into national law to be effective in a particular country, simply basing the license wording on these treaties is not, of itself, sufficient. Consequently, clause 8(f) of the new generic specifically provides that the license takes effect according to the corresponding provisions of the implementation of those treaty provisions in the applicable national law."


The porting of a copyright license is a complete rewrite of a license to meet the legal code of a specific jurisdiction. Therefore, a port is neither a translation nor a process of internationalization of a license, but merely the creation of a license with the same or similar idea behind it. The reason the idea may be different across different jurisdictions is because there is no universal idea of copyright or copyright law, therefore both the license and the intent of a license may vary from country to country and from culture to culture.

Collective Effort

To begin explaining these ideas will take the effort of many people from many cultures and areas. Any one organization such as the Creative Commons or the Free Software Foundation that writes licenses and espouses an idea behind the licenses will likely not be well suited to lead such an effort, since there may be conflicting goals amongst the various license authors. An outside organization or collective effort such as an outside web page may make sense in the future and could make a good discussion for those wanting to take up this issue.

Setting your license

There are a few points of intervention where one can set license defaults and licenses for material created on an XO. One: a setup menu, which will offer controls of system-wide defaults including default license across activities. Another: in the Journal, when viewing and searching for materials. A third is via a choose from within the context of each activity -- this could be a service that drops down on a certain keystroke.

Customizable defaults : what the default license is, and what licenses are available 'above the fold' and show up when the small license chooser appears. These could be varied by country-build according to national standards.

The metadata used by default is under discussion.

Merged comments

from Intellectual Property

The current global Intellectual Property regime is designed to serve the interests of IP owners in developed countries, especially publishers and manufacturers. The Copyleft concept of the Free/Open Source Software movement repurposes that regime to protect the public interest, and the 'Copycenter' concept of movements to create and share materials without restrictions support moving beyond that regime to something better suited to a culture of sharing and collaboration.

Given the sound and video capabilities of the OLPC laptop, we can teach communities how to preserve and share their cultural heritages.

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