Why not a <copyright> element (was: Re: Getting beyond the ping pong match)

The more I think about this predefined copyright class,
or if you'd prefer: a copyright role, the more I'm
convinced, that both of these are not really what we need.

As the research in Google has pointed out - copyright
is the 9th most used classname out there. Copyright
information at the bottom of a page is as common as it
can get - see number of search results from google:
   the word "the":       4,920,000,000
   the word "and":       4,490,000,000
   the word "copyright": 4,240,000,000

Most of the use-cases are something like that
(all found by google code search):

   <p class="copyright">Copyright (c) 1996-2005 John Doe</p>

Or with a link to owner of the copyright:

   <div class="copyright">
     Copyright &copy; 2003-2006
     <a href="http://www.example.com">Example Systems AB</a>.
     All rights reserved.

Or with some additional legal notice:

   <p class="copyright">
     Copyright &copy; 2001-2002 Homer Simpson<br>
     <font size="2">Permission to copy, use, modify, sell and distribute
     this document is granted provided this copyright notice appears in
     all copies. This document is provided &quot;as is&quot; without
     express or implied warranty, and with no claim as to its suitability
     for any purpose.</font>

Sometimes the legal notice is separate:

   <p class="copyright">Copyright &#169; 1999-2005 The Foo Foundation</p>
   <p class="legalnotice">
     Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
     under the terms of the <a href="fdl.html"><em class="citetitle">GNU
     Free Documentation License</em></a>, Version 1.1 or any later
     version published by the Free Software Foundation with no Invariant
     Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.  A copy of the
     license can be found in <a href="fdl.html">Appendix&#160;1, <i>GNU Free
     Documentation License</i></a>.

Often there is no direct copyright claim:

   <p class="copyright">
     This document is in the <strong>PUBLIC DOMAIN</strong>
     and comes with <strong>NO WARRANTY</strong> of any kind.

   <td align="center" class="copyright">
     Distributed under GPL v2. All Rights Reserved.

   <p>Foo v3.0.0 is Free Software released under the
   <a href="http://www.gnu.org" class="copyright">GNU/GPL license</a></p>

Often there are also other notes inside copyright statement:

   <span class="copyright">
     Powered by <a href="http://www.phpbb.com/">phpBB</a>
     &copy; 2002, 2006 phpBB Group

Given the use-cases above, there is a need for a place
in document where you could put one or more of the following:

- the name of the copyright holder,
- the name of the license (for the document or software),
- additional legal statement ("Permission is granted to...").

I would propose a new element <copyright>, which could
also have an attribute, that references the license:

   <copyright license="http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.txt">
     <p>Copyright (c) 2002-2007 John Doe.</p>
     <p>Foo is Free Software released under the
     <a href="http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.txt">GNU/GPL license</a></p>

Or in a simple case:

   <copyright license="http://www.microsoft.com/">
     (c) 2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

This element should go for both inline and block-level
context. I'm not that sure about the need for license-attribute,
but it looks reasonable, that there should be a separate
element for such a common use-case. (We do have <address>,
for which there is much smaller need).

Rene Saarsoo

Received on Sunday, 6 May 2007 16:39:36 UTC