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I don't compare Creative Commons licenses to the Codex Seraphinianus just to be cruel. True, cruelty is part of the fun, but I'm honestly confused. It comes down to one word I don't grok. Here's your chance to explain it to us idiots.

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Creative Commons is supposed to be easy. As commenter cowsandmilk put it, "You learn 4 words and you're set." But watch where I run into trouble with these four mouthful-of-letters words:

Noncommercial: This one's easy. No making money off the work. Don't even try.

No Derivatives: Use the work as is only. No remixes, mashups, or 100-word-versions.

Sharealike: Um, I smell GPL here. This means if I use the work in another work, I have to license my work the exact same way. Which probably means forget it, but understood.

Attribution: The problem word. penguin07 summarized the confusing wording in the license for the above comic:

The comic itself is on a website that says, 'Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License."
What's that? You click the words and it goes to a page on another site that says,
You are free:
to Share - to copy, distribute and transmit the work
to Remix - to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page.
Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.
Nothing in this license impairs or restricts the author's moral rights.
[But] nowhere does it say what "the manner specified by the author" to "attribute the work" is.

So, how am I supposed to attribute the work in the manner specified by the author, if the author doesn't specify a manner? Does that just mean I link to the same CC license page, and everyone's supposed to know that? It's the best guess, but if I'm wrong I could expose Gawker Media to exciting courtroom opportunities. I could email the author to ask, but one of the comic's main points is that CC saves everyone from having to do exactly that.

I went to the Creative Commons website and found this description:

Attribution. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give credit the way you request.

See the problem? There's no default value for the way you request for works where the author doesn't actually request a way. You CC people need to come up with a default "manner of attribution" and then, just as important, spell it out in the default license. Do that and I'll happily promote outstanding CC works on this 100,000-pageviews-a-day site without wincing. Except those also marked "Noncommercial," "No Derivatives" or "Sharealike." Simple!