Rights Decay to encourage the sharing of things

We’ve been thinking and talking a lot about rights, IP, sharing, collaboration and innovation at YouMagine. We want to create a good license for 3D printed things and ToS that we can share with the community. And in order to do that we have to take into account many different angles, people and scenarios. At YouMagine we want to encourage sharing, collaboration and innovation. We’ve been thinking of new ways on how to do that. And we think we’ve come up with a new idea that may help this.

If a designer of a thing attaches a particular license to a thing this license permanently locks these rights away in a certain way. So a file may not be used for commercial purposes for example. Many people share and forget leaving a snipped of code of a photo behind somewhere under a certain license where it will stay for years. There are millions of lines of code locked behind licenses that could be shared more freely. Maybe if the designer looked at the file now she wouldn’t mind if the file was used commercially or shared without restrictions? What if to encourage more information sharing we made the licenses more dynamic? A person could always be asked to revisit a file or could unpublish and republish a thing under a freer license. But, speaking from experience we all know that this is not going to happen in a structural way. We’re all lazy creatures and have lots to do.

Picture of a tub of ice cream on a beach melting.

Rights melting like Ice cream. Creative Commons Attribution No Derivates. Dr. Wendy Longo.


What if we build this into the license? What if we gave people the option of saying I will share this under a Share Alike, Noncommercial license and after 12 months it becomes an Attribution license? As time goes on the file is worth less commercially anyway as people make similar things and technology progresses. The person could then monetize the file for the first year and then after it would be freer to share. This would let people build the wonderful heap of open source code that is the sharing world while still letting them profit from their creations. Also long forgotten snippets and photos would released automatically without people having to do anything with them. We like this as an idea and I mentioned it to Michael Weinberg of Public Knowledge during our ToS call and he came up with a name for it: Rights Decay. What do you think?