As part of tarting up Introducing HTML5 for its second edition, I’m discussing the very useful
-moz-ui-invalid pseudo-class. The documentation at Mozila Developer Centre is a paragon of clarity and succinctness, so much so that my instinct is to quote the 4 lines “The result is that .. unchanged valid value” with attribution, rather than rephrase it and reduce its clarity.
However, the license for that page is CC Share Alike:
Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
Now, I don’t know whether quoting within a chapter is “building upon” or not. I can’t release the book under a similar license as neither Remy nor I own the intellectual property (we tried to persuade the publishers to release it but they were… somewhat antipathetic (ahem) to that idea).
Twitter chums advised that quoting 4 lines was OK as “fair use”. But I’m in the UK and as far as I can tell, we don’t have that concept here. Wikipedia says of UK “fair dealing”:
Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA), fair dealing is limited to the following purposes: research and private study (both must be non-commercial), criticism, review, and news reporting (sections 29, 30, 178). Although not actually defined as a fair dealing, incidental inclusion of a copyrighted work in an artistic work, sound recording, film, broadcast or cable programme doesn’t infringe copyright.
But our book is a commercial project. It’s not criticism, review or news.
So I’ve emailed the MDC to ask them to waive their rights. I’m writing this book as a private individual, and the derisory royalties that technical books produce don’t make me willing to accept personal legal risks: no way am I risking my house, which is the only thing of value I own. (Hiring a lawyer would use up all my royalties.)
This emphatically is not a criticism of Mozilla – they’ve always had an excellent track record of openness and I’m certain they’d be delighted to be quoted in a chapter that praises them.
It’s a criticism of UK copyright law and the Share Alike license which doesn’t define “build upon” or “non-commercial” in any useful way.