Microsoft get Creative

Microsoft recently (quietly) announced a Creative Commons plugin for Office 2007 that enables you to add a Creative Commons license to your documents (Word, Excel and Powerpoint).

I installed this yesterday, but only got around to having a look at it this morning when I was prompted by a post by Paul Walk about the use of Creative Commons to license his blog posts.

The first thing I wondered is whether the plugin also worked for Liver Live Writer (Microsoft’s blog authoring tool, which I use). No such luck, although Tim Heuer has kindly written a Creative Commons plugin for Live Writer which you can use.

Anyway, back to Office 2007 – I created a new Word document, and started to apply a license. Rather than offering me all the licenses, I first had to ‘create’ a license – a wizard helped me through this step-by-step, although the wording at each stage could have been clearer and more helpful (e.g. the first step asks you to choose between ‘Creative Commons’, ‘Public Domain’ and ‘Sampling’ without any explanation as to what the differences are)

The ‘Sampling’ license intrigued me, as it seemed to relate to something Andy Powell blogged about where someone had taken an entire presentation by Andy from Slideshare (licensed under creative commons), and uploaded to a similar site called ‘Authorstream’. In his post Andy says what he really wants is a license that says “you can take this content, unbundle it, and use the parts to create a new derivative work but you can't simply copy the whole work and republish it on the Web unchanged”. It seemed to me that the ‘Sampling’ license was exactly this. However, when I applied the license to my doc, and followed the link to the license I found this text:

“This license is retired. Do not use for new works.” (at

(it seems that the Creative Commons site needs some tidying, as there is still what looks like current information on the Sampling license at

I should say, it is great to see Microsoft offering the plugin – although there is room for improvement…

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