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Re: Free Art License

Francesco Poli wrote:
> On Mon, 1 May 2006 15:18:32 -0400 Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> > On Thu, 27 Apr 2006 17:54:53 +1000 Andrew Donnellan wrote:
> > > There is a license called the Free Art license, I don't know if that
> > > is DFSG-free.
> >
> > I believe that it is.
> If you do, could you please reply to my analysis with an actual
> rebuttal?

This license *has* to be read in the context of physical artwork.  For an 
all-digital artwork, it has lots of redundant, unnecessary clauses.

Suppose the Mona Lisa were licensed under this license; I will give examples 
using it as I go through your comments.

You wrote earlier:

> > - specify to the recipient where he will be able to access the
> > originals (original and subsequent).
> I'm a little concerned that this could mean that, in order to distribute
> a work under this license, I forever required to keep updated
> information on where recipients can access every previous version.
Not quite.  Remember what "originals" means in the context of this license: it 
means a single copy, normally of a physical artwork.

It *does* mean you would be forever required to keep updated information on 
where recipients can access the original artwork.

(For the Mona Lisa, the answer would be The Louvre.)

The freeness of this is arguable.  I think it's supposed to be primarily a 
form of attribution or credit, and it doesn't seem unreasonable to me.  
However, it may be overbroad.  Convince me.  Perhaps keeping track of the 
movements of the Mona Lisa as it's sold to different museums *is* 

> What if the original changes, say, URL? Have I to keep track of where it
> goes?
This is literally impossible.  The original is a single copy, not a work.  If 
it changes URL, you are most likely looking at a different copy.  :-)

> What if the original vanishes?
Now, *this* is a problem.  Since the original is a single copy, the vanishing 
of that copy is a big issue.  I believe, however, that "The original has been 
destroyed; nobody at all can access it anywhere" should be sufficient to 
satisfy this clause.  This should be drafted better to clarify this issue.  
This is a freeness issue indeed, if such a clause is not sufficient.

This is, again, clearly intended for physical artwork.  I'm not entirely sure 
*how* to apply it to artwork which originated in digital form.

I believe the only logical interpretation of the license is that an 
all-digital work might have *no* "original" at all in the sense of the 
license.   Recall the definition of "The Original":

> - The Original (the work's source or resource) :
> A dated example of the work, of its definition, of its partition or of
> its program which the originator provides as the reference for all
> future updatings, interpretations, copies or reproductions.
(Incidentally, I have no idea what "of its partition" means here.  "Its 
program" seems designed to refer to dance or theatre works.)

The originator might not provide such a dated example.  If the originator does 
not provide such a dated example, then there is no "original".  Rendering the 
license very confusing in that case, which is why this license should not be 
used for digital works.  I believe it can still be understood, but all the 
clauses about the "original" become moot if the originator does not provide 
such a dated example.

> Have I to keep a copy of the original and 
> make it available, in order to be able to distribute a subsequent work?
Stop thinking about copies.  :-)  Copies are no good regarding the "original".

> >
> > All the elements of this work of art must remain free, which is why
> > you are not allowed to integrate the originals (originals and
> > subsequents) into another work which would not be subject to this
> > license.
> This does not seem to be clearly drafted, IMHO.
This is clearly drafted, but you have to remember that "originals" refer to 
specific physical instances.  You may not integrate the Mona Lisa into 
another work which is not subject to this license.  You can do whatever you 
like with *copies* of the Mona Lisa; that's not what this clause is about, 
it's about the originals.

> Please notice that this is an auto-upgrade clause.
> Not a freeness issue per se, but something to keep in mind anyway.
Yes, something to keep in mind.

The point to remember about this license is that it is specifically designed 
for physical works which have a unique physical original; as long as you 
remember that when reading the word "original", it makes sense.  If you don't 
notice that, the license won't make any sense.

It is still somewhat fuzzily written, but I think none of the points are 
actually freeness issues.  For instance, section 2.2 says "The author of the 
original may, if he wishes, give you the right to broadcast/distribute the 
original under the same conditions as the copies."  I don't really see how to 
broadcast the original Mona Lisa; even if I wanted to, I could only broadcast 
copies!  But I guess the author can give me permission to do the impossible, 
and that's OK!

Nathanael Nerode  <neroden@twcny.rr.com>

"It's just a goddamned piece of paper."
-- President Bush, referring to the US Constitution

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