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Re: creative commons

Francesco Poli wrote:
> On Wed, 10 Jan 2007 09:08:48 -0600 Terry Hancock wrote:
> Is this a good reason to avoid promoting such freedoms among creators?

That's a "strawman argument": CC promotes By and By-SA licenses as well
as NC, ND and others. If there's a fault it's that they don't offer
strong differentiation in that support.

> Is this a good reason to drive creators away from good licenses that
> would make their works DFSG-free?

Another strawman: CC doesn't "driver creators away from good licenses".
They offer several different alternatives.

> I don't think so.

Definition of "strawman argument": disagree with something no one in the
room agrees with instead of disputing the issues that are actually
contended. Pretend you have actually addressed real cases.  :-)

>>Regrettably, many in the Debian project have become committed to the
>>idea that there is "no difference" between "content" and "code", and
>>yet this issue has repeatedly demonstrated the falsehood of this


> Let's consider SID tunes.
> AFAIK, a SID tune basically contains code that is executed by a SID chip
> emulator in order to play music.
> Are SID tunes "content" or "executed works"?
> I would say: both at the same time.

Seems to me the author would be a completely reasonable person to make
that distinction. If they wish to view their work as "more content than
code" then they ought to be able to do that and license accordingly.

Alternatively, the package maintainer could decide that when bringing it
into Debian. The problem is that as things stand, Debian no longer
provides distinct handling for content and code. There are a variety of
problems with the upcoming version that derive from this one problem.

> There are many examples that show that the boundaries that are supposed
> to draw distinctions between various categories of software are not
> clear-cut: they are blurred, with many overlapping cases.
> I don't think that a line of reasoning which is based on such
> distinctions can lead to good freedom criteria.

Sorry, but you're too late. Software alone has a zillion of these kinds
of fuzzy distinctions (e.g. just consider all the ways a library can be
called). The whole reason why there is any discussion on this list at
all is to deal with the enormous fuzzy spaces around the DFSG (which as
"guidelines" are inherently fuzzy, even beyond the fuzziness inherent in
all language) and licenses (which are less fuzzy, but still fuzzy
because words are subject to interpretation).

None of this is news. Fuzziness happens.

>>This is debatable. Certainly NC-licensed works are not themselves
>>"free" in the same sense that we mean with free software,
> Jeff Carr argued otherwise in the message[1] that generated this
> discussion:
> | That's good, I'm not convinced that CC in any form isn't DFSG. :)

Yes, you're right. I misinterpreted that as meaning

"I'm not convinced that 'no form of CC licenses is DFSG'"

rather than

"I'm not convinced that 'no form of CC licenses is not DFSG'"

I'm used to allowing for small errors in grammar in mailing lists, but
Jeff's later posts suggest that he really did mean the latter.

I agree with you that NC and ND content violates DFSG.

>>but they do
>>exhibit important freedoms to the people who get them (relative to
>>commercially-sold proprietary content -- I am all too aware of the
>>problems they present relative to free works).
>>Some argue that this promotes the values of freedom to people who
>>would otherwise not appreciate the point. People so introduced to the
>>concept, will have their awareness of free media increased and will
>>become more interested in truly free works.
> No, they will adopt CC-by-nc-nd-vX.Y and happily say that their work is
> in line with the "open source philosophy" (whatever this may mean).

Which in their mind it may be -- perhaps for the reasons I have relayed.
But do they think it is "DFSG free"? There may be no actual disconnect here.

> Believe me, I've seen this so many times, that I can now consider it a
> "classic"...  :-(

You can take it as read that I'm aware of the problem. I was struggling
with this kind of "non-commercial" problem in licenses before CC was
even created. There's an enormous amount of work I've had to forgo
because the author wanted NC terms.

> Or even worse, they will publish their works stating "This work is
> licensed under a Creative Commons License" without specifying which one
> and without any link to a suitable URL.  Great, "a Creative Commons
> License" and we do *not* know which one!  :-((

Of course, the same problem exists with the expressions "a type of open
source license", "free software", and "open source software". I've found
sites making all three claims for software that does not meet the Open
Source Definition, the Free Software Definition, or the DFSG.

CC's recommended licensing method is to link to the specific license in
question, and they provide icons and abbreviations to quickly label
which license is used. That artists have not availed themselves of these
resources are as much the fault of the artists' own laziness as of
Creative Commons.

What CC has failed to do is to create a policy and process that *gives
preference* to free licenses. Their goals overlap with the free software
and free culture community, but are not coincident.

>>Stallman overstates the case against Creative Commons, in my personal
> Not at all, I think RMS really detected the key difference between the
> two approaches.  I agree with him, for this matter.

If RMS really wanted a license that focused solely on user freedoms,
without consideration of long term consequences for creators, he
would've advocated non-copyleft licenses like the BSD or MIT/X11
license. But he didn't. He advocated the GPL, which is also
creator-centric. Perhaps less so than some of the CC licenses, but there
is no discontinuity.

Licenses represent a balance between the need to support people creating
works and the needs of people using them. If there's no support for
creators, there are no works to enjoy. If there's inadequate freedom
allowed to the user, then no matter how many works there are, they
cannot use them for certain purposes. Even the GPL creates such a
penalty in that commercial users cannot incorporate the work into closed
source works (you and I consider that a fair trade -- but there's no
guarantee that every creator/user relationship has to strike the same

>>What I do believe Creative Commons has done wrong is to essentially
>>"pass off" NC licenses as "free" licenses, diluted the "free" brand
>>image. Recipients of NC works may think that they've already
>>appreciated the full depth of "free content" and not realize that they
>>are experiencing a crippled version of it.
> You say that as if it were a *minor* issue!

No, you just read it that way. I think it's very serious.

> This is *the* issue: one of the worst things that CC has done and is
> still doing nowadays.  Given the great impact that CC managed to have on
> people, this is enough to destroy a long time spent by the free software
> movement to try and educate the public on the meaning and the importance
> of free software...  :-(

In a way, though, you are making the same mistake that Microsoft makes
in claiming all those damages from "software piracy": just as they
assume that every illegally copy of Windows equates to a lost sale, you
are assuming that every CC-NC-* licensed work is a lost free-licensed work.

It's quite possible (and many CC supporters believe) that they are
instead works that would otherwise have been "all rights reserved", and
completely cut off from any kind of sharing culture. As such, they
interpret the success of the NC license as a growing movement of people
who understand the value of sharing. Of those people, some opt for By or
By-SA licenses, which *are* free.

IMHO, the problem area is specifically with the users of the
"CC-NC-By-SA" license. IMHO, anyone who uses the "Sharealike" option is
hoping to benefit from copyleft free culture (i.e. they are following
the GPL model). As such, the fact that they would then cripple that
benefit by applying the NC term shows me that they don't really
understand the issues with their licensing.

In my opinion, NC and ND should be condensed into one term -- because
all benefits from derivatives are thrown away due to the insanely broad
interpretation that "commercial use" receives. Thus creators should not
delude themselves that the commons is going to give them something for
nothing, and they should accept that NC might as well be ND.

>>These problems are better served not by CC abandoning the NC licenses,
>>however, but by promoting better "brand differentiation" between NC,
>>ND, and free licenses.
> I don't agree, since if one thinks that a license should not be used,
> he/she should not promote it.

CC doesn't think NC should not be used. You're missing the point.

Even Richard Stallman says that aesthetic works like books and music
don't have to be free.

What I think, and what I think CC should accept, is that NC should not
be promoted as if it were part of a family of free licenses, but instead
as a halfway license that makes filesharing legal (which is the only
useful thing it really does legalize).

>>The false unity created by using the label
>>"Creative Commons License" needs to be eliminated.
>>But it also has to be appreciated that CC doesn't want to make moves
>>like that too quickly, lest they create confusion and disaffection in
>>their existing community.
> They produced a *huge* number of different licenses in a relatively
> limited time frame (thus greatly increasing the license proliferation
> problem), but they still don't want to correct a problem like this.
> Quick at causing damages, slow at fixing issues.  Yeah, great...  :-(((

Again, the "every lost license" fallacy. The CC has also created a much
larger contribution from artists of By and By-SA works.  Whether in fact
that contribution would've been greater had there been no NC license, or
whether the world would be better off without NC-licensed art is a
pretty big step away from the solid facts.


Terry Hancock (hancock@AnansiSpaceworks.com)
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com

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