non-public-licenses

email at greglondon.com email at greglondon.com
Mon Feb 9 22:19:36 EST 2004


I just posted this to the education-license list about
why education-only style licenses won't make for a 
successful free-content project. It applies to
non-commercial-only licenses too:


1) Some people want to contribute to a project that benefits
a group beyond themselves. (some people want to donate blood,
some people donate time for community services, some people
donate money to charities)

2) The larger the group given access to the project, the larger
your pool of potential contributers. (access can be either
by personal benefit to individuals through use of the project,
or simply through word of mouth and media. The more people 
who know about the project, the more people who might volunteer.)

3) the larger the benefit of the project, the more likely you
will get contributers willing to donate the blood and sweat
needed to complete the work. (since it DOES take a lot of
work to create a program or a movie or a song, the contributer
will want to know that the payoff of the project as a whole
will be greater than the individual work contributed. people
will be more likely to donate a day to save a thousand lives
than to recycle some aluminum)

4) A successful 'public commons' project should give access
to as many people as possible. The more people that can
use the work, the bigger the benefit of the project, and the
more poeple that will be exposed to the project and possibly
contribute to it.

5) A successful "public commons" project should have a 
specific goal that people can shoot for. This gives people
an idea of the total project payoff, and will let them
decide if they wish to contribute to the project.
(Linux promised a complete operating system that was
freely available, open source, bug free, and free or little
cost.) I'm not exactly familiar with how Wikipedia works,
but they have a specific goal of a free-content encyclopedia.

An education-only or a non-commercial-only license is ALL WRONG.

they limit the number of people who benefit from the project.
Students and teachers will be the only likely contributors.
And the total "payoff" of the project is much smaller than
if it were a truly PUBLIC project. So, the possible contributer
pool is smaller and the project payoff is smaller, making the
likelyhood of people contributing to such a project SMALLER.

So, while you assert that "most people will give up a few rights"
and "a few people will give up most rights"

you're missing the whole friggin point that makes a successful
free-content project: a goal with a big enough payoff to
attract enough contributers to do the work needed to finish the
job. 

if your license plays small, your projects will stay small.



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