[cc-licenses] Regarding SA and "strong copyleft" question
hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Wed Feb 28 13:28:47 EST 2007
wolfgang wander wrote:
> Now now Terry,
>>Also, I expect to create By-SA content commercially as much as I can get
>>away with, and I have serious doubts about someone with the sorts of
>>motivations you envision being happy with that. The fact that I'm making
>>money, partly enabled by their content is going to piss them off, if
>>they really have this "I'm giving to charity" and "I don't want to
>>undercut commercial competition" idea in their heads. If that's what
>>they are thinking, then they are really thinking in terms of NC, not SA
> I suppose this is meant to hit close to home. And I'm sorry if that sets
> the tone of my reply...
> People chose SA over NC and this should be the only measure you
> should apply as to what they have in their heads.
I *absolutely* am entitled to judge your psychological statement based
on your *reporting* of it (your own words):
> See it this way: for the wildlife images I take I need equipment that
> costs me in the range of several thousand dollars. Now contributing
> images to The Free Pool is a real charitable giving, as much as
> contributing GPL code to a GPLed software product. If I know that my
> contributions can only be used by people who share my belief in Free
> content am glad to give my work away. What I happen to see though is
> that many commercial, all-rights-reserved web sites pick up my content
> and seem to have every right to do so. And by doing this I cut directly
> into the income stream of commercial photographers who like me have to
> pay for their equipment to take these photos. Thats a game I am not
> willing to play.
> Interesting to see however how you 'know' in your head what they or we
> are thinking...
Yes, language is like that: you tell me what you're thinking, and
magically, *I know what you're thinking*. <sarcasm>Amazing!</sarcasm>
> It's easy to insinuate sinister motives to discredit other arguments, easy
> but maybe not effective...
I didn't say your motives were "sinister". Those are your words. *Do*
you consider your *stated* (quoted above) motives "sinister"?
If so, you're being a little inconsistent here.
If not, well, I'm perfectly okay with that, but I don't have to agree
> Its as easy to point out the hypocrisy for melodramatically
> threatening to abandon CC if they ever consider to publish any license
> other than 'CC-BY':
Perhaps true, but entirely irrelevant, as I certainly made no such "threat".
>>A creator is always, in a game theoretic sense going to
>>be motivated to seek more and more control. But that's not what we're
>>supposed to be about here (or if it is, then I have to abandon CC entirely).
A cowardly* offlist sniper tried to make this point with these quotes,
but also missed the point:
> "We work to offer creators a best-of-both-worlds way to protect their
> works while encouraging certain uses of them — to declare "some rights
> reserved." (Although, this is somewhat out of context, see for
> yourself http://creativecommons.org/about/history)
> "We provide free licenses," Lessig writes, "that mark creative work
> with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share
> the work, or remix the work, or both share and remix the work, as the
> author chooses."
NONE of CC's statements (including these) ever suggests trying to
*extend* the creators reach beyond:
A) Control of their own work
B) The limits already established by copyright law
That's the essence of this.
I mean, sure, I'd love to be able to *encourage* more people to use free
licenses, but the argument this thread is addressing is *forcing* people
to use free licenses on works that are essentially wholly their own.
IOW, it's the "social engineering" theory of copyleft, rather than the
"fair's fair" theory of copyleft. I have an extremely strong bias
towards the latter interpretation of its role. But if CC were to get
into the game of trying to act as a pressure group, I'm not going to be
interested in that.
The "convential" copyleft (i.e. what GPL has) makes sense because it's
trying to prevent small changes in your own work from being used to
resell or claim that whole work by another.
This is a different situation though -- it's like trying to create a
situation where you can force a proprietary program to go GPL by
submitted a GPL-licensed patch to its source. I.e. it's a "poison pill"
strategy: just take this little innocuous piece of candy so I can own you.
I'm pretty much disgusted by that kind of approach. It's the same grabby
attitude that we're all up in arms about RIAA, MPAA, and Microsoft for
And if the By-SA as is means that some commercial photographers won't
contribute, well, so be it. I personally believe we'd lose others if we
did change it. I *know* we would reduce the utility to users of the
By-SA (and for me as a creator, that's enough reason for it to be a
Given that situation, I'd be looking for a new license. Maybe I'd try
to resurrect the DSL -- that's what I started with.
> and moments later that same person explains to us that he needs non-Free
> all-about-control 'Verbatim-Only' licenses:
>>The articles are usually By-SA, but I occasionally use a
>>"Verbatim Only" license. The latter is useful if the article is very
>>precisely stating an opinion which may be controversial and which I
>>don't want misrepresented.
The use of verbatim licensing to avoid misrepresentation is something
even Richard Stallman does. I'm not going to get drawn into that
argument, because it's MY work, and it's none of your business how I
license it. If I were trying to change how your work is licensed, that
would be different, but I'm NOT.
The only thing I am licensing verbatim is MY OWN TEXT.
I really don't think you've understood that part, based on some of the
> Yet again a few sentences later he claims that not being able to
> combine any given text with any given image is 'muzzling free
> Wait!?! A 'Verbatim Only' license does NOT do this? What if my free
> speech evolves about making my points using your words out of context?
Absolutely it does NOT. You can take my verbatim text, put your own
commentary beside, illustrated with pictures of you making moose ears at
me, or whatever you want. You just can't edit what I actually wrote to
make me say something I did (though you DO keep trying to do that to my
posts! ;-) ).
Just as the images don't bind me, the text doesn't bind the images. They
are still free, and still as originally licensed. Each has a SEPARATE
copyright attribution and licensing statement (photo credit). Meaning
you absolutely can use them separately.
You can, of course, QUOTE from the verbatim text as fair use always allows.
>>But uh-oh, according to your plan, I'm in a deadlock. I have By-SA and
>>ARR photos in one article. Can't publish. You've muzzled my free speech
>>rights! And remember, my article text is normally under By-SA anyway.
> Sorry - couldn't resist...
Well, consider yourself riposted. No hard feelings on my side anyway. :-D
> But lets not go there any further, instead lets try to clarify some of your other
>>If we were to apply the suggested rule, then we would have the shocking
>>case where I can use copylefted material under "fair use" in an ARR
>>work, but I *can't* use ARR work under fair use in a copylefted work!
> Sorry - I'm not following you here. Can't you already now use
> copy-lefted material in an ARR work? Wasn't the whole discussion about
> an ARR text using copy-lefted images and declaring the whole product to
> be ARR?
The whole product is NOT ARR. In that situation, ONLY the text is ARR.
The images are as originally licensed.
Maybe that's the problem: You're not realizing the quid pro quo here.
The existing terms prevent the author from doing to you what you're
trying to do to him, as well. (?)
> ... or for that matter taking any by-SA text (your blog for example) and
> combining it with an ARR image to make the complete aggregation ARR?
Once again, no that's not the current effect.
It is YOU who are asking for this power: the power to force the
licensing of material that is delivered in parallel to your own work.
It's this sibling-binding situation that I object to.
The truth is that I don't really have a probably with being forced to
release my text under a free license if I use free images (the verbatim
license example is a bit of a strawman). But the trick is that we then
have to talk about WHICH free license, and -- more importantly -- the
images wouldn't just bind me, but they'd also bind EACH OTHER.
As an author looking to create a free licensed work (in which all of the
components are what I would call "free licensed"), I can very rapidly
get into "License Hell" by trying to work out copyleft dependencies.
It's one thing to try to be free, it's quite another to try to put
everything under the *same* free license.
Overly broad copyleft could have every bit as chilling an effect as
overly broad copyright can.
>>Remember when the CSS folks were suing people for merely *linking* to
>>pages describing or providing DeCSS? That's almost certainly a "semantic
>>link" (and from a software perspective, it is nearly identical to the
>>way an image is identified from HTML code -- the text and picture do not
>>actually come together except within the user's browser. No "copy" of
>>the combined work is ever actually made!
> A little far fetched - to stay with your evil-doer analogy, one
> would have to inline (maybe per HTML-frame or such) the DeCSS code
> into the text describing it, pretty much like adding an image via <img
> src> to existing text.
It's not far-fetched at all. HTML -- what goes over the wire, and what
your server makes copies of -- is just text, and it is independent of
any resources, links, etc. It is your *browser* that decides how to
assemble the result.
For example, in your DeCSS case, the automatically loading of the DeCSS
code actually *will* happen if I use wget with spidering options to
download a web page and linked pages offline (this is NOT academic, I
have done this on numerous occasions -- it used to be quite common
practice when we were using slow dialup modems and web pages took
minutes to download).
Likewise, if I view a site in Lynx or W3m, I will *not* get the images
automatically (though I may have the option to download them by
reference, just as I may choose to follow a link).
An HTML page is just a plan. The user's machine is responsible not only
for assembling the parts, but also for acquiring them.
> Or to transform the analogy to the other side, nobody I know has any
> problems linking (<a href>here</a>, rather than <img src>) cc-by-sa
> images from ARR text.
True now -- but you're *asking* for the power to control that.
And honestly, I have to admit that the legal basis for copyleft doesn't
prevent you from it. It is probably true that you can make basically any
condition you want for the people who can be allowed to use your work.
You could only license it to non-commercial users, Baptists, or perhaps
left-handed little leaguers. Yes, I can see that that's probably true.
Doesn't make it ethical to do so, however. So perhaps we need to answer
that question... What *is* ethical in a copyleft license?
>>Then there's the question of transformative use. If you take a really
>>nice picture of a fork, it may be a wonderful work in its own right, but
>> if I make a clever pun in my article about "forking" a project, and use
>>the fork picture as the punchline, do you really feel that my work is
>>sufficiently dependent on your authorship that you should have the right
>>to tell me how to license my work?
> Absolutely! By using it *you* make it dependent. You, not the
> photographer creates the dependence. It should be easy enough for you
> to find another fork picture to make the same clever pun.
Here's the problem:
* You did not think of the pun.
* You have, in fact, no semantic contribution whatever to my article.
* It's a total coincidence that your work happens to be useful in this
So, what -- from an ethical perspective -- is your right to impose
conditions on the licensing of MY work? It's entirely clear that you
have such rights on the way I modify and distribute YOUR work (the
picture itself must remain as you licensed if!).
But you are essentially asking for ownership-like rights in my own
original work, in which you contributed NOTHING.
This is exactly like trying to claim rights in a mere aggregation sense
(e.g. you may not include this image on a disk if it also contains ARR
Or, as a more semantically relevant point, it would be like trying to
force someone who merely sold a list of image URLs to make that list
free licensed (or By-SA) simply because some of the images are. And --
more importantly -- to force that list to ONLY point to By-SA images
(because the proposed "semantic linking" right would apply to
> Likewise, when I want to use your by-SA article and have my own ARR
> picture of an even nicer fork, should I or shouldn't I be able to take
> your article, semantically link it with my fork image to create ARR
Yes you should, and the current license allows it. I am perfectly happy
to grant you the right you seem so reluctant to grant me.
>>You all are right of course, that there is a negative consequence to be
>>found here in that people may suddenly decide to retract commercial
>>quality By-SA work. But you know what? In my experiences on Flickr, I
>>find that much of the *best* photography is actually under the "By"
>>license. So I don't think it's as big of a threat as you make it out to be.
> As I've said before: Many Flickr users and most photographers I've
> talked to who published under CC-by-SA have been 'tricked' (to use
Ah, now *you* are the mindreader. ;-)
> your words) by the Share Alike term in the license. Just search
> Flickr's forums for people's interpretation of this license. Of all
> the feedback I had regarding this issue - once people understand the
> limited Share-Alike-ness - very few seem willing to license further
> content under this CC-by-Like license.
And now you are the one waving vague threats in our general direction. ;-)
I've met quite a few people who understand By-SA just fine (or at least,
figured that it made sense once they learned).
As for there being a massive number of people who are uncomfortable with
free-licensing their work? Well, we all know that.
>>And as for your wanting to trick or pressure people into making their
>>content free-licensed, I think that is seriously wrong-headed. There are
>>enough good reasons to create free-licensed content, and enough of us
>>doing it everyday anyway, that it's not going to go away. Free licensed
>>images help to enable that content by providing freely distributable
>>images to go along with freely distributable articles.
> And this is exactly what cc-by-sa publishing photographers intended, It's
> the non-free ARR articles and by no means your CC-by-SA blog we are
> worried about.
I've already, I hope, demonstrated some serious collateral damage that
would happen to By-SA works if you got your way.
>>The fact that
>>there are also some edge case free-rider situations is really a pretty
>>minor problem, in my opinion, and it simply isn't worth all of the
>>problems it would create.
> It is a growing problem though. So far Share Alike was interpreted by
> most as referring to the editorial content that goes with the images
> as well. And so far - when I gave ARR content providers *my*
> interpretation of the Share Alike clause they removed these images or
> negotiated other license terms. But after getting to know Creative
> Commons interpretation of Share Alike this will no longer be possible.
> Some photographers want a means to contribute to Free projects like
> Wikipedia without ARR projects taking their content and using it in a
> very Share-Un-Alike manner.
> Given the current state of the license this is not possible.
> The question really boils down to:
> a) do you want to alienate these photographers who want to contribute
> to Free projects while keeping the ARR content providers happy,
> i.e. leave everything it is now.
> b) or do you want to level the playing field, invite more Free
> thinking people to the table and ask ARR providers to either
> join the game or find other sources of content?
> I'm very well aware of the fact that going from a) to b) will take
> some effort and there are many hurdles to overcome which you list
> carefully (and I even more carefully tend to ignore ;-) but unless the
> consensus is here that a) is the better solution Creative Commons
> should IMHO try see if there is such a path...
I think there are some subtleties you may be missing:
1) They cannot re-license your photos. They only can give the associated
text a different license, and they can use photos under a different
license alongside your photos. In other words, you're missing the value
of the symmetric effect of the license.
2) They cannot DRM the aggregate work as a whole, because doing so would
DRM your photos as well. Thus, your photos must always remain
extractable from the work.
3) It is perhaps debatable whether printing the works out on paper
interferes with copying. (I.e. we need to ask whether print rights are
legal with such an aggregate work, or indeed with any By-SA work).
*Not that I was offended, but the snipe was ineffective. The quotes in
question do nothing to refute my statement, as I hope I've demonstrated.
It seems fair to quote the quoter, with name withheld.
Terry Hancock (hancock at AnansiSpaceworks.com)
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com
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