[cc-licenses] NC considered harmful? Prove it...
erik at wikimedia.org
Thu Mar 8 03:21:56 EST 2007
On 3/8/07, Terry Hancock <hancock at anansispaceworks.com> wrote:
> Note that this is *not* the "license confusion" issue I'm talking about
> here. I'm talking about the direct consequences of choosing an NC
> license -- the reason why Wikipedia would bomb if it tried to use NC
> licensing, or rather, evidence that attempts to build a commons around
> NC material are not successful.
I am not familiar with any user-generated content project, with the
exception of a few wikis, that uses NC exclusively. There are, as far
as I can tell, four key types of user-generated content projects:
a) all content copyrighted by users
b) some content copyrighted, some content "under a CC license"
(typically BY, BY-SA, BY-NC, BY-NC-SA, BY-NC-ND, BY-ND)
c) all content "under a CC license"
d) all content under libre licenses.
In that way, NC seems very similar to shareware; it typically gets
bundled together with lots of other stuff. The people who favor NC
tend to be those who view CC licenses as a way to give authors
choices, while those who favor libre licenses tend to view them as a
way to guarantee the freedom of the content itself.
In this way, one could answer your question with: most people don't
even try to build a commons using NC licenses. This means, most
projects that a strong ideological position towards free content are
going to reject them. This includes:
* Wikimedia projects
* All Wikia wikis (over 1500)
* WikiEducator, Connexions, and other open education projects
* PLoS, BioMedCentral, and other open access projects
* OpenClipart, OpenFontLibrary (and hopefully soon FreeSound - they
are stuck with the semi-NC Sampling License right now, which has
gotten a lot of folks frustrated)
* Any combination with free software projects like Debian, Ubuntu, etc.
All these projects have reasons for rejecting NC and choosing more
permissive licenses; reasons which I have identified, partially, in
http://freedomdefined.org/Licenses/NC - so if you want to build a
"commons" using NC, then you essentially must convince the true
pioneers of free content and free software that they are wrong about
this whole "freedom" idea. Unless and until you do so, any "commons"
you can build using NC is going to be nothing more than an island. I
would rather call it an enclosure than a commons then.
NC is not an anti-capitalist license, either: it favors traditional
models of doing business ("Call me if you want to make a deal"); this
is why, for example, the Magnatune label adopted it. Copyleft, on the
other hand, challenges companies to come up with ways to work _within_
the free culture community. The transition of a company like IBM, for
example (once equated to Big Brother), to one of the biggest patrons
of open source was quite astounding. It would never have happened
under NC-like conditions.
Given the shift that is happening towards free licenses, it seems
quite likely that NC licenses are going to go the same way that
shareware has gone. They will continue to be used along with other
nonf-ree licenses, but their relevance compared to the Libre Culture
movement will dwindle.
I am confident that Creative Commons will eventually recognize this.
Right now, it is still too tied to the "choices" principle under which
it was launched. This principle is not a moral foundation for a social
movement; it is a source of confusion and tension. The licenses
themselves are sane; the framework within which they are promoted is
unreasonable. This criticism is now shared among representatives from
many different projects I have spoken to, so it is only a matter of
time until CC comes around. In the meantime, we'll keep the pressure
Free licenses are fully sufficient to protect authors. There's a
missing piece, a sane copyleft license for pictures and other embedded
media. I've exchanged some thoughts with Larry & Mia on this and hope
that I'll be able to propose a reasonable draft soon.
Peace & Love,
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the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.
"An old, rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open,
free and exciting is waking up." -- Ming the Mechanic
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