[cc-licenses] CC strategic elements
jo at durchholz.org
Thu May 10 03:41:05 EDT 2007
I have evaluated the discussion I started as "Unbundling the GPL", and
have been following a few other threads. Hopefull, I'll be able to
express a bit more precisely what I'm after, and why I'd want it.
1. My current understanding of the situation
Here's my idea of CC's mission and how it tries to achieve it.
CC is trying to encourage giving away works that are typically covered
by copyright. This includes literature, music, films, and programs, or
whatever kinds of works are covered by specific copyright legislation
anywhere in the world. (It would be desirable to have a complete list of
classes of works and in which legislations they are covered by special
rules; discussion fine points would be easier with such a reference.)
One of the things that make CC licenses attractive is that they have
been checked using the legal resources available to CC. Anybody who
wishes to use a CC license can do so and rest assured that the license
will do what he wants, and avoid the cost of legal counseling (if
somebody gives his works away, he'll be particularly unwilling to incur
legal costs for that anyway).
I think this part of the strategy has unanimous consent.
The next element is that CC has tried to "quantize" the spectrum of
licenses. In other words, there is a limited set of substantially
different licenses to choose from; it's quite likely that for many
people, there's no license that exactly fits their needs, but there's
always one that's close enough to their intents.
For users of the works, this means that they will know what they can do
with a CC-licensed work without looking up the license more than once or
twice, which makes reusing a work more attractive. This is also
attractive for licensors because they will know that there will be just
a minimum amount of misinterpretation.
Currently, this part of the strategy isn't working too well, at least
not while wearing my licensee hat. The recent proliferation of special
licenses for specific kinds of works just means that I won't know what a
license is anymore.
The strategy itself seems to have consent, but there is dispute about
how fine-grained the quantization should be.
The third element is offering licenses that aren't really Commons
licenses but that give those who wish to try the CC licenses some
This part of the strategy is controversial. The ND clause if far too
popular for the taste of many, including Lawrence Lessing himself.
There's also the example of the FSF that has made the strategic decision
not to offer an ND variant of the GPL, forcing the users of its licenses
to make a clear decision.
On the minus side, this strategy has prevented the FSF from creating a
license for those cases where ND would have been legitimate, polarizing
the programmer community into those that are "pro" and "contra" and
preventing an unideological discourse.
Here's my idea how CC could improve.
a) CC should never offer more than five or six discernible elements, be
they license modules that can be combined, or ready-made license
combinations with a specific name such as PD.
This means retracting most (if not all) special licenses and rewording
the general license terms so that they cover the specific cases.
For example, SA terms can be reworded to that it covers the intent of
the GPL without becoming useless for other kinds of works, by adding
legal fine print that the licensor grants access to the form of the work
that he used to create (or derive) the work himself.
It might make the CC licenses a viable alternative to the GPL (and
possibly to other licenses). This would be attractive for those FOSS
programmers who find the FSF's agenda attractive but don't wish to
associate themselves with their kind of rhethorics.
b) CC should explain the quantization strategy, to reduce the pressure
towards finer quantization.
Maybe an explanation on the registratin page for the discussion lists
That would be a fine place to explain basic principles, strategies, and
other policy elements so that participants don't waste everybody's time
by making unacceptable proposals. The text would have to be reviewed
occasionally to keep it up-to-date as CC's policies change.)
c) As to the ND issue, it's not clear whether CC should continue to
offer it or not. There seem to be good reasons to do either.
I'm interested in getting a rough idea where everybody stands on the
This includes the "official" position of the CC.
I'd also like to invite those with whom I had serious flamewars,
provided that we all can stick to the issues and leave out motives,
backgrounds, or other personals.
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