Glenn Otis Brown
glenn at creativecommons.org
Fri Aug 6 14:30:17 EDT 2004
> It's about more than that- its about being responsible for things you
> set in motion, about being respectful of the time and energy of those
> you ask to help, and about sticking with the process you set up up to
> debate, discuss and make decisions, and not bailing when it becomes
I am genuinely sorry, Mark, that I've let you down on this. I can only
say that I am responsible for many things that we've set in motion
across the organization, that I do get very busy with the dozens of
other projects like this going on at any time, and that I make lots of
cost-benefit decisions on the fly, and that sometimes one project gets
bumped down the triage list. (Right now I'm writing this email instead
of doing a press release, two annual reports, responding to 150 recent
emails, and a dozen other things that are due today.) But after reading
your last email I can see where you're coming from, and am sorry, and
would like to make up for it if that's possible.
I could contest a lot of what you say below, but I obviously that
wouldn't be productive. I'd like to focus on what we (or I) can do now
-- provided that won't involve the sort of massive time sink that it
jeopardizes our other many many projects.
> Those things didn't happen so well -
> A year and a half ago Negativland was invited to speak at a CC event
> in SF. I planned for this in my schedule. At the last minute, things
> were changed, and our appearance was dropped. This was somewhat
> In working on the CC sampling license, Glenn/CC would periodically go
> completely silent for a month or more, with no explanation, leaving us
> all hanging and not knowing what was up. This was confusing and
> frustrating and happened on at least 3 occasions I can recall.
> Commitments were then made about getting back to the list in a timely
> way. Sometimes that didn't happen. This was confusing and frustrating
> when Negativland remained very committed to seeing this project
> through. Commitments were made about when the official announcements
> would go to the public. Then....more silence.
> There was talk of us attending a sampling license "launch" in SF this
> past winter or spring ( I can't recall the exact dates) . I penciled
> this in and was in the dark about it until I was told it was
> Last summer Glenn agreed to write some text for the next Negativland
> project. Many months went by with no text forthcoming. When I asked
> about it, there was silence...I tried again...more silence....and
> then, finally, a commitment to sit down and actually write it.
> But....nothing happened. More silence. More months went by (it caused
> us to have to delay our release schedule as we kept waiting for it and
> really wanted to include it). It did finally get done, though only
> after 8 months or more of pestering. This was very confusing and
> frustrating, especially considering that we "worked" for CC on an
> entirely volunteer basis. (Unlike Glenn, we are not paid).
> Glenn invited Negativland to be part of the launch in Brazil this
> summer and I tried to work this into my schedule, yet could get no
> reply for nearly 2 months about wether it was really happening or not.
> This was *extremely* confusing and frustrating as we got closer and
> closer to the actual date of going to Brazil and had no idea what was
> And, finally, with CC totally dropping the decision making process we
> were the project leads for, there was the brief announcement of the
> seemingly arbitrary re-naming of the sampling license into the name
> RECOMBO. My comments on this were made to the list and were
> completely ignored for almost 2 months. There has been no real
> response or explanation of any of this by CC until today.
> To all at CC reading this- I am sure things look very different and
> valid from your end. I acknowledge that and wish you all the best of
> luck in future endeavors. But perhaps you can see how the
> accumulation of all these events listed above might gradually lead
> someone outside of CC to think you guys can be more than a little bit
> flakey, unprofessional, autocratic, careless, and disrespectful of the
> time and effort put into your projects by volunteers.
> I can't speak for Don, but this has made it darn hard for me to stay
> enthused about working with you folks. Others on this list seem to
> express similar thoughts, and that's something you might want to think
> about in how you handle your future projects.
> I wish I felt better about all this, because in the bigger picture,
> the stuff CC is doing and the stuff we did with CC is a good thing.
> appropriatively yours,
> Mark Hosler
>> Just say that a few times out loud, and think about everything else
>> going on in the world, and even in the world of copyright, before
>> reading onward.
>> Now on to the details.
>> (1) The change is just in name (yes, this will be a refrain):
>> The license hasn't changed a bit in substance -- not at all, not even
>> a letter. It still embodies Negativland's idea for free
>> transformative derivatives. It still contains the ban on advertising
>> -- an idea which, for those of you who have been on the list from the
>> beginning will remember, I originally opposed as untenable, but which
>> we wound up including in the license anyway -- and which I now come
>> to see as absolutely crucial, as Negativland's arguments have sunk in
>> over time. I think this fact -- and the fact we have had this
>> discussion publicly at all -- say a lot about (1) how much we care
>> about this license being good and (2) how much we truly value and act
>> on input. Aspects of this license -- the license itself, actually --
>> would not exist if we hadn't established and listened to this list.
>> (2) The change isn't necessarily permanent or irreversible:
>> Like everything we do, there's room and time for change, if that's
>> what is necessary. So don't spaz. It's not like we took the dollar
>> off the gold standard or blew up a dam and flooded a village. Get
>> some perspective. If disaster ensues, if people's heads explode
>> trying to decipher the meaning of the word Recombo, we'll consider
>> changing it.
>> (3) Go ahead
>> As Kelty notes, if people want to continue calling it Sampling, I'm
>> not going to send out our standing million-man army to stop you. (No,
>> wait, that's China with the million-man army; we have 5 full-time
>> employees, some part-timers, and a lot of great volunteers, but none
>> of them is particularly prone to or capable of repression.) Please,
>> do as you wish.
>> (4) The change to Recombo:
>> When we launched Creative Commons in Brazil, part of the process was
>> to translate the sampling licenses. In the process, the Brazil
>> volunteers renamed the license "Recombinacao," the Portuguese
>> (a) The night before the big event in Porto Alegre (described in the
>> links posted earlier to this list), the Brazil team and the CC team
>> started talking about the names of the licenses, and we thought it
>> would be cool to have an internationalized name -- one more or less
>> pronounceable and understandable across many countries (because based
>> on a latin root). In every way we're trying to become a more
>> international organization; wouldn't it be cool if we could coin an
>> international-friendly term that conveyed the the full range of
>> possibilities, we thought? The license is not merely about "sampling"
>> after all. (Plus, this list had exactly zero feedback from
>> non-English speaking representatives. Might be nice to give them some
>> input, I thought.)
>> (b) Our Brazilian project lead Ronaldo said that re:combo was the
>> name of a avant garde art movement in northern Brazil that perfectly
>> embodied the spirit of the license; that was a nice little
>> coincidence. Icing.
>> (c) Next, and of particular importance, this was a decision made in
>> the excitement of the moment -- when we knew we'd have an audience of
>> 1000 people (yes, 1000 people came) hearing about CC for the first
>> time in their home country; when our highest-profile licensor by far
>> (Gil) was about to release a song; when the largest newspaper in
>> Brazil had just run a front page story in its entertainment section
>> in Brazil on the entire event, and more Brazilian press was poised to
>> (d) Most important, it seemed like a nice gesture to Mr. Gil and the
>> Brazil team, who have put in many months of work to make Creative
>> Commons a possibility in Brazil. They have put in at least as much
>> time and constructive effort as the leads on this list, and far more
>> than almost everyone else on this list combined.
>> And let's not forget -- or maybe I haven't been clear enough about
>> this on this list, which is my fault -- that Gil brought us the idea
>> for this license around the same time Negativland did. The Brazil
>> team has done an amazing job making Creative Commons a reality in a
>> hugely important country in the global IP debate. This email list got
>> the opportunity to create the actual license, and I'm very grateful
>> for that. But I hope it's not so controversial that another crucial
>> Creative Commons stakeholder from another part of the world got to
>> contribute in their own way -- without *in any way* affecting the
>> substance of the license? I hope this diplomatic point gets through,
>> now that I've explained it, and I am sorry I didn't take the time to
>> explain it before.
>> (5) My fault
>> I do wish I'd made this explanation earlier, just to give you insight
>> on our thinking on this. But I really didn't think it would be this
>> big a deal. It's just the *name* of the license, after all. Full
>> explanations take a lot of time and energy sometimes, particularly on
>> this list, which frankly can get very tedious and talk-talk-talk with
>> little resolution. Which leads me to my next point:
>> (6) My participation on this list
>> I, like most people, when confronted with a choice between (a) doing
>> important work that does not give me a headache and (b) doing
>> important work that gives me a massive headache, will choose (a).
>> Now, most of the discussion on this list has been hugely productive.
>> Negativland's substantive contributions are invaluable. But there
>> have been many times in the past when my heart sinks just to think
>> about reading the latest 2000-word diatribe about this or that, with
>> exactly no positive, constructive recommendation resulting. (You
>> think I exaggerate? Just pick an email from the archive.) Let alone
>> to go about responding, only to be ignored or have words put in my
>> mouth or fantastic paranoid scenarios of Halliburtonesque scope
>> attributed to me. I guess it'd be nice to be so powerful, but if I
>> were, I wouldn't be typing a response an email list at midnight,
>> would I?
>> Early on on this list I proposed that Attribution be an optional
>> element in the license, only to be told that this would be
>> "anti-artist" and that attribution was the key to getting artist
>> participation. So I agreed and switched my position. I was then told,
>> by the same person, that requiring Attribution was "fascist." (The
>> ideological hyperbole on this list is really something else.)
>> All this is to say that participating on this list is a massive pain,
>> much more than anything I've seen on any list we have. I'm not drawn
>> to spend a lot of time doing unnecessarily painful things, or
>> (incredibly) to being cast a villain or tyrant. I bust my ass for and
>> care a lot about this organization and I don't have to have my time
>> wasted after a certain point. You'll forgive me for avoiding the
>> headache from time to time, when other work needs tending to.
>> (7) The purpose of this list
>> The purpose of this list is not to vote, and even less to have
>> squeaky wheels determine outcomes. I've been over this before, but
>> here it is again. (See attached image or this page:
>> This image makes clear: ultimately CC is going to make the decision.
>> That decision doesn't have to be final, forever, but it does have to
>> come from us ultimately. Those who work here have a fiduciary duty to
>> this organization. You do not. I shouldn't really have to explain
>> that. And if you think that there's no difference between (a) an
>> advisory list, with several public suggestions being folded into the
>> final product, and (b) no list at all, I really can't help you.
>> I would think that you'd understand if we're more open about the
>> fundamentals of the license (what really matters) than we are about
>> marketing (all this about the *name* of a license?). And besides,
>> like I said, the lack of consultation on the name change was mostly a
>> function of (1) a time crunch and (2) consideration for other players
>> in the CC universe who happen not to be on this list.
>> Again, I apologize for not explaining all this more quickly. Again,
>> if the sky falls on us, we'll consider changing the name. In the
>> meantime, let's recognize exactly what all this is about:
>> You all were genuinely instrumental in helping create the actual
>> license. As a matter of marketing and international goodwill and
>> timing, we changed its NAME. If we've made an error in judgment, it's
>> our error, not yours, and we can always change it back. (Just as
>> we've changed many things about our other licenses after getting
>> feedback from the public:
>> In the grand scheme of things -- the forest, the actual struggle that
>> we're all involved in -- this is big whoop over not much.
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> AHOY THERE! I have changed my e-mail address and it is now -
> mark / negativland <markhosler at bellsouth.net>
> My old address at markhosler at charter.net is no longer being used.
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Glenn Otis Brown
glenn at creativecommons.org
(cc) Some rights reserved.
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