[cc-community] Intellectual Highway Department

rob at robmyers.org rob at robmyers.org
Tue May 30 10:40:31 EDT 2006

Quoting Greg London <email at greglondon.com>:

> I think there is a complete hijacking of terminology
> going on somewhere. ANd mostly, I blame RMS for that.

You can blame him for "Freedom" but I don't think he has anything to do 
with the
commons metaphor. The hijacking of the term "commons" is more on the side of
free-market economists.

> So, some people think that charging tolls is fundamentally
> evil. That anyone who does the work to create a new piece
> of highway should allow anyone to travel on that road freely.
> Some of these folks claim that gift economy approaches can
> build any road, that all you got to do is get everyone to
> adopt copyleft and highways will spool out beneath your
> feet.

The GPL (and BY-SA) allow you to charge. And people pay. There is no split
between copyleft and payment. There is a split between maximising profit and
copyleft, but there is no moral right to maximum profit.

> So, there is a meme that is pretty common in the gift
> economies that to charge tolls is wrong.

NC denies people the ability to charge tolls, even if they have combined their
labor with the commons. This is surely wrong.

> And someone who builds a road and licenses
> it CC-NC allowing people to travel it freely
> but charging tolls for vehicles with commercial
> plates is NOT fragmenting anything.

If the toll is too high it will fragment communications as vehicles 
simply avoid
the road. NC is too high a toll (I agree to give up *all* my profit to pay for
using anything from the NC commons).

> the gift economy poeple can build their roads
> and they can pay for the cost of construction
> by either getting a lot of people to donate a
> little of their time for free, or they can
> try to get some money by setting up a gast station
> or asking for donations. But at that point,
> it becomes clear that the difference between
> projects is simply a matter of how they get
> their funding and that both approaches can exist
> side by side.

The comparison is a road that can be repaired by anyone and one that 
can only be
repaired by the owner. This may seem nonsensical but it is a more accurate
reflection of free/proprietary (rather than gift/market). Economics is a
secondary consideration within this framework. That is, "Freedom" is not
defined by the presence or absence of money. People buy free software and free

This is because "Freedom" here is creative or ethical freedom, not economic or
business model freedom. Economic freedom does impact creative freedom majorly,
but it's hard to make money if most of your money goes on paying 
creative rent,
or if you can only create what you are allowed to by landlords.

- Rob.

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