[cc-community] Intellectual Highway Department

Greg London teloscorbin at gmail.com
Tue May 30 15:28:23 EDT 2006

> I am seriously disturbed by your continued (intentional?) conflation
> of 'free license techniques' and 'gift economy'. Right here you rightly
> point out that Linux succeeded over BSD Unix because of the nature
> of copyleft licenses: proof that copyleft communities are not mere
> 'gift economies'.  If that's not proof that copyleft != gift economy,
> I don't know what is.

linux and wikipedia worked because of the terrain it
was built on, not because of some magic powers of
the gift economy, not because of some magic in its
licensing scheme. The terrain was chunkable.
So many people could contribute their free time
to the project without getting monetary compensation
for it.

Change the terrain to where it doesn't chunk easily,
and the process doesn't work anymore. At least not
until you figure out how to make the terrain chunkable
again. Try creating a floss web radio station and
you'll see the terrain doesn't breakup so easily.
Part of that could probably be fixed by some software
tools like the music identification and searching stuff,
and the like. But a license won't change the terrain.

> >  So, when these same people see that the construction techniques
> >  aren't working in new terrain, when they try to build a floss road
> >  into the music world, they don't see the that they've just pushed
> >  into a mountain range and the same construction techniques may not
> >  work here.
> Yet, your answer to this is that we should keep using the same
> techniques, but just 'try harder'?  *What* is your point, actually?

My point is that when you look at something that
currently can't be won by floss techniques,
you have to figure out how to change the way
the game is played so floss works.

If you find you're playing the Kobayashi Maru,
you either lose the game or figure out a way to
chagne the rules.


> A 'commons' is material that can be meaningfully shared and
> "remixed", to use the CC expression.  Regrettably, there is more
> than one of these now.  Hence the complaint of "commons
> fragmentation".

CC-NC is not a commons. Nor is CC-ND.
They are market economy licenses where
the creator can give up some rights in exchange
for something that might benefit him more.
Free samples in exchange for possibly more sales.

No one should be doing anything "commons" like
with anything licensed CC-NC or CC-ND or
any other market economy license.

> Charging a 'toll' is a total irrelevance. A toll can be charged for
> any of these licenses, or not charged.  I suppose you mean a
> license fee as such.

I mean charging a direct toll to pay for the road versus
building the road, allowing people to travel on it for free,
and then building a gas station and trying to make back
your road construction costs by selling gas.

If you have a small group of contributers to a copyleft
project and they're working full time on the project,
they need to get paid for their time or go hungry.

Using a copyleft license doesn't change the fact that
they need to get paid for their time. but they have to
figure out indirect ways to make money while still
using copyleft.

> But the real point is that you are kidding yourself if you continue to
> believe that a system which encourages toll roads has no impact on
> the creation of free roads.  I grant you that it is not a true zero-sum
> game -- but there is a definite question of mindshare among artists.
> More artists using one license or another means a preference for
> the commons they select.

This is complete fallacy.
You're saying that All Rights Reserved creations somehow
prevent the creation of new works. By that argument, I should
be able to look at the new works being distributed on the net
and on the TV and radio and see a noticable decline as time
goes on, since the terms keep getting extended.

All rights reserved prevents the creation of *derivative* works.
But you are free to create anything new that you wish.
This is yet another problem with the commons "pasture"
metaphor. The commons area is "fenced in". and the fence
of All Rights Reserved works that surround it prevent
anyone from expandign the commons, EXCEPT TO
tear down the oppressive and restrictive fences of the
all rights reserved folks.

Try the bounty hunter metaphor. Disney catching
a bunch of bad guys doesn't prevent you or anyone
else from catching a completely new and unrelated
bad guy. Even that metaphor fails to some extent,
but that's the problem with metaphors.

> When we speak of 'fragmentation' of the commons we are referring
> to the fact that multiple bodies of material under different, incompatible
> licenses, makes combination impossible.  This of course, is based on
> the idea that if there were one agreed-upon license, that all the
> material would be released under it. This is not totally true, of course,
> but neither is the converse idea that each license communities is so
> attached to their terms that they would only choose their license or
> no license.  I seriously doubt that for the simple reason that people
> choose commons licensing specifically to support some kind of
> sharing community.

Again, CC-NC is not a "commons" license. Using CC-NC doesn't
fragment anything because CC-NC is not a license to use if you
intend your work to be part of something bigger. CC-NC is used
by people who want to keep the work under their specific control.
CC-NC is an individual license for individual works. It isn't going
to create any sort of pool of works that you would want to do any
group work with. Since there is no "commons" in CC-NC, putting
a work under CC-NC doesn't fragment anything.

CC-NC is a Cathedral license, to keep the work under the
original author's control. Using CC-NC does not fragment
the Bazaar because it's not a Bazaar and never was.

> Why does an artist choose NC at all? For most purposes -- especially
> to other artists -- the NC offers nothing of value.  Unless you're a
> communist, this is no help at all: 'I can use your work, so long as I
> can prove that I didn't gain any financial value from it.'

Artists use CC-NC as a market economy license.
They trade some of the rights to their work,
using it as free samples and free advertising,
in exchange for teh potential for more sales.
It's a loss leader.

> Now *that* is a 'gift economy'.
> The problem is that the artist trying out this new "CC-By-NC-SA"
> concept is (IMHO) trying to get the benefits of the commons, but the NC
> creates a poor commons.

CC-NC isn't a gift economy. It isn't a commons.
It doesn't create anything that is a community benefit.
It surrenders some of the righst to the work in exchange
for possibly helping the original creator. It isn't a poor commons,
it's not a commons at all.

> It impedes sharing and cooperation, because
> it messes with the underpinnings of the mechanisms that surround
> copyleft and free-license communities.
> IOW, the person using NC is trying to foster a community, but is
> being guided (wrongly, IMHO) towards the NC model.  That happens
> largely because of CC's framing of the licensing issues and the
> choice to provide "NC" and "SA" licensing options.

CC-NC isn't for sharing and cooperation. It isn't a commons.

But CC-NC doesn't "mess with" copyleft or the community,
because it isn't even in that category. It is a cathedral license.
A market economy license. It's operating on completely
different terrain with a completely different economic model.

> So we agree, that sometimes, the right thing to do is to charge a fee
> for licensing, and prevent certain kinds of use (which the artist would
> prefer to charge a toll on).  The artist wants to find a way to protect
> this income, but he also wants 'commons' leverage (if he didn't he's
> going to use 'all rights reserved', so he's outside the CC space).

It isn't "commons" leverage. It is a loss leader.
It is giving up some rights in exchange for an individual
benefit. Free samples in exchage for potential for new sales.

> What mystifies me is your opposition to voluntary options to
> smooth the boundaries between commonses.  Even if it fails
> to have the effect I want, how can it possibly hurt you?

It won't hurt me. I'm just telling you that you're license solves
a different problem than what you're saying it solves. CC-NC
doesn't cause any problem as far as fragmenting the ocmmons,
because no commons exists in that space and no commons was
ever intended to exist in that space. CC-NC is NOT a commons
license. It is a market economy license, a Cathedral license,
that allows the creator fo a work to exchange some rights
for some possible free advertising and sales. That isn't a

What's the problem is that you're relating to CC-NC as if
it should be a commons or it should put works into a
commons area. It doesn't. But then, it was never meant
to do that.

So the problem you are proposing that CC-Sunset would fix,
doesn't exist. as long as the license is being propsed to fix
a nonexistent problem, I have an issue with it being approved.

The last thing I want is for a license to be rolled out with all
sorts of promises to create new possibilities and solve all
sorts of issues, only to have it, well, not do any of that,
because it was designed to fix a non-existent problem under
the premise that there was some connection between the
"problem" and the new license.

I also think that were CC to create a sunset license that
started out as CC-NC and switched to CC-SA, then the
people who would adopt it would be fence-hangers to
CC-SA, not CC-NC. That's a fundamental problem.

If people are on the fence and decide to go with CC-SA,
Great. The commons gets something contributed to it.
If the person sees CC-Sunset, they may be more apt
to go with CC-Sunset with a couple year delay,
*just in case* they might be able to make some money
off of it.

If you take someone who uses CC-NC, I don't see
CC-Sunset offering them anything new. CC-NC is a
market economy license that benefits the author.
They give up some right to the community and
the community gives them some free advertising.
CC-Sunset doesn't offer them anything additional.

If CC-NC were a restrictive "commons" then
peole using CC-NC might change to CC-Sunset.
But I don't think people who use CC-NC think
they're contributing to a commons, I think they
know on some level that they're keeping some
rights so they are at an advantage over the community.
It's an exchange of free-advertising. If anyone
was interested in contrubting to a commons they
would use a commons license like CC-SA.

So while I can see people who used to contribute stuff
under CC-SA changing to using a CC-Sunset license,
I don't see people going from CC-NC to sunset.
which means that any CC-SA commons will get
worse, not better.

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