[cc-community] Intellectual Highway Department

Greg London teloscorbin at gmail.com
Wed May 31 11:35:40 EDT 2006

On 5/31/06, Terry Hancock <hancock at anansispaceworks.com> wrote:
> Greg London wrote:
> >  I suppose if you have a project that has few contributers to begin
> >  with, that doesn't chunk well, is generally made by individuals doing
> >  a lot of Cathedral work and then submitting it, then the Sunset
> >  license model fits the project terrain. But I wouldnt be convinced
> >  that the thing would go exothermic and become self-sustaining.
> This only needs to be true at the beginning, and in my experience,
> it often is (many big projects need a huge investment at the beginning,
> before they can shift to a 'bazaar' production mode).

Yes. This morning on the commute to work, the idea of using
a sunset approach to a certain niche of projects could possibly
modify the terrain on which it's built. The specific project that
came to mind was "Elephant Dreams".

Projects that release older versions of software GNU-GPL,
but hold the latest version ARR and sell it to those who want
the latest version, take advantage of the natural terrain
that old software is buggier than new, and new software
also has new features than old, making new software
valuable. The old version of the software works as a
loss leader for the project, giving away free samples,
but also leveraging the advantages that comes with
being part of the GNU-GPL space, namely wider
distribution and recognition.

So, for a software project that wants to have a small
team working long hours to create it, software versions
are a natural dividing point to have gnu-gpl on the old
versions and still make money on the new.

A movie project could be built by a smallish team working
long hours (because it isn't chunkable), but there isn't
a natural boundary for versioning that makes a new
version better than an older version. (You could do
something like Red Versus Blue, where you're putting
out shorts every week, and then sell a subscription, but
if you just have one movie, you're sort of screwed there)

But were the project team to commit to a sunset license
upfront, they could at least get some leverage that would
allow them to make money on sales for a period, then
release the work to CC-SA or something.

But do you need a license to make that commitment?

I still think that were CC-Sunset to be made available,
a lot of authors who had contributed to CC-SA would
switch to CC-Sunset. And I think that's a very bad

The benefit of CC-Sunset seems to be only for
those niche projects that can't get started any other
way. And once it did switch to CC-SA, I wonder
how much the availability of CC-Sunset would
pull potential contributers away from the niche project
as they try to do their own Sunset thing.

And I'm not convinced that CC should just
try it and see how it works.
If a lousy license is released, it can be bad
publicity and a bad rap for liberal licensing
schemes in general.

I think that for now, I would suggest that some
niche project that can't figure out how to get
a working commons and needs a seed project
try committing to doing their own sunset agreement.

If it pans out, great, if not, well, then I'm not sure
how putting the CC name on it would make it work.

> Let me clarify what I was proposing, especially since I made references
> to other methods.
> The "Sunset" I propose would cause a work to becom CC-By-SA (or
> CC-By) after the sunset.  At that point, derivative works would have
> to be released under the CC-By-SA (technically this isn't *quite* true,
> because you could still use the CC-By-NC-SA license that you originally
> received, but it will become so the minute anyone adds anything to
> it under the CC-By-SA).
> I'm uncertain whether, in fact, the sunset itself should be "shared alike"
> so that contributions under the original NC license would automatically
> have the sunset applied, nor whether the Sunset should be absolutely
> indexed to the time of publication of the original work, or to the time
> of the contribution.  Those details would be pretty important, and ought
> to be worked out (yet another reason why it *ought* to be a license
> module, and not up to the artist to figure out).
> I also imagine more of a "feeder" use-case -- the works to which
> a sunset NC work would be contributed would generally be either
> "collective" or "transformative" works. It's not so much that a song
> would go from NC marketing to SA collaboration *on the song*, but
> rather that the NC marketed work would become material to be used
> in collaboration on larger collections of music, or in games, movies,
> or other works in which music is only a part of the work.
> In fact, if there were any legal way to do it, I might've imagined trying
> to make an alternative to NC that would allow "collective" or
> "transformative" works to be used freely (including commercially), but
> not for the work to be used whole and as itself. Unfortunately, this
> would make for an even stickier definition, and there are certain
> cases artists would likely object to (e.g. song gets used as an advertising
> 'jingle').
> Of course, the artist could explicitly agree to those kinds of uses,
> but the whole point of a free commons is that innovation is spurred
> by eliminateing those kinds of "transactional costs" (and affiliated
> risks).
> --
> Terry Hancock (hancock at AnansiSpaceworks.com)
> Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com
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