[cc-community] What does NC means?

Terry Hancock hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Wed Sep 19 19:57:09 EDT 2007

Alek Tarkowski wrote:
>>On the other hand, truly "free" licenses, like the By, By-SA, GPL, etc,
>>are revolutionary. They create a wholly-different kind of marketplace
>>and community. This distinction is REAL and SHARP.
> The word *revolutionary* is key here - not all members of the broad CC / 
> free culture movement want it to be revolutionary, which necessarily 
> will annoy or anger the revolutionary group, of which you are clearly 
> part.

You mistake me.

I wish to distinguish between two distinct movements: one which is
"evolutionary" or "progressive", and wishes to pioneer a refined idea of
conventional copyright.

The other is "revolutionary" and starts from a completely different

I agree that co-existence of these two techniques is beneficial. I have,
as I believe I already stated, valid reasons to be "part" of both of
these movements. I don't wish to denigrate one over the other.

The error is not in the nature of the terms of NC/ND license, but in
their FALSE categorization as "creative commons" licenses (NB lower case).

In choosing the name, "Creative Commons", CC explicitly referenced the
history of free licensing of software, and invoked the idea of the
benefits from an information commons. This references a particular
thread of ideas popularized for "open source" software by Eric Raymond:

1999 Eric Raymond uses the expression "inverse commons" to indicate that
an information "commons" behaves in almost exactly the opposite way as a
material "commons" -- hence explaining the success of free-licensed
software. He referenced ...

1968 Garret Hardin generalized the term "commons" to refer to a wide
range of shared goods in an game-theoretic analysis of problems relating
to population growth and overconsumption of resources. He referenced ...

1833 William Forster Lloyd described the "tragedy of the commons" in
reference to shared material resources.

So the meaning of this word and the meaning of choosing this word for
the CC licensing scheme is clear.

The NC and ND license modules OTOH violate the principles of this idea.
They do not belong to the set of "creative commons" licenses. This may
not have been clear when they were invented, at least not to those who
invented them. But I think it's safe to say that it is clear today.

Thus, continuing to market the NC and ND licenses under the "Creative
Common" label is deceptive.

The effect of CC-By-NC-ND or perhaps CC-By-NC-SA is (at best) an attempt
to reform and globally-unify the concept of "fair use" (or "fair
dealing") in conventional copyright. IMHO, this is PART of a decent
copyright reform platform (other parts include copyright term
limitations, since terms have exploded into far more than useful
durations; and also a return to marking/registration requirements).

There is a very real need to counter our present ultra-restrictive,
real-estate-like copyright schemes. But that's not the same thing as
participating in "free culture" or in creating a "creative commons".

> I understand and to some extent agree with your point about dilution of 
> the "free" mark, though the comparisons you make are in my opinion 
> exagerated and a tad unfair.

Why? Because I mentioned Microsoft? Is that like bringing up Hitler,
these days? ;-D

I wished to clarify the nature of the problem. I think my examples did
so very succinctly -- the issue is not the existence of such alternative
schemes, but their masquerading as something they aren't.

> So basically, what you consider balast, I think is actually support.

Actually, I've seen some empirical evidence that may suggest that you're
right about that -- for example, an analysis of the adoption rates on
the internet of CC licensed works shows that By and By-SA works tend to
remain a fairly constant fraction of CC works, even as the total number
grows exponentially. In fact, there appears to be a slight gain.

However, the quality of these numbers is suspect (they come from CC
itself, and contain a number of observational biases and ambiguities).

Mainly though, I think the situation would be even better if the CC
licenses were not treated as one block for promotional purposes, but
rather recognized as members of entirely different licensing families.

Another benefit of this approach might be the invigoration of better
modules (in each family). For example, it may be that the original idea
of NC might be implemented in some way that actually does create some
kind of "commons". But as long as CC pretends that it has succeeded at
creating a useful commons-oriented NC license for aesthetic works, it
has no motivation to actually create one.

For example, it might make sense to have a license that forbids direct
sale (but not all "commercial" use). Or to invoke some kind of trademark
right or other mechanism for establishing a greater "legitimacy" to
works sold by the author, versus competing works.

Or perhaps the energy needs to go into providing a better support
framework oriented towards real "free" licensed works like By-SA?

On the other side of the fence, it might be reasonable to create a
"Filesharing Friendly" license, that has no pretense to "free culture",
but does a better and more succinct job of licensing what most CC-By-NC
and CC-By-NC-ND licensors actually want.

Instead we have CC waving the "commons" flag and claiming "Mission

Which is IMHO, "suboptimal". :-)


Terry Hancock (hancock at AnansiSpaceworks.com)
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.AnansiSpaceworks.com

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