[cc-community] NC/ND

Anthony osm at inbox.org
Wed Dec 14 12:41:18 EST 2011

On Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 10:27 AM, drew Roberts <zotz at 100jamz.com> wrote:
> On Tuesday 13 December 2011 17:10:16 cc at phizz.demon.co.uk wrote:
>> Many people use the NC license and are more willing to supply
>> image to initiatives like the Encyclopedia of Life than to wikispecies
>> for example.
> Many people are fine with non-Free Software. That does not mean they walk hand
> in hand with those who are concerned with Free Software.

Well, that's what the FSF is for.  It's not what CC is for.

The problems with the NC licenses go far beyond that.  They muddy the
waters as to what is permitted.  In fact, the way they are implemented
*confuses* authors as to what they are permitting.

The question for the NC license is "Allow commercial uses of your
work?"  But copyright *does not cover use* of a work.  It covers
copying, it covers distribution, it covers modification, and it covers
public performance/display.  For NC licenses to cover *use* of a work
they would need to be EULAs, and they are not (they explicitly are

A popular combination is NC and ND.  Under ND, modification is
prohibited anyway.  So what we have is that copying, distribution, and
public performance/display must be non-commercial.  Copying and
publicly distributing a free (as in beer) work is not likely to be
something you're going to make big bucks off of.  Set the price too
high and people will just get a copy for free.  People do engage in
commerce copying and publicly distributing free works.  For instance
Cheap Bytes sells Linux and similar CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs.  But this it
doesn't seem to me is the kind of "commercial use" that authors are
concerned with.  In fact, I would think most authors *like* that their
works are getting distributed cheaply to people who might not be able
to easily download a copy for free.

So what's left is private distribution and public performance/display.
 And for the most part the people who are going to run into this
gotcha are educational users.  But this, for the most part, is
accidental.  If you asked people who chose the NC license whether or
not they wanted to "Allow colleges and universities to use your work
without modification?" I think the answer in the majority of cases
would be "yes".  But really, it's colleges and universities that are
the ones who get screwed by NC licenses.  That is, if they actually
care about following the restrictions of the work in the first place.
(Plenty of uses of NC licensed works falls outside what's legally
permitted by the license, but no one cares and so no one gets sued.
But if you're going to rely on that, then why have the license in the
first place?)

I think NC is a terrible license because it doesn't fit with the
principles of CC, not just because it's "not Libre".  I don't mind the
ND licenses from that perspective.  It could be a little better
described as to what constitutes a derivative work, and what doesn't,
but for the vast majority of cases I think CC-BY-ND can fit the bill
for what people are *mistakenly* licensing under CC-BY-NC-ND.

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