[cc-education] WHY EDU ?

Stephen Downes stephen at downes.ca
Tue Feb 10 15:54:21 EST 2004


Heather Ford wrote:

> I don't think this is what David is saying - I think he is saying that it
> is for the larger community, filled with a variety of different people 
> from
> different sectors and different contexts, to decide, through use, on how
> the licenses should develop - this is merely transferring the decision
> about what kinds of choices people want to the commons, rather than
> foregoing the license or the particular conditions of a license because
> *we* think this is what people want and need. I think that the default in
> this early stage should definitely be *MORE CHOICE* rather than less.
This is a fallacy.

It is like saying, "People should have choice in how much they
charge for materials advertised as free."

The fact is, including the 'educational institution only' materials
under the Creative Commons banner is like slapping a price
tag on materials that people have come to think of - because
of the branding - as free.

When it transpires that individuals have to pay for materials
stamped 'Creative Commons', the damage done to the brand
and the idea cannot be undone. People will have no choice about

Choice, in the usual sense of the term, is something that
happens before the decision is made, not after. If there is
no mechanism to make a decision, there is no choice, and
all the wordplay in the world won't change that.

As for dealing with David's compromise - it is honestly
something that could only be understood by a lawyer, and
I think may have a special meaning to a lawyer. Why
else would the language specify rights for people in an
educational institution and not in an educational institution?
On a commonsense reading, the license refers to
everyone, through the use of the word 'others'. Who is
restricted? Somebody must be restricted, otherwise, why
not just say 'everyone'. But I cannot determine who is

On the other hand, if it really does mean 'everyone',
then we're back to CC By-Att-NC, which was the
compromise position we originally had, before David
had a change of heart and held a straw poll on his

> I think that this is very unfair - Creative Commons is a movement about
> choice - it is not about applying particular models to common use - but
> rather about accommodating different ways in which people wish to share
> work. Unfortunately there seem to be different views of what is 
> democratic
> here - but I feel very strongly that we need to come to some kind of
> compromise - or stick with the decision of the project lead and review 
> with
> *real* statistics how things pan out in *Reality*.
Being the only person who has brought any sort of evidence
other than a straw poll to this conversation, it seems unreasonable
to tag me as the person not depending on 'real' statistics.

Nobody's choice is restricted no matter what Creative Commons
does. It's not like there's a shortage of ways to license commercial
content. And if you want to do it sematically, you can use ODRL
or XrML (aka MPEG-REL).

The only 'choice' lies in whether the Creative Commons logo
and brand begins to be used to mislead people. But nobody has
a choice about that except the people who decide this issue
here and now. After the fact, it's too late. The 'reality' just
mentioned can only be observed after the fact.

As for the arbitrary decision of one individual (or a small group,
as it were) being called 'democratic', well, such clarity of
words does not bode well for Creative Commons. I am
concerned now, about a wider sort of damage that may be
about to take place, as new, specialized, and more restrictive
licenses begin to be rolled out in other domains.

Also, as for my position being 'unfair', I think that a
reading of the list archives will show that I have exhibited
considerable flexibility, and that I have compromised,
and that I have not pulled a compromise position off the
table. Calling my position unfair is a misrepresentation
of the discussion thus far, and should be reconsidered.

Finally, to rest any argument on the authority of a "project
lead" is to overlook the fact that the position is an appointed
one, subject in no way to review, recommendation or
reconsideration by those affected, and that this discussion, even,
relies solely on his goodwill to exist.

And lest this email be misunderstood, I would like to make
it clear that in my conversations with David I have come to
appreciate his knowledge, charity and sense of committment.
Our understanding and our desires for this field are virtually
identical, and we have more that unites us than that separates
us. I think that nobody shares a greater desire to come to a
mutual understanding than David and myself, and I think we
both understand well enough the dangers of internecene
conflict and take great care to stress our common goals,
however this particular disagreement may be resolved.

-- Stephen

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