[cc-licenses] Version 3.0 - Public Discussion

Greg London teloscorbin at gmail.com
Fri Aug 11 16:46:22 EDT 2006

> Creative Commons is not dogmatic; it is pragmatic. That's why we have
> NC, ND, Sampling, and what-have-you licenses.

OK, slow down. First of all, pragmatism here is what works best
for a project that needs ShareAlike to protect the project from
proprietary forks and other wranglings that could sink the project.
Otherwise, everyone who wants to share a project could use
a Public Domain style license and be done with it, right?
ShareAlike is intended as a way to commit content to a project
so that it cannot be taken out of the project and used against the
project itself. That is the pragmatic need for sharealike.
That CC has NC and ND and other flavors has nothing to do with
the needs of a project that *needs* a copyleft license.

Pragmatism here, is to figure out the needs of projects that
will not succeed with Public Domain licenses. Giving away
rights may or may not fit your definition of making the project
more "Free". But it may be suicide for the project to take on
a licese like CC-BY when it really *needs* CC-SA. So, no more
slippery uses of "that's not Free" here. It's a gaseous term
with poorly defined boundaries and can be used to emotionally
plea for just about any side of the debate.

Pragmatically, ShareAlike must be designed to protect a project
that needs protection, that cannot give away certain rights, such
as using Public Domain licensing, because giving away too many
rights will allow proprietary forks or other forks that hurt the project.

Can we agree on that first?

> Forbidding thousands or millions of people from experiencing
> Open Content because they bought the wrong computer or
> the wrong music player doesn't help creators, listeners, or the
> Free Culture movement.

I don't have a problem with someone playing FLOSS music on
DRM hardware. I don't have a problem with someone running
OpenOffice on Microsoft Windows.

The point is not to prohibit the use because DRM is involved somewhere.
By itself, it doesn't make a difference to protecting the project.

Where it makes a difference to protecting the project is
whether or not someone can take OpenOffice source code,
FORK it, keep the source code private, and DISTRIBUTE an
EXECUTABLE that can only be run on WINDOWS.

That is a hole in the armor that ShareAlike should protect against.

This would allow people to EFFECTIVELY make proprietary forks,
even though the EXECUTABLE is licensed the same, it is of
NO USE to anyone who doesn't have the source.

What I'm yet not clear on is whether the DRM clause protects
against this or not. No one has yet answered that question.
ANd I still ahven't had time to comb the license wording myself.

The thing here is that the examples of MUSIC don't really have
the same painfully obvious problems of source code. So they
aren't really good examples of what I"m concerned about.

One could imagine someone taking a copyleft game and porting
to run on the PSP with hardware DRM, and making only the
final executable available in non-DRM channels, holding the source
code private. Now, that's not too big an issue until that same
person starts modifying the game, and still releasing only
executables that run on proprietary hardware. The source code
is unavaible to the community who created the original project.
All they get is an executable.

Do you see the proprietary fork occurring in this scenario?
I need a yes/no answer to know we're on remotely the same
channel here.

Now, I know CC doesn't recommend using their licenses for software,
but I don't think it is too far fetched to consider that there are media
applications which have intermediate formats equivalent to an executable.
Any opaque format that makes it impossible to get back to the original
media. Or any format that only operates on certain DRM hardware.

But I'm not saying you should be prohibited from taking yoru FLOSS
project and playing it on your iPod. I'm saying that you should be
prohibited from using the DRM and DMCA and similar restrictions
around your iPod as a way to create proprietary FORKS, derivatives
of the FLOSS content that the original FLOSS creators have no
access to.

That's the basic promise of protection in Copyleft:
No one can create and distribute a derivative
that is unaccessible to the rest of the project.

And my question is simply this:
Does the DRM clause provide the protection promised or not?

You can play stuff on your DRM hardware, but you cannot be
allowed to use that DRM barrier as a way to circumvent the
requirement that you share your derivatives with the original

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