[cc-licenses] NonDerivative NonCommercial Licenses

Greg London email at greglondon.com
Sat Mar 25 12:54:15 EST 2006

Don't know, perhaps the key lies in this statement:
> I have written documentation for two different programs.

Different programs yield different users, different interests, etc.
A wildly popular work released under All Rights Reserved
has a larger base of users to work from than an undiscovered
work licenses CC-SA, even though the popular work is far more
restrictive in its license.

Then again, it could be that your contributers are new
to the field of open source licensing. Software projects
took a long time to sort out that the only way to empower
a gift economy project that could survive alongside proprietary
competition such as Microsoft was to use something that
was strong copyleft, but allowed all other uses, including
commercial uses, to allow companies like RedHat to leverage
money-making to make the software even better.

In the way-back days, people kept releasing shareware
and people new to the world of computers thought they
had discovered free software. But it wasn't Free as in Speech
software, it was free as in beer and you had to pay to
get the full-version.

Also, in the way-back days, software projects would come
out with all sorts of assinine restrictions, such as trying
to prevent people from using their project in certain
fields of use, like military products, or trying to prevent
their project from being used in certain countries. The
problem with that is it is a restriction added not to help
the project, but added to forward the original founder's
political views. And then these restrictions became permanent
if many people contributed, and make the project incompatible
with other projects that weren't so stupid.

Check out the Open Source Definition here
And take a look at 5 and 6.
The reason those bullets are there is because
early on, people in-experienced with open source
thought that politically motivated restrictions
were good, but in the long run, they actually end
up impeding the project.

So, for massive, long term projects, such as Linux
or Wikipedia, the only license that makes sense
is something like GNU-GPL or CC-SA, which are copyleft
licenses that protect the project from proprietary
forking, but allow all other uses, including commercial,
and avoids politically motivated restrictions that
5 and 6 prohibit.

If your project is a small scale project, if the
contributers are relatively inexperienced with
the workings of an open source project, then you
can probably fly under the radar forever with
whatever restrictions you want to put on you
documentation, your source code, or whatever.

YOu could probably license your software All
Rights Reserved, and license your documentation
CC-BY-NC-SA-AB-CD-EF or something equally
restrictive, and still manage to find someone
who likes the software, has no experience with
how Open Source works, and would be willing to
contribute to your documentation anyway.

Like I said, it took years and years and years
for the open source software community to get
its act together, to get them to stop thinking
of "ShareWare" as open, to stop them from thinking
that NonCOmmercial was open, to stop them from thinking
restricting fields of endeavor was open.

And that change only happened because Linux
finally gave them something specific to focus on.

Now that Creative COmmons has come along, I'm amazed
how much history wants to repeat itself, with people
looking for restrictions against fields of endeavor,
for people looking for restrictions against commercial
uses, and yet these people think they're working
towards something Free or Open like Linux is.

The thing seems to be that there hasn't yet been
a project comparable to Linux or Wikipedia that
has given CC license users something to focus on,
so they haven't been forced to look at their
flawed assumptions about gift economies.

Small projects can use the ShareWare approach and
succeed because they're small. CC-NC-SA can succeed
in small projects because small projects never scale
beyond the point where the licensing fails.

BTW, the software that your documentation covers,
how is it licensed? All Rights Reserved? GNU-GPL? CC-SA-NC?
Does the software succeed because it is a Market Economy driven
project? Or is it a Gift Economy project?

How many contributers do your projects have?
How much work did you put into the documentation
versus how much has been from contributions from
other people? 90-10? 50-50? 10-90?

What is the actual software? A copyleft spreadsheet program?
Or a video game licensed all rights reserved? You'll probably
get more fans and therefore contibuters for a video game,
even if the game is all rights reserved than you would for
a spreadsheet program that is GNU-GPL.

When projects are small enough, the license has
much less effect on the success of a project.

For a huge project to succeed, though, the license
can make or break it.

> Greg wrote:
>> Which is why fans have no incentive to put a lot of work into CC-NC
>> works, whether they have SA added to them or not.
> I have written documentation for two different programs.
> One set of documentation is licenced under the CC-SA.
> The other set is licenced under the CC-NC-SA.
> There are more derivatives, and translations of the documentation
> under the CC-NC-SA licence, than the one with the CC-SA licence.
> Under your theory, the material under the CC-SA licence should have
> more translations, and derivatives.
> Can you explain why my experience contradicts your theory?

Bounty Hunters: Metaphors for Fair IP laws

More information about the cc-licenses mailing list