[cc-licenses] NonDerivative NonCommercial Licenses

Terry Hancock hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Tue Mar 28 21:29:29 EST 2006

Greg London wrote:

>Linux started with nothing but political motivations
>by Richard Stallman that being that software should
>be free. I'm not even sure if Stallman even supports
>any sort of copyrighted software other than to use
>copyright to create a copyleft license.
Uh-oh.  This is already in trouble, because it
seriously conflates Linux with the Gnu project.
Especially in terms of political motivations,
they are quite different beasts.

>So take
>"Linux started out with some political motivation
>of "Putting Microsoft out of business",
>and replace it with
>"Linux started out with some political motivations
>of putting Operating Systems companies out of business."
>And if you feel like it, add
>"those motivations grew to include Microsoft,
>but was later redirected to non-political motivations."
>apologies for any confusion I created.
Well, actually my mail is just back from being on the fritz,
and I never saw the beginning of this thread, so I may be
unclear on what your point was.

However, the idea that Linus Torvalds had *any* designs
on putting O/Ss out of business is laughable.  I seriously
doubt that he had any idea that Linux would get out of
the experimental toy stage (that is, until it unexpectedly
did).  He may have started to have such ambitions later
 on, and/or people with those ambitions may have been
drawn to the project.  But a central motivation? No, I
don't think so.  Linux has always been about making
something good, not tearing down something bad. Microsoft
has *earned* every bit of acrimony that is directed at it
through its own actions, and people who just don't like MS
use Apple Macintosh, not Linux.

Richard Stallman is ambitious and has sufficient arrogance
to have formed an goal like you suggest, but I don't know if he
seriously thought anything big would happen. I think he
was really more into creating a free zone for himself and
like-minded people. I see him as thinking more in terms
of a "Hippie-style" disconnect from mainstream proprietary-
software culture, than in terms of becoming the new
mainstream. But of course, every counter-culture leader
has some hidden aspiration to become a mainstream-culture
leader (and fear of attaining that aspiration, too). Personally,
I think he's in serious danger of believing in his own myth,
but that's for him to worry about.

I think maybe that your perception here has to do with the
mingling and ascendency in the broader community of
different parties with very different reasons for contributing
to Gnu and/or Linux (and/or many other open source communities).

I don't think that "the community" "changed its mind" -- I think
the community changed its *composition* over time.  Also,
whereas Gnu (and the Free Software Foundation) was once the
largest free software community, with its own highly ideological
viewpoint, the Linux community gradually overwhelmed it. Today,
Gnu is still fairly small, but Linux has grown to massive proportions,
and they are both surround by an enormous galaxy of other
FLOSS projects  (I'm not certain, but I think Debian is a much
larger group than either, and I *know* the class "Sourceforge
developers" is -- though it's debatable whether that's a 'community'
or not).  These changes in the composition of the community have
resulted in significant changes in whose organization's values
become the perceived values of the whole.  It's a diverse group
and opinions and motivation vary a whole lot.

The GPL, and more importantly, the concept of Copyleft have
obviously been a big success -- many different people find it
compelling for different reasons.  This makes it a very effective
tool for community building, even outside of politically united

I don't think the NC license will ever achieve this kind of long
term stability.  It's fundamentally flawed.

Maybe that was your real point?  I'm not sure.

OTOH, I do think that some "like" the NC license in some fundamental
way is necessary for artists.  The SA clause doesn't quite achieve
that, because the market dynamic that works for program software
doesn't work for most art -- there's not enough "collaborative-leverage
payback" so the artist (usually) doesn't feel they've gotten anything
back for free-licensing their work.

I would actually find it simpler if "NC" simply meant you could sell
copies of the work.  The problem with this is the well-established 
"broadcast+sponsors" model that have used commercially for
decades (TV/Radio).  Because this relies on indirect monetization
it makes artists crave to recover the indirect monetization from
their works (or fear "exploitation" by it), but it's really a somewhat
odd system, since there's no direct sale of the work.

I understand this motivation, but I'm not sure what the right
solution is. SA or copyleft prevents this kind of exploitation by
undercutting the market (you can always find a cheaper source,
so the commercial source can't really charge much in practice).

I wish I had a brilliant solution for that, but I don't.  Still, I don't
think CC's "NC" clause is it, either.


More information about the cc-licenses mailing list