[cc-licenses] NonDerivative NonCommercial Licenses

Greg London email at greglondon.com
Wed Mar 29 08:52:58 EST 2006

> Hi,
> 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.

I'm not talking about individuals so much as I talking
about the contributers to the project as a whole.
I didn't even mention Linus in my post and the only
reason I mentioned Stallman was to quote his manifesto.
The point was not that the individuals were politically
motivated, but that some cross-section of the contributers were.

>>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."

> 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.

This whole thread was in response to a project that
had CC-NC-SA and had accumulated about 500 hours of
outside contributions to the project, and why NC
didn't hinder the project. I had previously said the
best license for any gift economy project is CC-SA
and that any other restrictions becomes a restriction
on teh success of the project itself.

So, the question then became, "I have a CC-NC-SA project
that seems to be succeeding, so that conflicts with your
statement." But then further questioning found that the
project was a Bible study program and documentation based
on a verse in Mathew that said if you get something for
free, you should give it for free. At which point, the
political motivations of the contributers to the project
were enough to overcome the NonCommercial restriction
and succeed anyway.

The whole point simply being that Plain Copyleft,
either GNU-GPL or CC-SA, are the ideal license for
any gift economy project, but that political motivations
of the contributers to a project can cause a project
to succeed under more restrictive licenses, including
All Rights Reserved.

At which point I made mention of the political motivations
of the Linux project, at which point, some readers took
one poorly worded statement comletely literally without
reference to anything around it, and said I was wrong about

Now people are arguing about the difference between GNU
and Linux, and that Linus had no political motivations
in his work. Which seems to be saying that the whole
point of "the political motivations of the project as a
whole can inspire poeple to contribute" has been completely
lost and focusing on one misstatement of fact has overtaken
the discussion.

The whole point of the thread was to explain why
"the best license for a gift economy project is pure copyleft"
didn't line up with a politically motivated Bible Study
project that used CC-SA-NC. The point being that the
contributers were politically motivated by the verse
from the bible to give freely what you get freely,
so they had motivation to use NC, and their motivation
could overcome having an NC restriction on the project.

And before this spirals further out of control,
just pretend I didn't say anything about Stallman
or Linus or the GNU project or the Linux project.

> 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.

yes, it was. Apparently a badly worded side comment
has drawn attention away from the point, and the
point seems mostly lost. I'll try to be more careful
with my side comments and secondary examples, or maybe
I'll just try to drop them completely.

So, in short, with no side comments or secondary
examples, this is what I should have posted in
the first place:

Pure copyleft, such as GNU-GPL or CC-SA, are the ideal
license for a gift-economy project, in that these
licenses give the project the best chances for success.
It prevents proprietary forking, and it prevents
a commercial forks of the project from competing with
the original gift-economy version of the project.

On the other hand, a politically motivated project,
such as a Bible Study project centered on a verse from
the Bible that says "Give for free what you get for free"*,
may find motivated contributers even though there is
a NC restriction on the project, which theoretically,
could allow a proprietary and commercial fork of the
project compete against the original gift economy project
that can never use commercial leverage to stay alive.

And finally, politically motivated projects with licenses
more restrictive than pure copyleft, can succeed if the
project itself is on a smaller scale than soemthing like
Linux** or wikipedia. The larger a project gets, the
more the license becomes critical for the project's
success. The smaller a project is, the less important
the choice of license is, as long as it remains small.

(3 paragraphs, to the point, no side comments,
no side examples, wonder if that'll fly.)

*yes, I know that is not the actual verse from the bible.
I know all bugs are shallow, but the verbatim verse
is not the point here, just the idea behind it.

**and GNU and Debian and insert whatever flavor so that
no one feels left out.

Bounty Hunters: Metaphors for Fair IP laws

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