[cc-licenses] NonDerivative NonCommercial Licenses

Terry Hancock hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Wed Mar 29 21:24:24 EST 2006

drew Roberts wrote:

>On Wednesday 29 March 2006 08:52 am, Greg London wrote:
>>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.
>Now, you will get no argument from me that a pure copyleft licence is the best 
>licence, and for my money, not just for what you call gift economy projects.
If the only available choices are "One of the existing pure copyleft
licenses" or CC's NC licenses, then I agree with this statement.

I agree with it for a broader universe of possible licenses if the
work is program software, hardware design, or other objectively
measurable "tool-like" information, for which collaboration is
a clear win.

If it's "expressive art", though, I think that both CC-NC-* and existing
copyleft licenses are sub-optimal and possibly inadequate.

ISTM, this leaves three possibilities:

1) No system exists which can combine free modifiable redistribution (the
"four freedoms") with artistic expression in a system which provides
motivation and reward for contributors.  = "Free art is a failure"

2) No such system is possible by the mere use of a license. We must lobby
to change the legal structure of intellectual property laws to a better
system if we want "Free art".

3) Such a system is possible by clever choice of license terms and 
of a commons community around this new license. But no one has yet 

I'm not ready to give up on #3 yet.  But I can't say that I've been inspired
yet, either, so #1 and #2 loom more ominously (I can't think of a solution
in the domain of #2 either, but I haven't tried very hard -- ISTM, though,
that the set of solutions in #2 should be almost entirely equal to the
one in #3, and #3 is much easier to implement).

CC-NC-* isn't on the map, because it isn't "Free" (or not "free enough").

Existing successes with Copyleft art, are, IMHO, parasitic. They succeed
because they are piggy-backed on some other motivation (perhaps they
are linked to a software project, motivated "politically" (in Greg's 
sense of
the word), or they work only by advertising non-free work.  This isn't
a total failure of course, so "free art is a failure" is perhaps an
exaggeration -- it might be a "niche success in an otherwise global
failure", but I'd be a lot happier to find a system that "succeeds globally
and independently".  Software projects appear to meet that goal.

To me, it still seems that artists just don't get a big enough payback
from copylefting and free-licensing their work with existing copyleft
licenses. And that's why NC remains attractive, even though (IMHO)
it's really a false hope (actually, again, it's a "niche success" -- I'm 
happy to *listen* to Magnatune tracks which are CC-By-NC-SA, but
I can't really "use" them in the sense of synergistically combining them
with my work to create something better than both -- thus neither I
nor the artist achieve any creative leverage by use of this license).

And I assert that "creative leverage" is the most important value
proposition of free-copyleft-licenses like GPL and By-SA.


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