[cc-licenses] Attribution license

Mark Brown broonie at sirena.org.uk
Tue Oct 3 19:05:41 EDT 2006

On Tue, Oct 03, 2006 at 10:24:40AM -0400, Greg London wrote:

> > This is the point of divergence: I don't see the existance of individual
> > copies of a work that can't be freely used as having a substantial
> > effect on the freeness of the work.  Requiring people distributing

> Maybe you allow Redhat to close itself off, and
> people can no longer modify source code for redhat,
> but instead they get "equivalent" source code
> that runs on Suse. You can't actually do anything
> with your Redhat system anymore because your source
> code only works with Suse.

Something along these lines happens all the time: lots of people make
embedded devices which use Linux.  Not all of these devices are intended
to offer any way for the user to replace the software on them and with a
lot of them that's not an unreasonable decision, even if it's not one
that everyone would prefer.  This doesn't, however, free the vendor from
their obligation to make the source that they are using available.

In this situation you're generally in a position where you'd have to
modify the hardware you've got or build compatible hardware (not
trivial) before you can do anything with the unmodified code you get for
the device (normally this code would be a derived work of the original
free software that was released by its authors).

Device drivers are another example: if you don't have hardware that the
driver knows how to control you can't really use it as-is, though you
can still learn from it.

> Would you consider that platform monopoly in the
> form of a closed off distribution to be any
> more Free than a platform monopoly in closed off
> hardware?

Clearly it isn't.  Users of that platform will have to consider that
just as they have to consider all the other costs associated with using
the platform.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not enthusiastic about devices
like that.

The question is how big a deal is this in terms of the work?  As a
result of copyleft people aren't able to prevent people redistributing
the work and they aren't able to release new works based on the original
work without offering the same freedoms to use their work.  To me for
copyleft that's the big deal: the work (as a logical entity, rather than
an individual copy of it) is kept in the commons.

If it's a no commercial use license I can see where you're coming from,
especially if a charge is made for the encumbered copy.

"You grabbed my hand and we fell into it, like a daydream - or a fever."

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