[cc-licenses] Yet more on NC (was: Re: New Generic and ports)

Jonathon Blake jonathon.blake at gmail.com
Tue Oct 10 18:11:26 EDT 2006

Henri wrote:

> Makes you want to quote the KJV, doesn't it?

The KJV is under copyright, so quoting from it would be a copyright
violation.  [Crown Copyright.  I've forgotten the exact wording for
the duration, but the paraphrased version is "until the end of

For the Protestant Canon, on the only Bible that can be "safely' used
is the WEB Bible.  For the deuterocanonical books., Bretton's
translation of the LXX is one of the few with no licence/copyright

In small churches, the royalty payments for reading the Bible, singing
hymns, and multi-media presentations are amongst the largest items in
their budget. [Whilst the payment is based upon congregation size, in
some instances a slight increase in the number of people who attend
the service, can result in a large enough increase in the royalty
payment, that the church is forced to consider whether or not to sing
hymns during the service.  (What these churches want/need, is a hymnal
that contains hymns for which the words, score, and arrangement are
royalty free, and that that position can be easilly proven to every
organization from the RIAA down to your local superior court judge.) ]

> that religious commentary could be collaborative in a wiki style.

There are a couple of Wiki commentaries on the bible.
IIRC, the order of popularity was:
ARR, CC-BY-NC, CC-BY-ND, CC-BY-SA, then "other licences".
[More wiki based commentaries of the Bible  have no licence, than any
of the other options.]

Most of the religious orientated wikis have not attracted the numbers
needed to take off.

> > My sense is that most organizations that us the NC licence are either
> > non-profits,
> Surely it has to be an important consideration if the monopoly of
> potentially making money off the work is held. If it weren't, why
> should a non-profit care about someone else making a profit?

Revenue protection.
* It is not income from royalties, but donations that count.  If the
material is "CC-BY-SA" the donors have the perception that the
organization is allowing other companies to profit, at the expense of
the non-profit.. With the "CC-BY-NC"  the donors do not have that
perception.  [Their question after seeing "CC-BY-SA" is "Why donate to
this non-profit, if they are going to allow others to make a buck off
of it?"]
* IRS rules on "profit" also come into play here.  [I'll let a CPA
explain when, how, and what makes a difference there. The gist of it
is that income --- other than donations --- typically needs to be "an
arm's length away", to retain the 501 (3) (c) status.]

> > * Software support can generate revenue.  That doesn't exist for text.
> It seems to me that teaching courses based on textbooks is a support-
> like service for text.

a)  My perception is that NC permits material to be used in a course.
It does prohibit it from being sold.  [This is where the lack of
definitions in the licence is a major issue.  The  guidelines that CC
issued are very unclear here.  On one hand, a parent can use the
material to teach the child that they home school, but the local
school district can not use the material. The Red Cross can use it in
a course, but the Salvation Army can not use it, even if teaching the
same course, using the same instructor.]

b) With software, one can get sell a "maintainance contract".  I don't
see an analogy to that, for text.   I can teach a course once, and
maybe a refresher in a year's time.  there is no ongoing contract that
generates $x per month, regardless of the number of times i am called.
  Or $x per incident, as some software companies charge.  [Where $x is
a figure greater than 0, but less than a googol.]

> I find it strange that MIT is pushing NC and all the ambiguity it entails.

I had forgotten which institution it was.  :(

For MIT, NC makes perfect sense. They can offer all this material, and
everybody can go "yippee".  MIT gets a lot of good karma points. Only
when legalman walks in, and points out that the local school district
can't use the material, do people realize just how diabolical it is.

A parent who homeschools their children can use the material, but your
local school dsitrict, that lost its funding because all of the
students decided to either be home schooled, or go to a private
school, can't use it. (The former is an individual, and the latter is
not a 501(3)(c) organization.)  [For whoever wanted to know why the
licences should be localized, that is an excellent example.  Only a
court in the US will find that to be acceptable. Most European courts
will find that to be an onerous clause.]

> At e.g. Helsinki University of Technology, hard copies of course
> material is sold to students. This operation has been externalized to

One of the downfalls of the NC licence --- the distributor has bear
all of the costs involved in distributionof the amterial.  For
internet distribution that is inexpensive.  For hard copy, that cost
adds up fairly rapidly ( $0.10 per page, if you use your own desktop
printer. $0.02 per page if you ship it off to Lulu.com.)

> This means that NC is a problem for educational material.

I've half seriously thought about proposing both a  CC-EDU and CC-REL licence.
Something that addresses the specific needs and concerns of those organizations.

> seems to make more sense to get rid of NC than to weasel it so that
> doing business with NC is OK for educational purposes.

A pity we can't survey the people that use the CC-NC licence, and find
out why they are using it. [Especially the bloggers and playwrights.
(I really would like to know the rational of using an NC licence for a

If the question about NC was changed to "Do you want to prohibit
everybody --- including yourself --- from recouping their costs?"
would the usage go up, or down?

> If a tenured educator is paid on a monthly basis, one has to wonder
> if the royalty extracted outweighs the collaboration and distribution
> that is lost due to not being Free as in Free Software.

It is a step from ARR to NC.   If a college professor can get their
book used by even half a dozen colleges, their royalties are ensured
for a five or so years.  Then they do the updated version.  If their
work is used by more than 100 colleges, their monthly royalty payment
will be equal to, if not more than their income from teaching.

>>Commentary of _The Gospel of Judas of Keiroth_
> But could such commentary be massively collaborative under CC-by-sa?
> Could such a commentary be more insightful?

Yes / No / Maybe
Using Wikipedia as an example.  Massive collaboration can work, but
edit wars are common.   Is the quality of the content of any random
article in Wikipedia greater than that of say, _Encyclopedia
Britanica_.?  The uniform answer is "No".  What Wikipedia lacks in
quality, it makes up for in sheer quantity.  Use it as a starting
point, but rely on it at your peril.

The OpenScrolls Project has only translated 5 of the roughly 850 texts
from Qumram.
Whilst this is bad example [ Licence confusion GNU-FDL or C-BY-ND]
[Translation is difficult]  the quality of the output appears to be a
par with the academic translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

http://openbibleproject.org/ uses CC-NC-SA 2.5 uses the footnotes from
the Geneva Bible as its baseline from which to jumpstart their
project. [ Ironically enough, they are using the WEB translation as
the Bible text, because of licensing/copyright issues with the Geneva
Bible.]  Thus far, they has not been much in the way of "original"

Historically,  the classic commentaries of the Bible have been by
individuals.  Either _The Jerusalem Bible_ (1966) or _The Oxford
Annotated Bible_ (1962) can be credited with the re-emergence of group
written commentaries. [The previous group commentary would be either
the appendices to the 1611 edition of the KJV, or the  notes to the
1599 Geneva Bible.]

> believe that many bloggers who are using CC-by-nc had reasons that
> should have lead to CC-by-nd instead.)

My blog has a CC-BY-NC licence, because that was the default, and I
didn't bother to change it.  [I should use a  licence that allows
redistribution. Format changes are acceptable, editorial changes are
not acceptable. (IOW, if you want to print it, do so,  but include the


Ethical conduct is a vice.
Corrupt conduct is a virtue.

Motto of Nacarima.

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