[cc-licenses] Yet more on NC

Henri Sivonen hsivonen at iki.fi
Wed Oct 11 10:57:03 EDT 2006

On Oct 11, 2006, at 01:11, Jonathon Blake wrote:
> 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
> eternity".]

I don't really know the details, but my understanding has been that  
the KJV is in the Public Domain outside the U.K. (at least outside  
the Commonwealth) and that the rights the Crown holds only prevent  
you from printing or importing printed KJV Bibles in the U.K. Is  
there any evidence of the Crown or licensed Queen's Printers actually  
stirring up trouble for anyone (or anyone but the Church of England?)  
using passages of the KJV as parts of other works or for reading the  

What Zondervan et al. require in the U.S. isn't necessarily an  
indication of what the Crown requires in the U.K.

> 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.) ]

The conclusion I draw is that they should be wanting a Bible  
translation and hymns that are Free as in Free Software--not NC. In  
the context of NC, the licensor retains the rights to collect  
performance royalties.

Over here in Finland, hymns are exempt from performance royalties  
when performed in a service. However, that doesn't cover religious  
gathering that don't follow the format of a service. I assume there's  
a lot of "don't ask, don't tell" going on. (There are virtually no PD  
hymns in Finnish, because the Finnish language has changed enough in  
the last life + 70 years so that there's always someone who has  
tampered with the lyrics too recently.)

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

Do you have any guess whether this is due to lack of interest or due  
to a perception of unfairness (due to lack of Free as in Free  
Software copyleft)?

>>> 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?"]

So it isn't about potential royalties after all!

Are you sure the unfavorable perception of potential donors isn't  
itself a false perception itself? To me, it seems that NC is such a  
lost opportunity for Free Culture (as in Free Software) that it is a  
shame if CC-by-sa isn't even tried first.

> * 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.]

There are various software-related foundations that have an IRC 501  
(c) (3) status and that make their works Free as in Free Software, so  
this looks like a bad excuse.

>>> * 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.]

This should ring major alarm bells that NC is a bug in CC!

> 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.]

The business model that the lecturers at Helsinki University of  
Technology have does not assume income from the text itself. The  
production of course material is a side effect of the teaching  
function. The text gets produced, because the lecturers feel it is  
needed in order to carry out the teaching function. (The lecturers  
are government officials on a monthly salary.)

>> 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.

It doesn't. They don't get the network benefits from combining their  
works and Free as in Free Software copylefted works produced by others.

> They can offer all this material, and
> everybody can go "yippee".  MIT gets a lot of good karma points.

And that's a major NC bug in CC!

By making NC available, CC makes it possible for users of NC can  
associate themselves with the brand karma of Free Culture, which  
draws its brand karma from Free Software. Yet, NC is not Free as in  
Free Software. It is free as in beer for private persons.

As far as branding goes, NC in more harmful than ARR to Free Culture  
(as in Free Software) and a true creative commons, because it allows  
people to get the branding benefits of CC without actually benefiting  
Free Culture (as in Free Software) or a creative commons.

> 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.

So is NC in your opinion diabolical?

>> 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.

Again, alarm bells should sound at CC that NC is a bug.

>> 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.

That would make the situation only worse by putting CC deeper into  
the non-free boutique license quagmire instead of repositioning CC as  
something that stands for Free Culture with Free as in Free Software.

Sadly, it seems that it may be futile to get CC reposition itself  
that way, since the CC leadership itself in at least the U.S.,  
Finland and Sweden is using NC. With the publication of the GSFDL  
draft, I've become more optimistic about the FSF providing the  
license and attitude that could really enable a Free Culture creative  
commons than about CC fixing its act. :-/

> A pity we can't survey the people that use the CC-NC licence, and find
> out why they are using it.


>> 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.

That assumes that there is only one author and that the others in a  
CC-by-sa scenario would be mere receivers of the text as in an ARR  
scenario. Writing a text book is not without opportunity cost. Hence,  
the royalty is not free money. In a collaborative Free as in Free  
Software scenario, multiple educators waive royalties in exchange for  
a lower individual opportunity cost needed to get the needed course  
material due to pooling of effort. (Lower opportunity cost per  
individual, because the effort is distributed to multiple people.)

>> 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
> typos.)]

That was my point.

Henri Sivonen
hsivonen at iki.fi

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