[cc-licenses] Disclaimers for works of opinion as an incentive to free licensing

Francesco Poli invernomuto at paranoici.org
Sun Apr 29 14:30:38 EDT 2012

On Sun, 29 Apr 2012 10:24:15 -0600 Carlos Solís wrote:

> Several authors in the free software movement (most particularly the
> members of the FSF) are reluctant to use DFCW licensing (CC-BY-SA, or
> CC-BY) because, in that way, their works of opinion could be freely
> modified by others, which could be used to distort their opinions [1].

They think so, but I am convinced that they are wrong in thinking so.

I believe that nobody can "distort" their opinions, unless a derivative
work of their opinion essays is *misrepresented* as being their own
original and unmodified writing.
But I think misrepresentation is already forbidden by law and not
permitted by Free Software licenses (such as the GNU GPL, the
Expat/MIT, the 3-clause BSD license, ...).
Some Free Software licenses (such as the zlib license) even have
explicit no-misrepresentation clauses.

> However, despite of the obvious reason for their decision,

Obvious, but wrong, in my own personal view...

> such a position
> has been perceived as incongruent by free culture advocates [2].

I am one of those people who perceive this position as inconsistent
with Free Software ideals and principles.

> A way to
> be able to freely license a work, while guaranteeing that the integrity of
> the authors of opinion works and their ideas is upheld, should be of great
> concern for the following versions of CC-BY-SA licenses.

I don't think that any special clause is needed.
I mean, not beyond what the GNU GPL requires for derivative works.

> My idea to do it would be to add a mandatory disclaimer for derivative
> CC-BY-SA works of opinion that states whether the derivative work has been
> stated by the original author to be in the spirit of the original work or
> not. In the negative case, the derivative work must clearly state that the
> derivative work's ideas are solely from the author of the derivative work,
> not necessarily from the original author.

Is it really necessary to explicitly state that the derivative work
reflects the ideas of the modifier, and not necessarily of the original
Isn't that obvious?
The last person who modified a work is the one who had a chance to be
satisfied with the result. He/She had no need to ask the original
author's (or any previous modifier's) approval on the final result, as
long as the original work was licensed under Free terms: the permission
to modify is already granted in the first place!
So it should be *obvious* that a derivative work expresses the opinions
of the last modifier, and not necessarily those of anyone else.

Please note that the same issue holds for programs, yet nobody
For instance, I may write a MUA (Mail User Agent) that does not send
HTML messages, because I am convinced that HTML messages are a very bad
idea. If I license this MUA under Free terms, someone else may create a
modified version of my MUA, which also supports HTML messages (a
terrible idea, but permitted by the license).
My reputation is not hurt, as long as it's clear who wrote what.
My opinions on HTML mail messages are not "distorted": they are
expressed by my MUA, and not necessarily by one of the modified
versions created by other people. Those modified versions will reflect
their own ideas, not necessarily mine!

> [1]: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#OpinionLicenses
> [2]: http://blog.ninapaley.com/2011/07/04/rantifesto/

This "rantifesto" is a very interesting read: unfortunately I cannot
find any information about its license... I really hope it's a Free
Work (or, at least, I hope it tries to be one)...

 New GnuPG key, see the transition document!
..................................................... Francesco Poli .
 GnuPG key fpr == CA01 1147 9CD2 EFDF FB82  3925 3E1C 27E1 1F69 BFFE
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