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Subject: Development of Creative Commons licenses

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  • From: Terry Hancock <hancock AT>
  • To: Discussion on the Creative Commons license drafts <cc-licenses AT>
  • Subject: Re: [cc-licenses] Founders as a module? was Re: Getting to Version 3.0
  • Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 04:29:58 +0000

Greg London wrote:
Some consider Public Domain to be truly free. Others think it is TOO
free, since it allows proprietary forks, and instead, they argue that
only Copyleft licenses are really Free, because it not only
guarantees the freedom of that work, but the freedom of derivatives
fo that work.

Given the zeal with which some subscribe to their particular version
of "Free", others sometimes choose to avoid the whole conversation.

Well, there are maniacs who will say anything, but as far as well-organized
groups are concerned (e.g. Free Software Foundation, the Debian distribution,
and the Open Source Initiative), all agree that copyleft is not essential to the
idea of the "freedom" of a license.

Stallman's refusal to "endorse" Creative Commons was tasteless, but
largely irrelevant. CC doesn't require his endorsement, and the Free
Software Definition makes it quite clear that some CC licenses are "free".

In any case, I wasn't addressing the 'freedom of copyleft licenses' issue,
but the much simpler question: "what are the practical differences
between a non-copyleft free license* and the public domain?" AFAIK,
there isn't much difference, and this appears to be a common opinion
in the free software community (including some important opinion

In the VIBGYOR scale, I say anything that is Green (copyleft), or to
the left of that, is Free. But that's just me. Your results may vary.

I still prefer my color scheme, but it's not like I'm going to arm wrestle
anybody over it. Human color psychology doesn't equate to spectral
wavelength (otherwise why is blue a "cool" color and "red" a hot one?**
Screwing up on that particular color-code issue was cited in the
Three Mile Island incident, for example), but it's not a terrible approximation,
and for people familiar with the spectrum, it will be easy to remember.

It is probably worth mentioning that while the spectrum is certainly
universal, the division into *7* colors is somewhat arbitrary, and varies
a bit from language to language (several languages use the same word
for blue and green, notably Japanese, and I suspect the same may be
true of "indigo" and "violet"). Also, there are colors which I regard as
"orange", but others call "red" (I'm not saying that one of us is color-blind,
you understand, I'm saying that we draw the line at a different point in
the spectrum). So if you use a color-coding scheme, it's not the words
that matter, but the standardized colors that you actually use.

I have of course, conveniently left out color-blindness, but the point
of color-coding is always to enhance, not to be relied on. But that's
no problem -- CC already has cute module buttons -- we just need to
incorporate them into the "CC license" design.

The "freedom" issue is a matter of perspective -- the end user has the
greatest present freedom with a non-copyleft license. The author
has the greatest freedom with an "all rights reserved" license. The
community as a whole and for the long term has the greatest freedom
with copyleft licenses. There's no real conflict of terms here, just
different points of view -- if you are clear on the intended frame,
it's easy to be specific about what you mean.

Oh, I suppose it's worth pointing out that there is a parallel effort
to create a "free content and expression definition" as yet another
definition of free-licensing, but this time targeted at artistic works.
This is another effort to resolve the license-disambiguation issue:

You will note that Mia Garlick is one of the people on this project,
so she clearly knows about it. My understanding is that CC has
no official relationship or endorsement of this project, but clearly
it's of interest, nevertheless.

It would be nice if this project could lend an approval mark for CC
licenses that fit its definition to the appropriate CC badge.


*As far as I am concerned, if it *matters* which definition (FSF, DFSG,
or OSD) you use to define whether a license is "free", then you should
pick another license, because you have a broken one! ;-)

**There is a perfectly sane answer to this, but it's not simple from
a scientific standpoint.

Terry Hancock (hancock AT
Anansi Spaceworks

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