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cc-licenses - Re: [cc-licenses] Founders as a module? was Re: Getting to Version 3.0

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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: Mon, 22 May 2006 14:23:16 +0000

rob AT wrote:
Quoting drew Roberts <zotz AT>:
> I think it is too early to conclude that BY-SA does not allow for a
> successful business model while BY-NC-SA does. Yes this is
> unproven. BY-SA is untested rather than failed in this context. If
> we look at the software model, noncommercial software has proven
> much less successful than copyleft software. And in music, NC is
> core to only a few businesses strategies. Many of which make their
> money in other ways.

Perhaps, but it's been a few years. This long after free software was
defined we already had:

1) Clear ideas of business models (See Raymond' "The Magic Cauldron"
for a nearly-complete enumeration).

2) Existing examples of profitable businesses based on those strategies
(e.g. Cygnus Solutions).

The models that work for free software do not lend themselves to traditional
art forms in a very obvious way. So the success of copyleft with software
does not imply a similar success with art.

So far, copyleft art is mostly in the "free sample" category -- it markets NC
or proprietary work.

And while it's true that there might be some silver bullet around the
corner, it seems more likely that anything we haven't thought of yet, is
probably a bit marginal, and won't work for everybody.

> There is one very good example of a Copyleft project that has
> out-performed a Proprietary project: Wikipedia has done much better
> than h2g2.

These are massive collaboration efforts. That's a particular area where
copyleft is a clear winner -- for the same reasons it is for software.

But, IMHO, that limits the genres of art that can be created. That's not
all bad -- every limitation is an opportunity to be creative. But I think it
means there will continue to be a need for something like NC for the kinds
of art it's currently used for.

I'm excited about new cultural developments, but I don't think I want
to see traditional recorded music disappear, either.

I expect NC to become less popular, but I can't see it really going away --
unless and until something better is offered.

> While I am a big BY-SA fan, I might be willing to go the other
> direction as well.
I really don't see what's in that scheme for you. :-)

What Drew was talking about, BTW, is exactly the scheme envisioned
by the Parker/Van Alstyne paper I cited earlier in the thread (or at least,
the most interesting case they presented). It was meant to handle
cases intermediate between proprietary software and free software.

It is, however incompatible with the pure copyleft licenses, without some
special-case tweaking. I think you actually need to allow the license to
fork back to a pure copyleft at each stage (like a dual license). That'll
get weird enough, I don't think CC has any real business messing with it.
Somebody else probably needs to write that one. ;-)

Oh -- something like that would happen with the time-delay business,
too, of course. The NC with delay would have to allow its work to be used
in combination with NC works even after the time-out, of course (I think
this is no problem, because the license was originally irrevocable anyway).
It would technically be dual-licensed after the timeout.


Terry Hancock (hancock AT
Anansi Spaceworks

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