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Subject: Development of Creative Commons licenses

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  • From: drew Roberts <zotz 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: Wed, 24 May 2006 07:29:50 -0400

On Tuesday 23 May 2006 10:48 pm, Terry Hancock wrote:
> rob AT wrote:
> > Quoting Greg London <email AT>:
> > > I think Rob's point was a scenario where Alice chooses to use
> > > Founder's with an N year delay to public domain release, and at
> > > N-1, Alice freaks and wants to keep her work under the original,
> > > more restrictive, license. So, she willingly choose it at the
> > > start, but before the release period was up, she changed her mind
> > > and wants to revoke it.
> > >
> > > I don't have much sympathy for Alice in this situation, but I could
> > > see an uneducated media hyping it all out of whack about how CC is
> > > "stealing" someone's work.
> >
> > Yup. There's also malice as well as ignorance, it would be a gift to
> > various organisations that are pathologically opposed to any form of
> > CC licensing.
> IMHO letting people who are pathologically-opposed to your
> agenda set the rules by which you work, is asking for
> failure.
> My concept here is to create something that creates harmony
> between "NC-based + commercial distribution" models and
> "free-license community distribution" models of business. The
> latter is very good at building up goodwill and creating massively
> collaborative collective works. But it's not so good at actual
> monetization of income.

Do you have proof of this latter contention. (See later discussion.)
> It's a wonderful thing to be paid in potentials for potentials --
> "aleph money" -- but at some point a professional artist will want
> to trade some potentials for tangibles: artists have to eat, need
> shelter, etc. Copyleft creates a beautiful information-exchange
> economy, but it creates an effective wall against exchanging
> for material goods. It makes it really hard to "sing for your
> supper".

No, I don't agree with this thought. An artist can insist on being paid every
time they "sing" and still release all of their work as copyleft.

Income streams that don't go away when your creative works are copyleft...

Gig and concert for musicians. (Plus endorsements, action figures (had to put
that in for fun) and merchandise and the like. Personal appearances. Dual
licensing. Let's let our imaginations soar for a bit...

For painters, they can still sell their originals. They can also still sell
numbered and signed prints. As a matter of fact, couldn't they reserve their
signature as a part of a trademark and not allow free use of that (sort of
like what Red Hat does with their trademarks?)

I, however, (want to?) write lyrics. That is a bit tougher to figure out, but
I have not given up yet.
> There are people who think that's how it should be -- that the
> "information-for-matter economy" is fundamentally immoral (or
> pathological, or undesireable for whatever reason). But I'm not
> one of them -- I believe "artists should be paid for their work".

I am not one of them either and I agree tha artists (people in general
should be paid for their work (if they so choose.)

> Or at least, "artists should retain the right to be paid for all, most,
> or some of their work, for limited times, under reasonably limited
> conditions, that don't poison the processes of art and innovation
> themselves".

This part though I think is open to debate but I would not kick at reasonable
copyrights while remaining open for something better to come along.
> So, in the end, I'm sympathetic to the desire of artists for a
> "non-commercial" option that allows them a monopoly on making
> money from their work.

I too am sympathetic to the desire. I just think it is not going to do much
for them or for anyone in the long run.
> However, the existing CC "NC" module is fundamentally incompatible
> with free-licensing and the networks that are used to convey
> free-licensed works. Those networks are very powerful, precisely
> because of the success of copyleft for the "useful arts" of software,
> documentation, and design literature. So, IMHO, artists would
> benefit from something that allows them to cooperate with those
> systems.

Agreed and ALSO allows them to cooperate WITH EACH OTHER with minimum
> Even more importantly, however, artists would not lose the collaborative
> leverage of copyleft communities if their work were freely combinable
> with copyleft works. The existing NC module blocks this advantage,
> and it does so perpetually, creating a walled-off "NC commons" which,
> in terms of collaborative leverage is fundamentally crippled -- it provides
> no means to pay for the processes that create the illusion of friction-free
> collaboration. Things like advertising-supported or commercially-sponsored
> distribution sites.

Even if we adopted what we are talking about, NC would block these while it
was in force. What it would not block fully like it does now is the interest
and promotion that can come from people who are out to promote Free Works.
> AFAICT, *any* "NC" model will create *drag* on any work going into that
> community. But, in principle, it might be reasonable to allow such drag
> in exchange for monetizing the artists' output.

Like I have been saying, I am certainly willing to explore compromises that
don't kill my actual goals.
> Because of this drag, there will always be a desire to reap the immediate
> benefits of a free-license community by releasing straight to CC-By or
> CC-By-SA. With the changes expected in version 3.0, those works will
> definitely
> be considered "free" and "compatible" with the existing commons.
> The *currently implemented* CC "NC" module, however, does more than merely
> create "drag" -- it *fully isolates* the "NC commons". I'm not the first
> person
> to note this (as you well know). But how to solve it?
> The original US copyright system solved this problem by limiting the term
> of copyrights. This has gone sour because of "effectively unlimited"
> copyright terms.
> However -- just as we can circle the wagons and redefine what "fair use"
> ought to mean by creating CC licenses that allow "fairer use" than what
> the law provides, we can create licenses that allow "more limited times".
> And we can combine the two concepts -- we can let works evolve from
> "most commercially viable" to "most community shareable" to "fully public
> domain" -- over time. Time gives us an extra axis to play with, and
> therefore an extra means of optimizing licenses.

And I think this concept has enough merit to warrant our serious exploration.
> Forget the term "founder's copyright". Lessig says in his blog (cited in
> this thread) that there've only been *three works* using it. Also,
> "founders"
> isn't a license at all -- it's a copyright sale under contract. And that
> does create a questionable arrangement, IMHO -- one about which some
> fair criticisms can be made. On reflection, I think the existing Founder's
> is ill-conceived -- and that's enough to explain its lack of success.
> But there's a nugget of a good idea there: use term limitations to allow
> a work to become freer over time. That means that, while the NC module
> means the work is in an isolated commons, the term limit means it won't
> stay there (not forever, and not "effectively forever", like waiting for it
> to enter the public domain). So, while a term-limit non-commercial
> commons would be "forked" from the free-commons, it wouldn't be
> "fully disjoint": as you follow the flow of information downstream, they
> merge at some well-defined point in the future. The delay creates a
> reduced, but not non-existent, interest for the members of the
> free-commons.

And by ending up at a copyleft BY-SA license for the duration, you still
retain the income potential (on totally original works) of a dual license
from those unwilling to dip a toe in the copyleft waters for whatever reason.
> That turns a wall into a slope, and provides a means of compromise.
> Of course, people who opt for a perpetual NC clause would get to keep
> their gated-off commons. If a time-limit were implemented as a module,
> it would remain the artists' choice whether to use it or not.
> But people who want to do more than lip-service to the idea of a
> free-commons can license their works so that they will enter it in time,
> without having to give up on a well-understood and comfortable
> business model.
> They'd retain the present incentive to pay for the work, support existing
> paying distribution channels, and protect the artists' income through
> those channels. But they'd simultaneously increase the value of their
> work to the end audience -- who would know that the work will in time
> become useful material as well as a desireable aesthetic experience
> in itself.
> The NC licensing scheme is the most popular CC license -- and while
> I think that's evidence that artists don't fully appreciate the limits it
> is placing on them, I also think it indicates that the artists are not
> prepared to take the risk on unproven and largely untried business
> models proposed for fully free-licensed aesthetic works.

Here is where I think artists should take a chance and experiment. Release a
better work or two as BY-SA and see what happens. Unless you expect to be a
one hit wonder, it will not wreck you.
> So far, I can't fault them for that -- it looks like a bad risk to me: The
> counter-examples that have been raised (e.g. "Wikipedia") are
> "successes" at creating content, but they are not "successes" in the
> sense of paying the contributors. Now, I acknowledge that this
> empowerment of amateur creative work is desirable, but do we
> really want to destroy the niche of the "professional artist"?

It may be a bad risk to put all fo their current and future works under a
copyleft wholesale, but it is hardly a bad risk to put one or a few under as
an experiment to explore the possibilities.
> I don't think that's a wise course of action for society. There are
> especially talented people whose time shouldn't be wasted on a
> "day job" -- people who should be paid to create full time. (IMHO).
> Those people need a system that allows the monetization of
> their work -- because as much as I would like it to be otherwise, you
> can't live on goodwill and collaboration alone, no matter how
> much of it you get.

Aside from the demotivational effects being paid to do a job can have on
and a few other things, I aggree big time that there are people whose time
and talents should not be wasted on a day job.

I believe that we will find the systems that will work even with copyleft
works. I am not so sure that people who don't like BY-SA but only straight BY
are gonna find those systems but I will leave that up to them to figure out.

I also think that the real wins are going to come down the road when a
generation has grown up listening primarily to copyleft music as an example.
Anytime some variation or adaptation of a song crom their childhood pops into
their head, they will be able to put it down, record it and go. Easy, simple,
and beautiful.

> Cheers,
> Terry

all the best,

Record a song and you might win $1,000.00

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