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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: Sat, 27 May 2006 02:22:35 +0000

Greg London wrote:

>> You can either get a small number of people to work a large
>> number of hours to get N hours
>> p * H = N
>> or you can get a large number of people to work small numbers of
>> hours to get N hours total.
>> P * h = N
> Honestly, I know what you are getting at, and don't disagree with
> that. But, this is not correct.
> See for instance:

Oh for Pete's sake. I've read the book, twice at least. I get it. And
I also get that I'm not talking about one person has a baby in 9
months so two people can do it in 4.5 months.

Yes, labor on intellectual projects is highly non-linear.

But we already know that free software breaks this rule pretty
completely -- explaning that breakage is a large part of what
ESR was trying to do with the CatB papers.

A few workers spending long hours versus a whole lot of people
contributing small labors.

To use another common metaphor, how about building a barn?

You can either hire a construction company to do it. They'll come out
with a small group of full time employees and build your barn. Or you
can try to create a barn raising and get the whole town to come out
and have everyone do a little bit.

And here's the interesting bit: you will get two very different barns.

A barn that is designed to be easy for a whole lot of people to put up
with little per-person effort will be very different from one designed
for a small number of pros (e.g. traditional beam structures versus
a geodesic dome).

Those are the two basic flavors.

And the point is that a Sunset License doesn't change this. A sunset
license is still having one person or a small group of people create
some new work, they license it "sunset", they keep the exclusive
right to make money off of it for a number of years, and then they
release it to CC-BY or something.

Exactly right. That's why it's necessary.

No matter how successful a straight-to-copyleft strategy is, it will
always be optimized for a different part of the space of possible
works than the proprietary model. Therefore it follows that you
should expect niches / genres of work that are not amenable to
copyleft methods (of course the reverse is true as well -- and since
copyleft is new, that means we should expect works that were
never possible before to become so: probably no commercial company
could ever have produced Wikipedia or Linux).

Now you could say that perpetual NC fills this role, and some people
might choose just that. But in the real world, most projects don't
fit solidly in one corner or the other -- there are works created by
small groups which then are released into the copyleft world.

Please bear in mind that I am simply suggesting the enabling of the
same business strategy that works for Ghostscript and Python
Imaging Library free software projects: both use proprietary-to-free
licensing strategies, so that the older versions are free, and yet the
author can sell the up-to-date version. The Sunset-NC would just
define the same strategy for artistic works.

And yes, this strategy is not optimal for works for which copyleft
is optimal. I am not by any means suggesting that a Sunset-NC should
compete with By-SA -- I'm saying it should compete with Perpetual-NC.

Bear in mind that people who opt to use CC-By-NC-SA are already
trying to reap some benefits from sharing and copyleft, so they
may well be interested in a license that does a better job of that.


Terry Hancock (hancock AT
Anansi Spaceworks

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