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Subject: Development of Creative Commons licenses

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  • From: "Greg London" <email 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 16:19:14 -0400 (EDT)

> Greg London wrote:
>> Other projects require massive overhead as you add people. Try
>> writing a novel like Lord Of The Rings with a team of 1000 people
>> while keeping the characters consistent, have a plot that develops
>> over three books, keep a consistent tone and voice, and have the
>> three stages of story development, and pull it all off so readers
>> like it because of its quality, not because it's FLOSS. It's hard
>> because all these things about a novel require massive communication
>> and is HARD to communicate. Authors don't know neccesarily know how
>> to objectively describe their voice or tone so that other writers
>> simple "get" it.
> Of course, just to make your life complicated, the LotR was pretty
> much written in Tolkien's "spare time" -- his day job was teaching
> linguistics at university. The movie version, of course, was done by
> many people (still working full-time at it), and of course, it drew
> extensively on the work of a vast fan-base (some of the more important
> contributors were drawn out of that fan base -- where do you think
> you get "Elvish language scholars").

The *novel*. How many asterisks do I need to get you to see that word.


The novel was pretty much Tolkien's baby. Yes, once he was finished
I'm sure editors and copyeditors and cover artists swarmed all over it.
But the point is that, for the NOVEL, it was cathedral approach.

Once the NOVEL was finished, one could argue that movies, TV series,
fan fiction, action figures, role playing games, and other derivative
works used the novel as a "specification". This "spec" allowed
derivative projects to be chunked. But within these new subprojects,
some of them, such as the movie version by Peter Jackson, could
be argued to be Cathedral approaches again. Other sub-projects
could probably have split into Bazaar models.

> Intriguingly, the choice of strategy also changes the product. You
> see this all the time with free software versus proprietary software:
> A proprietary solution usually winds up being one huge monolithic
> application, while the free project becomes a myriad of small tailored
> solutions interacting through well-defined (and usually very simple)
> interfaces.

Yes, and that's simply the difference between the means and the end.
The "end" is a product, an application, a book, a movie, an encyclopedia.
The "means" are the cathedral or bazaar approach to create it.
The means don't matter to consumers. It could have been built as a
monolith, or as a sum of millions of pieces, as long as the
ends are met.

> Even in the cases where a large framework is constructed (e.g. Gimp),
> the path to success is creating effective interfaces for plugins and
> extensions. Nine-tenths of Gimp's edge over Photoshop is in the plugins
> and filters.
> OTOH, when a free project takes over a proprietary project, the first
> thing that inevitably happens is "de-construction" of the project into
> separable elements which are easier to work on separately.
> I'm not sure what 'the moral' is at this point, though. ;-)

That the project is the goal, the desired end result.
And the project may have different means to get there,
such as Cathedral or Bazaar, or some combination.

If the project chunks well, if it can be built from a
million little pieces, and all the pieces stitch together
without visible seams that distract the user, then Bazaar
is a viable approach.

And if the Bazaar approach is viable for the project,
then the license is simply the last key to open the lock.

The creation of a Bazaar license does NOT make all projects
suddenly meet the requirements for Bazaar-style construction.

This is why I get so frustrated when people blame CC
by saying something like "My FLOSS project would be a huge
success IF ONLY creative commons would tweak the license
this way". No. You haven't figured out how to chunk the
project yet, so the license is irrelevant. If the project
were chunkable, then CC-SA would be fine.

The solution isn't more licenses. That's solving the
wrong problem. The problem is that the project of
the moment hasn't been chunked by people yet, and
that's the problem that needs to be solved. Once people
figure out how to take a project idea and have it
chunk so naturally that it shatters into a million
pieces that can be reassembled seamlessly, then
pick any standard copyleft license for legal protection,
buy a URL, find a host, send out some notifications
to the people who are potential contributers,
and you're done.


Bounty Hunters: Metaphors for Fair IP laws

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