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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: Sun, 28 May 2006 08:38:55 +0000

Greg London wrote:
It isn't allowing legal details to run the show, it's asking whether
the project in question can be built by the Bazaar model or not. If
it can, then CC-SA or any copyleft license will, for the most part,

If the project does not fit the Bazaar model, and part of the goal is
a free project, then the problem is not going ot be solved by the
license, it will be solved by figuring out how to chunk the project
so it becomes bazaar friendly.

IMHO, you're succombing to the absolutist fallacy. You want a
project to fit neatly in category A or Not-A. In real life, the
boundaries are fuzzy.

You're also conflating "bazaar" with "free project" -- they are
not 100% correlated -- there are other reasons why people
want to free works besides 'implementing maximal bazaar efficiency'.
I should think that was really obvious when we're talking about
artists! ;-)

More importantly, it's actually a very common pattern for a
project to need initial "capital" in the form of massive early
contributions, usually by one or a small number of people. It's
only after that initial shove that a project begins to acquire
a life of its own. It's a rare project that comes directly out of
an initial broad collaboration.

Normally, someone just foots the bill for that, but it's not
inconceiveable to make money in more conventional ways during
the early phase of a project, and nevertheless want to capitalize
on the collaboration angle later on. Furthermore, if the initial
small collaboratorive group consists of people who value the
commons, then only a commons-friendly license will satisfy them.
Yet, they may need to make money to justify their time investment
in the project. There are many ways to raise that money -- pass
the hat, pre-sales, find a rich uncle, or even start out with a
license fee and an expiration.

The projects that people choose NC for are individual projects.
People use NC for free advertising, free samples, free word of mouth,
with the intent that it eventually lead to sales that puts money in
their pockets.

Except that with the existing NC they are getting a certain amount
of negativity from the community as well. I think it's a bit broken in
that respect.

> And they want money specifically because the project
doesn't chunk well, and the Cathedral mode is currently the only mode
for whatever the project in quesiton is. And Cathedral people adopt
CC-NC because it surrenders one thing (some rights to the work) in
exchange for other possible benefits for themselves (free advertising
that leads to more sales)

The sunset license idea is basically making it optional for these
people to adopt shorter copyright terms. It doesn't change the
project from Cathedral to Bazaar. It's still a Cathedral model. It's
still individuals or small teams working on a project who hope to
make money in compensation for their work.


And you're asking them to adopt the sunset license in exchange for
what? Sure it will benefit the commons and the fan base, but what can
the people who did the work Cathedral style expect to get out of it?

More money from people who do care about the commons. More
personal satisfaction for the artist in many cases.

The sunset license doesn't solve any problem for the cathedral
person. The project is still unchunkable. They're still working on
creating something in small, dedicated teams, or as individuals.
They're looking to hopefully recover some of the time and energy they
invested in creating that work by selling it when it's done. And
you're asking them to give up the rights to their work after 3 or 7

Actually, the term might be longer or shorter, depending on the
type of work.

But it doesn't benefit them in any way. It benefits you and the
commons. It isn't win-win.

I disagree.

CC-NC is win-win.

This I really disagree with: CC-NC is fundamentally broken --
it only legalizes what fans think they have a right to do anyway,
and fails to create any strong sense of community. It doesn't
feed the commons, so the commons doesn't feed it.

It also doesn't feed it's own distribution networks, resulting
in low efficiency of distribution. I suspect this effect will get
worse as:

1) the broader interpretation of "NC" becomes more widely
enforced against websites which currently rely on, e.g.
advertising revenue

2) people become increasingly used to the negative effects of
NC on uses they thought were 'non-commercial'

> The public wins by getting noncommercial rights to
a work far earlier than All Rights Reserved would have expired.

But it's a cheat. Too many things count as "commercial use".
And legal distribution, especially, becomes nearly impossible.

Artists and creators get the potential for free advertising and
eventually the possibility for additional sales that they would not
have gotten otherwise.

But not as much so as they could because of the above
problems, so it becomes a cheat for the artists, too.

I don't see sunset as win-win. I see it solving a problem for the
public and the commons, but the artist doesn't get anything out of it
that they couldn't get with CC-NC.

And again we have the consumer/producer fallacy. I think you too
readily assume that the artist has no interest in the commons just
because their revenue model for a particular work is not based on
it. I think you also fail to take into account the realization of the
'fair play' aspect of this -- a lot of people would like to make works
more available, but they fear they can't afford to.

Nevertheless, for most works, it's easy to document that you make
most of your money at the beginning (consider box office sales!),
and it tapers off quickly after some time.

The time-release to copyleft strategy is a tried-and-true technique
with software, and limited terms have been built into the US
copyright system from the beginning, so this doesn't seem like
that revolutionary of an idea to me.

But I suspect we're not going to wind up eye-to-eye on this point.


Terry Hancock (hancock AT
Anansi Spaceworks

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