BT et C

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Kur5hin makes an interesting argument against using the non-commercial (-NC) license for free content. I suspect that this is the license individual artists gravitate toward, out of a fear that allowing commercial uses would make it possible for another party to monetize their content and grab away all the revenue.

I'll admit that's my first impulse with regard to my content...esp. when I saw that's what most of these guys did.

The first point is very well taken; my personal use of wikipedia continues to skyrocket (I'd estimate I visit 15-20 articles per day, even if some people think I'm stupid for doing so) and if your content can't be weaved into their system it's going to be a serious benefit lost.

And as for ye olde argument that other guys will be making money that I should be making off your product, here are the relevant grafs:

The moment you choose any Creative Commons license, you choose to give away your work. Any market built around content which is available for free must either rely on goodwill or ignorance.

The potential to benefit financially from mere distribution is therefore quite small. Where it exists due to a predominance of old media, it is likely to disappear rapidly. The people who are likely to be hurt by an -NC license are not large corporations, but small publications like weblogs, advertising-funded radio stations, or local newspapers.

Eventually, he suggests the obvious step of using the Share-Alike license (bascially a GPL for creative commons content). The other alternative would, of course, be normal rights-restricted copyright.

Personally, I'm undecided. One thing that came up, and seemed smart, is a -NC license that reverts to Share-Alike after 5 years (though I'd be inclined to make it 2 or 3). Maybe I'll ask the Comfort Stand guys for input. Dang, that's a snazzy outfit. (Go to Legal Torrents to get their 10-disc sampler.


  • odd, my last post was about this. you trying to entice me back into my own blog?

    I'm with Kur5hin on this one almost 100%. the -NC license puts a restriction on how the content can be used, which goes against the spirit of the whole "information wants to be free, yo." it's a restriction on the usage of the content, as much as copyright is a restriction on the usage of the content.

    but I'd like to know if you've come across anyone else espousing the(my?) idea that the Share-Alike license is also a restriction on usage. Kur5shin's argument is focused on CC, so he doesn't seem to touch that concept in general.

    I still hold to the idea that including that kind of viral requirement (or even the Attribution) on content limits the freedom of the content.

    why is that important? because my over-arching argument is that private contracts (like licenses) can govern the use of digital goods, and it seems I get nothing but opposition in that view. but my argument must be true for something like CC to even exist...

    even the "most free" license from CC , Attribution only, relies on this principle to stipulate attribution of the author. to argue for any of the CC licenses on digital goods is to recognize that the legally-binding contracts and licenses are applicable to digital content.

    my support of that idea stems from the fact that digital goods, being made up of physical interfaces, can be considered private property by those who wish to consider them as such, and interactions like usage flow from that understanding. I think I'm often misunderstood as basing my argument on utilitarian grounds when that's not the case.

    By Blogger luke, at 7:47 AM  

  • Actually I think I understand your approach pretty well; I just disagree.

    I think we are agreed that IP rights by definition violate negative rights: You own a photocopier or an iPod and are forbidden to do certain things with it -- things that have no impact on anyone.

    The reasoning behind the share-alike (GPL-style, "viral") licenses is simple: You are contractually forbidden to take away other people's rights w/r/t the work.

    You see the share-alike license as a violation of someone's right to license things however heshe wants. I see it as a measure to prevent IP regimes from being erected.

    It's like that old pseudo-paradox: if you preach tolerance, you have to be tolerant of racists and bigots etc. The answer is:

    No. If you believe in tolerance you're obliged to try to stamp out racism, etc.

    As for the attribution license, yes it limits what one can do. I consider it a courtesy, a supererogatory thing that people in civil society do in gratitude for the creators among them.

    But near as I can tell you don't actually believe in civil society, so this probably doesn't do much for you, warm-fuzzy-feeling-wise.

    As for this bit:
    "digital goods, being made up of physical interfaces, can be considered private property by those who wish to consider them as such"

    I'll post on that seperately. Unless you want to go ahead and withdraw it now?

    By Blogger Matt Crouch, at 8:14 AM  

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