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[P]
Creative Commons -NC Licenses Considered Harmful

By Eloquence in Internet
Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 11:44:33 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

When the Creative Commons project published its first licenses in December 2002, it finally brought a sense of unity behind the free content movement. Instead of many scattered licenses, creators now have the option to pick the right license for their work using a simple tool. They only have to answer basic questions like: "Allow commercial uses? Allow modifications?"

The tool then recommends one of the licenses developed by the Creative Commons team. They are legally sane, simple documents, specially adapted for various jurisdictions. In short, the Creative Commons project has made life a lot easier for everyone wanting to share content.

One particular licensing option, however, is a growing problem for the free content community. It is the allow non-commercial use only (-NC) option. The "non-commercial use only" variants of the Creative Commons licenses are non-free, and in some ways worse than traditional copyright law -- because it can be harder to move away from them once people have made the choice.


There may be circumstances where -NC is the only (and therefore best) available option, but that number of circumstances should decrease as the business models around free content evolve. The key problems with -NC licenses are as follows:

  1. They make your work incompatible with a growing body of free content, even if you do want to allow derivative works or combinations.
  2. They may rule out other basic uses which you want to allow.
  3. They support current, near-infinite copyright terms.
  4. They are unlikely to increase the potential profit from your work, and a share-alike license serves the goal to protect your work from exploitation equally well.
1) Incompatibility

Free content is no longer a fringe movement -- it is something millions of people use every day. Wikipedia, a free content encyclopedia built by volunteers, contains over 2 million entries in more than 100 languages and is among the largest 50 websites on the planet. Moreover, its growth continues, as does its integration into search engines. Google features Wikipedia definitions in some queries, as well as through the integration of Wikipedia mirror Answers.com in the top right corner of search results. Other search engines, such as Amazon.com's A9, Clusty.com, and Web.de have even integrated Wikipedia directly into their user interfaces.

This success if the result of less than 5 years of work. Clearly, free content is here to stay. But, in part to make uses like the above possible, free content sites like Wikipedia explicitly allow and encourage commercial use. As we will see, there are many desirable commercial uses. More importantly, however, if you choose an -NC license, your work will not be compatible with Wikipedia, Wikinews, Wikibooks, and similar free content projects.

One reason for this is that licenses like Wikipedia's, the GNU Free Documentation License, work according to the copyleft (or, in Creative Commons terminology, "share-alike") principle: You can make derivative works, but they have to be licensed under the same terms. You cannot make a derivative work through addition of -NC content, as you can no longer apply the (more liberal) "share-alike" license to the entire work.

Even where the license allows it, marking up regions of content as non-commercial and consistently following these boundaries is almost impossible in a collaborative environment. Imagine a website with collaboratively edited text that is partially -NC licensed. As text is copied from one region to another and modifications are made, it is likely that the license will be violated, or that it will have to be applied to more and more text to stay legally safe.

Finally, many free content communities reject -NC licenses simply for philosophical reasons like the ones outlined in this document. For example, the Wikimedia Commons, a media repository operated by Wikipedia's Wikimedia Foundation and containing more than 200,000 files, does not allow uploads under restrictive licenses such as the -NC variants. Yet, it is an immensely powerful archive: Any file in the Commons is instantly usable in all Wikimedia projects, in all languages.

Communities like Wikimedia do not exist for their own gain -- they try to provide and archive free content. Putting your own content under a license recognized by these communities will keep it alive, and will encourage people to make active use of it in many different contexts.

2) Basic uses

What is commercial use? The relevant clause out of Creative Commons non-commercial ("-NC") licenses, such as the "Attribution-NonCommercial" license, is this one:

You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You ... in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.

Many bloggers and blog communities on the web use advertising as a way to recoup costs and generate income. Popular bloggers, from Andrew Sullivan to Markos Zúniga (Dailykos), have turned their hobbies into professions, but even smaller publications often use Google Ads to make some extra money. Ask yourself if you really want to stop all these individuals from using your work.

Other examples of commercial uses include compilations which are sold. For example, if one MP3 music file which is licensed for non-commercial use only is included among thousands on a DVD collecting free music and sold for a small personal profit, that is a violation of the license. Note that it is not the amount of the financial gain which matters, it is the intention of the user. Intentions are, of course, difficult to prove, and in many cases, it is best to be cautious. In any case, any use in a corporate context would almost certainly forbidden, such as the inclusion of the file on a CD bundled with a computer magazine.

3) Existing copyright terms

For a long time, international copyright law has been written by content distributors. This has resulted in effectively infinite copyright terms. A work which is published in 2010 will remain protected until 2100 if the author dies in 2030 (the duration of protection in the United States and Europe is "life of the author plus 70 years"). This does not even take into account possible future, retroactive copyright term extensions (nor, of course, reductions -- but these have never happened so far).

While you may feel you are making a donation to the public domain when licensing your work under an -NC variant, you are effectively supporting the existing, extremely long international copyright terms. The restrictions on commercial use will remain in place until the copyright of your work expires which, for most practical purposes, is never.

To solve this problem, you could specify that the work falls back to a more permissive license such as CC-BY (attribution only), or to the public domain, after 5 years or any other amount. You could also choose a more permissive license to begin with.

4) Profit!

The most obvious argument in favor of -NC licenses is that they prevent your work from commercial exploitation by others. However, keep in mind that in this age, distribution is something which cannot just be done by large corporations -- it can be done by anyone with an Internet connection or a DVD burner. Even large files like movies can be effectively distributed using mechanisms such as BitTorrent. This means that if your work is popular and of high quality, it will be available on the Internet for free -- because the license makes it possible.

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.

Indeed, to make a substantial profit with your work, a company will have to provide added value beyond what is available for free. An -NC license stops any such attempt to add value in its tracks. But there is an alternative. The Creative Commons "Share-Alike" licenses require any work derived from your own to be made available as free content, as a whole. (The licenses without a share-alike clause only guarantee that the part of the work created by you remains free.) Any company trying to exploit your work will have to make their "added value" available for free to everyone. Seen like this, the "risk" of exploitation turns into a potentially powerful benefit.

This principle works very well in many areas of free content and free software development. Most notably, the Linux operating system kernel is licensed under a share-alike (or copyleft) license. Many companies make use of customized versions of the kernel, for example, to include it in embedded devices. All improvements made by these companies can be used by the main Linux kernel development team. If the kernel was under an -NC license, the commercial use of Linux would be impossible.

Another interesting tale of commercial use is the German DVD version of Wikipedia. Produced by a company called Directmedia, it has quickly become a bestseller in Amazon.de's software category. Yet, to make that DVD, Directmedia had to cooperate with Wikipedians -- who helped to prepare the data by making it searchable and sortable, and to weed out articles not ready for publication. Directmedia has, in return, donated a substantial percentage of the profits from the DVD to Wikipedia's mother organization. It has also made a separate "donation" of 10,000 reproductions of public domain paintings to the Wikimedia Commons.

The Wikipedia DVD was a working business model because it provided added value: an offline reader software which did not previously exist, combined with a well-organized effort to whip the content into shape. It also showed that beyond the copyleft principles, any highly successful cooperation with commercial entities around free content is likely to depend on mutual goodwill. Another illustration of the same principle is Answers.com, a commercial Wikipedia mirror, whose parent company pays for one of Wikimedia's developers, and has also been one of the sponsors of Wikimedia's 2005 conference, Wikimania. None of this is required by the license.

Commercial use can be highly mutually beneficial where it does occur. The Share-Alike principle protects you from abusive exploitation, while not forbidding experiments. These experiments, however, are essential to build a true, innovative economy around free content. Especially when dealing with collaborative works, -NC makes such commercial experiments practically impossible, as every single contributor would have to give explicit permission.

Conclusions

The use of an -NC license is very rarely justifiable on economic or ideological grounds. It excludes many people, from free content communities to small scale commercial users, while the decision to give away your work for free already eliminates most large scale commercial uses. If you want to protect yourself against large scale exploitation, use a Share-Alike license. This applies doubly to governments and educational or scientific institutions: content which is of high cultural or educational value should be made available under conditions which will ensure its widespread use.

If you see work online which is licensed under an -NC license, please kindly thank the creator for making their work available for free, and ask them to change the license (feel free to include a copy of this text, or a link to the network location where you found it).

As a project with the goal to make licensing choices simple, Creative Commons has a responsibility to inform its users about the drawbacks of licenses which forbid commercial uses. Many individuals who choose an -NC license are unaware of the implications of such a decision. Hopefully, the license selection screen will include a brief summary of the arguments against licenses which forbid commercial use soon.

Finally, if you must use such a license for one reason or another, please do add an additional notice specifying the term of copyright protection you desire for your work. Otherwise, traditional copyright law will apply, and commercial use will be forbidden long beyond your death.

Erik Möller 2005. This article is in the public domain. Feel free to use it for any purpose. It is also a living document whose editable main copy resides at http://www.intelligentdesigns.net/Licenses/NC. You are encouraged, but not required, to include this notice.

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Poll
Should Creative Commons warn content users about the potential problems with -NC licenses?
o Yes, in the "more info" popup for the license choice 45%
o No, because I disagree with your arguments against them 10%
o No, because it should be apolitical on the issue 16%
o Other 4%
o I don't really care. I just live here. 22%

Votes: 48
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o Creative Commons
o simple tool
o Wikipedia
o among the largest 50 websites on the planet
o Answers.co m
o Wikinews
o Wikibooks
o GNU Free Documentation License
o Wikimedia Commons
o Wikimedia Foundation
o BitTorrent
o embedded devices
o Directmedi a
o http://www .intelligentdesigns.net/Licenses/NC
o Also by Eloquence


Display: Sort:
Creative Commons -NC Licenses Considered Harmful | 108 comments (101 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
-1 CREATIVE COMMONS IS A NONSENSE FAD (1.00 / 51) (#2)
by Tex Bigballs on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 04:36:41 PM EST

-1 AUTHOR IS A PREEMINENT MEMBER OF WANKOPEDIA CIRCLE JERK "COMMUNITY"

BY THE WAY GOOD GOING SHAMELESSLY RUNNING _YET_ ANOTHER PLEDGE DRIVE ASKING FOR YET EVEN MORE HANDOUTS TO LINE JIMBO WALES POCKETS FOR THAT RIDICULOUS BLOGOPEDIA RIGHT IN THE MIDST OF THE KATRINA DISASTER

I GUESS WANKOPEDIA NEEDS ANOTHER HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS IN DONATIONS TO WAX PHILOSOPHICAL ABOUT WHETHER THE GNAA ENCYLOPEDIA ENTRY SHOULD BE DELETED OR NOT

GLAD TO SEE YUO BACK IN REGULAR ACTION (1.05 / 17) (#3)
by Crickets Yawning on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 04:40:18 PM EST

AND BEING LESS OF A HOMO

SEEMS THAT HUGELY GAY GAMING HORSESHIT YUO WROTE UP GOT ALL THE GAY DDRNESS OUT OF YUOR SYSTEM AND ONCE AGAIN YUO ARE BACK TO NOT FAILING IT


[ Parent ]

EXCUSE ME SIR (1.55 / 9) (#5)
by The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 05:04:58 PM EST

I AM INTRIGUED BY THIS "WANKOPEDIA" AND REQUEST MORE INFORMATION ON IT PLZKTHX

___
I'm a pompous windbag, I take myself far too seriously, and I single-handedly messed up K5 by causing the fiction section to be created. --localroger

[ Parent ]
wankopedia (2.23 / 13) (#9)
by Tex Bigballs on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 05:46:56 PM EST

in a nutshell it's all the drama and power hierarchies of your typical irc chatroom under the pretense of building a serious encyclopedia

wankopedia is sometimes fun to watch because people typically get really embroiled in SERIOUS CONTROVERSIAL ENCYCLOPEDIA ISSUES (such as whether to favor the british spelling of a word or the american spelling) and will argue over that sort of thing for literally days.

they also appoint each other to little committees to determine things like whether a troll should be banned. for example if wikipedia wanted to get rid of an NIWS type character the decision of the "wikipedia supreme justice committee" would read like an opinion of the supreme court of the united states.

my take on wikipedia is that it's another internet MMORPG disguised as something of supposed intellectual importance. i guess it's reasonably useful if you want a really straightforward piece of information, like maybe you wanted to see what the flag of a certain country looked like. but nobody doing serious academic research would use wikipedia as a credible source.

[ Parent ]

LOL WHAT (1.80 / 10) (#12)
by The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 06:30:01 PM EST

I THINK YOU MAY HAVE DISCOVERED SOMETHING EVEN MORE BORING AND VAGINALIZED THAN HUSI

___
I'm a pompous windbag, I take myself far too seriously, and I single-handedly messed up K5 by causing the fiction section to be created. --localroger

[ Parent ]
Jealous! (none / 0) (#49)
by grendelkhan on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 02:28:57 PM EST

You're just jealous because GNAA beat Wikipedia and you didn't.
-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]
not so sure (2.50 / 2) (#7)
by cronian on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 05:23:10 PM EST

He appears to have had some disagreements with the Wikipedia cabal.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
lol (2.00 / 8) (#8)
by Tex Bigballs on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 05:38:53 PM EST

such formality is hilarious like as though it's a serious organization and not just another internet clubhouse

i guess there must have had a falling out which is typical when someone doesn't feel that their netego is being stroked enough disagrees about serious ideological issues.

[ Parent ]

RETRACTION TO PARENT COMMENT (1.57 / 14) (#11)
by Tex Bigballs on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 06:15:55 PM EST

In all fairness I don't know what wikipedia donations are actually used for so I don't know if Jimmy Wales really profits from it but I do find, as most people probably would, that begging for donations to such a trivial endeavor right in the wake of one of the worst tragedies in world history is absolutely morally repugnant.

[ Parent ]
GET SOME PRIORITIES (1.00 / 18) (#13)
by Crickets Yawning on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 06:31:48 PM EST

I ONLY BANGED 1 YES ONE CHIK LAST NITE AND ALL YOU CARE ABOUT IS NEGROPEDIA

[ Parent ]
A LOT OF YOUR COMMENTS SEEM TO BE HIDDEN (1.04 / 21) (#16)
by obviously a dupe on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 06:58:03 PM EST

FAGGOT LOL

[ Parent ]
NOT MANY CONSIDERING YOU MODSTORMED TWICE (1.29 / 17) (#18)
by Tex Bigballs on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 07:10:13 PM EST

TWO MORE BOMBING RUNS SHOULD START TO DO THE TRICK

[ Parent ]
Rated 0 Just on Principle (2.44 / 9) (#29)
by PrezKennedy on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 12:02:56 AM EST

Bold and all caps makes my finger itch.
---
PrezKennedy.org - Bored stuff...
[ Parent ]
The fund drive was for US$225k, thanks! [n/t] (none / 0) (#50)
by grendelkhan on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 02:31:44 PM EST


-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]
I think you overstate the problem (2.80 / 10) (#4)
by nuntius on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 04:45:03 PM EST

For example, a short session at creativecommons.org resulted in a page saying "You have selected the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License".

By my understanding, this invalidates your claim under (1) Incompatibility, paragraph three.

Yeah, the non-commercial licenses may impose more restrictions than some users realize.  That's a user-education problem, not an issue with the licenses themselves.  Original authors can always re-release under less restrictive conditions at a later time.  CC is trying to distribute licenses to fit *any* sane needs instead of trying to impose an "ideal" license.

Quote from the CC help-box on the noncommercial choice:
"The licensor permits others to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work. In return, licensees may not use the work for commercial purposes -- unless they get the licensor's permission."

BY-SA and BY-NC-SA are incompatible (3.00 / 5) (#6)
by Eloquence on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 05:14:14 PM EST

(To say nothing about other copyleft licenses -- even BY-SA and GFDL are incompatible, even though they include roughly the same terms. This is being worked on.) See this press release by Creative Commons, specifically the part:

After much very strong and eloquent argument from our readers and supporters, and notwithstanding the increased flexibility of Share Alike in the iCommons context, we decided not to make the BY-NC-SA and plain BY-SA licenses compatible. If you take a work under BY-NC-SA 2.0 and make something new from it, for example, you can re-publish under BY-NC-SA Japan, or BY-NC-SA 7.4 (when that comes), but you cannot republish it under any other license or combine it with BY-SA content. Similarly, a derivative made from a work under BY-SA 2.0 may be published only under BY-SA 2.0, BY-SA (iCommons license), or BY-SA 9.1, but it can't be mixed with BY-NC-SA or other noncommercial content and republished.

I'll incorporate this source into the article. As for the argument Original authors can always re-release under less restrictive conditions at a later time, this is true. In practice, however, the requirement to contact an author to ask them to change the license of their work often means that the work will not be used. Volunteer free content communities live from low friction, and anything that increases friction beyond a certain threshold tends to kill activity.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Incompatibility can be good (3.00 / 4) (#23)
by nuntius on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 08:32:18 PM EST

Some people want their works to spread.  Others write for a specific audience and don't want their work spreading further.

Having the NC option gives the author a little more control over who can redistribute their work.  Maybe its enough to keep things off those crap CD's offered on Ebay which are basically collections of documents taken from popular websites.  I've been offended by these several times; other people trying to profit off of the work done by others; not a cent going back to the source community.

Almost everything I release for public use has contact information embedded in it.  I've been contacted by email a few times about redistribution; we quickly came to an understanding of where and how; and things were peachy.  All this, even though the file had a section granting redistribution rights.  Saying you want to use other people's work but can't be bothered to contact them seems a tad impolite.  In fact, the contact initiated by this "friction" has generally resulted in my improving the original releases, since I know what is used and get feedback on potential problems.

[ Parent ]

+1, sensible discussion of license issues. (1.87 / 8) (#10)
by alby on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 06:09:22 PM EST

I'll vote FP.

As an aside, I generally dislike attaching licenses to K5 stories but as licenses go this is the best one I've seen yet:

"This article is in the public domain. Feel free to use it for any purpose ... You are encouraged, but not required, to include this notice."

--
Alby

+1 AUTHOR IS CONFIRMED NAZI (1.00 / 33) (#14)
by Crickets Yawning on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 06:33:37 PM EST

SEEN PITURES OF HIM AT SOCIALIST MEETINGS

I agree, and it's rarely necessary anyway (2.70 / 10) (#15)
by Delirium on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 06:54:29 PM EST

I'm more familiar with the case of software licensing than open-content licensing, but I think at least a few of the principles apply. A large proportion of software licenses released under "non-commercial use" or "research purposes only" and similar licenses really could achieve the same aims with a copyleft license, and would have the added benefit of getting some good press.

The biggest fear of many people and companies releasing work seems to be that a competitor will simply take their stuff and use it. For the most part, though, major commercial competitors are unwilling to use copylefted works anyway, because the price of releasing their own works under the same license is simply too high. Therefore someone wanting to make a free "non-commercial" release coexist with a for-pay "commercial" version of their product could simply use a copyleft license—in practice, most companies will opt to pay for a non-copyleft "commercial" license than submit to the terms of the copyleft license, and the person still makes their money.

Better... (2.83 / 6) (#17)
by The Amazing Idiot on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 07:08:31 PM EST

Non-commercial than none at all.

Only barely. (2.00 / 2) (#25)
by ksandstr on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 09:23:01 PM EST

And barely is usually not enough of a reason to read/listen to/play/whatever the "content" anyhow. The difference is thus close to nil.

Fin.
[ Parent ]
This article is horrible. (1.41 / 24) (#20)
by lonelyhobo on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 07:30:45 PM EST

While it may be somewhat well-written, it is the most myopic head stuck up your ass piece of wankery I've ever fucking seen.

Has CC ever been used for any worthwhile purpose?  Will it? No. Go post this on livejournal or tweetsygalore's diary, because only arrogant self-pretentious twats give a damn about licensing something that's going to be read by at most 1*10^-7 percent of the population.

What the fuck (3.00 / 5) (#21)
by MrHanky on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 07:35:09 PM EST

does `self-pretentious' mean?


"This was great, because it was a bunch of mature players who were able to express themselves and talk politics." Lettuce B-Free, on being a total fucking moron for Ron Paul.
[ Parent ]
Hit a tender spot did he? (none / 0) (#26)
by ksandstr on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 09:28:09 PM EST

Hop^WPlanning to make a literal fortune with our Big Monogram are we?

Fin.
[ Parent ]
-1, uses * to represent multiplication symbol. (1.50 / 2) (#47)
by alby on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 01:34:26 PM EST

× It's not like it's difficult or anything ×

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

Do you see an × key on your keyboard? (none / 1) (#63)
by damiam on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 11:37:16 PM EST

Didn't think so.

Although there probably should be.

[ Parent ]

Oh, boo hoo ... (none / 0) (#90)
by alby on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 01:52:45 PM EST

You'd have to do put in an extra three seconds effort.

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

That's a lot (none / 0) (#93)
by damiam on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 04:12:06 PM EST

3 seconds is about a 2000% increase from what it would take to just press a key. And besides, it takes a lot more than three seconds to pull up Character Map and find ×. Which is what you have to do unless you're nerdy enough to memorize Alt-0215.

[ Parent ]
You sound lazy. (none / 0) (#94)
by alby on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 06:17:57 PM EST

Do you have a job?

--
Alby
[ Parent ]

Yes and no, respectively [nt] (none / 0) (#100)
by damiam on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 09:42:20 PM EST



[ Parent ]
-1 WIKIPEDOPHILE (1.42 / 26) (#24)
by Hung Fu on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 08:34:11 PM EST



__
From Israel To Lebanon
+1 FP (2.66 / 6) (#27)
by t1ber on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 11:18:59 PM EST

This is probably the first thing to come through the queue in a week that's been worth +1FPing.  I occaisionally got tired of seeing "-CC" and "-NC" but it doesn't break the article.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

-1 Good heavens... (2.62 / 8) (#28)
by A synx on Sun Sep 11, 2005 at 11:49:57 PM EST

You're trying to scare us with shadows!  There's nothing wrong with the NC creative commons' license at all, nor is it harmful, nor is it elitest.  Would you also agree that a "-NM" (not to be used for military purposes) license is harmful?  How about a "no-genocide?"  Straw man, I know, but think about it.  Is it harmful for people to publish things for research purposes only?  Isn't it rather one of the strongest underpinnings of our society?  Where would we be if we didn't have government funded research laboratories?

Saying that the NC license will hurt innovation is like the old saw about the GPL.  Got news for you, if I produce something for the good of society, people can and will prevent me from being heard, so that they can exclusively distribute it for their own commercial profit.  Unless I have an -NC license.  Got news for you, there's only so much money to go around, so if someone else profits off the work that I give away for free, then rich people just got a little bit richer.

A little too strong (3.00 / 6) (#32)
by rusty on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 12:12:26 AM EST

I don't think he's trying to say that NC licenses hurt anyone. He's merely presenting an argument to those considering using one why they might not want to. And he brings up several points that are probably not immediately obvious to someone just clicking through the CC pick-a-license questionnaire.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Rarely justifiable? (2.70 / 10) (#30)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 12:08:39 AM EST

Some of us want exactly what we say. I have the images in my photo gallery under by-nc-sa 2.0 because that's what I want. I'm aware that this is very imcompatable with other licences, such a Wikipedia, but this is not what I intended the licence to be for. I basicly wanted people to be able to use them for personal use, and to be able to distrubute to others for peronal use.

In reality, it may be similar to full copyright, but it sends out a different message.

I do think that people should be made more aware of the conseqences of using each licence, though.

and I think you're an evil fuck (1.16 / 6) (#56)
by QuantumG on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 06:49:05 PM EST

You want your users to be poor and helpless. You want them to have to come begging to you if they want to try to build wealth from their culture. You're a scumbag and a tyrant.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
I'm evil because I give my images away? (none / 1) (#66)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 01:55:29 AM EST

Many photographers don't give them away at all. Or if they do, they brand their name right over the top of the image so that others can't pass it off as their own, but spoiling the image in the process.

BTW. Someone did ask me permission to use one of my images, and I gave it to them.

Yes, I know, IHBT. I will have nice day.

[ Parent ]

Freedom is not having to ask permission [nt] (none / 0) (#79)
by QuantumG on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 07:24:38 PM EST



Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Invalid. (none / 0) (#80)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 08:18:39 PM EST

I also have freedom. Freedom doesn't meant you have the right to violate someone elses freedom.

[ Parent ]
Incorrect... (none / 0) (#92)
by artsygeek on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 02:47:18 PM EST

Freedom is just another word for nothin' left to lose. *wry smile*

[ Parent ]
Unjustified (none / 1) (#84)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 11:33:30 PM EST

It should be noted that you haven't justified your decision at all, you've just said "that's what I decided". So you've added more weight to the case that -NC is "rarely justifiable".

[ Parent ]
Worse... (none / 1) (#104)
by IriseLenoir on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 11:14:49 AM EST

He said what the justification is very clearly in fact.

"In reality, it may be similar to full copyright, but it sends out a different message."

It's just so he can seem trendy and allows him to fit (or think he, or make people thinks he) is in the Creative Commons bandwagon.

Opportunism, in a word.
"liberty is the mother of order, not its daughter" - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
[ Parent ]

+1 FP EVEN THOUGH I LOVE POOPY (1.00 / 23) (#34)
by tweetsybefore on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 02:25:10 AM EST

I LOVE FREE SOFTWARE AND RICHARD STALLMAN MORE. HE IS THE BEST TROLL ON THE INTERNET. SO +1 FP

I'm racist and I hate niggers.
So, which content licensed under -NC... (2.57 / 7) (#35)
by Viliam Bur on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 05:02:40 AM EST

...would you like to sell without paying the author?

Maybe a more fitting title would be: "Paying to authors for commercial use of their work Considered Harmful"

If you see work online which is licensed under an -NC license, please kindly thank the creator for making their work available for free, and ask them to change the license (feel free to include a copy of this text, or a link to the network location where you found it).

So, you also want an advertising and PageRank for free. Nice, what else?

Sharealike (2.71 / 7) (#36)
by ffrinch on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 05:16:12 AM EST

Sharealike doesn't always protect you from exploitation. Copyleft only works with software because there's nothing physical to sell that isn't trivial to copy. There's nothing stopping a publisher from printing and marketing a CC-licensed book intended for 'net distribution as a dead-tree edition, say. Most people have neither the equipment nor inclination to copy it, whether they're licensed to or not.

And there are situations where it doesn't matter at all. Hosting copies of the Wikipedia is already a strategy for getting ad revenue and looking less like a spam site; I don't want anything I produce -- even random blog crap -- to be used the same way. I imagine the spammer would be delighted to have their porn and gambling ads shared all over the place.

Fair use already covers many reasonable uses of a work, and there's nothing stopping creators giving more liberal licenses to people who ask for them. Isn't that enough?

The real bad eggs are the ND/no-derivative-work licenses. There's still plenty of public utility in a non-commercial copyleft; there's very little in free-as-in-beer content.

-◊-
"I learned the hard way that rock music ... is a powerful demonic force controlled by Satan." — Jack Chick

intelligence considered harmful (2.20 / 5) (#38)
by United Fools on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 07:00:40 AM EST

Without intelligence, there would be no evil and no harm in this world.


We are united, we are fools, and we are America!

You're totally hot. (3.00 / 2) (#41)
by spooked on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 09:59:32 AM EST

do me.

Seriously.
[ Parent ]
Does everything have to be about Iraq now? (nt) (3.00 / 2) (#64)
by daani on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 12:14:09 AM EST



[ Parent ]
-1, mentions wankapedia $$$$$ (1.11 / 17) (#39)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 08:05:15 AM EST


----------------

Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.

aah (1.50 / 6) (#40)
by tkatchevzombie on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 08:23:22 AM EST

at last, an interesting arcticle

-1, boring license wankery. (1.06 / 15) (#43)
by Pooping in Urinals on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 11:35:01 AM EST


"...[T]he first midget amputee getting bukkaked by 20 japanese buddhist monks and I bet your gonna say 'well thats what the miscellaneous column is for.'" -- army of phred

+1FP, bashes Creative Commons (1.60 / 15) (#44)
by Pat Chalmers on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 11:47:59 AM EST

Creative Commons is fucken' gay. Actually, viral licenses in general are retarded. If you really have created something that will help the world, don't be a dick and try to keep your clammy mitts on it with copyright. Make it public domain. If you're not gonna do that, don't cocktease us by offering it to us...with strings attached.

You do know that your work can be bogarted in PD? (1.50 / 2) (#48)
by grendelkhan on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 02:23:45 PM EST

Public domain materials lack any copyright protections whatsoever. So conglomo-corp can fix three typos and claim copyright on the result. Or, more pertinently, can take your media (photos, drawings) and use them in a larger work without providing attribution, a cut of the proceeds or... well, anything.

How, exactly, would releasing one's work into the public domain increase the world-helping?
-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]

Worse than that (3.00 / 4) (#61)
by Thought Assassin on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 11:31:43 PM EST

They can use their modified version to compete _against_ the original author, to the detriment of the free version. (i.e. free version loses support for further development, or author loses support for further creation) If you really want to give something to the world, you have to protect it from those who would destroy it for a profit. In an "intellectual property"-encumbered world, that means you have to use a viral license to shield yourself from the copyright menace.

But in my opinion it shouldn't be about charity anyway, it should be about freedom.

[ Parent ]

'Viral license' is simply incorrect (none / 1) (#81)
by artis on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 09:14:52 PM EST

The license does not spread by itself. Why not use something like 'protective license?'
--
Can you know that you are omniscient?
[ Parent ]
Copyleft? (none / 1) (#83)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 11:30:49 PM EST

Yeah, I don't like that loaded term either, but I'm not going to do an RMS and let quibbling over names detract from the impact of my argument on a much more direct and significant point. Of course I will never initiate usage of the term, and I've stated my opinion of it clearly in a more appropriate context.

'Protective' is meaningless, all licenses protect in some way. Is copyleft a good term to express the derivatives-must-be-just-as-free property?

[ Parent ]

Wasn't the best idea (none / 0) (#88)
by artis on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 12:10:46 PM EST

Yeah, I don't like that loaded term either, but I'm not going to do an RMS and let quibbling over names detract from the impact of my argument on a much more direct and significant point.
You don't have to say anything about it, just don't repeat it --that implies agreement that the term is correct (fooled me).
'Protective' is meaningless, all licenses protect in some way. Is copyleft a good term to express the derivatives-must-be-just-as-free property?
It makes sense when compared to BSD style licenses, but to people who know that much about licenses 'copyleft' is indeed better (didn't think of it).
--
Can you know that you are omniscient?
[ Parent ]
No, it can't (none / 1) (#68)
by cpt kangarooski on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 03:10:02 AM EST

So conglomo-corp can fix three typos and claim copyright on the result.

No, they can only claim a copyright on the three fixed typos. And of course, three fixed typos probably doesn't meet the low threshold for copyrightability to begin with.

Or, more pertinently, can take your media (photos, drawings) and use them in a larger work without providing attribution, a cut of the proceeds or... well, anything.

Excellent! That's the whole point. When people see this as a bad thing, we get the kind of crappy copyright laws we have now. Remember: the purpose of copyright is to get works created and in the public domain. It is not to make artists wealthy or famous.



--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Attribution (none / 1) (#71)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 07:06:43 AM EST

I agree with what you're saying, but not about attribution; attribution provides an incentive for the creation and publication of works, not just for pride, but for the prospect of future commissions that such exposure can bring. And it doesn't hamper the further use of the work like the other restrictions of copyright do.

[ Parent ]
What about attribution? (none / 1) (#72)
by cpt kangarooski on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 07:53:16 AM EST

There are several problems with encumbering the public domain with an attribution requirement.

Firstly, it would facially violate the limited terms requirement of the Constitution, if there were a right to attribution that did not expire.

Secondly, it would result in increased transactional costs to users of public domain materials, who would have to track down everyone who was involved in the material they were using. Imagine reprinting a public domain copy of Lamb's Shakespeare: the copy you're reproducing dates back to the 50's (and was not renewed, falling into the public domain) and has its own illustrations. The text -- assuming it hasn't been altered -- dates back to the 19th century. It's based on plays written by Shakespeare, and his plays are virtually all derivative of earlier plays, about which sometimes little is known.

Note that since the major participants in this example are long dead, and may have reputations that no one could possibly enhance further anyway, or are perhaps retired, attribution doesn't help anyone. It just costs the latest person involved time and money, perhaps discouraging them from the project.

Thirdly, while attribution is really a stupid right to begin with, it's one with more history abroad than here in the states. Even then, however, the attribution right can be used to force a lack of attribution where the artist doesn't want to be associated with what's been lawfully done with the work. Aside from the fact that they do have some association, and are basically asking for a lie by omission, the whole thing seems far too mercurial.

Overall, I think it's better to not have any kind of attribution right at all. If it is that important to an artist, then it's something that can be required during the copyright term pursuant to contract. But where artists don't care, it does not provide an incentive, and thus is superfluous. And it does pose a danger to the public anyway, when the term ends, for whatever reason.

I'm sorry, but I must wholeheartedly disagree with any attempt to shrink the public domain, whether by term length, or in your case, by scope.



--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Attribution (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 11:46:56 AM EST

Let me initially point out that there is a difference between not being allowed to misrepresent where something came from, and being forced to announce its origin. But I am arguing in favour of the stronger version because in the absence of an attribution, the assumption would be that the work is not derived from anything. Onto your points:

Firstly, your copyright laws already violate your constitution in order to do detrimental things, so it'd be no big stretch to do so for something positive. ;)

Secondly, the example you cite as problematic is only so because the original creators were working in a different context. Today it would be a simple matter of reading the copyright/attribution notice on the work you are deriving from, and adding it to your own. Current copyright law creates pretty much this same requirement, and I don't really hear any complaints about it, so I don't think this is a legitimate problem. Or at least you'll have to make a better case than this.

Thirdly, yeah - I don't think the author of a derived work should have the right to deny their authorship, though obviously it would not be acceptable for the deriver to attribute the new work to them in its entirety.

That we can achieve the effect for a limited time through copyright is irrelevant - I was arguing that even though we should dispense with the idea of copyright, we do need a right of correct attribution. So maybe that is the only part of copyright law worth keeping? That way it remains time-limited and the public domain is not shrunk in any way. Though as I said, you've yet to make a convincing argument that the time limit on attribution is a good thing. On the face of it, attribution doesn't achieve much past the death of the author, but

And yes, I definitely see the merit in the artist having to opt in (or at least being able to opt out), rather than a blanket requirement.

[ Parent ]

That's the idea. [nt] (none / 0) (#87)
by Pat Chalmers on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 11:46:19 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Holy shit, I cast the winning vote. (1.00 / 9) (#45)
by Pat Chalmers on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 11:53:47 AM EST

Sorry, Poopy.

Theory vs Practice (2.60 / 5) (#46)
by chato on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 01:05:43 PM EST

As far as the theory is concerned, I agree that Non-Commercial is not Free. However, on the practical side, I think many people won't share their creations unless you explicitly tell them that they don't risk loosing money, and that if somebody wants to use their work to make money, s/he has to ask for explicit permission.

The idea of Creative Commons is to create a set of options between "all rights reserved" and "no rights reserved", and in that sense, the non-commercial clause doesn't hurt.



It is more important that they understand freedom (1.66 / 3) (#51)
by tweetsybefore on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 03:24:35 PM EST

Imagine a world without wikipedia and gnu, people need to understand that the NC licenses will prevent this from happening.

I'm racist and I hate niggers.
[ Parent ]
artsygeek (none / 1) (#52)
by tweetsybefore on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 04:14:16 PM EST

why did you give me a 0 Are you against free software?

I'm racist and I hate niggers.
[ Parent ]
I gave you a.... (none / 0) (#53)
by artsygeek on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 04:32:41 PM EST

I gave you a 1, but meant to give a 2.

[ Parent ]
NC can be usefull (2.50 / 2) (#73)
by grumbel on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 09:52:56 AM EST

The only thing that NC would stop with Wikipedia are paper-printouts for profit and all those scum sites that mirror a few Wikipedia articles and add their own advertisment banners. Same with GNU, distributions would be in throuble, but the rest could continue almost as is, that is if it would be NC redistrubition, not NC use as more common with software.

The real throuble-maker is the no derived-works clause of CC, the NC one does far less harm, especially since it makes sure that the author itself can make a profit, while the non-NC licenses make it easy for other to make a profit, but not for the author.

But yes, I would prefer everything as CC-by, without NC or no-derived, but I can understand why people choose NC. However I have little understanding why people use no-derive.


[ Parent ]

looser then a loser's butt (none / 0) (#99)
by H3LLRaZ0r on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 12:50:15 PM EST

Learn English you Loser

[ Parent ]
Why -NC is needed (3.00 / 6) (#54)
by OpAmp on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 04:57:19 PM EST

The article makes a point about a single piece of music that cannot be included in a compilation because it is licensed under -NC. This is one opposite. Let us consider another one.

Suppose, I made a music album, available under an -SA (not -NC) license. Suppose, further, that someone takes that music album, creates some crappy cover art, and sells the CDs at the usual price. The fact that the album can be freely shared legally does not really impact the business model, since we know that the music is shared anyway, and this fact has to be taken into the account while doing the business planning. (And even if we believe that there is no widespread illegal copying, selling a first batch of someone's else album is still a very profitable endeavor, due to practically zero development costs.) Question: why should I give anyone license to profit off my work under the guise of a minimal added value, without sharing with me?

And the danger is not theoretical; I have seen this exact model at work applied to a GPL'd software project.

As demonstrated by the above example, contrary to the popular belief, copyleft (-SA, GPL) does not protect the rights of the author, only the "freedom" of the work. Taking this into account, -NC seems to be a reasonable solution for larger pieces of work, such as books, music albums, or even software, that can be marketed individually. I am however tempted to agree with the author, that for short works, -NC can be more trouble than it is worth.

you fuckin' vermin (1.33 / 3) (#55)
by QuantumG on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 06:44:27 PM EST

the author doesn't have any "rights", except those afforded to him by law. If he wanted to sell a CD of his work, why didn't he do it? Someone goes to the trouble of distributing the author's work and you think the author should get paid for it? What? Shouldn't the author be paying the distributor?

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
In Fairness (2.50 / 2) (#57)
by virtualjay222 on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 07:48:32 PM EST

I'll ignore the first part of your post. However, I would like to take this discussion out of the realm of music, which has an interesting dynamic (the musician's art vs. corporate price gouging).

For example, what if I were a researcher that just developed a new treatment for HIV/AIDS. Now that the drug has gone through clinical trials, I want to sell the formula of this drug to a company that can mass produce it on the condition that it be sold at cost in a number of African countries that are both severely affected by this disease and a majority of the population lives below the poverty line.

Given your perspective, QuantumG, any drug company would have the right to produce and distribute this drug, regardless of the developer's (or owner's) wishes. As a result, the developer would recover none of the costs spent on research, and millions of people in Africa would continue to suffer.

It's important to understand that copyrights do have a legitimate purpose. Yes, I believe that the music industry is a monopoly that despirately needs reorganization, but I don't believe that the best way to do that is by cutting the legs out from independant artists who play, sculpt, paint, or perform from the sake of the art and not the paycheck.



[ Parent ]
Blah, the creator has the formular (none / 1) (#58)
by QuantumG on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 09:09:33 PM EST

They have a right to keep it secret (no-one has the right to force them to disclose it). The drug companies want the formular. The creator can make any deal they want with the drug companies. There's absolutely no need for copyright or patent law as the formular will never be published.

On the other hand, people who rely on copyright and patent law do so because they don't want to participate in civil society and make voluntary agreements with others. They want to do their "art" and force others to pay them for it. Copyright is considered better than a generic "funding for the arts" tax because it is more specific about who pays, the people who actually use the work. Unfortunately it does work like that. Everyone else pays because copyright stiffles the community spirit. The only way to get most works that are copyright is to agree not to give a copy to anyone else, including your neighbour who just might need it. When your neighbour sees that you're not willing to help him he gives up on helping others and they give up on helping others and society degrades into a jungle.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]

Doesn't follow (none / 1) (#60)
by Thought Assassin on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 11:23:38 PM EST

Without the copyright (more likely patent in this area, but the principle's the same) problem, a whole bunch of drug manufacturers/distributors would be competing to sell the drug at near cost in Africa. Perhaps you don't understand why they don't already do that today: because the intellectual property protection racket prevents this kind of competition. So this is in no way a "legitimate use of copyright"; the African situation is entirely caused by the madness of the IP system.

Yes, the system for rewarding the researcher will see minor changes in the absence of such a system (in essence: those who want the result would reward the research-funder for the result directly rather than paying a per-pill premium, but the resulting industry would bear the same major forces as today, so its structure would be almost identical), but that doesn't detract anything from the benefits brought by competition.

[ Parent ]

Hm (none / 1) (#59)
by trhurler on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 11:23:04 PM EST

So what you're saying is, you don't give a damn about free content at all, except insofar as you hope you can use it to sell more CDs. Here's a hint: you should have just "failed to catch people bootlegging your music." It'd be quicker, easier, and likely more successful.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
The net result... (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by OpAmp on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 03:17:42 PM EST

...would be probably the same. Except that using CC is much nicer and protects potential file sharer from automatic (i.e. despite author's opposition) criminal prosecution.

Someone (like me) may not mind people sharing his work, only if people are cashing in on his work. It's really that simple.

Finally, I find the growing trend to believe that the work is somehow paramount to its author, and thus should be protected at author's expense, deeply disturbing. After all, even the largest body of work will not start spewing out new content out of itself.

[ Parent ]

But GPL is about freedom (3.00 / 2) (#82)
by cburke on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 09:29:57 PM EST

I don't know what popular belief you mean about the GPL -- it has never been about the author's rights, other than the author wants to promote freedom.  GPL is about software users rights, and giving the user the power to modify, improve, and share the software and their improvements with others.  You release software under the GPL because you agree that these are freedoms users should have, and understand that you yourself will be given these freedoms should anyone release an improved version of your code.

I have seen people charging ridiculous amounts of money for what is basically a copy of a free software program, but I only mind that in the sense that I mind all price gouging.  If you're a sucker and fall for it, that's your problem.  On the other hand, there are things like Red Hat which charge for free software but in fact contribute noticeable value back into the pool of free software.  Charging for software lets them do this, so I fully approve.

On the other hand, this isn't necessarily what you want for music, paintings, or other forms of expression.

[ Parent ]

You are correct (none / 1) (#91)
by OpAmp on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 02:00:06 PM EST

I don't know what popular belief you mean about the GPL

Some people believe that if you release the code under GPL it will be impossible to exploit it commercially and people willing to do so would buy the source license from the author. As we both know, this is not the case: the work can be exploited commercially, as long as it remains "free according to the license". The passage I was referring to in the original text was: They [-NC licenses] are unlikely to increase the potential profit from your work, and a share-alike license serves the goal to protect your work from exploitation equally well.

Next, you say:

I have seen people charging ridiculous amounts of money for what is basically a copy of a free software program, but I only mind that in the sense that I mind all price gouging.

I have seen people charging insane amounts of money for a boxed version of a GPL'd program, while the original author had trouble getting money for bread. Legal? Yes. Ethical? Hell no. Of course you can say that the guy was an idiot because of working on the code for free, but this does not make the reseller's behavior acceptable (for me).

[ Parent ]

On that last point: (none / 1) (#95)
by Kadin2048 on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 07:53:36 PM EST

I wanted to say, that if someone is selling a boxed version of a GPLed program for an exorbitant price while the author starves, he's a shithead. However, there are a lot of shitheads in the world, we shouldn't get ourselves worked up over one more.

The author isn't a fool for writing a GPLed program, on the contrary. The person who IS a fool though, is the person who buys a piece of software the monetary value of which is ZERO, in the box for the exorbitant price.

The idea is that you can try to sell GPLed software for whatever people will pay. If you can get some sucker to pay $499 for a Knoppix CD in a nice box, congrats. Pat yourself on the back. You're a slimeball, but the person who bought the software was so dumb, they probably deserve to be parted from their cash anyway. They're dumb because the GPL requires you to not only "free" the software in the legal sense, but also to provide access to the code, which almost always ends up on the 'net. So users are never at the mercy of distributers who put a disc in a box and upcharge 1000%. They can always get it for free off of the net if they want.

You can sell GPLed software for anything people will pay. But the flip side of this is, you have to compete with free -- as in beer -- availability over the internet. And as the prices of Linux distribution CDs will demonstrate, the free market works pretty well to drive the margins of a distribution operation down to near zero. (Last time I checked you can get a CD of a distribution for about $3, if you look around.)

The license doesn't bother preventing commercial distribution, because without some significant value added, the market will eliminate it. Sure, some sleazebags might make some bucks in the time before the market responds and people realize they can get the 'ware for free, but in the long run there's no margin for them. Only by providing some service (mostly support) have companies been able to sustain themselves by distributing free software.

This could just as easily be music: why worry about whether somebody will take your band's MP3s and sell them, if you're giving them away for free? They'll never be able to compete with that, and it's only by providing some significant (to the customer -- maybe not to you) value added that they will remain in business for very long.

[ Parent ]

The author is not an idiot (none / 1) (#96)
by cburke on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 11:36:10 PM EST

Assuming he used the GPL for the right reasons -- because he wanted to give his users freedom.  So he didn't make any money and someone else did.  So what?  Even the ones who bought the expensive copies are granted the freedoms the original author intended.*

Benjamin Franklin didn't patent his stove because he wanted the people to be able to benefit from it without having his idea be locked away with artificial limitations.  When someone made a small change to the Franklin stove, patented the result, and charged license fees, did that detract from Franklin's original accomplishment?  Not at all.

Like I said, I don't approve of price gouging.  But that's all it is.  It's no different than me handing out recipes for a soufle and someone trying to sell them for $10 a piece, or even just me giving out the apples I grew and someone else selling them.  It sucks, but it's not unique and nothing more than another scumbag taking advantage of suckers.

Obviously the article author's point that share-alike licenses would prevent this kind of exploitation is simply wrong.  They discourage it by always allowing free copying (price gougers of free software -are- fairly rare) but can't prevent it because they explicitly allow it.

* If not then this would no longer merely be unethical but illegal.  

[ Parent ]

CC NC still does have uses (3.00 / 7) (#62)
by rjnagle on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 11:37:09 PM EST

This is a rather profound analysis of an issue which I have identified and written about in several places. (See for example here:
Creative Commons Licenses: Doubts and Questions
and Commercial Use Questions ).

And believe it or not, I am in the middle of a THIRD piece on the same subject.

That said, I am a big fan of what creative commons stands for, and I think it has done a lot of good.

And btw, I am now negotiating something where CC noncommercial has come in enormously handy. A publisher is close to letting me distribute a noncommercial ebook version of an out-of-print novel through Project Gutenberg if it carries a CC/NC license.  That is precisely a case where CC/NC works.

CC noncommercial licenses were originally developed in response to music sharing, and CC people really didn't think through the artist compensation issue, only the specific case whether  mp3s could be shared.  It's not as great a solution for literary works for example.

One impact of noncommercial licenses is that it makes it very hard to start pro-CC sites and allow them to seek advertising or subscriptions. The only person who can advertise or sell a work is the owner and originator, who probably is not in a good position to do so. Site EULA's can take care of this problem, but if you get to that point, what's the point of even bothering with CC licenses?  

I'm trying to come up with a way to publicize and promote Creative Commons content and yet make a little bit of money, if only to pay for webhosting.  Advertising, membership, tipjars?

If creative commons becomes the dominant legal framework for creative works, that will make the tipjar model (where one rewards artists directly instead of buying their works) more viable.

The commercial clause is vague and needs clarification. The key question is: should cnn.com have the right to reprint a NC CC work on cnn.com ? Why or why not?

 I could foresee another form of CC licenses which allow the ability to use advertising. CC could offer  two tiers of commercial use:

  1. selling the work in exchange for money
  2. deriving some indirect financial benefit through advertising/membership.
That makes CC less simple, but perhaps more realistic.

BTW, here's language I use on my  CC A NC label:


Clarification on Commercial Use. There is some ambiguity in the creative commons license about what constitutes "commercial use" of a creative commons work. If you are running a website supported by advertising, but if the stories are free to view or download, I do not consider that to be commercial use of my creative work. The key word in that previous sentence is "free." If the work is not available for free, I consider that to be commercial use. As long as your republication of my work is free, attributed with URL and Author's name and properly labeled as Creative Commons, there is no problem. .

In an age of independent distribution, what an artist needs most is not NC protection or even protection derivative works but rights of Attribution. Just link to me dammit!

Finally, this article  identifies a key shortcoming of CC:  irrevocability. If I use one version of a license for a work, and a month later, I use another, which license applies?

link to my response (2.50 / 2) (#65)
by rjnagle on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 12:28:31 AM EST

a more polished version of my response is here .

[ Parent ]
irrevocability (3.00 / 3) (#67)
by Viliam Bur on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 02:56:18 AM EST

Finally, this article identifies a key shortcoming of CC: irrevocability. If I use one version of a license for a work, and a month later, I use another, which license applies?

Simple: If I obtain your work under the first license, the first license applies. If under second, then second applies. If both, then I can choose.

If on Monday you will sell apples for $1, and on Tuesday you will sell apples for $2, which price applies? Both do, for different customers.

In more detail: If you publish your work under one license, and then replace it with the second one, technically I (a visitor coming to your web after you have replaced the license) can use the work only under the second license. But the people who have downloaded your work sooner under the first license, may re-publish it under the first license (if the first license allows it), and if I download your work from them, then the first license applies also to me.

[ Parent ]

Clarifying the ad-supported sites would be good (none / 1) (#97)
by mozmozmoz on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 03:34:36 AM EST

That's a useful point.

I publish many of my photos on the web under the -NC license, with the subscript that people can contact me for other arrangements, and I sell maybe 10 photos a year this way. So that part of it seems to work. I've also had a couple of exclusive sales - people want the photo pulled from my site so they can use it. That costs more ;-)

There's lots of comedy on TV too. Does that make children funnier?
[ Parent ]

Missing the point (2.91 / 12) (#69)
by clawDATA on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 06:13:50 AM EST

-NC allows musicians to share work with their audience, and prevents evil scumbag record labels from making a profit while the artist gets nothing. In other words, it puts the power in the artists corner.

In the late nineties I released a moderately successful album through a label which sold pretty well and made it to the top of several charts (dance, and alternative), especially in the UK and Canada. Do you want to know how much I made from it? Absolutely nothing!

Now everything I release is -NC. Occasionally I get an email by someone making a compilation and I get the choice of saying yes or no. If it's a big commercial compilation I also get to say how much $.

If I wasn't releasing -NC I'd still be in the frustrating position of watching people make money of my work while getting nothing. This way nobody makes any money, which is fine by me.

-NC has its place.

What was the album? (none / 0) (#102)
by knuu on Sat Sep 17, 2005 at 06:11:28 PM EST

n/t

[ Parent ]
NC considered usefull (3.00 / 7) (#70)
by grumbel on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 06:15:40 AM EST

Sure if you just distribute a small piece of work, say a clipart or a short Wiki article, NC might do more harm then good, but if somebody writes a book or a equally large piece of work I think he deserves some compensation for that. NC gurantees that no publisher comes along picks up the text, prints it and makes lots of money without ever letting the author see any of it. After all a publisher who has been in the business for a while might have a much easier time distributing work then the artists who might already be busy enough with actually creating it in the first place. Without NC the author would either have to go completly proprietary or create a do-it-yourself license. So NC is actually very usefull and its easy to justify it.

On the other hand the no-derived work clause is IMHO far more problematic, since it hinders any creative use or even maintaince of the work, resulting in the same deadlock that you get with normal copyrighted work. What good would be a CC-by-nd japanese anime movie if one wouldn't even have the right to add subtitles? Or what good would be a song in .wav format, to large to easily distribute, it without the right to convert it? A CC-by-nc licensed one on the other side would be far more usefull, since the only people harmed by the limitations are those that trying to make money of it.


dude, did you just link to alexa? [nt] (1.16 / 6) (#75)
by the77x42 on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 12:19:14 PM EST




"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

Man, some of you guys really like (1.09 / 11) (#76)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 01:45:07 PM EST

this wankapedia thing.

----------------

Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.

how do you spell faggot (1.00 / 15) (#77)
by Friedrich Dionysus on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 03:12:50 PM EST

do i have that right?

political eterodoxy about non-commercial licences (2.40 / 5) (#85)
by blicero on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 04:26:48 AM EST

As a left-wing political activist, to me the real point of seeing non-commercial CC licence as harmful toward the movement for free content is completely different from the one described in the article. The main point to me is that non-commercial licences move the issue from property to commerce. The real thing about free content movement is the dismembering of the concept of property, basically leading to a necessary restructuring of subjectivity towards freedom and new forms of conceiving knowledges and creative and social production. Non-commercial licences basically leave a lot of free content "activists" in the comfortable dream of living outside a market society and brings them to identify the wrong target in terms of fight. While free share-alike derivative-allowing licences point much more directly at the heart of the problem: property.

Not always bad (2.75 / 4) (#86)
by Shano on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 07:08:03 AM EST

If your intention is that your work be used by others, then the -NC license can cause problems.  However, it does have a second use: in allowing concessions where otherwise normal copyright would apply.

When I release software, it's normally under a free license (I like the MIT license, since it's one of the shortest).  Most of my software is never released at all, and it's simple enough that I doubt I could profit from it if I tried.

I'm also interested in drawing, painting and photography, and have a number of pictures on my web site.  Arguably, there's no difference between these and software - they're both creative works.  But where software can always benefit from more input, I see my drawings (poor though they may be) as finished pieces, and I don't want other people to profit from them without even asking first - obviously because I'm a selfish individual, or maybe just because I haven't fully bought into the free content thing.

So currently, I have no stated policy on distribution, meaning normal copyright applies.  An -NC license would allow other people to distribute and modify works in much the same way as they do anyway (Photoshop contests, for example), but states that formally - certainly a good thing.

-NC can be harmful in collaberative efforts, but there is nothing wrong with using it for individual works that would otherwise remain under full copyright.


No one uses my web art to sell widgets! (2.66 / 3) (#89)
by EileenK on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 01:27:32 PM EST

All my newer pages have gone under a share alike and noncommercial creative commons license. Most of these have been site fighting teams and for this kind of a site a noncommercial creative commons license makes sense. Here is an example.

The creative commons license frees up all the art work for use with modification on spirit pages and encourages fighters to share what they make from my art with the rest of their teams. (I run two teams plus a competition of my own.)

Commercial sites rarely site fight and if any one is running a blog with Adwords on it (as opposed to a site on something like Geocities where the ads are imposed from without and the site creator doesn't make any money) I might talk to them politely about setting up a separate spirit page away from the blog. A spirit page is a page that advertises the competition and the team.

Since I am throwing my art work up for grabs, I want it used to promote the competition and team and to encourage others to make similar art work. I don't want it used to sell something or to go in someone's web set collection where it gets sold for twenty dollars. I despise store bought web sets.

So far no one is tearing down the door for my art work, but it feels good knowing that no one can use it to sell widgets.

I also despise no-right-click and the share alike provision prevents those who adopt my art work from locking it down in that manner.



Shrinking Range (1.50 / 2) (#98)
by adavies42 on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 11:03:42 AM EST

"Popular bloggers, from Andrew Sullivan to Markos Zúniga (Dailykos)"--a rather small range these days, and steadily shrinking.

The NC license works if there is a single creator (3.00 / 3) (#103)
by Highlander on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 07:32:54 AM EST

The point of the NC license is that the creator of the works can be contacted to issue a license the someone.

This makes sense if the works is for example a text which does not undergo heavy editing.

It does not make sense when the works will be used in such a way that the information who is the copyright holder will get lost, or when it can be expected that in the course of the project, the works will be mixed with works by other creators.

(Because then you will not be able to contact anyone to get their (paid-for) permission for commercial use)

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.

Using -NC to get notified of commercial use (3.00 / 2) (#105)
by martinroell on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 03:31:31 PM EST

I work as a freelance consultant and speaker and regularly publish material from my talks and seminars online under a CC-license. Often I choose an NC-license.

I do this not because I don't want commercial use - in contrary! I would like other people to use my work to build on it! If they can even have a commercial success with it - great! (As the article points out, the "share alike" part is sufficient to prevent "exploitational" use without giving back to the community.) But - and this is the reason why I choose -NC - I would like to be notified of commercial uses of my work.

I do not want someone to build on my work and use it commercially without notifying me. At the moment, the only way to ensure that I am notified that I see, is to publish under an NC-license and point out in the published material that I do encourage commercial use but would like to be contacted. (See a recent example here (link is in German).)

A friend of mine suggested that I could set up an email autoresponder which would automatically re-license the work first published under -NC as a simple BY-SA when it is mailed to. It's an odd idea but maybe good enough.

It doesn't solve the core problem though: Licensing under -NC discourages commercial use. A license option that would not have a "barred dollar" icon but something that suggests "commercial use allowed when you notify the creator of the works" would be better (for me). (I wrote about this in German a while ago.)

After reading this article I understand the negative consequences that -NC has much better. (Thanks, Erik!) As I doubt that an option like I outlined will be added to the CC licensing process, I think I will publish my works under a more open, not-NC-license in the future, adding a note that I would like to be notified. The possibility that somebody ignores that seems a fair tradeoff against the benefits of a more open license.

An interesting point (none / 1) (#106)
by Eloquence on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 11:16:42 PM EST

The issue of notification is certainly an interesting point. I touch upon this in the wiki version of the article:

However, you might still argue that as a creator, you could simply wait until anyone actually expresses interest in using your work under a more liberal license than the -NC variant you provide it under. Most use scenarios, however, will not be of a kind where an alternative to using your content is unthinkable. Human beings, especially in volunteer online communities, tend to take the path of least resistance and least offense.

What it comes down to is friction. Eliminating friction entirely can have massive advantages for distributing your work in an environment like the Internet. Many creators simply state: "You are free to use this work in any way you want to, as long as you attribute me as the creator. Depending on the scope of the use, it would be nice if you could also tell me about it."

Using a liberal statement like this, you avoid friction, while still defining your expectations for those who want to be on friendly terms with you. It's easy to forget in all those discussions about licensing that we, as human beings, choose whom we interact and associate with. In all aspects of life, we have our own standards of conduct, and we avoid people whose standards are incompatible with ours. I don't really see why the same should not work with information, and why this particular aspect of life needs to be regulated with complex licenses.

Choosing permissive licenses or the public domain is an expression of the power of choice in association. Taking a lesson from Wikipedia, it's a simple statement that most human beings are essentially trying to do the right thing. Working together, we can try to educate or isolate those who are not, without the need for lawyers to get involved. We can develop and refine mechanisms to track usage, such as trackback in blogs, and build large but entirely voluntary associations of people who share a moral obligation to try to give back when they take.

Prohibiting commercial use except by special permission, on the other hand, puts you on the fringes of the free content movement, where the beer is free, but the philosophy is shallow. You lose much of the potential for your work to be improved, combined, aggregated and shared by those who believe in unrestricted freedom of use. You exchange the opportunity to be part of a dramatic shift in the ideology of ideas for a vague sense of security.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

I figured you out. (none / 0) (#108)
by Shii on Thu Sep 29, 2005 at 10:21:19 PM EST

You just want to steal our work and sell it, don't you?!

[ Parent ]
Updates (none / 1) (#107)
by Eloquence on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 03:54:25 AM EST

Here's a diff showing changes that have been made to the article since its first publication here. As you can see, I have added quite a few arguments from the discussion. I'd like to thank everyone who participated in it, and hope that the document will be a meaningful contribution to the continuing debate about licensing choices.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
2 cents (none / 0) (#109)
by dw604 on Wed Mar 29, 2006 at 09:02:22 PM EST

Assuming he used the GPL for the right reasons -- because he wanted to give his users freedom.  So he didn't make any money and someone else did.  So what?  Even the ones who bought the expensive copies are granted the freedoms the original author intended.*

Benjamin Franklin didn't patent his stove because he wanted the people to be able to benefit from it without having his idea be locked away with artificial limitations.  When someone made a small change to the Franklin stove, patented the result, and charged license fees, did that detract from Franklin's original accomplishment?  Not at all.

Like I said, I don't approve of price gouging.  But that's all it is.  It's no different than me handing out recipes for a soufle and someone trying to sell them for $10 a piece, or even just me giving out the apples I grew and someone else selling them.  It sucks, but it's not unique and nothing more than another scumbag taking advantage of suckers.

Obviously the article author's point that share-alike licenses would prevent this kind of exploitation is simply wrong.  They discourage it by always allowing free copying (price gougers of free software -are- fairly rare) but can't prevent it because they explicitly allow it.

* If not then this would no longer merely be unethical but illegal.  

Creative Commons -NC Licenses Considered Harmful | 108 comments (101 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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