Is Creative Commons Bad For Copyright?

from the taking-people-away-from-the-issue dept

Copycense has a rather thought-provoking editorial pondering whether or not Creative Commons is good or bad for copyright. I have to admit that I've long felt similarly about Creative Commons in general. I don't use any of their licenses, because I don't necessarily see the point. We've declared in the past that the content here is free for anyone to do what they want with it, and thus I feel no need for a Creative Commons license. But, at the same time, there were some underlying issues about CC that have bothered me, concerning its continued reliance on copyright as a basis for making it work. I admire the folks behind it and the very idea of using copyright itself to carve out a more reasonable way of dealing with it, but I've always wondered if the use of Creative Commons, while a nice solution for many users, helps to cloud the problems with copyright law. This is the same point Copycense makes, noting that one of the major problems with it is that it takes copyright out of a policy debate, and makes it a contractual issue.

Copycense was okay with this in the past, back when it seemed unlikely that there would ever be a real national debate on copyright, but given recent events in Canada, it seems that such discussions can actually occur:
We conclude now... that the continued use and prominence of Creative Commons licenses actually obscures the real copyright issues we face in this country, and keeps Americans from settling on the proper parameters of digital information use, access, retrieval and preservation in the 21st century. It is too easy for a creator to slap a CC license on a copyrighted work, promote one's apparent knowledge of (and sensitivity to) copyright issues through a CC badge, and feel good about oneself, almost like the purchase of hybrid vehicle becomes one's outward signal to society that its owner is dedicated to stopping global warming.

Indeed, there seems to be a whole aura attached to using a CC license -- or perhaps more specifically, slapping that CC badge on a copyright-protected work -- because it seems to signal that the person using the license is thinking progressively about intellectual property, information policy, and related issues....

But we believe the real question to be asked is how we can calibrate copyright law to make it equally usable by, and effective for, all Americans. To this end, we believe the use of CC licenses actually avoids the question of what U.S. copyright should be in the 21st century, and how the law should best serve its citizens, who now are as likely to be creators of copyrighted works as your average conglomerate record label. This avoidance is particularly problematic given the prominence and use of CC licenses; the organization's position -- real or perceived -- as the antidote to a broken copyright system; and the very real possibility that few who use the licenses really know what they mean....

As Canada is doing now, the U.S. needs to have deep, complicated, and perhaps even painful conversations about information policy; the history, purpose, uses and scope of copyright law and policy in our digital information ecosystem; and the reform that needs to happen in both areas.

We do not believe the Creative Commons license scheme fosters that conversation. Instead, we believe the scheme muzzles this conversation by promoting a contractual bargain in lieu of balanced and calibrated legislation and policy. We hope that in the future, Creative Commons will put more of its considerable intellectual and economic resources toward resolving the problems with copyright law instead of promoting contractual workarounds. In the best case scenario, with a balanced and effective law that serves citizens and corporate owners equally well, a Creative Commons license is unnecessary. This should be the goal.
There's a lot more at the link, but I did want to pull out those sections, as making some points worth thinking about. While I always cringe at calls for "balanced copyright" -- which I think misses the point of copyright (a truly successful copyright law involves making everyone better off, rather than "balancing" interests) -- it is worth thinking about Creative Commons impact on the debate over copyright.

But... I'm not sure that I would go as far as Copycense in condemning Creative Commons. Many of the people behind it went through (and are still going through) numerous battles to push back on the excesses of copyright. Creative Commons wasn't the solution -- it was a helpful (and hopefully temporary) oasis in a bleak desert, following numerous well-reasoned, but ultimately futile attempts to push back corporate expansion of copyright. And while I agree that there are problems with shifting the issue to a contractual agreement (and the post highlights some of the many legal problems CC licenses may cause), I think that CC, as a whole, did turn a lot more people onto the some of the problems with copyright law as it stands today. In many ways, CC is an easy way for people to first start to understand the problems of copyright law, in understanding why CC is needed.

From there, many who do understand this have started questioning the larger issues around copyright -- and many of those involved with CC have continued to fight that good fight, rather than just assuming that CC is "the answer." So, in the end, I agree that we should be clear to recognize that Creative Commons and efforts to really rethink copyright are two separate things, but that doesn't mean that Creative Commons is necessarily bad for copyright policy issues. It has been, and hopefully will continue to be, a real stepping stone to getting more people to recognize these bigger issues. In fact, I'd argue that many of the folks now leading the debate for more reasoned copyright policy in Canada first came to understand these issues via their exposure to Creative Commons' licenses.


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    Designerfx (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    CC is like DRM

    I actually like that CC is a step in the right direction, but it is by far not a solution. I will quicker pirate something than CC mostly because CC is a serious pain in the ass.

    Honestly, the equivalent of making a work read-only is what they've done, or "no performance rights", etc.

    Who wants to get something which is in fair use but the derivative has been made into CC no performance or no reproduction or no modification or something?

    It becomes utterly useless.

    I play for an orchestra and we love to find fair use, but can you imagine how much we spend on Mozart copies and such? a ton. There are limited performance rights granted. the IMSLP seemed like a great resource until we saw all the nuclear risks to just perform something from 3-400 years ago. Creative commons changed nothing with that.

    Who loses from my orchestra being unwilling to play something that could get us sued? Only 2 groups: society, and more specifically, our audience.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 12:28pm

    "In the best case scenario, with a balanced and effective law that serves citizens and corporate owners equally well, a Creative Commons license is unnecessary."

    While the article may or may not be correct the fact of the matter is that I do not see intellectual property laws changing for the better anytime soon. So what's the alternative? To release their work under some generic Gnu license or creative commons license or to find some other workaround of our completely broken system. What choice do we have? Convince our politicians to fix our broken system? ROFLOL, like that'll ever happen with lobbyists and big corporations pouring money into political campaigns and controlling what politicians do. I see nothing wrong with a creative commons license workaround being that it doesn't look like this problem will get fixed. Perhaps in the distant future as groups like the pirate party gain support but for now .... I just don't see it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 12:56pm

    Re: CC is like DRM

    CC licenses often allow one to modify or build upon a work.

     

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    some old guy, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re: CC is like DRM

    CC licenses often allow one to modify or build upon a work.

    No, CC is a set of restrictions, not a set of permissions.
    Sometimes, there are fewer restrictions.


    CC is copyright supporters pretending they can stop infinite distribution by pretending to be friendly to it.

    The CCake is a lie.

     

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 1:28pm

    Re:

    I notice a lot of people responding to calls for change with "that will never happen, or at least not for a long long time."

    Well, d'uh. Change is often gradual. The point is that what we do NOW, what choices we make, what information we share and comment on and write about, the ways in which organizations like CC spend their money, the literature they release, etc, etc, etc -- all influences and shapes that slow, gradual change.

    So no, CC shouldn't give up on licenses tomorrow, or anything like that - but if their goal is to fix the problems of copyright, then they should definitely be considering what impact they will have in the long-term, and whether they will end up becoming another obsolete legal obstacle.

     

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    BAlbrecht (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 1:34pm

    Re:

    I wholeheartedly agree. I make creative works *now*, and I want to clearly specify to my clients what they can and cannot do with my work.What are the alternatives?
    --Copyright my work and ignore the fact my customers will violate the terms,
    --Public Domain it and have no say over its use, or
    --Copyright it and then threaten to sue the pants off of my customers when they violate it.

    Sorry, but if I can add a clear and concise statement of how I'd like them to treat my work *most* clients will understand and happily respect my wishes. For those that don't I have written proof that I specified terms of use to prod them with. And in most cases, I find that by using an "alternative" licensing scheme I introduce them to the concept that there are alternative ways to handle the distribution of IP, thereby beginning their education on this critical issue.

    Now, remind me why I should wait for the vitriolic debate in the US congress over this? Especially when it is going to be controlled by the Special Interest lobby?

     

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    scarr (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: CC is like DRM

    Given that copyright automatically restricts more than many CC licenses allow, it's fair to say CC licenses are granting permissions. It might not be as many as if you just say "public domain", but not everybody wants that.

    To branch out into the main discussion again -- aren't CC license essentially votes for what rights many creative people do and don't want to see? I don't know how they would be tallied, but I know I see lots of licenses that basically say "do what you want with this, as long as you acknowledge my efforts and aren't profiting off them."

     

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    uhhhh, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: CC is like DRM

    um, all CC licenses allow copies to be made and distributed infinitely. that's the point. restrictions can be attached to that right to copy and distribute, but there's pretty clearly a permission to copy and distribute that otherwise isn't there for the users under default copyright.

     

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    Nick, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    Shooting at the wrong target

    I do not understand this argument against Creative Commons.

    I am not particularly familiar with Creative Commons, but I always hear it described as a system either "on top" of or alongside copyright law. As such, and I would like to know if I misunderstand, Creative Commons isn't about changing copyright law or policy in any meaningful way.

    What Creative Commons is good for, and again, I'd love to know if I'm wrong, is lowering the transaction costs of using the creative work of others. These transaction costs, eg. the monetary cost of a license, time spent negotiating a license, researching the identity of the author, the risk of being sued without a license, etc., can be prohibitive, even when the copyright owner isn't demanding all the much in return.

    So, while federal law bestows all sorts of rights upon the creation of their work, there are few easy mechanisms for obtaining a license. For better or worse, a compulsory license from ASCAP is a good example of a straightforward process of obtaining rights. The problem is that there is no central licensing body for the bulk of creative material that gets uploaded to the Internet everyday.

    This is, where I thought, Creative Commons came into play. Rather than a process mandated by statute, ordinary people could take the initiative and declare to the world "this is my license to others." Totally optional. Totally at the control of the author. If one wants to find material that can be used with minimal transaction costs, and an author wants to allow others to use their work without those same costs, Creative Commons brings those people together. In essence, Creative Commons brings about an alternative marketplace for clearing rights. It's not about creating, expanding, or limiting the rights every author is granted under copyright law, rather it's a system of communicating permissions amongst those authors.

    If one understands Creative Commons on these terms, which I think are correct, then it doesn't make any sense to argue that Creative Commons doesn't do enough in the discussion about copyright or information policy in general: that's not the point of Creative Commons. Sure, the larger efforts pointed to in the Copycense post are worthy causes, but criticizing Creative Commons on these terms is the equivalent of bashing carpooling policies because they perpetuate reliance on gas powered cars. Curing the underlying problem isn't the point here, it's picking the low hanging fruit in a way that improve things immediately while other efforts are taken to more fundamentally change the system.

    All that said, Copycense's critiques sound legitimate. Too bad Creative Commons isn't and never was the revolution Copycense was looking for.

     

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    Yeah right, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    See what Sony does with the GNU license

    I can't get my head around the following. Have you seen the announcement that Sony is making available thousands of out-of-print book titles free? Well, their Ebook library software is licensed under a GNU license, but Sony slapped on a couple of pages at the front where they say

    'You may not modify, reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble any of the SOFTWARE, whether in whole or in part, or create any derivative works from or of the SOFTWARE unless such derivative works are intentionally facilitated by the SOFTWARE.'

    while on the other hand the GNU licence allows this and even says 'You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein.'

    Confused? Well, read on: 'If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all.' says the GNU license.

    Am I getting this straight? Every Tom, Dick and Harry can take a GNU licensed product, modify it, forbid any further modification and start charging money for it?

     

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    ginsu, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 1:57pm

    Copycense vs Creative Commons is an example of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

     

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    David (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    Why did you bother with this?

    You start out saying things like "I don't use any of their licenses [CC], because I don't necessarily see the point." You temper that a bit with "admire the folks behind it" and not going "as far as Copycense in condemning Creative Commons". Then you list a whole bunch of things Copycense has a problem with. Then you end up praising CC and it's effort to get people to think about copyright, saying "that doesn't mean that Creative Commons is necessarily bad for copyright policy issues."

    This is just a bunch of wishy-washy pablum. You aren't taking a stand about CC really, and mostly are damning with faint praise.

    Do you like the CC or not? No, you "don't use any of their licenses". Yes, CC isn't bad for copyright policy issues. Copycense said all this stuff, only I guess maybe I kind of don't agree with it much.

    Why did you bother posting this at all?

     

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    some old guy, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Why did you bother with this?

    Why did you bother posting this at all?

    'cause its his blog and he likes to bring insightful elements into the discussion.

    Now.. why did you post that rant?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:11pm

    What does this say about GNU though, which predates CC? And probably has far and away more contributors than CC ever will. Its really the same sort of work around for copyright law, just taken a step further.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for copyright reform of some sort. But considering the global proliferation of some of the work arounds, and more importantly the reason they exist globally in the first place, instead of locally from one country to the next.. is more than enough reason for them to stay.

    Fixing copyright in America won't fix copyright. And I think both the author of the piece at copycense, and Mike, are taking a very narrow view when they wrote their respective articles.

     

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    Eliot, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:21pm

    Why, indeed?

    I am confused as to why people seem to quibble about Creative Commons. As has been said by others, it's a good thing, to me, no matter how you slice it. While I'm okay with people using content from my site, I want to provide guidelines to users in an easy to understand framework -- Creative Commons provides that.

    There does, indeed, need to be a greater discussion about copyright, but I can't help but ask the same question as David (minus the vitriol): Why did you post this?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    Re: See what Sony does with the GNU license

    All depends on if Sony were the originators of the ebook library software or not. If so, then they can do pretty much whatever the heck they want. In which case they aren't releasing under GNU. Instead they are releasing under their own highly modified version of GNU.

    Now, if someone else wrote it and originally released under GNU, then was modified by Sony, it gets a bit more muddled.

    Sony could have easily taken the GNU App, paid the original author, made some changes, and then slapped those pages on it. The main part of the App has to be released under GNU though, any changes Sony made are not required to be released under the license because they got express permission from the original authors. All perfectly okay under GNU, long as the original author(s) are okay with it(got paid). GNU doesn't mean you're giving up your rights, anymore than CC does. It just means you are bestowing additional rights to the general population.

     

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    Designerfx (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: CC is like DRM

    doesn't work. profiting is subjective, and thus is the issue. The entitlement of "I deserve a piece of the pie even if you take my work and do something entirely new", that risk, still exists. Even if you're a non profit and/or a not for profit.

    Meanwhile, CC is actually just different from normal assigned copyright. The only one that is good is creative commons public domain license. The rest restrict all sorts of crap that sounds nice on the one hand but in reality is truly complicated and full of legal wrangling/legal risk. You think my orchestra is going to hire a lawyer just to figure out if we can get a copy of xyz song from the 1600's to play to entertain some young kids and inspire them to play? Not likely, ever.

    Most people realize that the minute you start paying for lawyers, you're also putting yourself at risk as you can no longer say you were not cognizant of said issue.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: CC is like DRM

    "No, CC is a set of restrictions, not a set of permissions."

    CC attempts to take off the restrictions that default copyright adds. CC does often allow one to modify or build upon a work, default copyright may not grant such a thing (ie: the catcher and the Rye http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090804/1129495769.shtml ) and CC would probably be unable to take away such rights if default copyright does not already take them away (for how can one take away rights that if default copyright law does not give one permission to do so, especially since default copyright is opt out and automatically grants all rights that the author can have to the author, not the general public).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: CC is like DRM

    "profiting is subjective"

    Really? So if you give me $5 it's only subjective money then?

     

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    LostSailor (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:42pm

    Balance

    ...I always cringe at calls for "balanced copyright" -- which I think misses the point of copyright (a truly successful copyright law involves making everyone better off, rather than "balancing" interests)...

    This is essentially nonsense. All copyright law is an attempt to achieve a balance between the rights of the creator and the rights of citizens (or society, if you prefer). The balance is clearly tilted too far toward the rights of the creator (who in most cases transfer the right to corporate publishers or distributors), but if the solution is copyright law that doesn't involve balance, one that "makes it better for everyone," that's essentially the same thing as no copyright at all.

    You've indicated that you are not necessarily for abolishing copyright, yet in numerous posts, you carve out a position that is tantamount to the same.

    If you cringe at any discussion of balance in copyright law or copyright reform, then can you articulate with any specificity exactly what is a copyright law that "makes it better for everyone"?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re:

    "The point is that what we do NOW"

    There are things we can do.

    As consumers try to avoid purchasing (as much as is reasonably possible, though there are limits) work that does not contain a clause that says, "this work is released under a creative commons license on such and such date" and it lists the date that the work is released. Make sure it releases the work under a reasonable license in a reasonable time (ie: seven years maybe?). This could apply to books, CD's, and such. Of course there are exceptions, perhaps material for the purpose of education, and for that we need to compel congress to change copyright laws to be more reasonable.

    Artists can release their works under such licenses. Copyright I think is OK but it lasts way too long and we can find contractual workarounds for that. And this is exactly my point, it's about what we can do NOW and what we can do NOW is find workarounds while avoiding works (ie: music) that do not utilize such workarounds.

     

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    some old guy, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: CC is like DRM

    CC attempts to take off the restrictions that default copyright adds.

    No, it does not.

    CC starts off by saying "I am actively enforcing the fullest extent of my rights as the copyright holder that the law allows me to, except under these very narrowly defined circumstances."

    Whereas under non-cc distribution, rights are inherent to the copyright holder, but they don't have to exercise them at all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re:

    and one thing that I want to stress, and I understand that there are many situations where this is not reasonably possible (ie: educational material like textbooks and such or just educational material in general and material meant to better inform and educate and teach you), as consumers try to avoid purchasing material that do not utilize such workarounds. There is nothing wrong with copyright but I think it lasts way way too long and, while our votes don't mean much, we do have control over how we spend our money and special interest groups pay attention to how we spend our money. If we don't buy material that doesn't explicitly release itself to the public domain (ie: via some creative commons license) in a reasonable period of time (ie: seven years or whatever we deem reasonable) then the RIAA and other groups have no choice but to add such licenses to their material. What choice would they have? Your votes are almost worthless but how you spend your money DOES matter.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re: See what Sony does with the GNU license

    "GNU doesn't mean you're giving up your rights, anymore than CC does."

    From my understanding, once you release something under the GNU-GPL you can't retract that license. It would be unfair for someone to use a piece of GNU-GPL software for their entire business and then for the owner to come along and say, "I'm changing this license, you must pay me now" after the business has invested a lot of time and effort into getting their business to work under that software. Once something is released under the GNU-GPL the author has already agreed that all derivatives are released under that same license. If the author doesn't like it he can use a different license.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: See what Sony does with the GNU license

    ie: he can say, all derivative works are released under the authors modified license unless the author of the original work gives explicit permission to someone to release it under a different license. Such would not be the GNU-GPL though.

     

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    nasch (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: CC is like DRM

    If I use a CC something on a blog that also has advertisements on it, am I using the work commercially? That's the classic gray area, I'm sure there are many others.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Why did you bother with this?

    You start out saying things like "I don't use any of their licenses [CC], because I don't necessarily see the point." You temper that a bit with "admire the folks behind it" and not going "as far as Copycense in condemning Creative Commons". Then you list a whole bunch of things Copycense has a problem with. Then you end up praising CC and it's effort to get people to think about copyright, saying "that doesn't mean that Creative Commons is necessarily bad for copyright policy issues."

    Right. I posted it because I thought Copycense's argument was interesting and worth discussing. I find some elements of their post interesting, and I come from a position where I've always been a little lukewarm towards CC. But, the point is that in the end I don't find Copycense's argument convincing.

    Do you like the CC or not? No, you "don't use any of their licenses". Yes, CC isn't bad for copyright policy issues. Copycense said all this stuff, only I guess maybe I kind of don't agree with it much.

    Yes, because I'm not allowed to post something I disagree with, but still find thought provoking? Is that what you're suggesting?

    Why did you bother posting this at all?

    Because I thought it was thought provoking and interesting, even if ultimately, I didn't agree with it. I thought some of you might find it equally thought provoking as well.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Why, indeed?

    I am confused as to why people seem to quibble about Creative Commons. As has been said by others, it's a good thing, to me, no matter how you slice it. While I'm okay with people using content from my site, I want to provide guidelines to users in an easy to understand framework -- Creative Commons provides that.

    Indeed. No one is arguing that. But Copycense raised some interesting questions about CC's impact on the copyright discussion. Because some people seem to think that CC "solves" the problems with copyright, it's an interesting question.

    There does, indeed, need to be a greater discussion about copyright, but I can't help but ask the same question as David (minus the vitriol): Why did you post this?

    Again, because I found it thought-provoking, even if I ultimately didn't agree with it. I'm a little confused about the "why did you post this" questions. I post stuff I find interesting. Those are the rules.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 3:30pm

    Re: Re: See what Sony does with the GNU license

    "Instead they are releasing under their own highly modified version of GNU."

    If that is what they are doing then they are not allowed to call it the GNU.

    "You can use the GPL terms (possibly modified) in another license provided that you call your license by another name and do not include the GPL preamble, and provided you modify the instructions-for-use at the end enough to make it clearly different in wording and not mention GNU (though the actual procedure you describe may be similar). "

    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#ModifyGPL

    They should be punished for this. Either it's GNU and anyone can copy, distribute, and modify it, or it's not and they shouldn't pretend that it is or otherwise they should be punished.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 3:33pm

    Re: Balance

    This is essentially nonsense. All copyright law is an attempt to achieve a balance between the rights of the creator and the rights of citizens (or society, if you prefer).

    Not so. Copyright law is intended to create incentives for increased production of creative works (well, technically "sciences.") Thus, if copyright law were properly calibrated, everyone would be better off. The public would get more content that they could do what they wanted with and creators would have more incentive to create.

    It really could be a win-win. It was never about "balance" at all. Balance is just an excuse for lose-lose.

    You've indicated that you are not necessarily for abolishing copyright, yet in numerous posts, you carve out a position that is tantamount to the same.

    No, my position is questioning copyright. I don't think you can create a win-win copyright law unless you question all of the assumptions with copyright, and then go back and focus on empirical evidence of what kind of copyright law actually stimulates better creativity and content creation. So, yes, I question all aspects of copyright law -- not because I think it should be abolished, but because we should be questioning it.

    For all I know, the end result of all that questioning would be that we need even stronger copyright laws (I doubt it). Or it might be that no copyright laws are the answer (more likely that stronger copyright laws, but not necessary either). Or perhaps it's somewhere in the middle.

    But we're making a mistake if it's set up as a fight between the public and copyright holders. It shouldn't be. It should be about making things better off for both.

     

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    nasch (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Re: Balance

    Thus, if copyright law were properly calibrated, everyone would be better off. The public would get more content that they could do what they wanted with and creators would have more incentive to create.

    I think the source of the disagreement is the two carrots you describe. The public does indeed want content, but I doubt creators want incentives to create, or stronger ones. What they want (some of them) is money, and as much of it as possible. Some want as much money as possible for as long as possible with as little work as possible. These are the ones most powerfully and vocally representing the entire group.

    The question is, why should there be any attempt to satisfy this desire at all? Why attempt balance when what one side wants is basically counter to the good of society?

     

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  32.  
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    Matt (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Shooting at the wrong target

    I mostly agree - that is not what CC is for. But I do not think Copycense is complaining that CC is not its messiah. I think it is complaining that CC doing what CC was designed to do frustrates efforts to change copyright in ways it needs to be changed.

    Congress made a really, embarrassingly bad copyright law. Rather than confront that and fix it, Congress has permitted the court (in the case of software copyrights,) and private individuals (CC and GNU and others) to try to mitigate the damage. If society ever felt the full brunt of Congress's screwup, it would immediately demand that Congress stop dragging its feet.

    I made this argument myself to James Boyle some years ago. I have come around to what I understood his view to be - if you are against killing, killing a few to save a lot is not an acceptable solution. The better, and more compassionate, response is harm reduction. CC is about harm reduction.

     

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  33.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 4:24pm

    Free Creative Commons License Can Show What's Possible Without Copyright In The Way

    One of the most confusing things, whenever talking about Creative Commons and copyright, is that the CC licenses are all very different.

    (BY-NC-ND is just free-as-in-price, there are big problems with the NC provision, and BY and BY-SA are considered free-as-in-freedom, nevermind BY-ND, which is confusingly used by the Free Software Foundation because it fits Stallman's view of political speech.)

    I think the free CC licenses (BY and BY-SA) are important to the copyright debate. It's not just a badge to wear, but it's a tool. Wikipedia would not be possible without a free license like BY-SA (or it's original GNU Free Documentation license). It's also important to note the machine readable component of the licenses, which enabled things like Flickr's CC search tool.

    While copyright sucks, these licenses enable better models to be put into practice. The free software community shows that better business models can be put in place without a dependency on copyright, but free licenses are needed to facilitate that while restrictive copyright is the default. The contract here is just a jujitsu like move that reverses the effects of copyright. Free licenses depend on copyright, yes, but in the absence of copyright (or at least unreasonable copyright), they would no longer be necessary. (The attribution requirement doesn't need to be a legal thing, imho, that should be a social norm.)

    Free licenses, like CC BY-SA on the GNU GPL, allow for systems to be build based on freedom and large scale collaboration (instead of permission, royalties). This is essential to the copyright debate, because it proves that other approaches to copyright work. When people predictably ask, "but how are we supposed to get paid?", we can point models built on top of free licenses.

    Techdirt has the human readable license, without the machine readable or legal code. Free licenses enable a sort of large scale collaboration for other projects that wouldn't be possible without the legal code or legal interoperability (and the machine readable code certain helps).

    The non-free licenses, on the other hand...

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    some old guy, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 4:45pm

    Re: Free Creative Commons License Can Show What's Possible Without Copyright In The Way

    I can tell you drank the koolaid.

    Wikipedia wouldn't be possible without copyright restrictions?

    Surely a man of your obvious intelligence doesn't actually believe a statement so obviously incorrect.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 4:54pm

    Re: Re: Free Creative Commons License Can Show What's Possible Without Copyright In The Way

    "Wikipedia wouldn't be possible without copyright restrictions?"

    I think what he is saying is that wikipedia wouldn't be possible with the restrictions that the default copyright grants, so it uses licenses to waive those restrictions instead.

     

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  36.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Okay fine, but my point still stands - you can't brush off those who disagree with you and would rather push for copyright reform over contractual workarounds simply by saying "ROFLOL".

    And now that I think about it, since you punctuate your points with "ROFLOL", I'm not sure why I started this debate.

     

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  37.  
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    David (profile), Sep 1st, 2009 @ 11:21pm

    Re: Re: Why did you bother with this?

    Of course you're allowed to post any fool thing you want. You often do. In this case, however, you don't seem to really care much one way or the other.

    The post is basically saying "I don't really care, but I do in fact care enough to piss on what Copycense is saying."

    I just found the whole thing to be rambling, at best.

     

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  38.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 1:34am

    Well, the way copyright is set up nowadays, there is no public domain. You can't release something to the public domain. With CC you can set specific use-cases for your works, and say "you are allowed to do this, this and that with my work, without having to ask for my explicit permission."
    Without CC, for every use of your work, people should contact you before using it.

    Indeed, you have stated many times that you don't mind if people used your works. But that is shaky legal grounds for someone wanting to use your stuff and you decide to litigate afterall. With CC both parties know where they stand.

     

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  39.  
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    Nick Coghlan, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 4:38am

    CC was never intended as a complete solution

    I was reading Lessig's blog back when CC was launched and it was never presented as a complete solution. The CC licenses were designed expressly to solve one problem: to give authors that wanted to relinquish some of their automatically granted rights a legally binding way to do so.

    The problem with an informal "you're free to treat this stuff as if it was in the public domain" promise is that in changing circumstances (e.g. buyouts, death of a business owner) a later lawyer may have grounds to come back and make a case against people that relied on the informal promise.

    The big thing about the CC licenses is that they mean the copyright holder can't arbitrarily change their mind after the fact: they provide legal certainty to the *licensees* that the licensor actually meant what they said.

    That said, I don't find it particularly surprising that in the years since its foundation some people have misunderstood or misstated the precise nature of CC's goals, leading to incorrect interpretations of its intended scope (such as the linked article).

     

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  40.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 7:39am

    CC as a tool ......

    CC is a tool that can be used to beat back the darkness that is the lawyers and lobbyist of the entertainment industry.
    CC is a tool that can be used to help the marauding hordes tear down the walls of the castles built in California.
    CC is the tool that can be used to stop the destruction wrought and conquests sought by those who wish to lock up the maidens and muses.
    CC is a sword that can be wielded to alter the very nature of the entertainment industry...

    Now that I am done with the visual symbolism let me explain that .....

    The creative commons allows for a person to agree to a set of rules contractually that can not be changed by the takeover of a company, or changes in Terms Of Service. Correctly worded, and used in conjunction with open standards, it can throw a wrench into the current methods employed by the entertainment industry.

    The idea is to not play by the entertainment industries rules, but to make new rules that Big-E(ntertainment) can not change. Allowing artist to choose what they want to charge and how they will allow their works to be used. Distributing the load across may sites, all playing by the same rules, makes Big-E play wack a mole.

    Giving the aritsts, patrons, managers, distributors, etc the ability to migrate to any site using the same standards anytime they choose makes any takeover or lawsuit pointless.

    Giving away the web server and setup software with tutorials allows any artist, record label, fan, etc, to run their own site. Alternately they could just join an existing large site if they dont want to or can not run a site.

    If this sounds a little like what is occuring with Torrent Tracking sites it is meant to.

    CC and open standards can be used as a tool used to stop and reverse draconian copyright laws .....

     

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  41.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 7:40am

    Re: CC as a tool ......

    oops forgot .... Big Ole GRIN

     

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  42.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 7:57am

    Re:

    "Well, the way copyright is set up nowadays, there is no public domain."

    Not quite true, in fact CC has a PD license now:
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

    But yeah, it's ridiculous that what used to be the default is now treated as a special case.

     

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  43.  
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    LostSailor (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Balance

    Copyright law is intended to create incentives for increased production of creative works (well, technically "sciences.") Thus, if copyright law were properly calibrated, everyone would be better off.

    Technically, it's "sciences and useful arts." And the incentives are built right into the language in the Constitution, if you complete the sentence: "...by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

    Calibration and balance between the exclusive rights of creators and the rights of the public domain are the heart of copyright, not just an excuse for "lose-lose."

    You are quite correct that it is a mistake to think of this as a fight between the public and copyright holders, but unfortunately, heated rhetoric casts it as just that.

    You say questioning copyright should lead to perhaps a different "calibration" of stronger copyright, no copyright (both of which I agree are unlikely) or somewhere in the middle. And if it's somewhere in the middle, the calibration is an act of finding the precise balance of rights that results in the most benefit for both the public and creators.

    Advancing any change in copyright law (stronger, none, or a calibration) is going to be difficult enough; if we're bickering over what terms are appropriate, it will be impossible.

     

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  44.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: CC is like DRM

    ""I am actively enforcing the fullest extent of my rights as the copyright holder that the law allows me to, except under these very narrowly defined circumstances."


    Yes, but for the purposes of giving some of those rights away. It's a jujitsu move. The more restrive CC licenses do rely heavily on copyright, but CC BY? Or CC BY-SA? Relying on copyright is much more of a technically to assert that rights are actually being waived.

    Only some licenses have "narrowly defined circumstances" (in which case, I agree with you). But I don't think that CC BY and BY-SA are narrowly defined.

    And the CC folks would prefer that people use more permissive licenses (though, I think they could do a better job of encouraging that).

     

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  45.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Free Creative Commons License Can Show What's Possible Without Copyright In The Way

    "I think what he is saying is that wikipedia wouldn't be possible with the restrictions that the default copyright grants, so it uses licenses to waive those restrictions instead."


    Yes, thank you. I mean, given the current copyright defaults, something like Wikipedia wouldn't be possible without free licenses that reduce the transaction costs for large scale collaborative work like that.

    If there were no copyright law (or rather, a more reasonable law), then you wouldn't really need free licenses.

    Wikipedia isn't dependent on copyright restrictions, rather on licenses that remove those restrictions.

     

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  46.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re:

    The CC PD license isn't actually for releasing stuff into the public domain, it's only for asserting that something is already in the public domain. CC0 is the tool for releasing a work into the public domain.

     

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  47.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Balance

    Technically, it's "sciences and useful arts."

    Sciences was copyright. Useful arts was patents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "The CC PD license isn't actually for releasing stuff into the public domain, it's only for asserting that something is already in the public domain. CC0 is the tool for releasing a work into the public domain."

    You've got to be shitting me. There's a separate license for that?

    Fuck all this. I'm just pirating everything. Shit's gotten off the gorram hook.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 11:28am

    "The question is, why should there be any attempt to satisfy this desire at all? Why attempt balance when what one side wants is basically counter to the good of society?"
    -------------

    Karl Marx, so good of you to join us!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Nick Novitski, Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 5:02pm

    Is living on Mars bad for the Earth's environment?

    I'm with Charlie Stross on this one: copyright reform would be very difficult, much more so than just constructing a parallel, protected ecosystem of culture and escaping into it. I think Creative Commons is certainly the best attempt at that so far.

     

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  51.  
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    Cody Jackson (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 8:34pm

    That's why I use the GFDL

    I recently wrote a book (plug:http://pythone-ebook.blogspot.com)and I debated for several weeks about how to license it. Because CC was the buzzword on the Internet, I seriously considered using a CC license. But I couldn't decide which one to use; at the time, the CC website wasn't easy to navigate nor figure out how each license worked. Ultimately, I released my book under the GNU Free Document License. I know CC has a similar license but, honestly, I think the GFDL explains the reader's rights more succinctly. It doesn't use copyright but copyleft to ensure everyone has the same access to it, much like software. People are free to share it and improve upon it but they must provide their changes back to the community at large.

     

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  52.  
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    Cody Jackson (profile), Sep 3rd, 2009 @ 8:59pm

    Re: That's why I use the GFDL

    Correction. The book address is http://python-ebook.blogspot.com for those who are interested.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Sep 4th, 2009 @ 11:08pm

    Re: That's why I use the GFDL

    For what it's worth, CC BY-SA is most similar to the GFDL.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    SEO Services India, Sep 6th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    SEO Services

    This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. It is the old what goes around comes around routine. Did you acquired lots of links and I see lots of trackbacks??

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Indian Rosewood Furniture, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 2:04am

    Re: Shooting at the wrong target

    Really a very nice article post in the blog. I rally appreciate to read to it. It have contain a great stuff of information. I really like it.Admire!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Indian Rosewood Furniture, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 2:04am

    Re: Shooting at the wrong target

    Really a very nice article post in the blog. I rally appreciate to read to it. It have contain a great stuff of information. I really like it.Admire!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    lokesh, Dec 27th, 2010 @ 5:20am

    very nice article

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    lokesh, Dec 27th, 2010 @ 5:20am

    very nice article

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    ทีเด็ดบ&, Mar 24th, 2011 @ 8:16pm

    CC is good for Internet because it's easy to spread over internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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