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Recursive free information licenses - CC ShareAlike & Copyleft

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Nielsio Posted: Mon, Jun 6 2011 9:30 PM

Who uses recursive free culture licenses?

 

The Mises Institute uses Creative Commons Attribution, but without ShareAlike. I'm considering adopting a recursive license. CC BY appears on first sight to be the least restrictive license, but CC BY-SA prevents others from creating restrictions, namely it creates an automatic opt-out of using the government.

 

What about strategy considerations? Does a recursive license prevent copying that could be beneficial? Do we want people to copy things if it's going to be locked up? Or would we rather allow that to happen because it can create advertisement for our originals (think of Mises literature for example).

 

In the software-world there is the GNU license (and other 'free software' licenses), which require people who use and distribute/sell that software to always include the source code. I think this is actually a restriction, not a freedom, and I'm considering it's effects. It seems very possible that in a free society, selling software without the source code could be almost non-existent through market pressures (because you can't modify it and thus are dependent on the originator, and you don't even know exactly what it does). But this may not be the case; we can't know these things ahead of time.

 

Anyway, those were some of my thoughts and I was wondering if others had ideas on this.

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There was actually a short dialog about this on the Mises Wiki talk page concerning the project's licensing.

 

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I appreciate the rationale behind SA and Copyleft. I think people can differ over this, but I much prefer CC-BY (or even CC-0, which I am thinking of adopting) . I explain why in part here http://blog.mises.org/9240/copyright-is-very-sticky/

 

We want our ideas out there. Suppose some mainstream publisher wants to include as a chapter one of the articles in my journal, Libertarian Papers. I use CC-BY so all they have to do is give attribution, and they have permission. And they would give attribution, most certainly, so this restriction is trivial.

But they would probably reject the article under CC-SA terms. So it seems to me. Thus the CC-SA hurts us. Further, I find CC-SA to be weird in that you are using copyright to restrict what others can do. As far as I can tell a similar thing in software, GNU, has caused tons of complications and problems.

Another way to think of it: in a free society there woud be no copyright law, so no CC licenses. However you could imagine an author putting a notice to request users to give attribution, and it might be honored in most cases. BUt he would never ask users not to impose copyright on derivative works based on his work, since that would be impossible anyway. It would be a nonsesne request.

Stephan Kinsella [email protected] www.StephanKinsella.com

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Ah, yes, there is some good discussion there. I think, BTW, my friend www.ninapaley.com uses SA

Stephan Kinsella [email protected] www.StephanKinsella.com

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BTW see Nina Paley's "copyheart" and related ideas here

http://blog.mises.org/13286/the-creator-endorsed-mark-as-an-alternative-to-copyright/

Stephan Kinsella [email protected] www.StephanKinsella.com

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It's so great to see you here, Stephan!  I'm glad you were able to offer your input.

Here's my question though...

Going back to your free society with no copyright law...no CC licenses, right?  So yes, someone couldn't impose an SA...but at the same time, there would be no reason to...as no one could impose their own copyright (regardless of how restrictive) on any derivative work.  So how exactly is the "free society" hypothetical an argument against SA?  All SA does is push the world a little bit closer to a copyright-free existence...even if only in effect (and not in fact).

Much as I was saying in the Mises Wiki discussion linked above, when you say the share-alike provision is a "restriction on freedom" what you're talking about is a restriction on the freedom to restrict freedom. In other words, you're arguing that we believe so strongly in freedom, that it is important that others be free to restrict freedom all they want.

For me, the SA just makes it as if there were no copyright...even if it ironically, as you point out, uses the threat of copyright to "enforce" it.  I do get where you're coming from, and I have come around to your conclusion...but mostly due to the utilitarian part about being the least restrictive as possible.  As far as "forcing" others to use "your" license with SA, I'm not really simpathetic to that argument, as I think it just makes it as if copyright didn't exist...at least as far as that particular work is concerned.  And I don't really have a problem with that.

 

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J.R.M. replied on Tue, Jun 7 2011 11:37 AM

John,

It seems Stephan is saying that those wanting to use the article, in our current system, would likely reject using it with the "restrictive" SA license.  So, if the goal is to spread information, CC-BY is more likely to encourage the transfer of information.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

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That's kind of what he's saying.  I think the way you put it gives it a different connotation though...as if those wanting to use the article are principled individuals who "reject" any kind of restriction...like "I can either have free reign over the info or I won't use it at all."  He gives a bit more fleshed out example in the blog post he was talking about in his first response here:

"For example, suppose you have a deal with a publisher, and you want to use a CC share-alike licensed work in your book. But the publisher you are using refuses to grant a “share alike” license. So now, you can’t use the CC licensed work. I.e., if you publish your paper with a CC attribution license, the other guy can use it in his book. But if you do a share alike one, he can’t. He’s prevented by your copyright assertion threat."

I agree with him in this respect.  And as I said, it is actually this utilitarian ground on which I was able to be persuaded.  However it is his other argument that I don't find convincing...the notion that it is "weird" that you are using copyright to restrict what others can do...because you don't believe copyright is legitimate.  Sure it's ironic.  But so is "to make peace you must prepare for war."  That doesn't make it a good argument against doing it.

In my view, if you do not believe copyright to be legitimate, then there is no argument on philosophical or ethical grounds against using copyright (as it exists) to prevent more restrictive uses of copyright.  In other words, if everything in the world were licensed SA, it would effectively be the same as if copyright didn't exist (save for the attribution, which, Kinsella admits is trivial, as the user of the work would probably do so anyway.)  I don't see a philosophical argument against CC BY-SA on the grounds that it's "restrictive".

If you don't believe anyone has a right to enforce copyright (i.e. a restriction on what others can do with their own property), then you can't really make an argument against preventing people from enforcing such a restriction.  Otherwise you end up having to make the same argument against preventing (or punishing) aggressive violence.  I do not agree with the notion that "people should be free do do whatever they want...including restricting or infringing the freedom of others."  And it is that very notion that an argument on philosophical grounds against SA as being "restrictive" implies.

However, as Kinsella points out, in our IP world, SA does effectively end up restricting the spread of ideas, and therefore there is a case to be made...that while removing the SA provision from the CC licesnse does allow the opportunity for more copyright, the benefits gained from the further dissemination of the ideas outweigh the losses due to possible future derivative copyright.  It is on this ground that I agree and am against the use of SA.

 

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J.R.M. replied on Tue, Jun 7 2011 5:26 PM

Yes, well said. I didn't meant to make it sound like they were principled individuals. I meant it more like you stated in your last paragraph.

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It's a dilemma. Just telling you my take. I am actually thinking of trying to adopt CC0 if I can.

Stephan Kinsella [email protected] www.StephanKinsella.com

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Nielsio replied on Wed, Jun 15 2011 9:52 PM

nskinsella:

I appreciate the rationale behind SA and Copyleft. I think people can differ over this, but I much prefer CC-BY (or even CC-0, which I am thinking of adopting) . I explain why in part here http://blog.mises.org/9240/copyright-is-very-sticky/ 

We want our ideas out there. Suppose some mainstream publisher wants to include as a chapter one of the articles in my journal, Libertarian Papers. I use CC-BY so all they have to do is give attribution, and they have permission. And they would give attribution, most certainly, so this restriction is trivial.

But they would probably reject the article under CC-SA terms. So it seems to me. Thus the CC-SA hurts us.

After looking at the ShareAlike legal code, I think including a work of someone in an unaltered way doesn't require the re-use of the license.

See:

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

 

And if someone wanted to quote a small part of it, then that would fall under fair use. So the issue seems more about altering our works.

 

Further, I find CC-SA to be weird in that you are using copyright to restrict what others can do. As far as I can tell a similar thing in software, GNU, has caused tons of complications and problems.

There are certainly complications, but perhaps those are worth it. Freed culture is in competion with closed culture, and if freed culture can become widely used (and rich and useful) and uses recurcive licensing then closed culture doesn't have the ability to lean on it.

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Nielsio replied on Fri, Jun 17 2011 2:06 PM

I came across this article by Nina Paley and I find myself very much in agreement with it:

 

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20101020/09352711499/creative-commons-branding-confusion.shtml

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ShareAlike [...] imposes one restriction of its own: a restriction against imposing any further restrictions. It's an attempt to use copyright against itself. [...] I attempt to limit other peoples' freedom to limit other peoples' freedom.

Hmmm...where have I heard this before...

 

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