early in August
It isn't just the GPL that is being updated. Creative Commons is working on
changes to its licenses also, and for some of the same reasons. It was
that changes were in the works, and you can read the
proposed draft language on that page, and while it was hoped that the
license would be finished by the beginning of September, the discussions
continue on the CC public discussion board. A major sticking point? What
to do about DRM.
There is already an anti-DRM clause in the Creative Commons licenses which
reads like this:
You may not distribute,
publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly digitally perform the
Work with any technological measures that control access or use of
the Work in a manner inconsistent with the terms of this License
What is proposed are some amendments to clarify
the language, but some, particularly in the Debian camp, worried that the
language in the draft was inconsistent with the Debian Free Software
Guidelines, and instead proposed a kind of parallel distribution
clause, in order to give programmers freedom to code for both open and
Creative Commons project lead Mia Garlick opened the
topic up for discussion.
Some find it ridiculous to argue that the way to promote freedom is by
allowing DRM, with its potential to take CC works and close them off. They
see DRM as the fast track to destroying the share-alike community that
Creative Commons authors are choosing to be a part of. The whole point of
having such a license, after all, is precisely to avoid the sort of total
freedom to do whatever
you wish with the work, as would be possible by the author choosing to
release into the public domain.
As one comment put it, allowing DRM on CC'd works in the name of
freedom is like saying the way to promote democracy is to vote in a
And so the upgrading to CC version 3.0 is going through a
similar discussion as the GPLv3. Because of the opposition, the dual
license idea isn't currently in the draft, as Garlick explained:
Consequently, CC is currently not proposing to include this new
parallel distribution language as part of version 3.0; however,
because it is not clear whether the Debian community will declare the
CC licenses DFSG-free without it and because it represents an
interesting proposal, we felt that it was appropriate to circulate
the proposal as part of the public discussions of version
It's a fascinating discussion, and polite. If you
wish to join in, here's where
you go. You must subscribe
to post a comment.
To get up to speed on what has already been
a PDF that summarizes the discussion so far, along with Creative
Commons' reactions to various suggestions, available here.
The Debian point of view, as far as I can see, is being expressed by
Evan Prodromou, and the contrary view by many, but outstandingly by Rob
Meyers and Greg London. You can find the archives by author here. My
best suggestion would be to start
here, and just click on "next message" for a while to follow the
discussion in a straight line. At that starting link, London suggests
making sure "DRM can't be used to take a work private
or set someone up as sole source for DRM-versions
of works," and Meyers answers
Prodromou's expressed concerns about "licensees being free to distribute
works in their format of choice." Prodromou expresses
Sony's not going to change their platform for
us. They're just not.
Millions of users aren't going to throw out their PS2's because they
can't play Free Content games on them. It's not going to happen. So the
question becomes whether we're going to hamstring Free Software
developers who want to port to this kind of platform. What purpose does
it serve, besides restricting the freedom of those developers?
Again, I'll contrast to Free Software applications running on
proprietary operating systems. If the GPL had forbidden running or
developing a Free app on a propriety OS, there would be no Free Software
Letting people make their own accommodations with the increasingly DRM'd
world means we will see Free Content on more platforms, not less.
Turning up our nose and saying that our content is too good for DRM'd
platforms won't stop DRM; it'll just impede the distribution of Free
I don't like DRM. I think it sucks. But license provisions are the wrong
place to fight it.
in this comment:
There are millions of people who have
game consoles, text readers, and music players that require some sort of
DRM. And even if it's just one person who can't use a work on one piece
of hardware, it's still wrong.
Of course, that's when the
discussion gets really interesting. Meyers points
Embracing DRM will not move the movement
forward. Unless you spin it
My son tells me that Sony are now allowing people to play vanilla
MPEGs on PSPs. So problem solved. We don't need a blanket DRM
permission to use free culture on PSPs.
When one comment states,
"That's why pleas for DRM are *not* pleas for user freedom," Prodromou
Parallel distribution doesn't restrict freedom. It gives *at
same freedoms as distributing in an unencumbered format, *plus* the
freedom to run on a DRM-only platform. That's more freedom, not less.
which London responds:
If it means you can put FLOSS work on an DRM-only
player, and you can't play non-DRM versions on the player,
and you cant even legally convert your works to a
DRM-compatible format without paying iSuck Corp a lot
of money, then the barn door is open and it's only
a question of when the wolves are coming in.
Another issue, and again this is identical to efforts in GPLv3, is to
internationalize the license. The CC proposed solution is this, according
to the August announcement:
Another big feature of version 3.0
is that we will be spinning off
what has been called the "generic" license to now be the US license
and have crafted a new "generic" license that is based on the
language of international IP treaties and takes effect according to
the national implementation of those treaties. This may only be
something that gets IP lawyers excited but I thought it might be good
to share this draft with the community as well in order to ensure
full transparency and in case people were interested and/or had any
And finally, there is discussion
on just what the definition of "noncommercial" is.
I would suggest that you
take the time to read all the comments
themselves in August and September, though, and not just rely on the PDF
summary, as there is already a comment
indicating the summary didn't get every point precisely as the commenter
intended. Besides, figuring out the appropriate response to DRM is a very
important task, one the community needs to get right.
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