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open content licensing and the DFSG

open content licensing and the DFSG

Posted Apr 27, 2006 6:42 UTC (Thu) by tzafrir (subscriber, #11501)
Parent article: Learning the lesson: open content licensing

> [...] there is no doubt that the Creative Commons licenses
> have transformed the open content scene. They offer
> creators a range of rigorous licenses that have been
> drawn up by lawyers with a deep understanding of the
> issues of copyright in the Net age.

Despite them being drawn up by experienced lawyers, and despite the several versions the CC licenses had so far, they still seem fail to apply to the Debian Free Software Guidelines. The GFDL has basically the same problem, basically. Some of the issues involved seem to be quite practical (e.g: too strict anti-DRM clauses may cause problems when storing the file in an encrypted filesystem).

Version 2.0 of basically all the CC licenses share those problems. See http://people.debian.org/~evan/ccsummary . That link seems to sum the discussions of the debian-legal mailing list from April 2004.

I can't find any later source, though the wordings of the relevant clauses in 2.5 has practically remained the same. Other people I have asked seem to believe that those issues still stand. But IANAL and probably non of them is either.

Any newer and more authorative opinions?


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open content licensing and the DFSG

Posted Apr 27, 2006 15:47 UTC (Thu) by smoogen (subscriber, #97) [Link]

I doubt they have changed. At this point, I think the Debian people need to come out with a license that meets their needs and that writers can then follow.

Freedoms of users of works

Posted Apr 27, 2006 23:13 UTC (Thu) by bignose (subscriber, #40) [Link]

Part of the problem seems to be that artistic or informative works are many years behind the "mind share" of required freedoms that programs currently enjoy. It's no longer the case with program authors that they find the ideas of the GPL to be foreign, but this is commonly the case with other types of works.

Authors seem to seek the CC licenses that prevent commercial redistribution, or prevent derivative works. Musicians seem more enlightened about derivative works, but still commonly want to prevent commercial redistribution. Artists of graphical works are commonly not prepared to share the "source" of the graphical work, so that others can work with it.

This is very similar to the mental landscape faced by free software twenty years ago. A core group was trying to educate copyright holders of the benefits to giving users of their programs the four freedoms iterated by the FSF. It took much patience and much working against deep-seated fallacies to bring the majority to the view that at least it's not *crazy* to give up so much control, even if one doesn't choose to do so oneself.

Sadly, the FSF seem to be themselves stuck near the beginning of this curve; they espouse the view that users of some kinds of useful information (programs) are more deserving of freedom than users of other kinds (e.g. books), with the result that they promote a license for books that is more restrictive to its recipients than the license they promote for programs.

It seems artists of works of authorship, graphical, audio, and other creative works need to go through a similar education period as software authors have been through.


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