[okfn-discuss] Removing the nc: why license restrictions on commercial use are problematic and (frequently) unnecessary

Saul Albert saul at theps.net
Thu Apr 27 22:30:07 UTC 2006

Ooh. Spicy. 

On Thu, Apr 27, 2006 at 09:10:37AM +0100, Tom Chance wrote:
> Maybe. Or maybe if you spoke to more people who use NC you'd realise that, for 
> many of them, CC BY-NC-SA represents an ideal social contract that ensures 
> they will benefit from the fruits of their labour most fully. 

It's not a social contract. It's no 'better' or 'worse' and has no moral
dimensions beyond any other method of regulating information-based

> They may be wrong about that, largely because of the practicalities of
> the license and actually getting permission, but those could be ironed
> out as I suggested above. Saying "I want a slice of the action" is
> pretty commonsense, if only it can be guaranteed without making things
> worse for yourself.
> I think there are really two issues here. First, why the current NC system is 
> flawed. There can't be much mileage left in that debate, but there's lots of 
> scope for good proposals to implement a better NC-type system. 

Yes, if only the system were better - if only people without deep pockets
had access to litigation, if only the domain of copyright law wasn't sewn
up by unwholesome organisations with the power to keep it working in
their interests.'Easily ironed out'? lol.

> Second, why any NC system is flawed, and there I've only come across a
> handful of erudite opponents (Rob Myers being one) and lots of
> simplistic libertarian rebukes :/

Rob calls the GPL a union - I don't think it's a union. I think it's a
guild. High value labourers can form guilds within which they share their
labour and knowledge and guard it from uninitiates and potential
exploiters. They can do this because the high value of their labour and
knowledge is capable of generating a surplus that is of most use to the
guild as a community if it's shared.

Unions came into their own as organised groups of low-value labourers
whose only real leverage with bosses was/is the refusal of their
low-value labour.  There's no surplus to go round, no 'regulation' of
labour, just the start-stop button of a strike. Information proles don't
own anything - and we are all information proles. Even the CC-using
musicians are information proles when they go to the supermarket and get
their clubcard scanned, or their information is shuttled around and
cross-referenced by various semi-privatised government services. But
we're not organised in a union of information proles with this
understanding of the relationship between the information we create and
the information we excrete - all of which has value. Were we're sold the
idea that we can have a 'piece of the action', but I think it's

With CC-BA-NC-SA or whatever other combination of CC licenses, I think
they do little more than gentrify the debate over the iniquities of
global copyright law, and have nothing *whatsoever* to do with 'commons'.



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