[open-science] SPARC author addendum uses CC-NC licence and now all hybrid publishers have followed

Thomas Kluyver takowl at gmail.com
Sun Dec 11 18:55:23 UTC 2011

On 11 December 2011 17:58, Peter Murray-Rust <pm286 at cam.ac.uk> wrote:

> In Open Source community (and many of those don't have permanent jobs)
> it's standard to use BSD-like licences. There is only one group using GPL
> (SA-like) and that's because they have inherited it. They hate it and are
> actively working to rewrite the whole system.

I don't think that's quite a fair representation. There are people who
prefer GPL licensing, and apply it to new code. However, I think it's true
that in 20 years, not many people have successfully made a living from
selling commercial use rights to GPL licensed code (Riverbank is the only
example that comes to mind). The trend does now seem to be towards
permissive (BSD-like) licenses.

I think the prospects for science are largely the same. Data miners will
mostly simply steer clear of NC or SA licensed data, in favour of data they
can use freely. If the majority of datasets are NC or SA licensed, most
likely it will just mean that little data mining happens at all.

NC is superficially attractive, because it appears to allow reuse of your
work for things that give us a warm fuzzy feeling - charities, academic
research, and so on - but leave you free to make demands of money-grubbing
corporations. But that's a very tricky distinction to make in an objective,
legally sound way, and it turns out that NC restricts a lot more use than
most people using it probably intend.

My position (and why I also use BSD-style licenses for code) is that if I'm
happy for people to use my work, then I'm happy for them to use it in
support of trying to make money. Economic activity is not inherently evil.
Imagine if the author of every open source library and tool demanded
payment from every company running their code for profit. Big companies
would duplicate the effort to write their own equivalents, and many
startups would never happen at all.

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