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

Nick Barnes nb at climatecode.org
Tue Dec 13 11:05:51 UTC 2011

On Tue, Dec 13, 2011 at 02:14, Marcus D. Hanwell
<marcus.hanwell at kitware.com> wrote:

> I certainly used to use the GPL, but now tend toward the BSD (as does
> the company I work for). I think it is important to note that there is
> no NC, this goes against any of the OSI approved licenses - you cannot
> place conditions on how the code is used (commercial, non-commercial,
> academic only etc).

Right: this is an argument which the free software world had back in
the 90s, and which was decided conclusively against NC licensing.
There were various efforts to make NC licenses work, but the strength
of the free software movement (with its GPL license - emphatically not
NC) weighed against it, and the subject was finally closed when the
Open Source Definition was written.  Not that people don't try to
re-open it occasionally.

The parallel is imperfect, because many see GPL software licensing
(used, for example, on the Linux kernel) as effectively implying NC,
because it prevents the commonplace software business model (typified
by Microsoft, say) of keeping source code secret and charging people
fees to use object code.  This notion (that GPL implies NC) is refuted
by the many examples of people (authors and third parties, with and
without author consent) making money from GPL code, but it is
certainly true that GPL does require different business models.

The software world is accustomed to the notion of "work for hire": the
creators - the actual programmers - seldom have any rights over the
code they write: it belongs to some company paying for that work.  For
instance, much of my own open-source work has been under contract to a
company which decided in advance to release all that code under a BSD
license. This is one reason why it seems obvious to me that all
products (papers, data, source code, notebooks) of all public-funded
science should belong to the public, and be available for any member
of the public to use in any way without any additional payment.  We
paid for it already!

My impression of the academic publishing world is that NC licenses are
being mainly used not by academics themselves, but by publishers.  Is
this right?  That is, the scientist is still required to sign
copyright over to the publisher, and it is then the publisher who
refuses to allow others to make money from the work.  Is that correct?
 If so, does the scientist herself retain rights, or is she also bound
by the NC terms?  If my impression is correct, there's plainly no
moral argument to be made for NC: the publishers haven't created the
work - or even paid for it - so it is no injustice to them if others
benefit from it.
Nick Barnes, Climate Code Foundation, http://climatecode.org/

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