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

Jason Priem jason at jasonpriem.com
Tue Dec 13 18:53:25 UTC 2011

I'm happy to see that several folks have illuminated the 
similarities--and differences--between this and much older conversations 
in the Free Software and Open Source Software communities.

Everyone loves Brand's "information wants to be free," but they neglect 
the first part: "...information wants to be expensive, because it's so 
valuable." The goal of CC-NC and GPL advocates is to use some of this 
value as leverage in achieving other noble aims: you can use our 
information *if* you also do some things that we like.

Although this copyleft approach is superficially more radical, I think 
it ultimately founders on the rocks of a rather conservative assumption: 
that I *own* the particular arrangement of bits I've conjured up. 
Despite long-established legal precedent for this understanding, some of 
us advocating less-restrictive licensing have difficulty understanding 
how this could be so.

If you take my shirt, I now have fewer shirts, and you have more. Shirts 
are scarce. But your taking my code doesn't take anything from me, 
except the *opportunity* for me to charge rent on people using my words. 
Why do I have a right to that? Just because I worked hard on something 
doesn't mean the world owes me money--trust me, as a history major, I 
know :)

Unlike actual property, intellectual "property" itself isn't scarce, 
since it can (nowadays) be infinitely copied. The expertise that 
*produced* it is. This is why many of us are excited about a scholarly 
system in which we pay directly for the valuable resource--expert 
scholars' time--and make the results free, and thus maximally valuable. 
Any approach that falls short of this, IMHO, dooms us to a world of fiat 
numerical "property," a world where we consequently value lawyers over 

For more (and more balanced :) info on IP and its legal and 
philosophical origins, I highly recommend starting Fisher's Theories of 
Intellectual Property (cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/tfisher/iptheory.pdf).

jason priem

On 12/13/11 11:14 AM, Marcus D. Hanwell wrote:
> On Tue, Dec 13, 2011 at 11:02 AM, Mr. Puneet Kishor<punkish at eidesis.org>  wrote:
>> On Dec 13, 2011, at 4:29 AM, Paola Di Maio wrote:
>>> Puneet
>>> Not sure what you see wrong in the combined solution below, and why you
>>> call it mixing apples and oranges
>> I have a bottle of jam on my table that says on the label, "To be eaten only by nice people." Everyday I look at it but can't bring myself to opening it.
> See also the famous MIT style "do no evil" license,
> http://programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/47028/how-could-we-rewrite-the-no-evil-license-to-make-it-free
> I can't find the original story, but I remember that IBM lawyers
> insisted on licensing the software so that they could "do evil" with
> the software. It is considered non-free because it restricts your use.
> If anyone with better Google skills can find the relevant link it
> makes an important point - many of your everyday terms can be
> ill-defined legally. Google would not host the software either, due to
> the license,
> http://wonko.com/post/jsmin-isnt-welcome-on-google-code
> This license will never be considered free, or open due to the
> restrictions it attempts to place on use. I think the majority of us
> would prefer people did not do evil with the work we produce, but the
> licensing is not the correct place to try to restrict this as evil is
> quite subjective.
> Marcus
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