Florian Cramer on Sat, 30 Jul 2005 18:13:11 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Benjamin Mako Hill on Creative Commons

What an excellent, spot-on critique of Creative Commons. 

> Creative Commons advocates, directors, and supporters increasingly 
> describe the project as an attempt to apply the principles of Free 
> Software, appropriately adapted, to less technical forms of creative 
> expressions like music, writing, and the visual arts.

One further problem is that the whole notions of "content" and "creative
expression" are ill-defined. It's also questionable to differentiate them from
software. Why is software not a creative expression or "content"? Even if you put
aside fundamental discussions about the cultural semantics of software, you would
have to ignore experimental work that crosses the boundary between traditional
software/algorithms and traditional "creative expression", such as generative
music and art, algorithmic poetry and artistic hacking. And even if you consider
that irrelevant, too, there remains the whole popular genre of computer games
which clearly belongs to both camps.

Instead of "open content" or "creative commons", I would simply use the
term free information, respectively information freedom.

>          * The freedom to run the program, for any purpose;
>          * The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to 
>            your needs;
>          * The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor;
>          * The freedom to improve the program, and release your 
> improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits;

These could be easily translated into:

* The freedom to use the work, for any purpose;
  [rendering "non-commercial" license clauses, as they had been criticized here
  in Nettime before, non-free]
* The freedom to redistribute copies so you can share with others;
* The freedom to study how the work is structured, and adapt it
  to your needs;
  [rendering among others DRM-encrypted information and "verbatim copy"
  licenses non-free]
* The freedom to release your adaptions to the public so that the whole community 
  [sticking with the more neutral term "adapt" seems to be better than
  the software engineering concept of "improving"]

As Benjamin Mako Hill rightly observes, Creative Commons currently only grants the
freedom of redistribution by default, and as the lowest common denominator of its
licenses. This is hardly sufficient for a - quote Lessig - "free culture".


A sidenote: The GNU GPL has been so powerful because it grants all four freedoms,
but prevents that free work is being exploited through proprietarization. In fact,
it can be used for so-called "content", too. The only thing that is slightly
problematic is that the GPL refers to the licensed work as "the program", not just
"the work". This could be fixed in the next version of GPL. But unfortunately, the
FSF itself takes a conservative stance and advocates different license types for
different kinds of works. -- http://cramer.netzliteratur.net

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