Florian Cramer on Mon, 1 Aug 2005 12:24:21 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Benjamin Mako Hill on Creative Commons

Am Samstag, 30. Juli 2005 um 21:42:03 Uhr (+0200) schrieb august:
> Freedom needs standards?  Even freedom isn't free anymore?

That for sure is the quasi-Goedelian paradox of freedom, it can't
describe itself with its own means. If you don't pin down or define
[i.e. "limit"] freedom, than the term has no meaning anymore. If the
concept of freedom were radically and ontologically free in the sense
you suggest, then it would include for example fascism as one of its

> Why is that when I hear advocates arguing the efficient definition of
> "freedom" as it pertains to software distribution, I think of George
> Bush, the wars on "terror", and NAFTA?

Because the left and right have undergone strange mutations in the past
few years. Today, the political right speaks of freedom, using an
originally left-wing concept from the French revolution ("liberté,
égalité, fraternité"), while the political left has turned into
believers in the law and the state, preferring a legalistic term like
"rights" to anarchic "freedom".

> Ok, we understand already that the GPL licence makes restrictions on
> what one can or cannot do with a piece of software code.  

The reverse is true. It grants additional freedoms/liberal uses that
exceed the standard "fair use" rights granted by copyright law. Neither
the GPL, nor any other free software/open source/open content license
impose any additional restrictions to default copyright.  Of course,
with its prohibition against deriving non-free works from free works,
the GPL is more restrictive than the BSD and MIT license or the public
domain. But since copyright defaults neither to BSD licensing, nor the
public domain, calling the GPL "restrictive" is a red herring. 

> for instance, Mako says this:
> > Free Software's fundamental document is Richard Stallman's Free Software
> > Definitions (FSD) [3]. At its core, the FSD lists four freedoms:
> >
> >          * 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;
> why does he insist that these are "freedoms" and not rights or abilities?
> why doesn't it read:
> 	* the right to run the program for any purpose;
> 	* the right to study how the program works, and adapt it
> 	* the right to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor
> 	* the right to improve (or fuck up) the program, and release it

I suppose there is a simple terminological reason for that: A right can
be granted by a legislator, not by individuals. As an individual, I
can't grant you any additional "rights", but I can only give you a
permission (=license) that exceeds your legal rights. The sense of this
permission is that other people may use your work more freely. Hence the
aim is more user freedom. I fail to see what's wrong with that.

> For users of FLOSS software, these "freedoms" are probably all they have
> to worry about.  Unfortunately, when you program FLOSS software, for the
> most part, you are also dealing with another set of freedoms:
> 	* the freedom to find some other way to pay the rent 
>           while you program the code or:
> 	* the necessity to have "free" time to program it.

This is an entirely different can of worms from the aforementioned "four
freedoms" because your two freedoms don't concern the user, but solely
the creator of the code. 

> The GPL addresses the use and distribution of what is produced, not
> the production itself.  

Because you can't regulate production and fix capitalism through a license.

> The CC licenses, however, try to provide some protections for the
> producers of content by providing non-commercial clauses.  

Which is a bogus advantage. We had this discussion in Nettime before,
and the common sense was that the concept of "commerce" implied in those
clauses is neither defined nor clear at all. If our exchange would be
printed in a Nettime book, and the book was for sale even if it made no
profit or even losses for the publishers, it would be still a
"commercial" distribution and hence not allow the inclusion of material
licensed with this clause. This would even be the case if it were
published on a CD-ROM sold for 50 cents, or in exchange for a blank CD



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