Is Portugal Really Trying to Make Creative Commons Licenses Illegal?

Glyn Moody links to a translation of the relevant sections of a proposed bill.

Here: in sum, every author (except software authors, so thankfully free software isn’t affected) has the right of getting money out of private copy, and they can’t renounce it, so every Creative Commons license, where saying “You are free to share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work” (or actually, in legalese, “licensor hereby grants you a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual license to reproduce the Work”) is illegal.

Moody goes on to provide some useful analysis. In particular despite early confusion about what the actual intent here may be, a follow up seems to confirm that the oddly specific language is indeed aimed squarely at free culture.

Moody nicely ties this into a point made by Rick Falkvinge in a recent op-ed, that those advocating for this sort of restriction start from an incorrect assumption. Copyright isn’t about any guarantees on the ability to make money, rather it is a compromise to generate appropriate rewards to encourage cultural creation. If both public interests of cultural creation and access to culture are served without monetary exchanges, that should be sufficient. To use Falkvinge’s word, this proposed law is revolting for interfering with outcomes, fixating an incidental circumstances of some intermediaries, at certain points in the history of cultural production.

Portugal to Make CC Licenses Illegal? Glyn Moody

Creative Commons Christmas Carol, “Please Share Alike”

I am not usually a big fan of Christmas music, more for the associations with the commercial aspect of this time of year than anything against the music itself. However, how could I not love this wacky, Creative Commons carol that’s about–Creative Commons!

The video and song were put together by the creators of what looks like a fund web series, Merry Holidays, Please Hold. They managed to include a short who’s who of Internet celebrities include Cory (who shared the video on BB), Mark Frauenfelder Larry Lessig, Kevin Kelly, Zadi Diaz, Leo Laporte, and Dick DeBartolo.

I am currently reading “The Gift”, by Lewis Hyde, which is a dense but enjoyable discussion of the aspects of gift exchange that stand in stark contrast to mere commerce. As flippant as this song is, it isn’t surprising that the refrain really stuck in my head. It is an honest if silly prompt to really reflect on all the gifts we give and receive through the traditions we variously observe this time of year.

Creative Commons Xmas carol, “Please Share Alike”, BoingBoing

feeds | grep links > More on CC and the CBC, the Public Domain Mark, and More

  • More information on why the CBC cannot use CC licensed music
    Mike Masnick at Techdirt has done a bit more digging, arriving at an explanation for why the CBC stopped using CC licensed music in its podcasts. The problem arises from the non-commercial clause which is quite common with these otherwise free licenses. Many of the radio programs are available through secondary and tertiary distribution platforms with arrangements, like pre-roll ads, that would violate the non-commercial requirement. Having run afoul of this same clause, I concur with Masnick that this explanation makes more sense than the ones offered earlier on as the story unfolded.
  • Creative Commons on CBC and non-commercial licenses, Creative Commons
  • Gait recognition for smart phones, Slashdot
  • Duke Nukem Forever public demo coming next year, Wired
  • CC launches the Public Domain Mark
    This new tool from the Creative Commons is distinct from CC-0, their public domain dedication. The mark is used to help clearly identify works already free of copyright. This is a timely release given the report from the Library of Congress about the problems around preserving audio recordings because of how long it takes for works to devolve into the public domain. Using the mark and its associated deed could greatly ease the job of archivists, and the software they use, where there is already certainty about the status of works.

feeds | grep links > Firefox Mobile Beta, Text Adventures on E-Readers, No CC Music at the CBC, and More

  • Firefox 4 beta for mobile devices
    Ryan Paul at Ars Technica has a good run down of both improvements in the latest release of Fennec, now just simply referred to as Firefox 4, as well as the remaining challenges for the mobile version of Mozilla’s browser to stack up well against other mobile browsers. Still trying to get my hands on 4-5 inch Android MID for, among other things, testing these mobile builds my own self.
  • Interactive fiction on an e-reader
    Tim Carmody at Wired provides what I think is the most compelling reason to get a dedicated e-reader yet, the ability hacked together by some gamers to play interactive fiction. Carmody calls out the one downer that occurred to me too, the pain of entering text on some of these devices. All the same, it definitely is a good match in terms of display capabilities and processing power. Well, and it’s intensely nerdy fun.
  • Caught spying, FBI wants its bug back, Wired
  • Software evolution storylines, inspired by xkcd, Slashdot
  • CBC bans use of Creative Commons music on podcasts
    Michael Geist links directly to the discussion in the comments at the Spark site. He also explains that it is a consequence of some collective agreement with talent agencies. It is easy to speculate that this is specifically targeting CC but I suspect that it may be mere boiler plate language that includes exclusivity as part of the deal which would preclude any other licenses, not just CC. Still, how quickly do you think the parties involved might backpedal?
  • A step closer to workable brain-computer interfaces, Technology Review

TCLP 2010-09-08 Creative Commons, Legal Issue Panel from Dragon*Con 2010

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, a quick end of month update on the podcast’s finances and you can find all my posts from Dragon*Con past and present using the dragoncon tag.

There is no new hacker word of the week this week.

The feature this week is the panel audio from the Creative Commons and legal issues panel I moderated at Dragon*Con 2010. I was joined once again by Randy Chertkow of Beatnik Turtle and Courtney Perry, lawyer and now law professor. The new panelist this year was Brian Ibbott of Coverville who was very generous in sharing his experiences as an early and still active music podcaster. In the discussion we mention both “Free Culture“, by Lawrence Lessig, and “The Public Domain“, by James Boyle.


View the detailed show notes online. You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Lessig Responds to ASCAP Fundraising Against CC, EFF and PK

I shared my confusion over ASCAP’s fund raising campaign against EFF, Public Knowledge and Creative Commons. Folks from EFF and PK responded quite reasonably, explaining how the association of music publishers had several misapprehended the purpose and power of the respective public interest groups.

Laurence Lessig has now offered his thoughts on the matter at the Huffington Post. Lessig helped found two of the three organizations and has served on the board of the third. He is uniquely qualified to step into what I’ve suggested is a grand teaching moment. He doesn’t disappoint, calmly and cheerfully explaining exactly what Creative Commons is and does, as this organization more than the others about which he is particularly qualified to write.

He steadfastly refuses to sink to the level of fear, uncertainty and doubt to which ASCAP and the National Association of Music Publishers have clearly sunk.

This isn’t the first time that ASCAP has misrepresented the objectives of our organization. But could we make it the last? We have no objection to collecting societies: They too were an innovative and voluntary solution (in America at least) to a challenging copyright problem created by new technologies. And I at least am confident that collecting societies will be a part of the copyright landscape forever.

Lessig even offers to continue the conversation, in the form of a formal debate, with ASCAP President Paul Williams. It is sad that ASCAP or anyone else from the music industry should have to be invited to a discussion of the work of Creative Commons or any public interest group but I would guess the fear of granting any kind of legitimacy to their efforts at the expense of their traditional business model is simply too great.

A Case That Might Test Creative Commons’ Validity

Glyn Moody has a brief post up at Enterprise World UK that sets up why such a case is important, both in the realm of open media and free software/open source. There have been precious few legal cases, in the US or elsewhere, that really pin down the validity of licenses that either add conditions to copyright or utilize a contract to enforce conditions on use and sharing.

He points out this case as possible digging into the question specifically for the Creative Commons suite of licenses.

A lawsuit filed this past week in the Northern District of Illinois includes a claim that the defendant violated the terms of a Creative Commons license covering the plaintiff’s copyrighted works. GateHouse Media publishes a slew of local newspapers, including the Rockford Register Star in Rockford, Illinois. The Register Star provides premium online content to its subscribers, and makes that content available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.

Eric Steuer, creative director at CC, wrote in with a comment. His view is that the small number of case is actually evidence that the Creative Commons licenses are well drafted. Complaints often arise when the intent and obligations under a license are misunderstood, so the notion holds some water.

I suspect there may be a self reinforcing effect, here, that those likely to agree on a CC license mediate sharing are the least likely to be bad actors with regards to the license terms. Regardless, I think there is a good answer here to the all too often asked question of whether CC licenses are valid. Even though it hasn’t been frequently tested in court, the odds are in your favor that if you take the time to parse the human readable deed, you are unlikely to make a mistake that could put you on the wrong end of a license complaint.

feeds | grep links > Another Facebook Competitor, Google’s Curation of the Android Market, Conflict Materials in Computers, and More

Sorry for the brevity of comments on these stories from yesterday.  I am trying to quickly catch up.  Most of my reading and blogging time was preempted by the June CopyNight event with Cory Doctorow last night. More on that shortly.

ASCAP Seeking Funds to Fight CC, PK and EFF

This is surreal to say the least. Cory has a post at Boing Boing sharing a letter sent to a member of ASCAP. The mind boggles at the suggestion that these public interest and non-profit organizations have more lobbying power than the music industry. Maybe ASCAP’s influence specifically is waning relative to the record labels but this characterization that the evil forces of free culture are conspiring to rob composers of their right to make a living makes my head spin. The plea for funds is insult on top of injury as ASCAP already generates revenue on the back of its members.

More seriously, this sort of sloppy thinking and rhetoric really irks me. It stomps on the idea that culture should be a shared and shareable good, not locked up behind the current effectively perpetual range and extreme reach of copyright. No one from CC, PK or EFF has ever suggested artists shouldn’t have a choice in how to exercise their copyright. CC in particular is all about giving creators far more choices beyond the flat assertion of all rights reserved.

I will avoid descending into a whacky Batman-Joker style dialogue of who created whom in terms of the rapacious enclosure of the public domain, DRM, etc. inspiring the desire to foster a new commons as the old one has been eaten away, followed by this latest turn. I will suggest that the real heartbreak here is that if ASCAP had sought a dialogue with any one of its perceived enemies, I know for a fact that would have opened a rich and rewarding conversation around how everyone concerned can support both our cultural heritage and creators trying to support themselves while contributing to it.

Catchy Video Promoting Commons

Shareable has a link to this video, produced by On the Commons and The New Press. It is a catchy work, mentally sticky and short enough to make an excellent self contained meme. It pulls quotes from three books put out by The New Press, including David Bollier’s “The Viral Spiral“, a book on my ever increasing list of titles to read. The other two books are “Blue Covenant” by Maude Barlow and “Unjust Deserts” by Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly.

It doesn’t just discuss the intellectual commons, like free software and Creative Commons, but also touches on more traditional commons, in this case water as a natural resource. The binding thread of the work is social justice. It is as much an easy introduction to the idea of the commons as it is a thoughtful framing of the threat of enclosure of commons.