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From Definition of Free Cultural Works
< Talk:Definition
Revision as of 11:33, 2 May 2006 by Kari Pahula (talk | contribs) (NC is evil)
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Rewording Edit

I submitted a relatively large change. While the diff itself may be big, especially in the preamble, but I don't think I've made significant changes to the tone of the content. As a result, I think it is probably alright coming this late.

Here's a summary of the larger changes or set of changes that I made:

I removed a number of "therefores", and a number of comma-separated clauses acting as parenthetical asides that I thought it could survive without. I tried to break up a few long sentences. This was all purely stylistic.

I dropped the "in addition to a requirement of author attribution" from the preamble because it's clear without it (IMHO) and because it seems to qualify a statement about essential freedoms which we speak out against below. I think it's best to state clearly that there are essential freedoms and then there are some extra restrictions that do not in fact have an impact on these essential freedom. Attribution is one of these but need not be specially cases. This way it doesn't sound like an exception but an explanation that it is by definition free.

In two paragraphs of the first three paragraphs there are these two lists:

artistic works, scientific and educational materials, commentary, reports, and documents
Works built by communities collaborating as volunteers, art created for the purpose of shared enjoyment, essential learning materials, scientific research funded through taxpayer money, and many other works do not benefit from artificial scarcity.

They seem to be redundant so I've tried to reduce it to just one list where the the first list was.

I've removed "regardless of their profession, their beliefs, their country of origin, or any other criteria" and just say "anyone, anywhere, for any purpose." I think it's just as clear and more general.

I switched the strange switch into the second person in the paragraph with the god like creator. It read nice but was a jarring switch.

I added a line or two mentioning that some licenses are also used purely to take away people's freedoms. ASCAP is a licensing organization. The last draft talks about licenses as if they are only used to give away freedom but they were first used to sell freedom in restrained ways.

I was confused by the line: "Indeed, depending on the nature of the work, it may even be unethical to deny any of the enumerated freedoms above." It seems like our argument in this document is that it's always unethical, on some level, to restrict essential freedom. I think that this sort of confuses the issue and, in any case, don't add much where it was.

I removed this phrase:

This definition only covers freedom in terms of copyright law; usage of a work may be restricted by other laws.

I guess I have two issues here. First, it's not clear what these other laws and this sounds very legalistic for a statement of principles. More importantly, it seems like we would want to oppose other types of freedoms articulated in other types of law as well. The FSD is useful in opposing patents just as well as copyright (which the overly forumlate OSD could not). I don't think it's necessary.

I've removed this phrase:

"Explicitly, it must not limit commercial use of the work."

Because I basically moved it into the list of essential freedoms above. There was already an example there and I think that this is important enough it's worth dealing with a little higher up in the document. I think it's now more clear and doesn't need to be mentioned below.

-- Benjamin Mako Hill 02:01, 30 April 2006 (CEST)

I'll have another edit later. The main problem I have is with the changes in the first few paragraphs about "information goods". First, I don't like this phrase because it essentially adopts the language of information as property, a commodity. I find it somewhat amusing that you would choose this language given your objections to the word "content". ;-) I find the argument against attempts to equate information with physical property very persuasive, and am inclined to remove this phrase entirely from the document.
The second problem is with the change to the examples enumerated in the beginning. The ones chosen - "Works built by communities collaborating as volunteers, art created for the purpose of shared enjoyment, essential learning materials, scientific research funded through taxpayer money, .." - were chosen explicitly because the argument that these works should be free is strongest and most persuasive. Reworded, it essentially sounds like a declaration against copyright on "anything that can be represented as a sequence of bits". This can definitely not stay this way.--Erik Möller 02:54, 30 April 2006 (CEST)
Sounds good. "Information goods" was clumsy and we're better off with out it.
I'm still worried by the list of things. We're suggestion, but not defining, the scope of the document here. Something to think about and work out in drafting period. --Benjamin Mako Hill 05:36, 1 May 2006 (CEST)

Fair Use

Angela made the point that we should position our definition vs. the existing rights of fair use. This echoes some of the sentiments of Larry's response. So we should think about that before we take it live.--Erik Möller 17:09, 30 April 2006 (CEST)

Made some further edits as per the above. Avoided explicitly mentioning fair use for now to avoid confusion, might add that later.--Erik Möller 02:28, 1 May 2006 (CEST)

I'm not entirely clear defining our position in regards to fair use should mean here. I'm concerned because (a) fair use is only in the US a few other countries. Some other juristictions have similar "fair dealing" law but there are important differences. It's also a balancing act left up to judges and can sometimes be very unclear. I'm also concerned because (b) fair use is a set of compromises that is supposed to balance what would be overly restricted copyright. Our argument here is that copyright is always overly restricted and that we need to not settle for fair use rights but for something more meaningful. Or am I completely off-base here? --Benjamin Mako Hill 05:44, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
No, I think you're right. From an ethical perspective, I think that it is important that fair use rights are also protected and broadened, but I'm not sure if this belongs into this definition. For now, I have added the phrase "Only very limited freedoms are granted to others" to clarify that copyright is not absolute; perhaps that is sufficient.--Erik Möller 05:47, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
I think an argument can be made that it is important that any definition expressly acknowledge fair use (US) or fair dealing (rest of the world) and/or any other exception or limitation to copyright law. This is because of recent judicial decisions that tend to find, for example, that one can contractually override exceptions to copyright law (such as reverse engineering). Thus, I think it could be important to clarify that licenses that satisfy the free content/expression definition are "fair use/fair dealing plus" and grant a layer of permissions in addition to and on top existing exceptions to copyright law. Happy to leave this up to community discussion, however.--Mia Garlick 10:12, 1 May 2006 (PDT)

Fair use is not unified at all among countries, so referring to it in the definition would introduce uncertainty and complication (unless the definition also gives its own definition of fair use). Moreover, fair use is completely covered by the rights specified in the definition AFAIU. --Antoine 20:43, 1 May 2006 (CEST)

Effective Technical Measures

In regards to the little back-and-forth about "effective technical measures." I now realize that you are using the term as a little legal term-of-art to distinguish between TPMs and things like formats or compression. However, I'm afraid it still blocks things like GPG/PGP encrypted email. I'm going to suggest a phrasing like, "technical measure designed to restrict the freedoms above from being exercised by the person to whom the work is distributed."

This phrasing doesn't block things like encrypted email, compression, formats, etc. and doesn't require using a relatively obscure legal term. --Benjamin Mako Hill 05:52, 1 May 2006 (CEST)

Physical works (non-digital)

User:Rgladwell said: How does the definition handle digital works (such as images, documents, etc) versus non-digitual works (such as hard-copy books, paintings, sculptures, etc)?

A requisite would be to replace "modified versions" with "modified copies". If one is allowed to make a "modified version" of a physical, autographic work of art, then the original is destroyed in the process. Not something we would like to encourage. --Antoine 22:02, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
I'm not sure we can really consider physical works to be covered by the definition: concepts like distribution, copying and modifications do not seem to really apply. --Ricardo Gladwell 23:50, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
You can read the Free Art License. It has been worded very carefully by artists and lawyers so that it does apply to physical works. The key is that there is a distinction between the original and copies. Only copies can be distributed and modified (of course, this applies seamlessly in the digital world where any transmission of data is implicitly a copy). By recursivity, a copy becomes itself an original for the person who receives it, and can make copies of the copy (modified or not).
All licenses need not be worded as carefully, but the Definition itself would be sub-optimal if its wording left this aspect onto the table.--Antoine 00:07, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

Source code

User:Erik_Möller said: Is it possible for something to be free content without the "source code" (or something equivalent) being available? Under the current definition, it is. Perhaps we need to find a wording that requires source availabiliy where such sources are essential to modifying the work.

The common position among the Free Art License people (not that I always agree with them ;-)) is that providing the source code is a subcase of allowing to study the work. They argue that the source code is necessary to study software, while there is no such necessity for works of art.
One could counter-argue that even if source code is not necessary to study a piece of non-software content, it is nonetheless very practical for doing modifications (the GNU GPL defines source code as "the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it").
Of course another problem is that some kinds a work do not allow any clear notion of source code. --Antoine 22:11, 1 May 2006 (CEST)
From my own perspective, as a representative of the Free RPG Community there are many examples where a source code is a real requirement. A pen-and-paper roleplaying game can be both an artistic work as well as a functional work. Roleplaying games can be converted into software computer games so source code can be required for this. Many players frequently make house rules and ammendments so access to source code is requisite for this - both to the rules and to the . There are so many reasons to have a source code even from just our narrow field.
This is quite aside from the fact that access to the source code of a free content work might be necessary not only to study the work, but to study how the work was put together. Trivially, this could mean as little as being able to examine a word processor document to see what fonts are being used, etc. A more important example could be being able to examine a layered image file to see how a image effect was put together.
I'm not sure which works you are referring to that do not have a clear notion of a source code: the only such works I am aware of are non-digital works in which case the other freedoms may not apply anyway (see my remarks above). Please see my remarks here for more infomation: Talk:Definition --Ricardo Gladwell 00:00, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
Ricardo, I fullheartedly agree that the distinction between artistic and functional works is a fallacy (I have already said this to various people, including RMS). That is why, in my opinion, the same broad freedoms should apply to free contents as well as free software (the wording of the definition can differ of course, and that's why we are here ;-)).
As for freedom for physical works, you can read my answer to your remark ;-))
But even for digital works, can simple "transparent" binary data be considered the source code for everything? Let's say I have the WAV recording of a concert. What do the bytes tell me about how the guitarist played the strings of his instrument, or even what precise notes he played, with what effects etc.?
Software writing is a symbolic activity (writing code is writing text according to certain conventions). As such, its representation as text (i.e. ASCII or Unicode bytes) is a perfect mirror of the way it functions. It is not necessarily the case with other types of works.
But I do agree that access to some kind of "source code" is important in many cases. Complicated isn't it? --Antoine 00:23, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

Free expression?

User:Rgladwell said: Free expression is not the same as free content: you can have the right to free expresssion without having free content, and free content does not guarantee free expression.

Right to use and perform

Apparently the current definition takes as implicit the first freedom of free software (the right to use/execute). I suggest to make it explicit, because it allows to include "related rights" such as the right to perform (e.g. a play, a song...):

  • The freedom to use and perform the work: The licensee must be allowed to make any use, private or public, of the work. This includes all derived uses ("related rights") such as performing or interpreting the work.

--Antoine 01:15, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

Right to study and apply the "information"

I find the phrasing "study and apply the information" a bit confusing. The word "information" seems to imply that only the symbolic (e.g. textual) content of the work can be studied, not its inner workings or the nuances of its making. Also, as pointed elsewhere, "information" is really sterile.

I would rephrase it:

  • The freedom to study the work and use the knowledge gained from the work: The licensee must be allowed to examine the work and to use the knowledge gained from the work in any way. The license may not, for example, restrict "reverse engineering".

--Antoine 01:29, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

Applying Knowledge

First freedom now is worded as "the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it". This may however be a problem when you think about it in context of scientific research. Copyright is covering just a publication, but there may be (and usually are) also included other "IP" law such as patents. I understand "applying knowledge" as a very wide term. I'm not aware of any exisiting license which may guarantee that patents will be not used. However this is a very good statement if we want to describe our ideals.JaroslawLipszyc 02:06, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

I think it is an absolute fact that free content cannot be impeded by patents. We need to work towards a clearer distinction, I think, between expectations we have from the works which are called free content, and from the licenses which are used for free content. I don't need to use a complex license that has clauses about patents if that is never relevant to me. Similarly, regarding earlier discussions about source code, I don't need anything in my license about source code if I'm talking about an essentially transparent work such as an essay. So I think we need to work towards emphasizing this distinction more clearly, and then formulate precisely what expectations there are from a work that is considered free content.--Erik Möller 02:35, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
And maybe "freedom to study" is good enough as a license requirement? JaroslawLipszyc 03:38, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
This is one of the cases where the absence of a clause restricting freedoms may already meet the requirements, I think. Generally, you're free to study and apply knowledge from a work, unless the terms under which you have done that restrict you from doing so. What I think is important, especially if we want this definition to be a superset of the free software definition, is that we make it clear that the work itself must be available in a format suitable for modification. Whether or not the license protects that state of transparency is optional.--Erik Möller 09:54, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

Non-commercial not free?

It seems very arbitrary to call popular non-commercial licenses such as CreativeCommons Attrbution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike non-free! I believe all current usages of the term free content or free license allow a non-commercial clause. Very little content will be free under this definition as few content creators allow other people to profit from their hard work without paying royalties. I see no reason why a license prohibiting the receiver from profiting from content he got for nothing can not be called free.

In fact, I think CC A-NC-SA is the model minimum free license, as it makes use of most of the restriction clauses permitted here plus NonCommercial. This definition should allow non-commercial licenses to fall under this umbrella. The interests of Wikimedia can still be satisfied by saying only Comercial Free Content and Fair Use were allowed. Prohibiting the reuser from making profit serves to protect the free status of the content, thus justifying its use as a restriction in the license. 06:55, 2 May 2006 (CEST)

You can find my thoughts on the Creative Commons NC licenses here. The idea that any kind of commercial venture is an "evil" from which people must be "protected" is a highly fallacious one; indeed, it is exactly the commercial use of free content and free software that has enabled some of the most exciting projects today, ranging from the adoption of free software in large sections of industry to the integration of Wikipedia content into search engines, CD-ROMs, and existing lookup tools. Especially in a collaborative context, it is essential to grant this freedom from the start, as it is virtually impossible to get permission from any contributor to a wiki for a particular commercial use.
It is perfectly alright for authors and artists not to reliniquish rights in accordance with this definition. But the resulting works should not be called "free". There can be no compromise on the core freedoms in this definition. If anything, they may need to be expanded.--Erik Möller 09:15, 2 May 2006 (CEST)
I think that the provision on free redistribution makes it quite impossible to simply "profit from others' hard work". If someone tried to derive unfair advantage from a work, then people are free to reject the offer and are very likely to find the work that the offer is based on under more reasonable terms. In fact, if a share-alike or copyleft clause is used, then you'd be likely to find whatever was added to the original work freely available too. NC clauses do nothing to prevent unfair usage, but will prevent many legit uses.--Kari Pahula 11:33, 2 May 2006 (CEST)