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Re: <nettime> Benjamin Mako Hill on Creative Commons
Benj. Mako Hill on Wed, 3 Aug 2005 09:31:07 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Benjamin Mako Hill on Creative Commons

Please CC me on replies as I am not on this list.

<quote who="august" date="Sat, 30 Jul 2005 21:42:03 +0200 (CEST)">
> Say what?  Free to be free to freely think about freedom? Huh?

I didn't say this and I am fully aware of the overloaded nature of the word
freedom. I *am* arguing for a set of defined goals to form the core of a social
movement. As an activist, I believe that social movements trying to bring about
real defined change and with a vision of a world where things are changed are
effective. This is the case with the Free Software movement and every other
successful freedom movement I can think of and I believe it is lacking in CC.

I use the term freedom because it it is used in the Free Software movement to
which I am drawing parallels and seems justified in this regard. You may think
that "goals" or "standards" or "rights" are better terms. That is OK with me. My
issue is not with the terms here but with getting people inspired to work toward a
clear vision of a better world. I think that vision is lacking.

> Why is it that FLOSS advocates are still instistant about what is
> "freedom"?  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?
> Ok, we understand already that the GPL licence makes restrictions on
> what one can or cannot do with a piece of software code.  But, what
> is the motive behind insisting that this is a construct of
> "freedom"?

It seems that you are hinting at the classic BSD vs GPL style argument of "freedom
to do anything you want including take away people's freedom" and the more
Stallman-esque definition that says that if something does not take away essential
freedoms (according to a defined set of ethical standards) it is permissible. I'm
not sure that having this argument again here is going to be productive or useful.
At least in free software and open source, there seems to be rough consensus in
all camps that both satisfy our base definition of essential freedom although
people clearly prefer one over the other.

> 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

It doesn't read that way because I was quoting the Free Software Definition and
that is not waht the Free Software Definition says. It wouldn't be historically
correct or nice to change Richard's document while quoting him.

> The GPL addresses the use and distribution of what is produced, not
> the production itself.  The CC licenses, however, try to provide
> some protections for the producers of content by providing
> non-commercial clauses.  This makes sense, seeing that there still
> are major differences between "users" and "audience", and seeing
> that we live in the world we do where one still needs to pay for
> bread.

I do not deny that people need to make money or that audiences and users may be
different and that creative and functional works may call for different standards
of freedom. I'm arguing that we should take an ethical stand. That stand might be
informed by the economic realities of information production today in order to
make it a more practical stand. It might not.

> Essentially, I doubt there is any real need to compare the GPL and
> the CC licenses, unless you want to nitpick about what freedom is.
> The FLOSS movement could be much further along if it would start to
> address real world problems, such as how to fund the production of
> software.

I am not comparing the GPL and the CC licenses. In fact, I criticize CC for
focusing on the GPL as a legal article which is only *one* vision while ignoring
the importance of the FSD/OSD/DFSG which form standard a standard that includes
the GPL, the BSD, and other licenses.

> My guess is that Mako, like Richard Stallman, envisions a world
> where GPL code and capitalism go hand in hand.

I don't need too much of an imagination as this is already a reality. That said,
my goals is for world of unencumbered access to information and, while it is
unrelated to the point I am making here, I think that capitalist production has
done much more to hurt this than to help it. I am talking about creating a freedom
movement where essential rights to information are unreservable. I'm not sure that
info-capitalism, at least as it is exists today, is up to that task of living in
that world.


Benjamin Mako Hill
mako {AT} atdot.cc

Creativity can be a social contribution, but only in so
far as society is free to use the results. --RMS

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