Friday, February 10, 2006

Losing Open Source Support

The "leading light" of the Open Source movement, Richard Stallman (aka RMS) is obviously very influential in the OS programming world and has recently come out against Creative Commons.

Up until now the OS programming world has been very, very good to the CC world. For example it's clear that much of Magnatune's business comes from extremely favorable write ups in the Open Source magazines and websites, including Slashdot.

RMS is extremely committed to all information and media being free (in all respects) and feels that several of the CC licenses don't adhere to the strictest interpretation of this ideology. At first you may wonder what took him so long (they don't call it some rights reserved for nothing) but he uses the point that most people conflate ALL the CC licenses into one big jumble as a reason to reject the entire CC movement. In other words, he supports some of the licenses, but because of perceptions about CC as a whole, he is rejecting CC as a whole.

Many of his followers are pretty rabid about these issues -- these are the guys that come onto the Mixter forums and scream at us for allowing MP3s to be uploaded and mourn the missing ShareAlike licenses -- and I'm sure they have spent money on open music strictly for the "cause." One important question now is whether the open music movement has enough steam behind it to withstand losing that support.

10 comments:

gurdonark said...

I think that Creative Commons licenses seem to attract both support and opposition that implies that they are somehow more than what they actually are. I subscribe to one or two of those message lists, and it's intriguing how many folks imagine that they have some inherent new copyright status, or create something new and unprecedented. Similarly, the notion that an individual choice to devote less than everything thing to the public domain is somehow odd is also a curious one to me.

I rather like the old Woody Guthrie 1928 public domain dedication:
"This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do."

To me, CC licenses are a simple way for people to try to speak a common vocabulary of copyright partial licensing. It's true that if everyone just donated every song to the public domain, it would be simpler. But I'm not sure that it's necessary that this occur for a more free open music industry to arise, and I'm not positive it would be beneficial.

I think, similarly, that opposition to what is not much more than an attempt to standardize concepts as old as copyright itself seems a bit over-done.

I suppose, leaving aside the legality, that the policy question is "is there ever a purpose to IP protection"? My answer is "yes". But I understand when others reach the answer "no". It's just not my own answer.

Lucas Gonze said...

There was a similar split back when open source emerged from the free software movement. (And since you're talking about RMS, shouldn't this be "Losing Free Support"? ;)

I think, though, that Stallman's points about freedom are being mixed in with ideas about price. He is not by any means committed to stuff being free in all respects, only in the respect that has to do with liberty.

Marco Raaphorst said...

what does Richard want? only the BY attribute, nothing more?

instead of open source software, music can be seen as finished piece. this makes it different from open source software which is never finished.

but I want to read more about this, Richard is a smart guy.

fourstones said...

heh, I haven't even thought about ESR and open vs. free in five years -- I guess in my mind I have they have merged back together.

He is not by any means committed to stuff being free in all respects, only in the respect that has to do with liberty.

I don't know about that, I thought free meant either beer or speech.

I guess the point of the post and the dicussion I was hoping to have is whether his supporters (whatever flag they fly), having had a clear impact on the rise of music libre, will cause trauma for the movement now.

but I worry too much.

Marco Raaphorst said...

personally I would love to use only BY. but I am afraid other people will make money, instead of me.

I can understand that the amount of CC licenses around creates issues, because it's hard to understand for most users.

btw under what license will the Google Book Search stuff be published? I thought they are referring to fair use ...

fourstones said...

what does Richard want? only the BY attribute, nothing more?

fwiw I think RMS would prefer everything have ShareAlike.

His biggest complaint seems to be that he doesn't seem to like the Sampling licences because they don't allow file sharing. I don't like them because they exist.

Marco Raaphorst said...

SA is cool I think. Have been thinking a lot about NC being redundant when using SA. NC is such a difficult attribute I think.

We'll see... I am not expert on this legal stuff.

Marco Raaphorst said...

One thing I do hope though: Richard and Lawrence should have a conversation about this. If our GPL man is saying these things in public without discussion them with Lawrence as well, things are seriously f~cked up. GPL and CC are probably the main open liceses right now on the i-net, they need each other.

Lucas Gonze said...

I don't know about that, I thought free meant either beer or speech.

Nope, not at all. The beer only has to be free if the speech does.

But that's not exactly right. Stallman's freedom is freedom for makers to fix and improve. It is absolutely unrelated to speech, which is where remixers fit in.

His biggest complaint seems to be that he doesn't seem to like the Sampling licences because they don't allow file sharing. I don't like them because they exist.

Can you explain that more, Victor?

(Assuming you're still following this thread...)

Lucas Gonze said...

Dumb. When I said "the beer only has to be free if the speech does" it made no sense. I meant that if there is some reason why free speech would depend on free beer, then beer would have to be free, but otherwise not. E.G. it's perfectly fine in Stallman's point of view to charge for stuff.