I wasn’t sure if I should make this a Session idea when I first decided to post, but I think it will fit well.
Let me lead in by example:
In his new book, Dealing With Disrespect, Jono wrote about his choice to use the NC term in his CC-licensing:
The license does not allow you to commercially redistribute the book. I
know, I know, some of you Creative Commons purists won’t like this…but I
feel my primary ethical responsibility is to give the content away
freely. If someone wants to make money from it, I want a piece of that
pie for my family too; my son needs toys.
How should one address this? The part that says “purists won’t like this” sort of fends off any anticipated criticism. It comes across as, “if you object, you must be a purist, and also, I probably know exactly what you think and have already rejected it.”
Of course, there are real issues on many topics. Licensing is one of the contentious issues in Free/Open communities. Many people have opinions. As a community, we do have a goal of avoiding never-ending flame-wars. But that doesn’t mean we can just avoid the issues. I don’t have any perfect solutions, although I have my opinions both about some of these topics and about how to handle them as a community leader.
So, I think this is an important topic to deal with in a meta sense.
For the example in question, it’s clear that Jono, you did not actually make a valid case for the NC license, but one should also pick their battles. I have a desire to respond to the specific issue mostly because it is spreading misunderstanding in the community overall, but also because the NC license causes problems for me in this exact case.
To be concrete: it isn’t clear in practice that the NC license will assist you in making money. If someone was going to distribute the book in a commercial form, but the NC license makes them decide not to, that doesn’t bring the author any money. In fact, more distribution of the book could lead to more interest and eventually more direct sales or indirect donations or other support. More significantly, the NC license mostly hurts the people who never would do anything commercial anyway. I myself write things that are licensed CC-BY-SA (allowing commercial use if they keep the license). I do not do commercial things with these writings (and perhaps nobody else ever will either, even though it is allowed). I like the license anyway, but must use it because I sometimes incorporate writings from Wikipedia (which uses CC-BY-SA). It is entirely possible that the only effect of the NC license on Dealing With Disrespect is to block my non-commercial use of it (because the licenses are incompatible: I can’t share with the people here any writings that say “you can use this commercially and you can’t use it commercially”). Because of NC, I will not include any useful pieces of the book in my own work. Not because I’m dogmatic, but because I legally can’t, again even though I’m not doing anything commercial. So maybe the NC license just hurts the community and reduces the spread of the book and makes the work more obscure, thus hurting the author.
So my objections to NC aren’t motivated just because I’m some “purist.” I have practical concerns. And yet, maybe this is just distraction and taking my time and energy away from more important things. How can we actually address real concerns about contentious issues like this? We need a way to actually deal with these things. They aren’t just going to go away.
Overall, I think the wiki format is nice actually. The way that Wikipedians are forced to come to consensus in a manner where everyone can live with a consolidated summarized result is useful.
I look forward to hearing thoughts from others.