Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Test cases

Dave Winer kicks the tires of copyright and has a poke at Cory Doctorow, who's spoken out against restrictive copyright many times:

Somewhere in there, there's got to be a line.

I'm thinking of mirroring Cory Doctorow's Creative Commons-licensed book and crossing out his name and replacing it with mine. Then I think I'll go to a printer and print up a bunch of copies of my book and stand on a corner in Times Square and sell copies.
This is all very fine and rhetorical, but it seems to me that Cory's already drawn a very definite line in his choice of Creative Commons license for his books: they're all released under the Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial 1.0 license, which specifically disallows both uses suggested by Dave.

[Update: while Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was originally released under this licence, Cory relicenced it in February 2004 under the broader Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0 licence; this licence allows transformation for non-commercial use as long as the attribution remains and only if the transformed work is distributed under an identical licence. Still no good for Dave's uses.]

A Creative Commons license does not mean "do whatever you want with this content". As they say:

We have built upon the "all rights reserved" of traditional copyright to create a voluntary "some rights reserved" copyright.
Dave's strawman argument takes a stark black-and-white stance: "Cory doesn't like restrictive copyright, so he must be against all copyright." But the reality is more shades of grey; Cory's happy for you to redistribute his books, but he's very definitely and clearly reserving some of his rights.


Great minds think alike.

I posted similar thoughts on my blog earlier today.