Someday knowing the ins and outs of copyright will be like knowing the intricate rules of internal passports in Communist East Germany

Said Evan Prodromou, who I keep quoting.

I repeat Evan as a reminder and apology. I’ve blogged many times about copyright licenses in the past, and will have a few detailed posts on the subject soon in preparation for a short talk at FOSDEM.

Given current malgovernance of the intellectual commons, public copyright licenses are important for freedom. They’re probably also important trials for post-copyright regulation (meant in the broadest sense, including at least “market” and “government” regulatory mechanisms), eg of ability to inspect and modify complete and corresponding source.

At the same time, the totemic and contentious role copyright licenses (and sometimes assignment or contributor agreements, and sometimes covering related wrongs and patents) play in free/libre/open works, projects, and communities often seems an unfortunate misdirection of energy at best, and probably looks utterly ridiculous to casual observers. I suspect copyright also takes at least some deserved limelight, and perhaps much more, from other aspects of governance, plain old getting things done, and activism around other issues (regarding the first, some good recent writings includes those by Simon Phipps and Bradley Kuhn, but the prominence of copyright arrangements therein reinforces my point). But this all amounts to an additional reason it is important to get the details of public copyright licenses right, in particular compatibility between them where it can be achieved — so as to minimize the amount of time and energy projects put into considering and arguing about the options.

Obviously the energy put into public licenses is utterly insignificant against that spent on other copyright/patent/trademark complex activities. But I’m not going to write about that in the near future, so it isn’t part of my apology and rationalization.

Someday I hope that knowing the ins and outs of both Internal Passports of the mind and international passports will be like knowing the rules of internal passports in Communist East Germany (presumably intricate; I did not look for details, but hopefully they exist not many hops from a Wikipedia article on Eastern Bloc emigration and defection).

7 Responses

  1. […] at a minimum typical “government” and “market” regulation, as I’ve said before. By the way, it could be said that those who advocate only permissive licenses are anti-regulatory, […]

  2. […] “⊂ (FLOSS legal/policy ∩ CC [4.0])” (slides: odp, pdf, slideshare). Contrary to my apology I didn’t blog much of the talk beforehand. I will get to all of the topics […]

  3. […] meaningful public copyright licenses can be seen as such to the extent they are misunderstood or totemic. My main objection to the disclaimers Baio brought attention to is that they’re clutter to […]

  4. […] cultural/scientific/documentation works, and data. I hope to see major progress toward eliminating barriers across these overlapping domains in the next […]

  5. […] passports, and (a related one from Asheesh Laroia is told on the show) credit […]

  6. […] for background info for a forthcoming post on a boring topic that should be forgotten, I found the research of Michael Curtotti, and was tickled to find he also has papers on human […]

  7. […] have zero insight into the future of the CC organization, but I hope it gives ample priority to the public domain, post-4.0 […]

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