Re: [dev] [GENERAL] License manifest

From: Bigby James <>
Date: Tue, 20 May 2014 13:41:21 -0500

On 05/12, Amadeus Folego wrote:
> Hi there,
> So, given this context, is there any manifesto about this particular License
> choice? E.G is there a reason to avoid GPL?

Most of the ideas have already been touched on here, but if you want to get a
general idea of why some people might reject the GPL, head on over to, navigate to the "Licenses" -> "Choose a license"
page and fiddle with the options.* Notice that some combinations result in the
license being labelled as "not free culture." This is because that combination
of clauses results in a license that arguably restricts the freedom of others
more than it restricts the freedom of the creator.

One of the clauses that always results in a license not being a "free culture"
one is the non-commercial clause. No doubt many people see that option and
conclude that what this does is prevent someone else from making money from
creator's own work, while the creator does not. But that isn't entirely true;
what it means is that any entity that in any way seeks to make money is
forbidden from using your work in any way. At all. Full stop. So suppose you
make a set of simple icons for use in web application interfaces, and then
release them under the CC-A-NC license that forbids commercial use. This would
disallow any commercial entity from utilizing your work to their own
ends---*including* F/OSS or free culture projects that release their own work or
the work of others under (arguably) free licenses, such as GitHub or DeviantArt.
The fact that they aren't actually directly making money from your work---that
they aren't selling it or claiming credit for it---doesn't matter. In the name
of freedom, someone else's freedom has in fact been impeded.

There is also the self-interested take on it: All CC licenses are such that any
work that's distributed under them must include attribution and, if possible,
contact information for the creator and a link to the original. By disallowing
certain entities/projects/persons from utilizing your work in any way, you are
foregoing an opportunity to make yourself known, because even though you've
allowed your work to be distributed those particular entities are at the same
time forbidden from distributing it. Should said commercial project become
popular you would receive at least a little attention as a result, since your
hypothetical icon set above would be an integral part of their web interface.
Moreover, the fact that your work appears in a professional, commercial
environment gives it (an by extension, you) more of an air of professional
quality and approval than it would if it could only be found within the most
obscure back ends of the internet, past the Justin Bieber caricatures and next
to the Rule 34 tributes to My Little Pony.

*Not the best comparison, I know, but it works for illustration.
"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." - Douglas Adams
Received on Tue May 20 2014 - 20:41:21 CEST

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