Opened 7 years ago

Last modified 6 years ago

#4562 assigned Bug/Something is broken

transition support.mayfirst.org licensing from CC-BY-NC-SA to CC-BY-SA (remove Non-Commercial clause)

Reported by: https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg Owned by: https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg
Priority: Medium Component: Tech
Keywords: support.mayfirst.org relicensing Cc:
Sensitive: no

Description

Some discussion among the MF/PL support team suggests that there may be a consensus around re-licensing this web site (wiki and ticketing system) to drop the creative commons -NC- (non-commercial) clause, due to its ambiguity, difficulty in interpretation, and general resistance to free information exchange.

So the goal here is to move from CC-BY-NC-SA to CC-BY-SA.

The current proposal is to draw a temporal cutoff after which new posts and wiki edits will use the new licensing.

I'll also track down all prior wiki edits and see if we can contact all authors to get the prior wiki history re-licensed.

This will also probably suggest a lowdown article as the cutoff date approaches. I'll track the progress with this ticket.

Change History (25)

comment:1 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/alfredo

Thank you, DKG.

For those who might not be familiar with the differences between these license types and what those initials mean, Creative Commons site has a great definition page:

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/

Alfredo

comment:2 follow-ups: Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/malloryk

I've taken a look at the trac code for the footer and merged them with the changes that we need to make to reflect our new license. Can someone with access to the trac code (jamie or dkg) please replace the site-footer contents with this:

<a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/">
<img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width:0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-sa/3.0/88x31.png" />
</a><br />
This <span xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" href="http://purl.org/dc/dcmitype/Text" rel="dc:type">work</span> 
is licensed under a 
<a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/">Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License</a>.

Thank you!

comment:3 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/takethestreets

I consent to have my wiki edits licensed under whatever license other MFPL folks prefer.

comment:4 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/jackaponte

I consent as well! (Also, thanks for giving me good food for thought about the NC license, which I've used routinely.)

comment:5 in reply to: ↑ 2 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg

Replying to https://id.mayfirst.org/malloryk:

I've taken a look at the trac code for the footer and merged them with the changes that we need to make to reflect our new license.

Thanks for doing lining this up, Mallory, this just the kind of detail we'll need to think through.

I don't want to change the footer to absolutely state the new licensing plan, because i don't want to misrepresent the current licensing arrangements, which existing authors have agreed to already. We'll need to get approval (like that granted by jackaponte and takethestreets above) from existing wiki authors, and also indicate the "line in the sand" for ticket contents.

I'm proposing a cutoff of 2011-08-31 for the new licensing. Please see smo/licensing for details. Would you be up for writing a new version of the footer that says something like "all content added to this system after 2011-08-31 is licensed under CC-BY-SA; work submitted before that date was licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA, but some authors may be willing to re-license older content without the NC clause" ?

comment:6 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg

I'd like to send out an e-mail to the authors for whom we have e-mail addresses.

We can send this message to 42 relevant e-mail addresses associated with wiki page authors, using the following query on moses:

SELECT DISTINCT author AS openid, trim(value) AS email FROM
  wiki JOIN session_attribute ON (wiki.author = session_attribute.sid)
 WHERE session_attribute.name = 'email'
  AND trim(value) != '' ;

A clever mixture of this sql snippet with some python or perl mail generation + a short template would be great.

Anyone want to write up a template for the body of the mail? What address should the mail come from?

comment:7 in reply to: ↑ 2 ; follow-up: Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/malloryk

Here's a new footer:

<a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/">
<img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width:0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-sa/3.0/88x31.png" />
</a><br />
This <span xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" href="http://purl.org/dc/dcmitype/Text" rel="dc:type">work</span> 
is licensed under a 
<a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/">Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License</a>.<br />
<em>Please note: <a class="wiki" href="/wiki/smo/licensing">This web site's default license will change from CC-BY-NC-SA to CC-BY-SA on 2011-08-31</a></em>.

comment:8 follow-up: Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/malloryk

Here's the template for the email.

It needs love but it's a quick start.

comment:9 in reply to: ↑ 8 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg

Replying to https://id.mayfirst.org/malloryk:

Here's the template for the email.

It needs love but it's a quick start.

Thanks! I've moved it to its own page so that smo/licensing stays a simpler overview for interested parties.

comment:10 in reply to: ↑ 7 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg

Replying to https://id.mayfirst.org/malloryk:

Here's a new footer:

Hm. this new footer seems to imply that the entire site is under the new license; that's not true (or at least we haven't gotten permission from all the original authors). The footer needs to do two things:

  • inform a contributor what license they're agreeing to license their contributions under
  • inform a reader what license they are granted for the use of material on the site.

comment:11 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg

I've sent out the e-mail now, to the e-mail address associated with all wiki authors. Thus far, only one has bounced -- not bad!

comment:12 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg

The one that bounced was a user with only one modification to the wiki, which i just reviewed and i consider to be non-copyrightable.

Also, i've updated the footer (in moses:/srv/trac/support/templates/site.html). It's bulky and ugly, but hopefully we can change that soon. On October 1st, we should switch out the license graphic as well.

comment:13 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/asm

hi,

sorry to come late to this discussion.

i think this is a highly problematic change as it makes quite a big political shift for a number of people/groups (at least, that i am involved in).

i think at the very least, this discussion should have been announced first before any attempt to implement it. even better, given that there is a large mayfirst membership meeting coming up, it could/should be presented there.

anyway, i am afraid to say that i am not happy to support this change at present.

thanks,

asm

PS, despite what you've changed the footer to be, this contribution to the wiki is under a CC-BY-NC-SA

PPS, i'd also like to point out that having made the change without any discussion makes me feel like i can no longer contribute to the wiki without having to - every time - provide a license for the changes i make. thus, in reality, it's going to exclude me/the groups i am in from contributing further (at least until we've resolved this discussion)

comment:14 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/nat

Hi asm,

Thanks for getting in touch with on this issue. I understand that this will likely be controversial, as many of us have supported the NC clause for a really long time, myself included.

I can't speak for the rest of the support team, but as I understand it, our goal has not been to exclude members from making this decision. In our own discussions we had hoped to set the date at September 1st, but decided that left no time for member feedback. If we get enough negative response, it is possible we may postpone again. Anyway, that is why we encouraged folks to post on this ticket with questions and comments.

Could you please elaborate on what makes you uncomfortable with this shift?

I know that prior to thinking about this myself, I had never elaborated why I supported the NC clause. For me, it turned out that I had some abstract fear of a corporation figuring out a way to monetize my contributions.

Upon closer inspections though, I realized that the NC clause probably blocks me from doing things that I was already doing, like using the Mayfirst wiki as a reference for certain Debian systems administration tasks for non-Mayfirst related paid work. Since I was doing so to speed up my own work, it likely counts as use "directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation"(as defined in Section 4c of the license). Even if that doesn't, am I prevented from showing that wiki page to my client? Does that count as "public display?" There is a known variance in definitions, when Creative Commons studied how people define noncommercial they found that (as summed up by Mike Linksvayer]:

On a scale of 1-100 where 1 is "definitely noncommercial" and 100 is "definitely commercial"  creators and users (84.6 and 82.6, respectively) both rate uses in connection with online advertising generally "commercial." However, more specific use cases revealed that many interpretations are fact-specific. For example, creators and users gave the specific use case "not-for-profit organization uses work on its site, organization makes enough money from ads to cover hosting costs" ratings of 59.2 and 71.7, respectively.

To say the least, this is a really complex issue. My fear is that the vast majority of cases that Mayfirst would be presented with are in that ill defined gray area, particularly given our extensive work with non- and not-for-profit organizations. As counterintuitive as it may seem, a non-profit can break the NC clause just as easily as anyone else.

This doesn't even get to the folks who are paid consultants either acting on behalf of nonprofit members, or to freelancers like myself who are members that use this wiki as a regular reference point for non MFPL work. Not to mention the possible hundreds of other freelancers who have no relationship to MFPL or its members, and likely stumble onto our wiki through search results (it ranks high for a great number of tech issues).

I've come to the point of view that if we know that people are already breaking the NC clause, and we support their reason for doing it, even having the NC clause there is erecting an unnecessary legal hurdle in front of hundreds of individuals and organizations that I want to support. I think the unlikely risk of some mega-corporation figuring out a way to monetize the content (while still giving attribution), is far outweighed by the potential good that freeing this information does for our entire community.

This may not be the reasoning everyone else is using, but I hope if furthers the discussion of this large change, and clarifies the thinking of at least one support team member.

Also, as a note, your previous comment was already CC-BY-NC-SA as the proposed change does not take effect until October 1st, and any posts to the ticket tracker until then will be covered by the license we are currently using, so there's no need to declare a license on those.

comment:15 follow-up: Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/alfredo

Who is "asm"? People should identify themselves, particularly when expressing opposition to an LC decision. It just helps me transmit this to the leadership...at the very least.

Alfredo

comment:16 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/asm

thanks nat, for the considered response, and apologies to all, i didn't mean for my previous statement to appear aggressive - which i fear it might have done. thanks also for pointing out my error: i was confused between september and october, and i'm glad that i got it wrong.

i'll write more detail to your response in a little while, as soon as i get a chance, but wanted to post something in the interim as an acknowledgement that i'd seen what you wrote...

as for a response to alfredo, sorry, i didn't mean to be disrespectful. but my primary occupation is not computers, and i try to maintain some separation between activities in my life, although i guess i'm not always successful.

best,

asm

comment:17 in reply to: ↑ 15 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg

Replying to https://id.mayfirst.org/alfredo:

Who is "asm"? People should identify themselves, particularly when expressing opposition to an LC decision. It just helps me transmit this to the leadership...at the very least.

Alfredo, asm has identified themselves already through their OpenID as a member of May First/People Link. I don't see why any additional identification should be necessary. That said, i do think more information about the specific concerns would be useful in understanding how and why this is a problem.

asm, are there specific reasons why some of the groups you work with couldn't contribute to the site under a CC-BY-SA license, when they were OK with contributing under a CC-BY-NC-SA license before? I'm not asking for names or URLs, just some sense of why the -NC- clause is considered useful or necessary.

As our documentation about the transition says, the -NC- clause seems to fail at making information freely available and empowering people to re-mix and re-use. I also think the -NC- clause fails at preventing all corporate or business actors from deriving income from the work. For example, google indexes this site and gains reputation (and thereby advertising revenue) as a search engine because of the quality of technical material here. A CC-BY-NC-SA license wouldn't stop that (we'd need to explicitly ban google's search engines from the site to deny google that additional gain, which i don't think has been seriously proposed).

asm, can you help us understand why a group might no longer be able to contribute here if the licensing was CC-BY-SA ?

comment:18 follow-up: Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/asm

hi nat, dkg and others who are reading,

Could you please elaborate on what makes you uncomfortable with this shift?

you make an interesting argument, from the point of view of someone who is clearly paid (sometimes) for their technical work. i am in a slightly different position - computer tech is a hobby, and not part of my employment (although like many i do use computers on a daily basis as part of my working life)... of course, i guess that i should also be open to the possibility of that changing in the future ;-)

however, i do not think this means we cannot agree, nor does it mean this issue cannot be resolved - although, as in all forms of consensual agreement, we are likely to have to make compromises. so let me explain how i view the CC-BY-NC licence....

first, about licenses in general.

i think licenses are a good way to protect work from undesired uses. i also understand that the desire here is to come up with a license that is as free as possible - probably so that it is compatible with debian and the GPL - while also keeping it compatible with the political viewpoints we share.

however, i think it is also relevant to note that licenses only provide for the option to pursue an infringement claim, should one desire. they do not compel it; more importantly, one must also have the means to pursue such a claim. for people in (i guess our but i shall say) my situation, that is unlikely to be possible - at the very least, without some degree of certainty over the outcome.

second, with respect to the CC-BY-NC-SA specifically... i find this is the license that fits best with both my politics and the way i try to live my life. the work i do when i am 'working' maybe for capital (it's not, actually) but the work i do in my free time i would like to be used for creating an alternative society.

thus, in relation to MFPL, i think it is relevant and interesting to consider the following paragraph that nat wrote:

I've come to the point of view that if we know that people are already breaking the NC clause, and we support their reason for doing it, even having the NC clause there is erecting an unnecessary legal hurdle in front of hundreds of individuals and organizations that I want to support. I think the unlikely risk of some mega-corporation figuring out a way to monetize the content (while still giving attribution), is far outweighed by the potential good that freeing this information does for our entire community.

i also agree that there is an "unlikely risk of some mega-corporation figuring out a way to monetize the content (while still giving attribution)". but - currently - it is a risk that is mitigated (i wouldn't say 'eliminated') by the NC clause; as you also point out, the license as it stands is unlikely to be inhibiting anyone in their work as they are probably not admitting to such usage. if someone does wish to, i almost certainly would not object - but, i 'd like to reserve the right to.

dkg wrote:

As our documentation about the transition says, the -NC- clause seems to fail at making information freely available and empowering people to re-mix and re-use. I also think the -NC- clause fails at preventing all corporate or business actors from deriving income from the work. For example, google indexes this site and gains reputation (and thereby advertising revenue) as a search engine because of the quality of technical material here. A CC-BY-NC-SA license wouldn't stop that (we'd need to explicitly ban google's search engines from the site to deny google that additional gain, which i don't think has been seriously proposed).

the google point is an interesting one, as i think it also raises issues about the flow of data (and, potentially, how it is then monetised). in this particular example, there is, i believe, a mutual benefit: google "gains reputation (and thereby advertising revenue)" but so does mayfirst (as a high ranking leads to increased page views) - which, in a different scenario, might also be monetised. however, if mayfirst were to include google advertising, i'd think very differently about the whole situation, as the trade-off would be much more directly linked to financial gain. furthermore, there'd also be one-way leakage of data not directly related to the "you host our advertising and we'll pay you" agreement: namely, the browsing habits and other identifiable data of people looking at the mayfirst pages.

consequently, i think that in this type of scenario, the -NC- part of the license affords us a protection as it serves to remind us of what our politics are: we do not want a capitalist society as it is at present (and, i recognise that there is likely to be a wide variety of viewpoints amongst the membership of the organisation - hence i'm trying to leave the "what we do want" part of this vague!).

one further point: with regards to mayfirst, i know that some of the groups who host their content either carry out fund-raising through their websites (e.g. t-shirt sales) or are more directly commercial. i like to think that i'm a pragmatist, and recognise that life does not occur in a bubble: we all need to interact with the real world and try to survive. i do not want the -NC- clause to affect these groups, but would expect that they also consider both the appropriateness of their hosting as well as the contribution they are making towards running services, etc.

anyway, i hope this helps clarify my thoughts somewhat; i'm more than happy to continue discussing :)

peace,

asm

ps, i realised why i thought initially the licensing was being changed at the beginning of september: all the pages that i had looked at had not yet been updated to represent the new proposed date.

comment:19 follow-up: Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/jamie

I don't equate the Non-commercial clause with being anti-capitalist.

For me, throwing off the NC clause says: I don't care if anyone makes money or not. I want this work to be freely available to as many people as possible. If someone figures out how to make money distributing it, that makes no difference to me because more people will have access to it.

In a capitalist society, where making money is the ultimate mark of success, this statement is revolutionary. It challenges the idea that profit is relevant or more important than sharing ideas.

jamie

comment:20 in reply to: ↑ 19 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/asm

Replying to https://id.mayfirst.org/jamie:

I don't equate the Non-commercial clause with being anti-capitalist.

just to clarify: i don't equate the two either.

however, i think it's worth reiterating what i said, which is that i think it serves to remind us what our politics are. i am anti-capitalist (as far as i can be) and having something that prompts me frequently to think about what that means i think is a good thing. 'commerce' definitely makes me think of money, which makes me think of capitalism...

<snip>

In a capitalist society, where making money is the ultimate mark of success, this statement is revolutionary. It challenges the idea that profit is relevant or more important than sharing ideas.

i think my response to this is written already: "the work i do when i am 'working' may be for capital (it's not, actually) but the work i do in my free time i would like to be used for creating an alternative society." that is, i do not want my work/statements to be revolutionary: i want them to be the status quo.

cheers,

asm

comment:21 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/takethestreets

I have two cents too. I agree with asm's basic premises, but I have a different conclusion.

My agreement with asm leads me to favor the GPL over BSD licensing, and copyleft over copyright generally. When I first heard about the NC clause in CC licensing, I assumed I'd favor that too.

When I read more closely, I realized that it was poorly written - it's vague, and uses terms like "non-commercial" as if everyone agrees on their meaning. I can't support the NC clause because it's not really doing a good job of defending a non-commercial commons.

Aside from that, I'm employed by an anti-capitalist institution. I'm not alone amongst the folks who use SMO in being employed by anti-capitalist and non-capitalist institutions. Current licensing means I can't use SMO to advance anti-capitalist goals without disrespecting a colleague by violating the license on their work. I remember this came up when I was building Xen servers for my worker cooperative, based on what I'd read on SMO - and then realized I couldn't document my work without it being a derivative work of SMO (see ticket #3060).

I also like having a license that makes me mindful of my output's place in capitalism - which is why I support CC-BY-SA. The SA clause does far more to advance my beliefs than the NC clause. I see the SA clause as an unmitigated good, which the NC clause actually inhibits a lot of work I'd like to see produced.

comment:22 in reply to: ↑ 18 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg

Replying to https://id.mayfirst.org/asm:

first, about licenses in general.

i think licenses are a good way to protect work from undesired uses.

unfortunately, given the legal and social basis for copyright licensing, this is actually precisely backward.

Since the Berne Convention, all copyable works are placed under copyright by default (no need to register), and all rights to reproduce the work are reserved to the author. In an age of digital media, where use of a work nearly always involves reproducing it, copyright can potentially be construed to cover nearly any use. :(

So a blanket, universally-stated license is in fact a way to *permit* uses, not to *deny* uses, since all uses are denied by default. If you don't explicitly permit it, it's denied. So a CC license is an allowlist, not a blocklist.

The easiest way to protect a work from undesired uses is to not explicitly state a license it at all (and maybe aggressively litigate against undesirable users -- not so easy, but puts more teeth in the "protection").

The trouble with this approach is that users don't know whether their uses are "undesirable" or not, and they are also subject to the author's (or the author's heirs' or creditors') future whims about what is desirable. So there is an intrinsic hurdle to re-use: either contact the copyright holder and elicit an explicit license from them, or put yourself at some level of legal risk by copying and re-using without a license.

As an author, i don't think this hurdle is reasonable. I want to encourage people to freely re-use my work, and i want there to be a large body of freely-reusable work (a "commons") for me to draw from. That's why the CC-BY-SA license fits what i want -- it is a permissive allowlist that removes these hurdles and encourages further extension of the commons.

So what does adding -NC- to the license give you? Given the vagueness and broadness of the term "commerce", i think it basically re-erects the hurdles that explicit free licensing is supposed to eliminate.

one further point: with regards to mayfirst, i know that some of the groups who host their content either carry out fund-raising through their websites (e.g. t-shirt sales) or are more directly commercial. i like to think that i'm a pragmatist, and recognise that life does not occur in a bubble: we all need to interact with the real world and try to survive. i do not want the -NC- clause to affect these groups, but would expect that they also consider both the appropriateness of their hosting as well as the contribution they are making towards running services, etc.

Even groups that don't raise funds via t-shirt sales or do electronic commerce do things like buy and configure hardware or software, pay their staff (or provide meager stipends, alas), and so forth. All of these things can be considered "commerce" by some definitions of the term.

So do you want those groups to run an unknown legal risk (now and on into the far future) by re-using content from SMO without asking for a license? Or do you want those groups to need contact each of the contributing authors of any content for an explicit license? I don't think either choice is really acceptable -- they effectively nullify the "allowlist" nature of the intended license.

ps, i realised why i thought initially the licensing was being changed at the beginning of september: all the pages that i had looked at had not yet been updated to represent the new proposed date.

If you find any pages that still refer to September 1, please update them, or post here so i can fix them. i thought i'd gotten them all. sorry about contributing to the confusion!

comment:23 Changed 7 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg

  • Status changed from new to assigned

I've just updated the footer on this site to reflect the fact that we're now transitioned to CC-BY-SA for new contributions.

wiki author approval re-licensing is proceeding about as slowly as i would have predicted; we've covered a lot of authors, but a few still remain. I'll keep this ticket open until we reach consensus on a full wiki re-license, or determine that consensus on re-licensing past wiki edits is impossible (i hope the former!)

comment:24 Changed 6 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/nat

There are six users who have chosen to not relicense their contributions. That amounts to about 57 edits.

I think we may want to determine that these are not going to change any time soon, and close this ticket.

I just updated the wiki author approval re-licensing page, to break out those who have approved the transition and those who haven't. If nothing else, it will make it easy to find which contributions have NC edits.

--nat

comment:25 Changed 6 years ago by https://id.mayfirst.org/dkg

Nat: Do you have any suggestions on whether we can filter out or tag those edits somehow, so that the licensing is clear and we can reduce the complexity of the footer?

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