Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
The Media

New Scientist Tries Out Copyleft 175

uchian writes: "New Scientist has an article about The GPL, open source, and how attempts are being made to apply the philosopy to areas other than software. Little new ground is covered, but it is interesting that the article itself is "Copyleft", so you are free to redistribute, modify and copy as long as long as your derivative work is also copyleft."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New Scientist Tries Out Copyleft

Comments Filter:
  • copy (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    @Title: The Great Giveaway

    @Intro: Good ideas are worth money. So why are hard headed operators giving them away for free? Join our experiment to find out says Graham Lawton

    @Body: IF YOU'VE BEEN to a computer show in recent months you might have seen it: a shiny silver drinks can with a ring-pull logo and the words "opencola" on the side. Inside is a fizzy drink that tastes very much like Coca-Cola. Or is it Pepsi?

    There's something else written on the can, though, which sets the drink apart. It says "check out the source at opencola.com". Go to that Web address and you'll see something that's not available on Coca-Cola's website, or Pepsi's--the recipe for cola. For the first time ever, you can make the real thing in your own home.

    OpenCola is the world's first "open source" consumer product. By calling it open source, its manufacturer is saying that instructions for making it are freely available. Anybody can make the drink, and anyone can modify and improve on the recipe as long as they, too, release their recipe into the public domain. As a way of doing business it's rather unusual--the Coca-Cola Company doesn't make a habit of giving away precious commercial secrets. But that's the point.

    OpenCola is the most prominent sign yet that a long-running battle between rival philosophies in software development has spilt over into the rest of the world. What started as a technical debate over the best way to debug computer programs is developing into a political battle over the ownership of knowledge and how it is used, between those who put their faith in the free circulation of ideas and those who prefer to designate them "intellectual property". No one knows what the outcome will be. But in a world of growing opposition to corporate power, restrictive intellectual property rights and globalisation, open source is emerging as a possible alternative, a potentially potent means of fighting back. And you're helping to test its value right now.

    The open source movement originated in 1984 when computer scientist Richard Stallman quit his job at MIT and set up the Free Software Foundation. His aim was to create high-quality software that was freely available to everybody. Stallman's beef was with commercial companies that smother their software with patents and copyrights and keep the source code--the original program, written in a computer language such as C++--a closely guarded secret. Stallman saw this as damaging. It generated poor-quality, bug-ridden software. And worse, it choked off the free flow of ideas. Stallman fretted that if computer scientists could no longer learn from one another's code, the art of programming would stagnate (New Scientist, 12 December 1998, p 42).

    Stallman's move resonated round the computer science community and now there are thousands of similar projects. The star of the movement is Linux, an operating system created by Finnish student Linus Torvalds in the early 1990s and installed on around 18 million computers worldwide.

    What sets open source software apart from commercial software is the fact that it's free, in both the political and the economic sense. If you want to use a commercial product such as Windows XP or Mac OS X you have to pay a fee and agree to abide by a licence that stops you from modifying or sharing the software. But if you want to run Linux or another open source package, you can do so without paying a penny--although several companies will sell you the software bundled with support services. You can also modify the software in any way you choose, copy it and share it without restrictions. This freedom acts as an open invitation--some say challenge--to its users to make improvements. As a result, thousands of volunteers are constantly working on Linux, adding new features and winkling out bugs. Their contributions are reviewed by a panel and the best ones are added to Linux. For programmers, the kudos of a successful contribution is its own reward. The result is a stable, powerful system that adapts rapidly to technological change. Linux is so successful that even IBM installs it on the computers it sells.

    To maintain this benign state of affairs, open source software is covered by a special legal instrument called the General Public License. Instead of restricting how the software can be used, as a standard software license does, the GPL--often known as a "copyleft"--grants as much freedom as possible (see http://www.fsf.org/licenses/gpl.html). Software released under the GPL (or a similar copyleft licence) can be copied, modified and distributed by anyone, as long as they, too, release it under a copyleft. That restriction is crucial, because it prevents the material from being co-opted into later proprietary products. It also makes open source software different from programs that are merely distributed free of charge. In FSF's words, the GPL "makes it free and guarantees it remains free".

    Open source has proved a very successful way of writing software. But it has also come to embody a political stand--one that values freedom of expression, mistrusts corporate power, and is uncomfortable with private ownership of knowledge. It's "a broadly libertarian view of the proper relationship between individuals and institutions", according to open source guru Eric Raymond.

    But it's not just software companies that lock knowledge away and release it only to those prepared to pay. Every time you buy a CD, a book, a copy of New Scientist, even a can of Coca-Cola, you're forking out for access to someone else's intellectual property. Your money buys you the right to listen to, read or consume the contents, but not to rework them, or make copies and redistribute them. No surprise, then, that people within the open source movement have asked whether their methods would work on other products. As yet no one's sure--but plenty of people are trying it.

    Take OpenCola. Although originally intended as a promotional tool to explain open source software, the drink has taken on a life of its own. The Toronto-based OpenCola company has become better known for the drink than the software it was supposed to promote. Laird Brown, the company's senior strategist, attributes its success to a widespread mistrust of big corporations and the "proprietary nature of almost everything". A website selling the stuff has shifted 150,000 cans. Politically minded students in the US have started mixing up the recipe for parties.

    OpenCola is a happy accident and poses no real threat to Coke or Pepsi, but elsewhere people are deliberately using the open source model to challenge entrenched interests. One popular target is the music industry. At the forefront of the attack is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco group set up to defend civil liberties in the digital society. In April of last year, the EFF published a model copyleft called the Open Audio License (OAL). The idea is to let musicians take advantage of digital music's properties--ease of copying and distribution--rather than fighting against them. Musicians who release music under an OAL consent to their work being freely copied, performed, reworked and reissued, as long as these new products are released under the same licence. They can then rely on "viral distribution" to get heard. "If the people like the music, they will support the artist to ensure the artist can continue to make music," says Robin Gross of the EFF.

    It's a little early to judge whether the OAL will capture imaginations in the same way as OpenCola. But it's already clear that some of the strengths of open source software simply don't apply to music. In computing, the open source method lets users improve software by eliminating errors and inefficient bits of code, but it's not obvious how that might happen with music. In fact, the music is not really "open source" at all. The files posted on the OAL music website http://www.openmusicregistry.org so far are all MP3s and Ogg Vorbises--formats which allow you to listen but not to modify.

    It's also not clear why any mainstream artists would ever choose to release music under an OAL. Many bands objected to the way Napster members circulated their music behind their backs, so why would they now allow unrestricted distribution, or consent to strangers fiddling round with their music? Sure enough, you're unlikely to have heard of any of the 20 bands that have posted music on the registry. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Open Audio amounts to little more than an opportunity for obscure artists to put themselves in the shop window.

    The problems with open music, however, haven't put people off trying open source methods elsewhere. Encyclopedias, for example, look like fertile ground. Like software, they're collaborative and modular, need regular upgrading, and improve with peer review. But the first attempt, a free online reference called Nupedia, hasn't exactly taken off. Two years on, only 25 of its target 60,000 articles have been completed. "At the current rate it will never be a large encyclopedia," says editor-in-chief Larry Sanger. The main problem is that the experts Sanger wants to recruit to write articles have little incentive to participate. They don't score academic brownie points in the same way software engineers do for upgrading Linux, and Nupedia can't pay them.

    It's a problem that's inherent to most open source products: how do you get people to chip in? Sanger says he's exploring ways to make money out of Nupedia while preserving the freedom of its content. Banner adverts are a possibility. But his best hope is that academics start citing Nupedia articles so authors can earn academic credit.

    There's another possibility: trust the collective goodwill of the open source community. A year ago, frustrated by the treacle-like progress of Nupedia, Sanger started another encyclopedia named Wikipedia (the name is taken from open source Web software called WikiWiki that allows pages to be edited by anyone on the Web). It's a lot less formal than Nupedia: anyone can write or edit an article on any topic, which probably explains the entries on beer and Star Trek. But it also explains its success. Wikipedia already contains 19,000 articles and is acquiring several thousand more each month. "People like the idea that knowledge can and should be freely distributed and developed," says Sanger. Over time, he reckons, thousands of dabblers should gradually fix any errors and fill in any gaps in the articles until Wikipedia evolves into an authoritative encyclopedia with hundreds of thousands of entries.

    Another experiment that's proved its worth is the OpenLaw project at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. Berkman lawyers specialise in cyberlaw--hacking, copyright, encryption and so on--and the centre has strong ties with the EFF and the open source software community. In 1998 faculty member Lawrence Lessig, now at Stanford Law School, was asked by online publisher Eldritch Press to mount a legal challenge to US copyright law. Eldritch takes books whose copyright has expired and publishes them on the Web, but new legislation to extend copyright from 50 to 70 years after the author's death was cutting off its supply of new material. Lessig invited law students at Harvard and elsewhere to help craft legal arguments challenging the new law on an online forum, which evolved into OpenLaw.

    Normal law firms write arguments the way commercial software companies write code. Lawyers discuss a case behind closed doors, and although their final product is released in court, the discussions or "source code" that produced it remain secret. In contrast, OpenLaw crafts its arguments in public and releases them under a copyleft. "We deliberately used free software as a model," says Wendy Selzer, who took over OpenLaw when Lessig moved to Stanford. Around 50 legal scholars now work on Eldritch's case, and OpenLaw has taken other cases, too.

    "The gains are much the same as for software," Selzer says. "Hundreds of people scrutinise the 'code' for bugs, and make suggestions how to fix it. And people will take underdeveloped parts of the argument, work on them, then patch them in." Armed with arguments crafted in this way, OpenLaw has taken Eldritch's case--deemed unwinnable at the outset--right through the system and is now seeking a hearing in the Supreme Court.

    There are drawbacks, though. The arguments are in the public domain right from the start, so OpenLaw can't spring a surprise in court. For the same reason, it can't take on cases where confidentiality is important. But where there's a strong public interest element, open sourcing has big advantages. Citizens' rights groups, for example, have taken parts of OpenLaw's legal arguments and used them elsewhere. "People use them on letters to Congress, or put them on flyers," Selzer says.

    The open content movement is still at an early stage and it's hard to predict how far it will spread. "I'm not sure there are other areas where open source would work," says Sanger. "If there were, we might have started it ourselves." Eric Raymond has also expressed doubts. In his much-quoted 1997 essay, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, he warned against applying open source methods to other products. "Music and most books are not like software, because they don't generally need to be debugged or maintained," he wrote. Without that need, the products gain little from others' scrutiny and reworking, so there's little benefit in open sourcing. "I do not want to weaken the winning argument for open sourcing software by tying it to a potential loser," he wrote.

    But Raymond's views have now shifted subtly. "I'm more willing to admit that I might talk about areas other than software someday," he told New Scientist. "But not now." The right time will be once open source software has won the battle of ideas, he says. He expects that to happen around 2005.

    And so the experiment goes on. As a contribution to it, New Scientist has agreed to issue this article under a copyleft. That means you can copy it, redistribute it, reprint it in whole or in part, and generally play around with it as long as you, too, release your version under a copyleft and abide by the other terms and conditions in the licence. We also ask that you inform us of any use you make of the article, by e-mailing copyleft@newscientist.com.

    One reason for doing so is that by releasing it under a copyleft, we can print the recipe for OpenCola without violating its copyleft. If nothing else, that demonstrates the power of the copyleft to spread itself. But there's another reason, too: to see what happens. To my knowledge this is the first magazine article published under a copyleft. Who knows what the outcome will be? Perhaps the article will disappear without a trace. Perhaps it will be photocopied, redistributed, re-edited, rewritten, cut and pasted onto websites, handbills and articles all over the world. I don't know--but that's the point. It's not up to me any more. The decision belongs to all of us.

    @Furtherreading: The source code of this article plus details of the conditions can be found at http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/copyleft
    For a selection of copylefts, see http://www.eff.org/IP/Open_licenses/open_alternati ves.html
    The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric Raymond is available at http://tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/

    @BoxTitle: Copyright © 2002 Reed Business Information Ltd, England
    @BoxBody:THE INFORMATION IN THIS ARTICLE IS FREE. It may be copied, distributed and/or modified under the conditions set down in the Design Science License published by Michael Stutz at http://dsl.org/copyleft/dsl.txt

    DESIGN SCIENCE LICENSE

    TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR COPYING, DISTRIBUTION AND MODIFICATION

    Copyright © 1999-2001 Michael Stutz Verbatim copying of this document is permitted, in any medium.

    0. PREAMBLE.

    Copyright law gives certain exclusive rights to the author of a work, including the rights to copy, modify and distribute the work (the "reproductive," "adaptative," and "distribution" rights).

    The idea of "copyleft" is to willfully revoke the exclusivity of those rights under certain terms and conditions, so that anyone can copy and distribute the work or properly attributed derivative works, while all copies remain under the same terms and conditions as the original.

    The intent of this license is to be a general "copyleft" that can be applied to any kind of work that has protection under copyright. This license states those certain conditions under which a work published under its terms may be copied, distributed, and modified.

    Whereas "design science" is a strategy for the development of artifacts as a way to reform the environment (not people) and subsequently improve the universal standard of living, this Design Science License was written and deployed as a strategy for promoting the progress of science and art through reform of the environment.

    1. DEFINITIONS.

    "License" shall mean this Design Science License. The License applies to any work which contains a notice placed by the work's copyright holder stating that it is published under the terms of this Design Science License.

    "Work" shall mean such an aforementioned work. The License also applies to the output of the Work, only if said output constitutes a "derivative work" of the licensed Work as defined by copyright law.

    "Object Form" shall mean an executable or performable form of the Work, being an embodiment of the Work in some tangible medium.

    "Source Data" shall mean the origin of the Object Form, being the entire, machine-readable, preferred form of the Work for copying and for human modification (usually the language, encoding or format in which composed or recorded by the Author); plus any accompanying files, scripts or other data necessary for installation, configuration or compilation of the Work.

    (Examples of "Source Data" include, but are not limited to, the following: if the Work is an image file composed and edited in PNG format, then the original PNG source file is the Source Data; if the Work is an MPEG 1.0 layer 3 digital audio recording made from a WAV format audio file recording of an analog source, then the original WAV file is the Source Data; if the Work was composed as an unformatted plaintext file, then that file is the Source Data; if the Work was composed in LaTeX, the LaTeX file(s) and any image files and/or custom macros necessary for compilation constitute the Source Data.)

    "Author" shall mean the copyright holder(s) of the Work.

    The individual licensees are referred to as "you."

    2. RIGHTS AND COPYRIGHT.

    The Work is copyrighted by the Author. All rights to the Work are reserved by the Author, except as specifically described below. This License describes the terms and conditions under which the Author permits you to copy, distribute and modify copies of the Work.

    In addition, you may refer to the Work, talk about it, and (as dictated by "fair use") quote from it, just as you would any copyrighted material under copyright law.

    Your right to operate, perform, read or otherwise interpret and/or execute the Work is unrestricted; however, you do so at your own risk, because the Work comes WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY -- see Section 7 ("NO WARRANTY") below.

    3. COPYING AND DISTRIBUTION.

    Permission is granted to distribute, publish or otherwise present verbatim copies of the entire Source Data of the Work, in any medium, provided that full copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty, where applicable, is conspicuously published on all copies, and a copy of this License is distributed along with the Work.

    Permission is granted to distribute, publish or otherwise present copies of the Object Form of the Work, in any medium, under the terms for distribution of Source Data above and also provided that one of the following additional conditions are met:

    (a) The Source Data is included in the same distribution, distributed under the terms of this License; or

    (b) A written offer is included with the distribution, valid for at least three years or for as long as the distribution is in print (whichever is longer), with a publicly-accessible address (such as a URL on the Internet) where, for a charge not greater than transportation and media costs, anyone may receive a copy of the Source Data of the Work distributed according to the section above; or

    (c) A third party's written offer for obtaining the Source Data at no cost, as described in paragraph (b) above, is included with the distribution. This option is valid only if you are a non-commercial party, and only if you received the Object Form of the Work along with such an offer.

    You may copy and distribute the Work either gratis or for a fee, and if desired, you may offer warranty protection for the Work.

    The aggregation of the Work with other works that are not based on the Work -- such as but not limited to inclusion in a publication, broadcast, compilation, or other media -- does not bring the other works in the scope of the License; nor does such aggregation void the terms of the License for the Work.

    4. MODIFICATION.

    Permission is granted to modify or sample from a copy of the Work, producing a derivative work, and to distribute the derivative work under the terms described in the section for distribution above, provided that the following terms are met:

    (a) The new, derivative work is published under the terms of this License.

    (b) The derivative work is given a new name, so that its name or title cannot be confused with the Work, or with a version of the Work, in any way.

    (c) Appropriate authorship credit is given: for the differences between the Work and the new derivative work, authorship is attributed to you, while the material sampled or used from the Work remains attributed to the original Author; appropriate notice must be included with the new work indicating the nature and the dates of any modifications of the Work made by you.

    5. NO RESTRICTIONS.

    You may not impose any further restrictions on the Work or any of its derivative works beyond those restrictions described in this License.

    6. ACCEPTANCE.

    Copying, distributing or modifying the Work (including but not limited to sampling from the Work in a new work) indicates acceptance of these terms. If you do not follow the terms of this License, any rights granted to you by the License are null and void. The copying, distribution or modification of the Work outside of the terms described in this License is expressly prohibited by law.

    If for any reason, conditions are imposed on you that forbid you to fulfill the conditions of this License, you may not copy, distribute or modify the Work at all.

    If any part of this License is found to be in conflict with the law, that part shall be interpreted in its broadest meaning consistent with the law, and no other parts of the License shall be affected.

    7. NO WARRANTY.

    THE WORK IS PROVIDED "AS IS," AND COMES WITH ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

    8. DISCLAIMER OF LIABILITY.

    IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS WORK, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

    END OF TERMS AND CONDITIONS
    • "And so the experiment goes on. As a contribution to it, New Scientist has agreed to issue this article under a copyleft. That means you can copy it, redistribute it, reprint it in whole or in part, and generally play around with it as long as you, too, release your version under a copyleft and abide by the other terms and conditions in the licence."
      I guess I'm nit-picking a bit, but there is a subtlety they missed in the article: you only have to release the modified code under copy left if you plan to release it. So if I were to, say, fix all of the problems with the 2.5 series Linux distros, I don't have to release the source code. If I release it, then it has to be copyleft, but the choice to release it is still mine.
      I guess it would be pointless to modify an article and not redistribute it, but the phrasing above misrepresents copy-left.
      BlackGriffen
  • Open Company (Score:3, Interesting)

    by webword ( 82711 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @08:42AM (#2930274) Homepage
    About 2 years ago I wrote The Open Company Manifesto [webword.com]. (Sorry for the self promotion, but it is related to this posting.)
    • Once an open company is set up, using open source best practices, it should be easy to duplicate elsewhere.

      Are there many small open source companies, say developing open source customised applications using open source, out there to learn off/francise off to set up ones own small open source venture, leveraging open source code to give one the code backing only available otherwise in large companies?

      http://www.feratech.com/ is one company web site I have come across.
    • I find that Ricardo Semler, author of Maverick (you can read about him a bit here [dpsinfo.com]) has applied already some of these principles in his Brazillian company, Semco.

      I think that rather than manifestoes, you need to be the right guy in the right place to make this kind of thing work: in the end, sharing information and power is a natural thing, and closing those things and aggressively protecting them are just animalistic tendencies that can't stand up to their more peaceful alternative.

      Proof of this is that Semco survived the terrible 80s inflation in Brazil, simply through the advantage that everyone in the company actually was enthusiastic about the company and was 100% committed to it's survival. You don't need reams of management theory to do this, just a bit of common sense.

      Ale
  • Legal Protection (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How do you in force a copyleft program/item/idea/paper. Who's job is it, if the product produced is 2-3 generations or projects away from the original one? Is there any legal precedence on this?

    greg@pd.net
    • Re:Legal Protection (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RazzleFrog ( 537054 )
      They seem to define copyleft as "We have a copyright but we are waiving it so that it can be redistributed".

      In their words - "We haven't given up our copyright on this article, but we have agreed to waive many of the exclusive rights a copyright normally bestows."

      So if you abuse their copyleft notion then you will find out that they do still have a legal copyright.

      I personally think that copyleft is silly. It should be copyfree but I guess that isn't as catchy as copyleft.
      • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @08:56AM (#2930320) Homepage
        Neither GPL or copyleft are copyright free. Instead they leverage the power of copyright to function. If GPL were turned down in court, say, it would mean all GPL code reverts with full copyright to the original copyright owner. It would not mean the stuff would become free, quite the opposite. Their copyleft definition mirrors GPL very well, and 'copyfree' would have very wrong connotations.

        /Janne
        • Copyright means that I have the exclusive "right" to "copy" the work. What does copyleft mean? I have the exclusive left? Mine means that people are "free" to "copy" the work as long as they refer back to the original author.

          There is a very good reason I chose Copyfree and not copyright. Also, remember the difference between freedom and free beer.
          • That it's copyright law that allow you to force them to refer back to you as the original author? So without copyright your "copyfree" wouldn't exist either, only everybody taking everybody else's work as free beer.

            Kjella
            • Oh absolutely. That is the core to the both Copyleft and my Copyfree. They are not replacements for Copyright law but extensions that (I believe) correct what are inherent weaknesses in the law. I have longed believed that copyright law should be more about protecting the author from plagiarism than it should be about making them rich.
          • "copyfree" could also be misconstrued as "free from being copied" or some other nonsense. Copyleft may be a bad pun, but at least it's pretty clear that "left" is the opposite of "right"

            BlackGriffen
            • One could also misconstrue copyright as the right for anybody to copy but because it has a long standing meaning it that isn't an issue. I am also not saying that copyfree is the right answer but to me copyleft has no meaning. It will sound to the average person like a joke, pun or worst of all technobabble. I would look for something that actually has a real meaning.
            • [My word "copyfree"] means that people are "free" to "copy" the work as long as they refer back to the original author. There is a very good reason I chose Copyfree and not copyright. Also, remember the difference between freedom and free beer.

            You, my friend, have a very poor grasp of the issues, and are part of the problem. The big problem with "copyleft" (e.g. GPL) at the moment is that far too many people simply don't understand that it is fully copyrighted, and that to use it you must follow completely the very strict and explicit terms given. One of those terms might be "credit the author", but that's usually the least of the terms you have to comply with to not be engaged in theft, which is grounds for both criminal and civil action. The GPL for example lists many many more terms than "credit the author" and you need to go and read it before contributing any further to this debate.

            If you can't be bothered reading or comprehending the GPL, then just stop there and back the fuck off, because you are probably engaged in stealing copyrighted work, and that's a criminal offence. I am sick and tired of explaining this to the programmers in my department, and sooner or later I'm going to let one of them slip GPL code into our closed source product with their name all over it, them I'm going to contact the copyright owner and suggest that they contact our legal department regarding the theft of their work, and I'll not shed one tear for any thieving developers who get strung up by the balls.

            Let me spell this out to you: copyfree is a worse term than copyanything-else because it encourages people to not read the license terms. I have heard "But it's free!" from professional software developers engaged in theft of GPL code so often now that it makes my blood boil. Anything that makes it even easier for lazy idiots to become thieves is a bad thing.

      • In their words - "We haven't given up our copyright on this article, but we have agreed to waive many of the exclusive rights a copyright normally bestows."

        Remember that the original idea was thought up by an American. Where "copyright" is intended as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

        I personally think that copyleft is silly. It should be copyfree but I guess that isn't as catchy as copyleft.

        Maybe it's an attempt to indicate that "copyright" dosn't do what it was ment to do as well as it could. Also "copyfree" isn't a good term. Because you restricted in what you can do with the code. Just that the restrictions are rather different from those associated with propriatary code.
      • They seem to define copyleft as "We have a copyright but we are waiving it so that it can be redistributed".

        No, they have retained copyright so they can force people who copy the article to distribute it and derived works under the same licence. Basicly the same as GPL'ed things.

        • If you read the rest of my post I am actually quoting them almost verbatim. Actually I did quote them verbatim in the second half of my post.

          A copyright is the exclusive right of the author to copy, modify and distribute the work. By allowing other people to copy, modify and distribute your work you are effectively waiving the rights granted to you by the copyright.

          You are correct that they retain the copyright, though.

      • I personally think that copyleft is silly. It should be copyfree but I guess that isn't as catchy as copyleft.


        Nor does it have the political connotations.
        • Are you agreeing with me then? I think that political connotations are a great way to get the average person out of the picture. Associating a term or belief with left wing is a sure way to prevent acceptance. Most people don't like to consider themselves left wing or right wing.
      • Agreed. I think the idea of a copyleft is a kludge. What we really need is no license at all. After all, if information is free, who am I to say where and when my work can and cannot be copied? If I produce information, I want only to be known as the mind (or one of the minds) behind that information, not to retain control. I simply want credit, which I think could be quite easily acomplished.

        Cheers, Joshua

    • by b_pretender ( 105284 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @08:56AM (#2930318)
      We better be careful of WHO modifies the story...



      <snip>

      Stallman's move DID NOT resonate round the computer science community and now there are NOT thousands of similar projects. The star of the movement is NOT Linux, RATHER WINDOWS XP, an operating system created by MIT student BILL GATES in the early 1990s and installed on around 180,000 million computers worldwide.


      What sets open source software apart from commercial software is the fact that it HAS A VIRAL NATURE, in both the political and the economic sense. If you want to use a commercial product such as Windows XP you WILL BE HAPPY FOREVER. But if you want to run Linux or another open source package, you can do so without paying a penny--although IT WILL BE EQUIVALENT TO SUPPORTING THE COMMUNIST PARTY.
      </snip>

      • ehr, shouldn't you attach a copyleft notion to this derived work?
      • One could have endless fun mutating that over many iterations...

        My first reaction was to turn it into a Slashdotism filled rehash (Trolling Goats, Beowulf Clusters, Cowboy Neal, and Natalie Portman...)-- but since the idea is CopyLeft, I'm sure that'll be done before this is all over with. Perhaps, by more than one person.
  • GNUArt !!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by mirko ( 198274 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @08:47AM (#2930298) Journal
    The problems with open music, however, haven't put people off trying open source methods elsewhere.

    They actually forgot to mention GNUArt [gnuart.org] which is my attempt to apply the GNU General Public License to Art.

    We also opened a Gallery [gnuart.net] which we slowly fill with whatever quality stuff (mostly music and photographs but, hey, the one who criticize are supposed to help too ;-) we get from unselfish artists.

    That's it, hope it'll raise some interest.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's a little early to judge whether the OAL will capture imaginations in the same way as OpenCola. But it's already clear that some of the strengths of open source software simply don't apply to music. In computing, the open source method lets users improve software by eliminating errors and inefficient bits of code, but it's not obvious how that might happen with music. In fact, the music is not really "open source" at all. The files posted on the OAL music website http://www.openmusicregistry.org so far are all MP3s and Ogg Vorbises--formats which allow you to listen but not to modify.

    Replace the last sentence with:

    The files posted on the OAL music website http://www.openmusicregistry.org so far are all MP3s and Ogg Vorbis. Although the files are easy to play and listen to, they are harder to modify.

    • How about:




      Although the files are easy to play and listen to, they are not the "source" of the music, but rather its end result. Even in electronically composed music, where it is easier to distribute the "source" files from which the listenable end product is derived, there are relatively few musicians making those "source" files available.



      I couldn't quite figure out how to work in the phraseology about "source" being the form preferred for modification of the work.



      Also, there is at least one open-source musician who does make his source files available: Void Main [mp3.com].

  • 10 people need a product. (An OS [kernel.org], an encryption toolkit [openssl.org], or an article [newscientist.com].

    • 7 go to the internet looking. (3 go to a commercial source)
    • Of those 7...
      • 2 find what they need the first time. Their money is *poof* gone. They've made the move. They'll do this again.
      • 2 find what they need, but it doesn't work quite right. They want free so badly, they'll screw with it till it works.
      • 1 finds something close, but it doesn't quite work. This one hires a consultant to tell them how to do it... they'd rather pay a human than buy software.
      • 2 don't find it, and buy software.
  • I wonder when they will do a piece on spamming. They have been engaging in opt-out spam of UK Universities. It's even been taken up by JANET CERT. Here is an excerpt from a posting from a JANET CERT member
    I reported to New Scientist that there had been unfavourable responses to their bulk mailing activity. They have asked if I can tell them particular sites where there were many complaints and they will consider dropping those en masse from their mailing list.
    Sorry I can't find any publically accessible archive of the discussion on the UK mail managers' list.
  • Richard Stallman explains his thoughts on open source development at Universities and the GPL:

    http://www.salon.com/tech/letters/2002/01/29/sta ll man_on_universities/index.html
  • by NoInfo ( 247461 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @09:11AM (#2930356) Homepage Journal
    From opencola's formula page [opencola.com]

    An important note: this is *not* the recipe for "OpenCola" -- that is, the canned beverage from OpenCola that you may have received at a trade show, or other venue or outlet. Making canned cola requires millions of dollars in abstruse gear and manufacturing gizmos. It's easier to make nerve gas than manufacture cola. This is a kitchen-sink recipe that you can make all on your own. It is *our* kitchen-sink recipe. We figured it out somewhere between coding the COLA SDK and debugging the Linux build of the clerver.
  • Never aware of the OpenSource idea can get to the drink business. Can we find any local distributor of this OpenCola instead of order online?

    Under the essence of this, we should soon have OpenSource Burger, OpenSource Sandwich, ... Anyone dare to try some OpenSource Mediine?

    • Re:OpenCola (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'd like to see you sell support on an OpenSource Burger.
    • Can we find any local distributor of this OpenCola instead of order online?

      ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com] for all your caffeine needs [thinkgeek.com].

    • Actually I suspect that OpenViagra might be a good step forward, and a damn sight safer too (or least it will be by the time it has killed a few dozen people and all the bugs have been fixed by the wealth of Biochemistry PhD's who'd donate their time FOC)
  • Actually. I would not mind the law being changed to state that Copyright would gracefully change into Copy Left after a certain respectable period of time, with appropriiate penalties for alteration and lack of attribution, or false attribution, etc.

    Also, I wonder about grandfathering older works into changes in copyright law, but I can see both sides of this one.

      • I would not mind the law being changed to state that Copyright would gracefully change into Copy Left after a certain respectable period of time, with appropriate penalties for alteration and lack of attribution, or false attribution, etc.

      It's a noble idea, but you really need to go and have a careful read about what copyleft is. The most important thing about copyleft is that it is fully copyrighted. Everything else depends on that. If it's not copyrighted, you can't enforce the rest of the terms, which allow very specific exceptions to the copyright.

      For copyrighted work to change into copyleft, you have to add license terms. There is, in fact, nothing to stop any copy right holder adding copyleft terms to any existing copyright work. Copyleft adds rights.

      What would be a problem is enforcing it on all copyrighted works in general, because that punishes rights holders. To enforce the copyleft, you'd have to keep the sanctity of copyright, while adding a whole new set of mandatory licensing terms. We could do it with a determined enough political will, but it'd be a hard one to explain to your average Jane Voter or Joe Politico, let alone Karl Corporate, who would vomit blood at the very thought of having any of his precious rights diluted one second before the final expiry.

      I do honestly think that we're better of just having copyright expire after a fixed term and having the work enter the public domain. We'd be better off campaiging for our current Disney whoring politicians to stop extending copyright time limits than to try for a hard to understand, hard to enforce compromise.

  • by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @09:18AM (#2930374) Journal
    Does the idea of copyleft make sense for things other than software? I'm thinking of the phrase: "Redistribute, copy, and modify, so long as your derivative work is also copyleft." If, for example, research results are published under copyleft, would that mean that any subsequent work that cites the research would also have to be copyleft? If the research were used to create a device, would the device have to be copyleft? The broad definition of "derivative work" is making me somewhat uncomfortable ... I want my research to be used for any reason, anywhere, by anyone, without worrying about the implications for them.
    • The broad definition of "derivative work" is making me somewhat uncomfortable ... I want my research to be used for any reason, anywhere, by anyone, without worrying about the implications for them.

      Sounds to me like you want something akin to the BSD licence (without advertising clause).

      -Stephen
    • Look at the Open Content License [opencontent.org] and the Open Publication License [opencontent.org].
    • It's not exactly necessary to use Copyleft. You can take all kinds of Open Source licenses. In your case for instance you could use the BSD style license... It allows others to do whatever they want without having to open source their work as long as they credit the original author/programmer/whatever...

      The article is speaking mainly about Copyleft because that's more interesting to the writer.. Most articles/publications are copyrighted. This could become a problem if you want to publicize something based on that article because you would have to need the original authors consent. If articles are copylefted they can be used without having to ask for that consent provided that they give credit where credit is due.

      It seems fair that the derivative article needs to be copylefted as well. After all, if they prohibit future derivative work they essentially rip off the original author of his brainchild. By using his work they are morally obliged to use the same kind of license.
      • It seems fair that the derivative article needs to be copylefted as well.

        It seems fair, but it also seems like this would exert an undue influence on future research. If I do work based on an article, I will give citations where necessary (as is required in scientific publishing), but my work is my own, and I want to be able to distribute it however I please. I'm concerned that researchers might copyleft their work, which would force me to copyleft my work if I cite them, or use their ideas ... and because my work is copyleft, subsequent works have to be copyleft, and so on, until the ultimate research is only tangentially related to the original, but still carries the same copyleft. I would probably refuse to go along with such a scheme.

        • I suspect that any quoting that falls under Fair Use (and therefore wouldn't be breaking copyright ordinarily) wouldn't fall foul of copyleft either.

          I'm not sure I'd like to be the first person to take that one through the courts tho.
        • The only thing this would lead to is a more open form of science. At this moment science is more and more looking like a business. Companies that are claiming a patent on a cancer cell etc.. that kind of thing should be open sourced to enable research for cures.. If things like this keep closed and are only used for getting companies rich then there is something fundamentally wrong.

          If your research is important to others, why not grant them the right to use your work to further their goals. As long as they abide by the fact that you grant them this right based on copyleft and have to copyleft their research as well..

          It is of course YOUR choice to release your work under the copyleft. And if you use someone else's work that has been copylefted you know what the consquences are. You don't HAVE to use their work.. you can always try to find another way to come up with the same solution or information. I understand that you are required to give citations, but if the original author does not allow you to use his work.. what then?

          I thought, and correct me if i'm wrong, that science was to benefit humanity as a whole, not just some parts of it... If you dicovered something that you only want to use for your own ends you rob the rest of the world of something that might enable them to conquer certain situations just because they could have come up with a solution based on something you published. Maybe even something you would have never thought of before.

          It happens al too often that a medicine for some disease does not work as they wanted only to find out by accident that it does work for other things. This might have implications to other peoples lives. What if they did never find out by accident that a intended cure for the flu actually cures someone with ebola. The companie throws away their research without knowing it could probaly save thousands of lives.
        • Citation and use of ideas don't constitute copyright infringement. You'd have nothing to worry about.
        • I will give citations where necessary (as is required in scientific publishing), but my work is my own, and I want to be able to distribute it however I please.

          A properly written copyleft will still allow you to distribute your derivitive work as you please. What it won't allow is for you to sue others for infringing copyright on that derivitive work.

        • If articles are copylefted they can be used without having to ask for that consent provided that they give credit where credit is due.

        and they follow all other licence terms, e.g. for the GPL: provide source; do not remove or modify the GPL license; add the GPL license to any including or deriving works; and any other terms, no matter how minor.

        I know it was probably just a slip, but it's exactly that kind of sloppiness that leads to me having to ream a developer once every few months for trying to sneak full GPL code into our closed source product because "It's OK, it's free, I kept the copyright notice and I was going to tell tech pubs to put a credit in the documentation."

    • The GPL works with software because you have very few rights as it is to modify and redistribute the software. By granting you some extra rights (namely to freely copy and modify), the GPL can ask for you to give something back in return. If you don't want to give back, then you don't get to modify.

      On the other hand, there are well-established fair use rights in published materials which you have regardless of whether the author specifically grants them to you. Since it is already legal for you to cite the work or create a device based on the work, the author has no legal basis from which to require you to do anything you don't want with your own work. Conversely, since you don't have the right to modify and redistribute the author's work, he/she can ask something further from you.

      The biggest issue I have with copyleft of written materials is that I don't really think many of the same needs apply. I can see how a GPL'd piece of documentation might possibly be useful, since it could be helpful to have a large number of people working on the documentation. As far as other types of writing goes, though, I personally would not want someone else to have the right to take what I said and distort those words to their own use. Of course, that's just my opinion and other individuals are free to copyleft their written works as they like.
      • If, for example, research results are published under copyleft, would that mean that any subsequent work that cites the research would also have to be copyleft? [...] I want my research to be used for any reason, anywhere, by anyone, without worrying about the implications for them.

      Copyleft is a bad word to use. It's too vague and open to misinterpretation. If we're talking specifically about the GPL, then yes, that's exactly what it means.

      The GPL is an extremely powerful tool. Like most tools, it can hurt the ignorant. I have seen professional software developers sneaking GPL code in closed source projects, then looking at me with hurt puppy dog expressions when I tear into them for trying to steal other people's copyrighted work. "But it's free!" they explain, never having actually read (or understood) the GPL.

      The GPL means exactly what it says. Copyleft, free beer, free speech, all of those are irrelevant buzzwords. It says, and it means:

      This work is copyrighted. It belongs to the people that wrote it. You can't copy or use it [important pause ] unless you agree to follow these very strict restrictions on how you use it: provide source, do not remove this license, do not modify this license, apply this license to any derivative work including a much larger work that directly includes this work in any way.

      Those are the cost of using GPL code. If the cost is too high, don't use it. Pay a different cost to source the information/code/text elsewhere.

      In your case, if you find some GPL research that you want to build on, but without making your research GPL, then treat the GPL work as a fully copyrighted work. You can quote selectively from it using the existing fair use defence, put your nuts on the line, and release your work as an original non-GPL (and non-copyrighted, or explicitely "copy without restrictions" work) work. If you want to include the entire GPL work, then you can do that, if you pay the cost, which is to GPL your derivation. If the GPL work is by a single author, hey, feel free to approach them and negotiate for a version of their work without a GPL license, just as you'd do right now to obtain the right to make a substantial copy. The GPL gives you more options, not fewer.

      It never fails to amaze me how many people are unaware of the implications of the GPL. Microsoft calls it viral, a cancer. Love it or loathe it, it's absolutely true. That's the point of it! Rejoice in that. You can't strip the GPL off a piece of work, but you can extend it to other works. The body of GPL licensed work will only grow, never shrink.

      The only debate is whether that's a bad thing or a good thing. I view it as a good thing, because right now it's giving more options, and you can choose to use non-GPL sources. When we reach the point where there are no non-GPL sources, we might have to start thinking about how this impinges on a few very, very narrow issues, like national security (but not on protecting corporations). That's a long way off though. Until then, the GPL means what it says, and it says: "There's a cost to using this. Pay it, or find another way."

      • This is a great post and I'm personally going to make a note of your bolded/emphasized summary of the GPL, because it is so clear. (I'm trying to work on a Master's thesis on the question of whether GPL-ish licenses have any place, beyond software, in the context of international development. Your bolds and important pauses make it clear what the GPL is.)

        I found one aspect of your post confusing, though, at first.

        Q. If, for example, research results are published under copyleft, would that mean that any subsequent work that cites the research would also have to be copyleft? [...]
        A. [...] If we're talking specifically about the GPL, then yes, that's exactly what it means.


        In fact, that isn't what it means. (Although you may have been mostly referring in your response to the latter part of the original poster's question, which I omitted above, I didn't realize it at first.)

        As you explained later for those who took the time to read your full post --
        In your case, if you find some GPL research that you want to build on, but without making your research GPL, then treat the GPL work as a fully copyrighted work. You can quote selectively from it using the existing fair use defence [...].

        IMHO, this is exactly right. The license, GPL or otherwise, is a copyright license and as such, restricts only what copyright will allow. If normal copyright would permit the citation, (i.e., footnotes/bibliographies/appropriately-brief quotations), then you have nothing to fear from copyleft.
    • Make it public domain. I've always preferred public domain over any other "open source" license. If I wanted to put restrictions on something, I'd make it free for non-commercial use. Other than that, I can't imagine why I'd care someone was using my code. Well... unless it was being used to control ICMBs.
    • Does the idea of copyleft make sense for things other than software?

      Only in so far as there is value in copying beyond fair use.

      Many people use copy machines to make copies of documents that under copyright laws they should not. From a liability perspective, a library would find value in using "copylefted" documents in these cases. Signs over copy machines reminding us not to make copies of copyrighted materials could instead suggest copying of "copylefted" materials is permitted.

      Publishers of compilations, such as magazines or journals, might find some value in not having to purchase copyrights to material where the author is only interested in wide distribution. The "copyleft" would indicate the author's intentions with hopefully more legal weight than a disclaimer somewhere in the text.

      Distributors of digital products such as cable companies and broadband provider's may find some value in a source of unencumbered content to provide to their customers.

      "It's a Wonderful Life" is one of the few feature films that has entered the public domain. Its popularity can probably be attributed to the ability of broadcasters to show it without royalties.

      The question might be what incentive, other than the aforementioned wide distribution, the author would see from copyleft?
      • Q. Does the idea of copyleft make sense for things other than software?
        A. Only in so far as there is value in copying beyond fair use.


        On the question of utility, (and supposing for the moment that we like the viral aspect of copyleft/GPL), I think I would amend the answer above to:
        It does, to the extent there are (potentially) valuable uses of your content which would not be covered by the doctrine of 'fair use'.

        Copyleft not only removes restrictions on copying and redistribution, but also for modification and redistribution. It is a license for collaboration.

        So, if you can think of any way that someone else might build off copyrightable content you have created, (be it research/writings, music, art, maps ...),
        and if you want to allow them to do so freely and without reliance upon permissions from you, (i.e., you don't care about having the right to veto changes you disapprove of),
        and you can live with the possibility of them getting paid and you not,
        BUT you feel that in return for your giving them these extra rights to make use of your work, they should agree to continue to give these rights to whomever else wants to work on the result (the combined product of your original work and their modifications/additions to it),
        then, YES, Copyleft makes sense.

        Examples? (I don't know, I never said I create content.) :-)
        Off the top of my head:
        Maybe you made a wonderful map of a region, but you want to leave open the chance that others will improve on specific areas and pass the whole thing along. (and you're willing to take the risk that they botch the whole thing up)
        Maybe you don't mind if people take your song, add an extra verse, (or change a person's name), and pass it on. (and you're willing to take the risk that some bozo will fill that verse with beowulf clusters and profanity)
        Maybe you've made a simple customized textbook and you'd be pleased as punch if people drop out the half where you didn't really know what you were talking about and replace it with something really informative. (and you're willing to take the chance that they drop out the half where you did really know what you were talking about and leave the junk half).

        Copyleft makes as much sense in the non-software world as it does the software world... But maybe (original thought coming on?) in the non-software world giving away these freedoms is harder to take.

        Actually, now that I think of it: it's not that coders are less sensitive, but could it be that in software the functional aspect of code is a built-in bozo filter for ill-conceived changes? (If the modifications break it they probably won't get far. Few people, (MSFT jokes aside), will have a strong/ideological attachment to broken/malfunctioning code. In changing writings/music/art I see more liklihood of offending the original author. (and now wait to be corrected by protective coders and/or those mercilessly flamed by them.)
    • Does the idea of copyleft make sense for things other than software?

      Certainly. Imagine if Slashdot was copylefted, and required all submissions to be copylefted. Then anyone could take the writeups, images, posts, moderation results, etc. and create his/her own Slashdot. Maybe they'll make Anonymous Cowards get an automatic +2 bonus. Maybe they'll let you moderate the stories. Maybe they'll have their own moderation system. The possibilities are endless.

      This message is licensed under the Qing Public License [inbox.org].

    • Would you particularly care about someone who wanted to use your research, but who didn't want to let you use their research?

      Frankly I'd call them a freeloader.

      That's why I release everything I write (as limited as the list is) under the GPL. You're perfectly welcome to take it and use it, hopefully someone new to programming can learn from it as I learned from open code (predating the GPL license, but not the mentality).

      However if you want to take what I've done and then sell it as closed source you're cheating the customer. They're getting less, being charged more, and not rewarding the real author. The same feelings would apply if I were a scientist researching anti-cancer drugs, or anything else.
  • Today, the McDonalds corporation agreed to finally 'open source' the recipe for making their trademark Big Mac 'Special Sauce' in return for the marketing rights to 'Tux the Penguin' (a popular open source icon) toys in their childrens meals.

    Just minutes after signing this groundbreaking deal, the McDonalds CEO Jack Greenberg ran through the conference hall wearing a pair of bikini briefs apparantly made of 100$ bills, screaming something about salad dressing and kraft singles. More details at 11.
  • I hereby (Score:5, Funny)

    by hrieke ( 126185 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @09:26AM (#2930397) Homepage
    Announce that my DNA is copyleft, from this day forward.
    If any cute Geekgirl wishes to gain access to my DNA, please send a picture and an essay on the effects of GPL and the software industry and what effects this will have on humanity in whole.
    Redheads with green eyes can skip the essay.
    Thank you.
  • by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @09:28AM (#2930403) Homepage
    Every article or image that is produced by copyright concious organizations is marked as being copyrighted, with the © and owners name.

    Its high time that there was a unique, instantly recognisable symbol for everything that is released under one of the new copyright licences.

    The article in question does not have a symbol to mark it as Open Content or Copyleft or Free Content. Unmarked articles are by default, copyrighted upon creation according to the Berne Convention, so if the article was not about copyleft content, one would immediately assume that it was copyrighted if you were to come across it. You would immediately refrain from using it for fear of being sued, and they could claim that it was not freed, because it is not marked as freed.

    If this idea of freed content and the freed content itself are to spread, then all content released under these licences needs to be clearly marked as freed; as clearly as the IP that is traditionally copyrighted.

    At this page [ibmpcug.co.uk] we have created a set of graphic devices to solve this problem.

    Using the old © inverted is about as inelegant a solution as you could dream up. It sends the wrong signals, that in some way, Open Content or Copyleft is "upside down", "wrong way around" or the polar opposite of Copyright, which it is not. Copyright is seen, almost universally, as A Good Thing®. The opposite of a good thing is a bad thing. The use of the inverted © conveys a kind of "upside down crucifix" vibe which is counterproductive.

    The new symbol solves this problem, scales graphically for both print and web, and conveys the idea that the properties that it is attached to are licenced content.
    • Unfortunately, the (C) symbol is used because of specifications in the US Copyright law. (And possibly International?) "Copyleft" authors want the same protections of the copyright laws as copyright authors...

      Copyleft authors just choose to openly license their work. If you give up the copyright, you can't keep others from taking your work, stealing it, and making it "closed source".

      -jbn

    • Your symbol, especially the small versions, can be misinterpreted as two symbols.

      The first would be the O in a circle that I don't recognise. The 2nd is the © that is familiar.

      Therefore I would assume that this mean something new as well as traditional copyright instead of your intended 1 new thing.
      • "...can be misinterpreted as two symbols"

        Possibly. They were bound together in the container to unify them. The fact that the "O" is not immedately recognised of course will change if the symbol spreads everywhere.

        Whatever symbol is eventually adopted, what is certain is that some graphic device has to be used to mark content as freed, otherwise, for reasons that I've stated, content that is not marked will not be freed, and in fact, can be possibly "revoked".
        • Your symbol, especially the small versions, can be misinterpreted as two symbols. The first would be the O in a circle that I don't recognise. The 2nd is the © that is familiar. Therefore I would assume that this mean something new as well as traditional copyright instead of your intended 1 new thing

        Um, look, that's exactly what copyleft is. First and foremost, it's copyright, completely and fully under traditional copyright laws. There are also licensing terms which allow very specific exemptions from copy restriction, as long as the costs are paid.

        It makes complete sense to retain the © symbol in any copyleft document, as it helps to stop lazy or ignorant derivers ignoring your licensing terms and just passing copies around left right and centre, eventually making the work (illegally) public domain after a few copies. That doesn't help the copyleft cause at all.

    • The article in question does not have a symbol to mark it as Open Content or Copyleft or Free Content.

      Apart from the backward © symbol in what must be about 144pt type. (This is in the paper edition).

      I'd suggest ©++ for copyleft symbol. And this is not an entirely facetious suggestion either - the © is commonly available (and so are +) (unlike your "oc" symbol), and it clues up people that there is something over and above the usual copyright going on.
    • I think this is an excellent idea, but it runs into the inherent problem of the proliferation of slightly different open source/content licenses, each with their own particular quirks. The biggest one that comes to mind is the difference between the GPL license, and the less restricted BSD license. Both have their advantages, but I wouldn't put them under the same symbol.

      Therefore I would suggest that the open source/content "industry" should exercise some compromise and come up with a standard set of licenses based on the existing pantheon - as few as possible - and then seek to enshrine them in law alongside the more conventional copyright. The resulting copyright and various OC rights should have an easily recognizable and distinguishable family of symbols (letters in circles I imagine). This tactic also invites the re-examination of the purpose and implementation of copyright law, which as we've all been griping about has been steadily eroded in favor of corporations lately. Sounds like a job for EFF and openlaw to me. Who in congress is sympathetic to this cause?
    • This is a great idea, but your symbol, outside of the philosophy behind it, does not convey "openness". To my mind, the heavy bold outline enclosing the o and the c suggests restriction and lock in, which is probably not what you want to convey.

      I would have suggested using a pair of open handswith their palms up, similar to the charades sign (sign language as well?) for a book. The open hands imply openness, of course, but also convey the impression of a gift, which is a much more positive idea.

      As copylefted material is explicitly copyrighted as well, this symbol could still be used in conjunction with the traditional copyright symbol, and it would signify that there is more than just copyright to this work.

      Just a thought.
  • by morie ( 227571 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @09:30AM (#2930411) Homepage
    Once you look for it, it is everywhere!

    I just spotted an open source tomato. Inside are little seeds, that contain all the code to construct the tomato yourself. You can do this, but you have to include the little seeds yourself as well. You can even modify it, but the seeds will have to be modified also!

    The whole thing was produced by "Nature". It can be used in open source sandwiches, open source burgers etc. as well!

    • by euphline ( 308359 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @09:36AM (#2930441)
      Open source tomato, maybe... but open source CORN? No way. Many, many farmers now use "Roundup ready corn" that is patented by Monsanto. They are not allowed to save any of it for seed... and both they and the grain elevator that cleans it can be sued if they do. So, much of the country's corn is closed source.

      -jbn

    • "I just spotted an open source tomato."

      This is funny considering that the big agribusinesses are now "patenting" their genetically modified organisms, making them sterile, or otherwise forcing farmers and others to go to THEM for what would otherwise be in nature an "open source" organism. Hmm...maybe instead of "funny" I should have said "sickening".
    • an open source tomato ... but you have to include the little seeds yourself as well.

      No you don't. [google.com]

      -
  • CopyLEFT? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Fesh ( 112953 )
    Ok, I'll admit it's catchy. But how about copywrong? Or better yet, and more accurate, copyresponsibility?

  • As someone who involves himself in a lot of these activities, (I write code, I make music, I make art, no cola yet) I'm really excited and at the same time uncumfortable. I mean, of all these things, only code has shown a reasonable business model, and even that is up for debate.
    I really appreciate the concept in code and I agree with it whole-heartedly (to the extent that I tried to talk my company into an open-source production model, but they went with flash instead.) But the thing is, I'm to old to go back to working at coffee shops and flogging my stuff in my off-hours. I'd really like to make a living at something productive that I enjoy. Until we get some clear ideas of how that's going to work for music and art, I'm going to stick to the Fugazi [dischord.com] model of distribution
  • Not New Scientist!

    Does that mean the GPL is impossible, too?
  • I thought that the "opencola" thing was pretty nifty... but it turns out, as you might expect, that it's just a PR stunt, although admittedly one for an open source supporting company. The source (recipe) they give does not generated the binaries (cola) they distribute. From the website:
    An important note: this is *not* the recipe for "OpenCola" -- that is, the canned beverage from OpenCola that you may have received at a trade show, or other venue or outlet. Making canned cola requires millions of dollars in abstruse gear and manufacturing gizmos. It's easier to make nerve gas than manufacture cola. This is a kitchen-sink recipe that you can make all on your own. It is *our* kitchen-sink recipe. We figured it out somewhere between coding the COLA SDK and debugging the Linux build of the clerver.

    Even so, it would be fun to try making some. But there's nothing new here: cola recipes have been around for decades, and the folklore process that propagates them is the original form of open source.
  • Glad the article is more than I thought when I read the title "New scientist tries out copyleft" -- that some new person (who happens to be a scientist) decided to try out the GPL. I mean, I know Slashdot sometimes has slow news days, but I thought they were sinking to new lows.
  • I hate to gripe (ok, not really), but where is the mention of Open Content [opencontent.org] in this article? The project released its first non-software license (the open content license) almost four years ago... Raymond's book the Cathedral and the Bazaar is licensed under the Open Publication License, as have been a variety of other books (example [reusability.org]). It's pretty disheartening to get passed over in favor of the GNU project who were *much* later getting involved in the content/non-software world formally, with specific licenses, etc. This is the kind of non-recognition that makes busy people drop their time-intensive, unappreciated projects... Geesh.
    • It's just a poorly researched article. They talk about non-software copyleft as if it was either theoretical,
      • "Music and most books are not like software, because they don't generally need to be debugged or maintained...I do not want to weaken the winning argument for open sourcing software by tying it to a potential loser," (ESR quote)
      or a failure
      • The main problem is that the experts Sanger wants to recruit to write articles [for Nupedia] have little incentive to participate. They don't score academic brownie points in the same way software engineers do for upgrading Linux, and Nupedia can't pay them.

      From reading the article, you wouldn't have any idea that there were many [theassayer.org] successful open-source book projects, and many more [theassayer.org] that are free as in beer.

      ESR and Sanger are both referring to the relative lack of success the bazaar model, but that doesn't mean that copyleft itself is a failure outside of the software world.

      I think Nupedia's problems also have less to do with the issue Sanger discusses than with poor design of the project. I tried writing a Nupedia article, and it was a horrendous experience. Many of the reviewers were excellent, but among them were some who were just very difficult to deal with, and I spent weeks and weeks going around in circles trying to satisfy them, just to get my 5-paragraph article through the system. Most of these people had never even bothered to fill out their bio forms, so it wasn't even clear whether they were qualified to review the article for content.

      It's not even true that the bazaar model is a complete failure outside of software. For instance, this [biophysics.org] book was written using the bazaar model. And even when it comes to doftware, I think ESR's ideas are more of an idealization than a realistic description of how open source works.

  • I found the discussion of the OAL pathetic. Mainstream bands? Does this guy have no clue? The people that should release under OAL are electronic musicians or dj's, and it would probably be mostly amateurs. There is particularly a huge opportunity for amateur dj's to make mix cd's of amateur musicians' music. Since they would be allowed to sell them as long as they credit the original artist, rather than being forced to try to license all the music from record companies at ridiculous fees. Or giving away the cd's with 'For Promotional Use Only' written on them, which is actually still not legal. The techno/rave culture's focus on music that's made on computers, can be remixed on a computer, traded over a computer, and with everyone wanting to be a dj or producer or remixer seems a fertile ground for the OAL. The do it yourself attitude mimics that among the open source software community. People want to give music away, or want to take music others make and do something to make it their own. Not allowed with conventional audio licenses. Jimmy Buffet fans don't have much to gain.

    What I think should be teemed up with the OAL is the 'source code' of the music. If I make a song and release just the finished .wav file, that's like distributing a binary of a program. Hard/impossible to really modify. If I release not just the song, but also all the individual .wav files that I used as samples, and a file describing how they're laid out (a .acd file for me because I primarily use Sonic Foundry products) then others are legally free AND TECHNICALLY ABLE to remix the song, use some elements, whatever. One of the neatest things that Sonic Foundry does is have remix contests on their Acidplanet.com site where artists like Beck or Madonna or the Beastie Boys make the original tracks (meaning all the component .wav files) available for a remix contest. It's then so easy to remix, cut up the samples, put in your own favorite loops, vocal samples, etc., really make the song your own. Just releasing the music would be like just selling OpenCola without the recipe on it. You need the 'source' for it to be truly open.
  • http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/cc/cc.html
    is an alternative to copyright. The sign [cc] indicates not copyright, but shows support for the public domain and stands for a willingness to share information the way traditional science has always operated. New Scientist ought to consider it instead of their license.

    Please consider [cc] along with licenses for open or free works, which depend on copyright. As you know, all works are now copyrighted when first created and will not enter the public domain until the copyright term expires (if it ever does), some 70 or 50 years after your death. We need the public domain in order freely to recycle old works into new, now.

    The OpenLaw site (http://openlaw.org) shows how Open Source or Free Software principles can be applied to legal projects, traditionally the domain of well-paid individual attorneys.
  • "What the net giveth the net taketh away"

    The recent scandal by several historians shows that it becomes increasingly difficult to steal someone else's work and claim it as your own. The net makes it easy to find and copy other people's work. At the same time improved search engines make it easier to detect that this has happened.

    What this doesn't address is money. Though it is easier to maintain authorship priority on the net, it doesn't prevent people from making free copies.
  • I notice that lots of folks have criticisms about the article. I certainly do too. (eg: RJS must be having kittens about now for being referred to as having started the Open Source movement). And I know the ususal /. solution is to spell out these criticisms in follow-up postings.

    However, this situation is different. Since the article is copylefted, rather than complain about it, let's just fix it! :-)

    So if anyone posts a criticism about the article here, post a "show me the source" reply. :-)
  • by sid_vicious ( 157798 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @12:39PM (#2931559) Homepage Journal
    Though they talk about Stallman a lot, the article tends to blur 'free software' and 'open source'. I could see RMS forking this article.

    And also, from the article: "[Linux source code] contributions are reviewed by a panel and the best ones are added to Linux." (emphasis mine)

    Yeah, reviewed by a panel of one [slashdot.org]?
  • by streetlawyer ( 169828 ) on Thursday January 31, 2002 @12:45PM (#2931597) Homepage
    Congratulations to Slashdot for now giving us ... the first Open Content Licence Conflict!



    All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest © 1997-2002 OSDN.



    I'm afraid that the numerous reproductions of the article in comments on this page can't both be "owned by the Poster" and meet the conditions of the New Statesman licence regarding redistribution. Sue each other at will.

  • But it's already clear that some of the strengths of open source software simply don't apply to music. In computing, the open source method lets users improve software by eliminating errors and inefficient bits of code, but it's not obvious how that might happen with music. In fact, the music is not really "open source" at all. The files posted on the OAL music website http://www.openmusicregistry.org so far are all MP3s and Ogg Vorbises--formats which allow you to listen but not to modify.

    Only nerds would confuse the medium (MP3, Ogg ) with the music. To see Open Source Music in action go to a Folk Music Festival or Jazz Club. What you'll see is late-night jam sessions full of old-timers demonstrating licks for neophytes who then incorporate them into new music. You'll also see older musicians excited to learn a new style from younger musicians. These venues are hothouses of creativity where everyone is borrowing, adapting and perfecting. Sounds pretty much like Open Source to me!
    • It seems many people are not aware of the 'tracker' music created on computers. The files are like source, they contain the samples and the instructions how they are played. Anyone can modify them. I've done a few collaborations with a friend, we would just exchange the file as we progressed, rarely meeting in person. And it's great to be able to take samples out of other people's projects. It's too bad that tracker music is rare outside the demo scene.

      Of course it is possible to convert these into mp3 or whatever, if you want to distribute them in 'binary only'.

If I'd known computer science was going to be like this, I'd never have given up being a rock 'n' roll star. -- G. Hirst

Working...