The Python Papers Edition One

Paul Rubin http
Sat Nov 25 11:29:41 CET 2006

"tleeuwenburg at" <tleeuwenburg at> writes:
> I thought I just had. In what way does the statement "Yes, it's true
> that you can't resell copies of The Python Papers for personal profits,
> but you may derive from it, reproduce and propagate it" not provide
> such a revision and clarification? Seriously, let me know what exact
> statement you feel needs to be made, and I will endorse it accordingly
> if it is accurate.

You should not use the phrase "free as in freedom".  "Free as in beer"
is more accurate for the NC licenses.  

> For my part, I don't see that there are ethically serious restrictions
> on the freedom of use of the information contained within The Python
> Papers.

There is a big rant against the CC-NC licenses on Kuro5hin:

> Call it "mostly free" if you like. 

That is reasonable and if you're going to stick with the NC license,
it would be cool if you also were to descibe TPP as "mostly free", or
maybe "gratis" (as opposed to "libre") in your descriptions.  "Gratis"
is sometimes translated "free as in beer", in contrast with "free
as in speech" or "free as in freedom".

> There's no such thing as complete
> freedom of information anyway, and we have done the best we can.

Well, others including the Wikimedia projects (which use GFDL) and the
PLoS journals ( (which use CC-BY) go further than you do,
so "we have done the best we can" sounds like an apology that "the
best you can" wasn't up to the level that those other, much more
significant projects have managed to do.  Should you expect a response
other than "oh well, nice try"?

One of my desires as a free software user, for example, is to be able
to buy a new computer with a complete suite of software preinstalled
on the hard disk, including all the needed apps, development tools,
and documentation and source code for everything, and the freedom to
propagate it all in the same way.  All the GNU/Linux stuff and all the stuff, plus more general reference works like Wikipedia,
educational materials like Wikibooks, and scientific journals like
PLOS, are licensed in ways that would permit including it with such a
computer.  It even includes some entertainment media like various
music downloads from Jamendo and the non-NC CC movies.  But your
journal would have to be omitted.

> We considered releasing under the GPL, but felt that we wanted to
> preserve two things which don't seem to be provided by it:
>   * Rights of the author to attribution as may be expected and desired
> of an academic publication. The GPL doesn't seem appropriate for
> disseminating the work of a single author.
>   * Rights of the author to have their words presented

I would have suggested the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) that
Wikipedia uses, but that's just me.

>   * Opportunity for the author to commercially license their works to
> other vendors. By choosing the Share Alike restriction, we have
> encouraged the free dissemination of research information without
> affecting its commercial use. 

Right, the effect on commercial use comes from the NC restriction,
not the SA restriction.

>   * Rights of the author to have their words presented

I'm not sure what you're getting at but if you mean no modified
versions, you need -ND for that.  

> It seemed to be the best middle ground between taking a strong
> ideological position on either side that would be bound to put
> people off side. It preserves some rights for the author while still
> allowing a substantial amount of free re-use.  

"Middle grounds" often combine the disadvantages of both "endpoints".
And failing to take a strong position can leave you in a weak one.

> * Reputation as an
> unbiased, financially disinterested group. 

The NC licenses withhold some rights for exclusive use by the initial
publisher, releasing only a subset to users.  That is usually not a
sign of disinterest.  For example, Cory Doctorow's novels are
published under NC licenses, which he says is working for him as a
marketing tool.  But he has a clear and undisguised financial interest
in choosing the NC license.

> By distributing under the
> license we chose, we hoped to establish our credentials.

Well, it seems to me that you're putting out yet another non-libre
publication, it's nice that it's gratis but I don't think it helps
establish credentials with FOSS users and the confusion so far may
actually be hurting.

> Your email indicates a possible concern that we are doing something
> untoward -- this was not at all intended, nor is it true.

As mentioned in another post, I feel that you're (perhaps
unintentionally) trying to attach to your publication the good
associations created by the licensing practices of the FOSS movement,
while not actually following those practices.  "Untoward" might be a
slightly overstrong term, however, you are creating confusion and
maybe suffering from it yourself.  

Here is the issue: people who write FOSS code and documentation often
make sacrifices (of their free time, or of potential revenue) in order
to do so.  They are aware of those sacrifices and make them anyway.
So it's a bit grating to those of us who work on FOSS projects (or
even just admire them) when someone comes along and tries (even
unintentionally) to attach to themselves the recognition comes from
those sacrifices, without actually making the same sacrifices.  That
may explain the reaction you're getting.

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