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The "Trademark Free Content Give-away Not Open Wikipedia DFSG Unintended

Consequences Comic" Update

I've collected rather too much material for blogging, so over the next few days, I'll be publishing lots of links. I start today, the day of an SPI board meeting on #spi, with the trademark and copyright link list.

SPI meeting agenda

All SPI members, come to #spi at 1900 UTC today (2006-05-16)

What's a Power of Attorney

One of the requests is for a Power of Attorney so that the Spanish Debian Trademark can be challenged. So, maybe this is useful background?


How should we manage a trademark? Here's a mako-based attempt to define Trademark Freedom...

Free Content Definition

...which neatly takes me to a mako-backed attempt to define free content. Shame it's on Yet Another WikiMedia and under DFSG-failing CC 2.5 terms (although the practical problems in this one case are mercifully few and should be fixed by CC 3.0's release, whenever that finally happens). - Music copyright (slight return)

There's a lot of pontificating from both sides of the liberal-protectionist copyright divide about what authors want. Here's the view of one music author.

Giving Content Away: ProBlogger Blog Tips

I'm quite unhappy that a lot of copyright chat on blogs seems to concentrate on how to zealously protect your content. Why not get your message out there and advertise, advertise, advertise? Here are some tips from ProBlogger, inspired by a Cory Doctrow talk (which is available for audio download a few links in).

Openness as Public Policy: Committee for Economic Development Report Calls for Public Support for Non-Proprietary Innovation.

The view from a US business/university public policy group.

Taking the "Open" out of "Open Media Commons"

How Sun's Open is not what I'd like to call open. (Mako's third entry in this list - either I value his stuff too much, or not quite enough to blog it sooner!)

WikiTruth - a group of disenchanted Wikipedia administrators

I've long said that Wikipedia has big problems - one is the anti-democratic effect of letting those with the best computers and most time win disputes about facts. Another is the dangerously ad-hoc way Wikimedia is managed and their reaction to this site shows both ugly management and odd assertions (Slashdot has a _wider_ audience than the Guardian?)

More on Wikipedia

How about "to wikipede - verb, to impede a discussion by referring to wikipedia or some other internet 'reference' work that you can edit yourself"?


Yet more dictionary-lawyering the FDL to argue that its bugs don't make it contradict the DFSG. This argument goes around and around, but is no more true than it was: it says "make **or** distribute". Copyright can be infringed by making copies without distribution. The GR claiming FDL can follow DFSG made a paradox. Accept it.

The DFSG, a promise to our users

Short reminder about the DFSG

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Error strikes 'BBC climate model'

Would this mistake have happened with peer-reviewed free software? That's why I don't trust binary-only distributed computing code any more. While I'm writing about unintended consequences...

Unintended Consequences: Years under the DMCA

Analysis from the EFF of the worst world law's effects.

CSPD Zoomed Comic

The cool copyright comic-book finishes this update.

Copyright Education

Freedom Task Force

13 November: Free Software Foundation Europe Launching Freedom Task Force, Co-operating with gpl- FTF to educate programmers and corporations on how to avoid licensing problems, as well as enforce Free Software licences.

Creative Commons - the municipal flowerbed - and other topics

Creative Commons Non-Commercial, the creative flowerbed licence

You seem to be ignoring my point: NC is a licence which does not permit commerce in the CC-licensed copy of the work.

Except, of course, by the artist himself, or under the artists' authorization. What is the problem with that?

It's not a creative commons. It's a creative flowerbed or creative open private park. It may be possible to act commercially there (graze cattle or whatever) but it's not part of the general consent and you have to try to get another agreement to do so. Of course, for some purposes, a flowerbed or private park is fine, but I wouldn't want them to be seen as public space. So, what is the problem with private parks? Your opinion might differ to mine.

(From 2005-05-20T13:22:05)

Rob Myers writes something similar in Why The NC Permission Culture Simply Doesn't Work

Free Culture and Creative Commons

Creative Commons might be free culture's most important tool (or it would be if more of their licences were free culture ones), but it's also both free culture's biggest opportunity and biggest threat. [from a mailing list post] (Updated 2006-04-03T00:05:34+0100)

Richard Stallman on P2P

"It would be self-delusion to try to endorse just some of the Creative Commons licenses, because people lump them together; they will misconstrue any endorsement of some as a blanket endorsement of all. I therefore find myself constrained to reject Creative Commons entirely."

Futurelab: free and open education

 Futurelab has published a discussion paper entitled 'The potential of open source approaches for education' \- the only criticism I have is that it's a bit school-centric [via Becta, Adam Moran and fsfe-uk@gnu, permalink is direct to their site] (Updated 2006-05-06T01:56:00Z)

Billy Bragg prompts Myspace rethink

Summary: Murdoch company in abusive legal land-grab non-shocker? Do people really not know that MySpace is now owned by one of Murdoch's companies and is slowly [...cont with list discussion] (Updated 2006-06-09T15:16:00Z)

"How are things going with the public review process? Not so well."

Comment from ~Evan following Newsforge: Creative Commons revisions face same challenges as GPL

While my keyboard gently beeps [Holger Levsen]

I'm not sure, but I think this is in praise of filks: '[Free copying] kills music?? Hahahaha. The music industry kills music. Culture improves through "copying" and stays alive through copying.'

iCommons is not open and transparent

iCommons's code of conduct states: "iCommoners employ open and transparent governance and processes"

The iCommons mailing list replies: "You are not allowed to post to this mailing list, and your message has been automatically rejected."

iCommons are good with words, but not so good with deeds. See more examples from Creative Commons in How to not run a consultation and iSummit. At least iCommons lists aren't doing the silent rejection trick from notconsult. A small step forwards...

Josh Triplett commented:

"Regarding your note about iCommons and closed mailing lists, I personally think that closed mailing lists as a tool for avoiding spam seem perfectly reasonable, as long as they have open subscription. Now, if you saw "You are not allowed to subscribe to this mailing list, and your subscription has been automatically rejected.", I'd certainly complain about their lack of openness."

The rejection message said nothing about subscription.


There was a protest/rally outside Apple Store in Regent Street, London, England from 2pm on Saturday 2006-09-30, just ahead of 2006-10-03's Day Against DRM.

First coverage I saw was from Simon Morris on fsfe- uk. Gareth Bowker's report has links to pictures and so on. This picture cracks me up in several ways, including the presence of other relevant subvertising and outdated BT advertising.

I was one of the plain clothes who went into the Apple Store first of all. As suggested, I started on the upper floor, but I found the staff:customer ratio too unfavourable. It seems that the top floor has a lot of the expensive hard- to-secure products, so there's a lot of staff and some visible security. I had a chat with a few people, but I wandered back downstairs long before Simon's fairly visible leafletting tour was shown the door.

While downstairs, I noticed the huge till queue, which was attractive for three reasons: it had no security (I guess shoplifters rarely queue for the till), most of them are standing around waiting for something to read and they are almost certainly Apple customers, so who better to inform? After I rejoined the back of the queue a few times, a security man was watching it, so I moved off and chatted to people waiting to do hands-on tests on the upper floor for a bit (I think I passed Simon on the stairs on my way back up - his ejection moved two security staff move to the door, which freed up the upper floor for a while), then I moved back to leaflet the till queue again.

Just when I thought security had rumbled me, I accidentally got into a fairly long conversation with an irate Apple customer. It seems his laptop was defective, he had been told he had to take it to that particular Apple store, there were long queues there each time he visited and they wouldn't let him make an appointment. Rotten Apple! He was an IT consultant, with fairly moderate views on DRM - doesn't buy it, but doesn't see it as a big threat - so I had a quick chat about that too.

Security seemed to get bored waiting for this to finish and weren't yet sure enough to interrupt. I moved away and leafletted the user test areas again, looking at the products and chatting to other people in the store, while trying to avoid people wearing staffy-looking Apple t-shirts. That reminds me: the irate customer mistook me for a member of store staff, which strikes me as a tactic which might work well next time: dress and groom a bit like the store staff to attract less suspicion.

Then, I got a bit bored and started putting the leaflets into Apple's product leaflet dispensers (in front of Apple's - no leaflets were removed), which soon got me rumbled. I left and spent the next two hours helping the pavement teams, which other people have described well.

I was mostly working out towards the street corners, or walking up and down with the flow of pedestrians. I tried a few of the different posters, to see how well they worked:

  1. The iTunes hand-tied poster worked well a bit further away from the store, catching crowds who were walking towards it. I suspect some people who took the leaflet after seeing this poster were loyal Apple-fans who thought it was an Apple promotional offer. It did get some very strange looks, especially from women - maybe they thought it was an ad for iPod-themed bondage;
  2. The simple worked well when people had seen the HazMat crew, along with the question "Do you want to know what the yellow suits are about?" Unfortunately, some people thought we were protesting about the exploding laptops problem. Do MacBooks and PowerMacs explode too?
  3. "Eliminate DRM" got some takers for the "What's DRM?" question, but I didn't find it worked as well as the other two.

Some passers-by asked me questions:

Why Apple? Aren't Sony and Microsoft as bad?

My answer: Why not Apple? They've a high-visibility store in London, Steve Jobs has made contradictory statements on DRM and fighting iTunes is a downhill battle.

We'll tackle the others later. It's an Apple to-day.

How will music companies make as much money without DRM?

"as much money"? (and yes, they really do say "as much") Do you think that they don't make enough money from CDs and Vinyls that have almost no technological barriers to copying? Without DRM, why would we need music companies in the old sense? Can't we find models where we pay less, yet the musicians get more?

Shouldn't the internet age cut out the middle-man, rather than support them with bad laws that try to deny us private enjoyment of what we buy?

Aren't there bigger problems in the world?

Well, yes, but communication and culture are an essential part of our tools for tackling those. "Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation - but only if they pay that Nation's DRM controller" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

It also affects us in other ways: my last car had a malfunctioning engine management computer and apparently a third-party mechanic fixing it (rather than expensively replacing the entire thing) would be at risk of being prosecuted for "circumvention". It wasn't economic to replace the computer and it possibly shortened the life of that car.

What do I do now?

This seemed to be a weak point of the leaflet we used. My answer varied a bit depending on who I was talking to. I suggested almost everyone should try to help inform their friends about the problem. Some I asked to talk to their MP and others I suggested they get involved with the campaign. But quickly because...

I think X, so you are wrong. Will you try to convince me otherwise?

No. Each second I spend talking to you, a dozen people walk past and most of them don't even know what DRM is yet, so it's more efficient to hand out leaflets than get into a long debate just now with someone who has already decided. (OK, this one wasn't asked directly, but there were some similar questions.)

Where is the Apple store?

Just there, under the big black flag, with the guys in yellow suits outside to warn you it's hazardous. Have a leaflet and don't buy from them. (I got this so many times it was almost surreal.)

We handed out 3200 leaflets in about 150 minutes, which I think is pretty good going. Sometimes, it seemed nearly everyone passing through took a leaflet. Given that distribution rate, I was surprised how few ended up on the floor or in the bins at each street corner: the leafletters weren't too aggressive and I think that helped to get leaflets to people who would read them, although I think some were discouraged at how slowly they seemed to be handing out leaflets.

It was also good to meet a few people from around the country, although I fear I'll forget which name links to which face soon. I had to rush off before talking to too many people (the joys of cheap transport tickets) but there were still some interesting chats.

TPM/DRM and Creative Commons

The main reason that the CC 3.0 draft licences don't seem to follow the Debian Free Software Guidelines is that they single out TPM as an unacceptable field of endeavour. However, Dare to DReaM? [copyrighteous] suggests that what some CC fans are supporting as a TPM ban may not be a TPM ban after all.

Mako's Parallel Distribution is a brilliant summary of the flaws in the most frequently-used arguments for CC simply banning TPM/DRM in the crude manner of the CC 3.0 drafts.

Rob Myers commented:

"Since all CC licences allow NC copying and distribution, any DRM that limits copying in any way is a breach. Or any DRM as it is also known. And since the CC licenses all support fair use and DreAm (an oxymoronic idea that I thought had died of lack of interest) restricts it, that's another problem. Not to mention how harmful electronic enforcement of CC licenses would be."

That's an argument I've heard from several CC supporters, but I don't accept it: fair use is inconsistent globally. What is fair use in the USA might not be fair dealing in England, or the other way around.

As to whether any DRM is possible under CC licences, there's the small matter of Lessig's "praise for better DRM" which seems to acknowledge the existance of TPMs that restrict in a CC-OK way.

Rob continues:

"Mako's arguments are a rehash of ones that were considered in depth when the debate was happening. Terry covered most of them [in an article on a magazine web site]"

Maybe the points Mako presents were considered, maybe they weren't, but it's very hard to tell from the limited transparency of CC. I think the points are clear, direct and difficult to argue against - that may be why it's so hard to get a good debate with CC about this.

What's more, Terry Hancock's article is a rehash of his old list posts. I think Terry's points were all covered in mailing list discussions and they don't even try to make a case for the TPM-ban in CC-BY. I like recycling, but it's disappointing to see people use the press to recycle old threads. Also, I don't find it particularly surprising if someone writing for a magazine web site isn't entirely comfortable with some forms of redistribution.

Rob finishes with:

"And I would add that, as someone who has installed GNU/Linux on my iPod, who has recently read the Yellow Dog Linux announcement for the PS3, who uses their PS2 as a CD and DVD player, and whose son seems to get MP3s, images and movies onto his PSP OK, I do not understand the argument that the best way of "helping" users is to help third parties trap them under DRM regimes rather than assisting users in installing and using free software."

Maybe that's not understandable because it's not an argument that's used, except as a straw man by pro-format-discriminators?

Personally, I think it's a pretty poor show that you have an iPod, PSP and so on - weren't Apple's and Sony's DRM-mania well-known when they were bought?

Which brings me on to why I feel locked-media distribution is worthwhile: educating people to make better device choices next time. I bought an Ogg player this time - hearing Cory Doctorow's talks as MP3 was partly why. If CC 2.0 had had an aggressive-patent ban similar to CC 3.0's TPM ban, maybe that wouldn't have happened.

All-party Parliamentary Internet Group and DRM

One of the more controversial parts of GPLv3 is the anti-DRM provision. DRM law is being re-examined by some UK Members of Parliament at present.

The oral evidence was heard yesterday and Alex Hudson reported what he saw there.

As previously mentioned, I submitted a written response to this APIG inquiry on DRM. I put my response online yesterday and linked it from open.egov. The witness hearings are today. I was not invited, but it seems others made similar points. I discovered later that the problem I suggest reducing with "Fair Circumvention" is part of the orphan works problem.

I think it's shocking that there two US corporations were invited to speak, but no liberal British production or distribution businesses. The funders of the report all look pro-protectionism, but maybe there's a hope the report won't be. Further discussion.

Copyright law

Media law reform, Irish style

Funferal comments that the Republic of Ireland plans to replace libel and slander with defamation, which is an interesting simplification, but the current draft law leaves unanswered questions about whether "small media" will be protected as much as the state broadcaster.

Gowers Review

At first glance, the Gowers report could be very good, especially the EUCD (European Copyright Directive, also known as European-DMCA, or "that TPM/DRM crap") changes for 'orphan works' and the fence-sitting on punishment adjustments, but could also be bad with increased numbers of state copyright enforcers and increased use of the confused "IP" jargon (then again, UK Patent Office handles Copyright at the moment, which is confused anyway).



Dead Musicians Against Gowers

As outed in a Lessig blog post it seems that some of the musicians who signed a publisher-placed press advert questioning the Gowers report's firm rejection of Copyright Term Extension probably can't vote any more. They can't vote because they're dead. It looks like Big Music have learnt from the Microsoft supporter recruitment tactics seen during some competition hearings in the US.

Maybe you should mention this to your representative along with the Software in Schools Early Day Motion when you write to them

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Festival Too is still going on, but this evening I find a constructive criticism of the iCommons iSummit by Tom Chance on Newsforge. Tom is a brilliant activist with an amazing pragmatic perspective on the whole commons/ free culture field, so I'll let his words speak for themselves now:

"attendees were asked to collectively sign [...] These were circulated at the last minute with no indication as to who drafted them, and we were asked merely to hum in unison to indicate our approval. These presented several problems: How long did we get to read them? Could we amend them? Who could legitimately vote on them?"

He continues to cover a lot of other bugs in iCommons, which I feel are typical of the problems I have with a lot of projects. They usually agree on only one axis and by aiming to be so-called big tent efforts, they may mislead us into compromising other principles, such as fairer trade.

Free Culture UK Wants Your Event Details

Free Culture UK is publishing a newsletter and wants your event details, which will be syndicated to a number of publications. Details of how to submit events were posted to fc-uk-discuss.

SPI gives away and

For various reasons, Software in the Public Interest (SPI) owned the domains and, which have been managed by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) for most of their life. This supported various SPI goals and also gave a possibility of community control of just in case it was ever needed. OSI does not offer much opportunity for community control, as it is a self-appointing board. (Regular readers may remember that the principles of democratic member control, autonomy and concern for community are important to me.)

I was watching as the SPI board voted in favour of giving away the opensource domains, proposal 2006-11-18.dbg.mjs.1 on the agenda. The vote happened without any discussion in the meeting.

From memory (I guess logs will appear on the SPI site eventually):-

David Graham ("SPI must also be involved in the promotion of and education about open source") proposed and voted for this action that stops SPI being involved in this promotion and education about open source;

Michael Schultheiss ("I look forward to SPI's future expansion") (amended and?) voted for this action that reduces SPI;

Neil McGovern ("achieve a greater degree of involvement [...] from the community in general") voted for this action that lessens SPI's involvement;

Jimmy Kaplowitz ("It is important that it continue holding in trust the money and other legal assets belonging to its member projects [...] fulfill some more of its stated corporate purposes, involving education of the general public about free software and about computers in general") voted for this action that drops these assets and reduces involvement in education of the general public;

Bdale Garbee ("would like to close this issue one way or another, once and for all") seemed willing to vote for anything which prevented further discussion - of course, only surrendering the domains could close it once and for all, as this is a one-way trapdoor topic - but had apologised for absence from the meeting;

Martin "Joey" Schulze had apologised for absence from the meeting;

Josh Berkus (nothing obviously relevant in his platform) abstained - consistent but disappointing;

I think Branden Robinson was missing.

Ian Jackson ("SPI's role is to provide a stable legal entity which can hold assets") voted against this action so that SPI would keep holding these assets. Bravo!

Sources: The quotes above are the board's own promises in their election platforms, as listed on the SPI site in 2003 2006 apart from Bdale Garbee's platform which wasn't at the link given in 2004 so that quote is from the minutes of the previous meeting

If some board members are willing to give away assets for no good reason, that strikes at one of SPI's core methods: holding assets for the community. What can we trust about this board? Their platforms are full of fine sentiments, but how do their actions reflect their platforms? This may be a mostly-dormant issue until the next election.

If you want any of SPI's assets, just ask. If your request is rejected (as SPI rejected the opensource domain give-away before), just keep asking new sets of voters until they agree.

Comment form for non-frame browsers.

Comments are moderated (damn spammers) but almost anything sensible gets approved (albeit eventually). If you give a web address, I'll link it. I won't publish your email address unless you ask me to, but I'll email you a link when the comment is posted, or the reason why it's not posted.

To index.

This is copyright 2006 MJ Ray. See fuller notice on front page.