Felix Stalder on Tue, 18 Jan 2005 14:42:35 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Re: What's the meaning of "non-commercial"?

On Sunday, 16. January 2005 06:22, Patrice Riemens wrote:
> This being said, the clausula that prior permission must be seeked before
> engaging in _possible_ commercial use does not appear so much of a burden.
> In a culture of copyright as our own, it is being routinely done all the
> time.

This only applies if you assume that each work as a small number of 
authors, or that these authors are easily identifiable. This, of course, 
is not the case with major collaborative works. It's next to impossible to 
identify all the authors of, say, a wikipedia article. Furthermore, the 
derivative work might be very different from the initial work (say 
difference between full article in wikipedia and the 'stub' from which it 
originated) so that it's questionable if the original author should have 
any rights in deciding how the derivative work is being used.

Hence, one would need a clear definition of what non-commercial means, one 
that could be applied without involving much individual judgment. But, as 
Keith Heart wrote, the distinction between commercial and noncommercial 
activity is largely a (convenient) fiction, something that feminists have 
insisted upon for a long time in their critique of house work.

Is all labor that is being paid for commercial labor? Such a definition 
would make most NGOs etc. commercial. Or, are only activities that are 
profit-oriented to be considered commercial? In this case, all government 
activities would have to be counted as non-commercial.

I'm not sure if in this context, corporate vs non-corporate would be a 
much better distinction. Are foundations, say the Soros Foundations, 
corporations? It seems to be that it merely displaces the problem.

One of the most innovative aspects of FLOSS is that has managed to avoid 
exactly this distinction, hence you have people from the radically 
different contexts building upon, and contributing to, the same code-base.

In many ways, the GPL provides a de-militarized zone. Everyone agrees to 
leave the big guns at the door. Period. The non-commercial CC license, on 
the other hand, is a pledge not to use the guns, if you play nice. And, to 
be on the sure side, being nice means to consume, but not to build upon 
works in a serious way.



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