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Author Topic: A fascinating license question  (Read 140271 times)
Larry Sanger
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« on: November 19, 2007, 22:16:26 UTC »

Suppose we grow to Wikipedian size.  This is possible, however probable you think it might be.

Suppose, also, that, because we are of that size, we have the participation of a sizable portion of all the leading intellectuals of the world, in every field--and so, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of approved articles.  These are all long, complete with many links, bibliography, etc., etc.--all the subpage stuff.  It's reference utopia.

Here's the question, then.  If we use a license that permits commercial reuse--CC-by-sa or GFDL--then every major media company in the world could, and probably would, use CZ content.  Do you favor a license that allows CBS, Fox, the New York Times, English tabloids, Chinese propaganda sheets, Yahoo!, Google, and all sorts of giant new media companies to come, to use our content?  Without compensation?  That's a very interesting question, isn't it?

What do you think?

Non-Citizens can discuss here (on the blog).

I've clarified/slightly reformulated the question below.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 03:11:16 UTC by Larry Sanger » Logged

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Robert_W_King
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2007, 22:19:36 UTC »

That's exactly the reason I proposed dual-licensing; what if down the line companies with deep pockets and commercial interests use our "product"?  I believe we should be wholly compensated by those types of organizations, conglomerates, businesses (any body that has a primary interest in making money).
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Larry Sanger
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« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2007, 22:20:59 UTC »

Robert, I don't understand.  If you combine a noncommercial license like CC-by-nc-sa with any commercial-OK license, that empowers the media giants to use the commercial-OK license and ignore the noncommercial one.
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Robert_W_King
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« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2007, 22:26:20 UTC »

What happens is that when you establish the licenses, you create the free one that limits usage only to non-profits and educational establishments (with stipulations that if that anyone uses it for profit that you must be compensated) and with the commercial license you permit use only on individual basis (for example, you could charge Fox News and CNN different rates based on the contract).

(there's a diagram on page 7 of http://opensource.mit.edu/papers/valimaki.pdf which shows a simple model)
« Last Edit: November 19, 2007, 22:32:29 UTC by Robert_W_King » Logged

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Larry Sanger
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2007, 22:33:28 UTC »

Oh, well in that case, Robert, you support a noncommercial license, you don't support what other people call "dual licensing."
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« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2007, 22:36:21 UTC »

Hrm.
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Aleta Curry
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« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2007, 02:28:37 UTC »

Larry asked:

"Do you favor a license that allows CBS, Fox, the New York Times, English tabloids, Chinese propaganda sheets, Yahoo!, Google, and all sorts of giant new media companies to come, to use our content?  Without compensation? "

Short answer:  No!
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Stephen Ewen
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« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2007, 03:02:00 UTC »

Larry, some people will dismiss as fanciful your suggestion that a major news organization would ever want to use Citizendium content.  Such people are simply wrong.  Let me explain.

The New York times not too long back added a wonderful feature to its articles, yea, - a fantastic feature to people in my field of work, adult literacy and ESL.  With the new feature, readers may simply double-click any word, to which action a new window opens.  The window features a variety of content, depending on the word clicked.

For example, I just visited http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/20/arts/design/20time.html?_r=1&oref=slogin , which is about the NYT's new building, and clicked on a few words.  For "Dark Ages", the following is offered: a dictionary definition from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, a brief entry from The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, and another definition from the WordNet dictionary (Princeton University).  Other entires for other words add brief entires from The Columbia Encyclopedia, and others from a The Dictionary of Idioms.  Go test it yourself (you'll need a NYTimes account).

Oh, and one other thing.  Every such page links to answers.com, which includes the Wikipedia article.  So when I click "Dark Age" in the NYTimes article, I am only a click away from the Wikipedia article hosted at answers.com.  And wait, the whole system is "powered by Answers.com. 

The NYTimes wanting to use Citizendium content?  Yes, I can absolutely envision it.  I will say it is highly probable even, given a broad CZ corpus.  And no, I do not want them able to profit from it for free, although I would not want it to be expensive.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 03:19:27 UTC by Stephen Ewen » Logged
Larry Sanger
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« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2007, 03:02:47 UTC »

Well, we know where you stand, Aleta!   Smiley

I'm amazed that so few people have commented on this.  I'll post it to CZ-L and see if anyone else is interested.  It strikes me as a potentially very important question.
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Larry Sanger
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« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2007, 03:10:29 UTC »

Slightly reformulated the question, for clarity:

Suppose we grow to Wikipedian size.  This is possible, however probable you think it might be.

Suppose, also, that, because we are of that size, we have the participation of a sizable portion of all the leading intellectuals of the world, in every field--and so, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of approved articles.  These are all long, complete with many links, bibliography, etc., etc.--all the subpage stuff.  It's reference utopia.

Here's the question, then.  If we use a license that permits commercial reuse--CC-by-sa or GFDL--then every major media company in the world could, and probably would, use CZ content.  Would you favor a license that allows CBS, Fox, the New York Times, English tabloids, Chinese propaganda sheets, Yahoo!, Google, and all sorts of giant new media companies to come, to use our content in that case?  Without compensation?  That's a very interesting question, isn't it?

And bear in mind, the question isn't whether you think the situation contemplated is likely or not.  That's irrelevant; I'm asking you to consider a *conditional* proposition.  What I'm curious about is whether you would favor a commercial-OK license (CC-by-sa or GFDL) *if* such a license would mean that those media companies would make heavy use of our content--without compensation.
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David Goodman
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« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2007, 04:18:32 UTC »

I believe our purpose is to spread free knowledge. If I wanted to be involved in a commercial publishing enterprise, i would have joined one. See the Citizendium article on Open access. http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Open_access
(Mostly written originally by Steve Harnad. Needs updating, and generalization, and possibly removal of some of his references to his own listserv postings--but generally the ethos that ought to be fundamental to all projects like the present one.)

If anyone can use our content, so much the better. Those who wish to pervert it for propaganda will do so regardless of our licensing.
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RJensen
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« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2007, 04:24:48 UTC »

I'm one author who writes for the world, the more readers the better. If Yahoo!, CBS, etc spread CZ to the world that's terrific. Let's them rake in vast profits (vast??? -- I suppose a little $ from ads to a large audience--there's no $ for them if the audience is mall). If we reach that state we can get all the money we want from grants from foundations.  

If we block commercial users we will cut off a large potential audience, to the benefit of no one.

By the way, I'm making very heavy use of free services like google search, amazon.com and books.google to write these articles, not to mention lots of books and articles and textbases I access from universities that live on tax dollars from corporations and grants from them.  So reciprocity seems called for.
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Larry Sanger
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« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2007, 04:25:11 UTC »

So what's your position, David?  On the one hand you say you don't want to be involved in a commercial enterprise.  If CZ is used by media giants, aren't you involved (unwittingly) in a commercial enterprise?  That supports a noncommercial license (CC-by-nc-sa).  On the other hand you say, "If anyone can use our content, so much the better."  That supports a commercial-use-OK license (CC-by-sa).
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Per Lind
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« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2007, 04:49:57 UTC »

Hi Larry,

Yes indeed a fascinating question.

Seems other people has grappled with this before (see: http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/cc-licenses/2004-September/001129.html).

As I see it your licensing model should mirror what the major intention is with regards to developing it in the first place, namely to propagate easy to use correct information globally. If there is a business/revenue model in mind, then this obviously should be taken into account. In my humble opinion, a revenue model would be difficult to unify with the original aim to grow globally! If we are trying to get as big as the other one as quickly as possible, then I would favor free usage, but with strict reference to Citizendium!

An interesting article I fell over in Bangkok Post this weekend: www.bangkokpost.com (seems to be off-line, so I will post here!)

Best regards.

Per Lind
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Stephen Ewen
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« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2007, 06:22:32 UTC »

If we block commercial users we will cut off a large potential audience, to the benefit of no one.

I don't see that blocking commercial users is the point at all--far from it.  As I see it, the point is to, as the CZ non-profit organization, be able to license rather than donate the materials to for-profit enterprises, thereby benefiting the CZ non-profit organization rather than the for-profit one.  This would then be a way to increase both revenue generation for the CZ non-profit org and increase overall distribution to areas that really cannot otherwise afford it or access it.

« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 06:30:58 UTC by Stephen Ewen » Logged
Joe Quick
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« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2007, 06:36:07 UTC »

I agree with this:
I'm one author who writes for the world, the more readers the better. If Yahoo!, CBS, etc spread CZ to the world that's terrific. Let's them rake in vast profits (vast??? -- I suppose a little $ from ads to a large audience--there's no $ for them if the audience is mall). If we reach that state we can get all the money we want from grants from foundations.

But I have the impression that an awful lot of people (maybe even the majority of contributors) think more like this:
Short answer:  No!

Dunno why, exactly, I have that impression - just a gut feeling, I guess. But I thought more along those lines in the first 6 months or so that I was working on the wiki.  As some point, I took a good look at my own goals and realized that I really just want to make sure that other people have access to good information about the topics that I'm passionate about.  I don't want people to have to pay for that information either, but if a middle man finds a way to make money, I guess I'm okay with that.
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Chris Day
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« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2007, 08:22:24 UTC »

I agree with this:
I'm one author who writes for the world, the more readers the better. If Yahoo!, CBS, etc spread CZ to the world that's terrific. Let's them rake in vast profits (vast??? -- I suppose a little $ from ads to a large audience--there's no $ for them if the audience is mall). If we reach that state we can get all the money we want from grants from foundations.

But I have the impression that an awful lot of people (maybe even the majority of contributors) think more like this:
Short answer:  No!

Dunno why, exactly, I have that impression - just a gut feeling, I guess. But I thought more along those lines in the first 6 months or so that I was working on the wiki.  As some point, I took a good look at my own goals and realized that I really just want to make sure that other people have access to good information about the topics that I'm passionate about.  I don't want people to have to pay for that information either, but if a middle man finds a way to make money, I guess I'm okay with that.

I'm with Richard and Joe here.
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RJensen
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« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2007, 08:26:06 UTC »

Suppose some big company like Yahoo! or Google, which has invested billions in hardware and software, picks up CZ. Suppose they bring CZ to 100 million actual users (people who click on one or more CZ entries).  Their business plan is advertising, and if they get one penny per viewer-click in profit (after their costs), that is a million dollars profit to them. That is their incentive. What do CZ authors get? 100 million readers.
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Stephen Ewen
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« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2007, 08:33:27 UTC »

But now imagine the very same thing of 100 million readers through Google or Yahoo! but with with $200,000 of that $1-million per year going to the Citizendium Foundation to pay for two full-time developers, and new server banks plus several Community Managers for non-English Citizendium projects.

Also imagine some startup who wants to commercially reuse CZ content.  So we give them that license for free for years 1-3, then get 5% of their revenue in years 4-5, and 10% thereafter totaling to $2-million per year by then.  The commercial user is happy, is increasing total readership, and with the licensing revenue generated in association with the commercial user the Foundation plows it back in to pay the salary of Editor-in-Chiefs for several nicely developing non-English projects, as well as to distribute 200,000 DVD copies of Citizendium at $3 each (our cost) to rural high schools in India and Nepal with an accompanying license to make a copy for each student, and so on.

In short, you get the same exposure but the benefits are actually shared. 

Meanwhile, we are still garnering all the same revenue from all the same grants and are freer to do all sorts of great stuff because we are not dependent only upon grants.  Sister projects develop.  Citizendium Kids comes online.  The possibilities are endless.     
« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 09:34:05 UTC by Stephen Ewen » Logged
Martin Baldwin-Edwards
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« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2007, 09:50:29 UTC »

I think Richard is missing the point here. It is one thing to have your work distributed free worldwide, with your name attached. It is quite a different matter for people to take unsourced articles and use them to make money. If you look at what has happened with WP, there is a plethora of websites that have without attribution taken the content of WP -- even in its entirety -- and presented the material as their own.

I agree with Stephen Ewen on the licensing arrangements. There has to be some control over future commercial usage. Just to give you an example from my Mediterranean Migration Observatory: one bibliographic publication that we made, which unusually asserts our copyright, has been stolen by Greek and foreign publishing houses and presented as their own comprehensive bibliography. Some of them even removed the copyright notice and authorship located on the foot of each page.

Do I need to tell you more?

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Morten Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér
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« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2007, 10:44:37 UTC »

Administering license fees will add a lot of complexity to the project.
I take it very seriously when I say that I support freely shared knowledge. What I have contributed, I have done in order to strengthen the knowledge base available in the world. I think adding -noncommercial or dual-licensing with the purpose of getting license fees is contrary to this project.
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Alexander Wiebel
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« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2007, 11:04:22 UTC »

Hi,
I support a free license with attribution.

Alex
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Versuri
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« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2007, 12:09:44 UTC »

CZ users would be working for free to help big corporations make lots of money! It would be terrible. While some people would be working for free, others would be planning how to make money on the back of volunteers.
A noncommercial license would attract to CZ everyone who likes knowledge while a commercial license would attract only people who are fans of free content.
I believe that CZ will have much more users (including experts) in the future if the license chosen be cc-by-nc-sa.

Do you favor a license that allows CBS, Fox, the New York Times, English tabloids, Chinese propaganda sheets, Yahoo!, Google, and all sorts of giant new media companies to come, to use our content?  Without compensation? 
NO
« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 12:31:51 UTC by Versuri » Logged
Jitse Niesen
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« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2007, 12:25:18 UTC »

I think Richard is missing the point here. It is one thing to have your work distributed free worldwide, with your name attached. It is quite a different matter for people to take unsourced articles and use them to make money. If you look at what has happened with WP, there is a plethora of websites that have without attribution taken the content of WP -- even in its entirety -- and presented the material as their own.

I'm not sure why that is relevant. People are not allowed to take unsourced articles from Wikipedia. Of course it happens, and apparently Wikipedia does not pursue the matter vigorously, but this has nothing to do with the licence. All options considered require attribution (the only exception that is sometimes mentioned is public domain, but I don't see any possibility we will go for that).

PS (added later): my answer to Larry's question is "yes".
« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 12:33:31 UTC by Jitse Niesen » Logged

Larry Sanger
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« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2007, 12:50:14 UTC »

Again, very few people are actually coming out and addressing the question.  Most of the pro-commercial-use-OK side are saying, "Yes, I support freedom!"  That's a nice soundbite.

But I'd like you to own up to the implications of what you're saying.  A few, like Richard Jensen and Jitse Niesen, have been clear on this point, but several others haven't.

So, you are comfortable with allowing media giants to use vast quantities of CZ, with no compensation to CZ--when, under a different licensing scheme, they might have to compensate us huge amounts?  Bear in mind, under the fantasy scenario we're discussing, CZ has hundreds of thousands of approved articles, and millions of articles total, most of them of wonderfully high quality.  This is enormously valuable content and the labor put into it would have been enormously valuable, as well.  The motivation for media companies to use this material, licensed or not, would be very great.

I'd also like to see some actual reasoning behind your stance on this specific point, too.  It's one thing to say, "I stand on principle!!!"  Big deal.  Anybody can say they stand on principle; it doesn't convince anyone else who thinks matters are more complicated.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 12:54:07 UTC by Larry Sanger » Logged

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