Disgust with Creative Commons and the Free Culture Crowd

I may be the biggest fan of Creative Commons anywhere. Sure, I’m biased because the licenses are built on the framework we established with the Open Publication License years before. And yes, the licenses have some well-rehearsed problems (e.g., the undefinable “Noncommercial,” the compatibility-killing “ShareAlike”, etc.). But despite these problems I firmly believe that the Creative Commons licenses are far and away the best open licenses for content in existence.

As Brian Lamb points out, the new CC license selection wizard very prominently features a statement regarding whether or not the Free Culture crowd has blessed the license you have chosen. (The old license picker had something like this too, but it was much less in your face.) What value could CC possibly think it is adding to the universe by proactively gifting screen real estate to a third party so that they can rub in my face their particular opinion about the CC license I’ve chosen? If CC feels so strongly about Free Culture, they should build meaningful prompts into the wizard process, not ask me questions and then go out of their way to provide space for a third party to tell me that my honest answers to the wizard questions were stupid and that they don’t “approve” of my license choice.

If the Free Culture folks are so certain they know what licenses the world needs and which ones we don’t need, why are they trying to hijack the clearly-morally-inferior CC license suite? Why not create their own licenses – every one of them pre-approved! – since they clearly know better than CC does? And why, why, why would CC prominently place, on its own website, a third party statement that CC’s licenses are unworthy? And why make that statement even more pronounced in the new version of the wizard?

The stupidity of Creative Commons pandering to the Free Culture crowd annoys me more than anything else about the Creative Commons organization – issues with NC or SA included. Please, please, please CC cut loose the Free Culture crowd and leave them to their own devices. We don’t need them offending new people coming to the CC site (who else uses the wizard?) or passing their holier-than-thou judgments on the rest of us who occasionally have legitimate reasons to choose “unapproved” licenses. If CC didn’t approve of these “inferior” licenses the wouldn’t offer them! And since CC clearly approves of them, why invite some third party onto your site to tell your users that they don’t?

I’m just dumbfounded…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I assume they see that the requirements of free culture are a really good way to build a community.

    CC offers licenses which give people a choice. And to be able to make a good choice requires being informed about the consequences of that choice. And the free culture folks provide that information.

    They provide a tool, and that tool says “we think that this license is not the best in most cases, but perhaps it is still the best for you”.

    Would you prefer CC pulling out NC and ND licenses if they realize that those don’t help their cause?

  • I disagree with you because you write assuming people make rational choices. I know, in most cases they don’t – they imitate. I might be one of the earliest users of your Open Content license, and it was compatible with the notion expressed in Free Culture. Somewhere along the way, the plot got lost, the notion of remix got lost, and a damaging license became the default choice. There is nothing wrong with the ND and NC restrictions when they are tools used for the correct and reasoned purpose for which they are intended. But they are killing the real potential of free/open educational content because people are choosing them out of imitation and without fully understanding their consequence. If not using the language of Free Culture, how do you wake people up enough that they understand and make logical choices. It is not that they prevent taking, it is that they prevent giving, of anyone contribution to education in any way they can, regardless of the reason for doing so. If we had NC for software, we would have no open source software today because people with any kind of commercial interest would be unable to contribute. How do we get that kind of contribution to content without using some language that is at least a little like the Free Culture language? 

    Since you prefer pragmatism over zeal, why not just ignore Creative Commons then. That would be pragmatic. I would say that what I am after is pragmatism over imitation – for that reason I see the wording as a tiny small improvement. Sometimes zeal helps find the middle ground.  How else do you lead humans to knowledge and get them to think?  

  • Alex P.Real

    I agree that many people imitate & that the Free Culture approval is puzzling. If it’s about freedom, why not simply let us do? To a certain extent this resembles the censorship we’re trying to fight at other levels.  

     I’m one of those NC users, yep puke at me :). May seem idiotic, but if I develop & share something gratis, I want it to remain free for equality reasons. I doubt many educators contributing to OER would find acceptable  their production being turned into profit, for one of the overarching goals is precisely about access for all, and economic constraints is the key limitation for millions. Maybe it’s just a bunch of well-meaning idealists paving hell, but “free” and “open” stopped being a tech-only affair long time ago.  

    Odds are no publishers or other greedy species will print “our” materials, but the idea makes one shiver, as most within edu have had to put up with them (& still do). This uproot fear & the publishing complex to secure a job within HE are 2 significant barriers to OER scalation.  Not perfect, but NC is a comfort zone, & as such, a solid stepping stone. 

    If I’ve got it wrong, please gimme a shout & will spread it out.