Macca On Creativity And Originality

“Front Row”, BBC Radio 4, Monday 26th December 2005.

Paul McCartney: … But from the very earliest days of writing songs we would always think ‘wait a minute, that’s from West Side Story, we can’t have that’. So we’d have to just switch it, and just say, erm, y’know, sort of, whatever the melody was, turn it round, or just do something, just find tricks. Either rewrite it or just change those two notes and it suddenly isn’t from whatever it was y’know. So er, I’m – I’m always – I’ve got like one antenna always looking to see if someone else has written this before.

Paul McCartney: … So I’m just working around that kind of thing, which to me always reminds me of the deep south.

Interviewer: Well it’s got echoes of “People Get Ready” the Curtis Mayfield song.

Paul McCartney: Oh, that’s probably what it is.

Interviewer: The Impressions.

Paul McCartney: So you mean I nicked it? Well it’s too-

Interviewer: Subconsciously, possibly.

Paul McCartney: -late now. Ha ha. No, yeah it has, it has. Well, it’s a style.

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Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas!

This post is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, so you can modify it to refer to whichever seasonal holiday you like. The humour-challenged should note that these two sentences make the post substantial and original enough to copyright and that this post therefore can be CC licensed, so there.

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Draw Something Online

I’ve been trying to hack up a version of draw-something to run in a web page. ABCL is a Java Lisp interpreter that will load and run draw-something more or less unmodified, but it’s either too slow or the mathematics handling is too different and I can’t debug that.

So I’m going to take a leaf out of Kurzweil’s book and do a Java renderer for draw-something’s output. I’ll generate a number of draw-something drawings and let the renderer draw them. It will look like the screen-based version of draw-something. The only difference will be the de-coupling of the generation and drawing code. It still feels like a big difference, though.

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Top Ten Simple Electronic Circuits

http://www.diylive.net/index.php/2005/12/19/ten-most-needed-circuits-for-the-diyer/

Handy stuff.

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New Rhizome Site Design Launch

The excellent Rhizome have a new site design:

http://www.rhizome.org/

Give it a go.

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Space Art

http://www.boingboing.net/2005/12/21/more_space_art_at_un.html

I’ve a number of projects for the ISS if they’re interested. ūüôā

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More ‚ÄúCompatibility‚ÄĚ

The hard sell on “compatibility”:

http://www.technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16073,300,p1.html?trk=nl

CC’s response to criticisms of the proposed BY-SA/FDL backdoor:

http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/5731

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Against Meta-Licensing

http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/5709

This proposal, to declare multiple licenses “compatible” with the Creative Commons (CC) Attribution-Sharealike license (BY-SA) in a kind of meta-license came out a few weeks after the FDL backdoor was proposed on the license-discuss list.

Again, it is a bad idea for a number of reasons.

These Licenses Have Major Incompatibilities In Intent and Effect.

The proposal mentions BY-SA, the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL), the Free Art License (FAL) and the BBC Creative Archive Licence (BBC-CA) as sharing “a common goal”. This simply is not true. BY-SA is intended to promote a remix culture and/or prevent “orphan works”. The FDL is designed to allow political texts to be attached to computer manuals. The FAL is designed to create collaborative artworks. And the BBC-CA license is designed to enable the public to access work they have paid for.

Even if we accept for a moment that these very different intentions might lead to similar licenses, for the examples under consideration here they have not. BY-SA is a reasonably strong “copyleft” license. The FDL is a mix of copyleft and an immutable license more similar to BY-ND. The FAL is limited to artworks and has legally vague definitions of a work and various licence. requirements. BBC-CA is non-commercial and limited to UK citizens.

These are very, very different practical effects. The only way to make licences with such different practical effects compatible is to rewrite them. If the licenses can be made similar enough to be covered by a single “commons deed” then it would only be egos that would prevent the licenses being combined. But the only justification for this project is that the licenses won’t be rewritten and so CC have decided they need to work around this.

Declaring Such Incompatible Licenses Compatible Opens The Door For Vanity Licenses And Shackled Licenses

Once the Free Art License is declared “compatible”, any other minor license that is drafted should be declared “compatible” and work will be driven incompatibly to it. Although the FAL pre-dates the CC licenses, it has very few users and is not as general as BY-SA. It should be deprecated, not promoted, and certainly not promoted by CC in the name of solving the problem of “incompatibility”. Placing a CC badge over proliferating licenses will simply reproduce the OSI license approval trainwreck with an additional layer of paperwork.

Once CC claim that the FDL and BBC-CA licenses are “compatible” with BY-SA, Microsoft can seek to have a copyleft license that locks content to Windows declared compatible and News Corp. can seek to have a copyleft license that adds advertising and allows some proprietary use declared compatible. These are no less “compatible” than the licenses Lessig discusses, and any refusal will appear politically motivated.

This Mechanism Makes BY-SA Untrustworthy

When any vanity or free-but-shackled license can get itself rubber stamped by CC’s “compatibility” board and added to the meta-license, and have a backdoor added to BY-SA to allow derivatives to be placed under it, licensing becomes a mess of unpredictable additional licenses that can change or themselves allow cross licensing at every revision.

This destroys confidence in BY-SA and the meta-license, as they may at any time be altered to give work or derivatives away to a license with features that have negative practical effects for a user, group or company.

Not Every Licensing Problem Has A Licensing Solution

Not every licensing problem has a licensing solution. And CC’s solutions to commons fragmentation under the banner of “compatibility” are the wrong solutions to the wrong description of the problem.

If CC are worried about commons fragmentation they should work to reduce the number of licenses, not produce yet another layer of licensing over their already confusing licenses. And they should get rid of their NC license, which is the main cause of incompatibility. Since BY-SA is the best copyleft license for general cultural work, logically they should work to replace other licenses with BY-SA. But if they are unwilling to do this work they should deprecate BY-SA in favour of the FDL. It is not as good as BY-SA, but at least it is a stable target.

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Against BY-SA/FDL ‚ÄúCompatibility‚ÄĚ

Arguments Against The BY-SA FDL Backdoor.

Creative Commons will soon be starting the final discussion on version 3.0 of their Attribution-Sharealike (BY-SA) license. This may include a clause that allows derivatives of BY-SA works to be re-licenced under the GNU Free Documentation License as used by Wikipedia.

There is no legal case against CC allowing BY-SA derivatives to be licensed under the FDL rather than under BY-SA. But I still believe that there are very strong reasons why it is a bad idea.

1. It is morally wrong.

• The current BY-SA 2.x licenses allow derivatives to be placed under future versions of the BY-SA license. This would include a BY-SA with the FDL cross-licensing clause. And this would allow derivatives of BY-SA derivatives to be placed under the FDL without the original licenser having given their consent.

• If the original BY-SA licensor wishes to use FDL derivatives of their work as part of a commons, they are forced to use the FDL rather than the licence they have chosen.

• The FDL allows un-editable, un-translateable, un-removable material expressing an opinion on the original work to be added to derivatives. This work does not form part of a “commons” and may interfere with the original user’s or other users’ ability to receive value from their contribution to the commons.

2. The licenses are too different to be considered “compatible”.

• The FDL allows un-editable, un-translateable, un-removable material expressing an opinion to be added in derivatives. These “invariant sections” interfere with the remix culture that BY-SA was written to enable.

• If the original licensor wishes to use derivatives of their work as part of a commons, they are forced to use the FDL. This “compatibility” is at best one-way. It will not reduce the fragmentation of the commons, quite the opposite: it will cause more work to end up under licenses that are not as well suited to remix culture as BY-SA with no hope of the work returning to BY-SA.

• The FDL is designed for computer software manuals and allows front and back covers to be specified, terms which may be meaningless for other media. BY-SA is designed to allow the free remixing of work and its translation between languages and media. The FDL can be (mis-)used to explicitly prevent this.

3. It will break business models.

• Revver is a website that allows you to upload videos under a CC license to have advertisements attached and displayed for money. But if derivatives of your work can be taken and placed under the FDL, they could have advertisements attached that you cannot remove (and that are under a license that you cannot use at Revver). If derivatives of existing BY-SA work can eventually be placed under the FDL, even existing work on Revver could suffer this exploit.

• Flickr allows photo hosting under Creative Commons licenses. Someone who posts (or has posted) work there under BY-SA would expect derivatives of their work to form part of a BY-SA commons of work. If derivatives of it can be placed under the FDL they

• Wikipedia is based on the FDL, but does not allow invariant sections. If the extra attribution URL from the 2.x licenses is kept as an invariant section in an FDL derivative, Wikipedia cannot use the work. If the URL is stripped, this destroys some of the original licensor’s intent and some of the value their use of the license gives them.

The alternative.

I believe that CC should focus on persuading projects to use BY-SA rather than coercing their own users into allowing the FDL to become a black hole for content. They should negotiate with the authors of minor licenses to deprecate them in favour of the CC licenses, as the EFF music licence and the original Open Content licences did. And they should produce the technological and legal tools to help projects and individuals re-licence. BY-SA is simply the best copyleft license for cultural works and the only one that genuinely creates and protects a commons, and it should not be reduced to being a proxy for licenses that do not afford the same freedoms.

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Various Cool Lisp Stuff

http://www.xach.com/ – Graphics and utilities.

http://www.metabang.com/open-source-software.html – Utilities, graphs and a documentation system.

http://www.weitz.de/tbnl/ – Dynamic website system in portable Lisp.

http://www.gigamonkeys.com/book/lispbox/ – Lisp in a box. Good starter Lisp system.

http://www.lispniks.com/mailman/listinfo/gardeners – Lisp Gardeners. A new community making Lisp more accessible.

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