Why ND Is Neither Necessary Nor Sufficient To Prevent Misrepresentation
Misrepresentation
One of the greatest concerns for authors who create works of opinion and place them under alternative copyright licences is that the licence will allow their opinions or arguments to be misrepresented. The Creative Commons Attribution-No-Derivatives licence appears to protect against misrepresentation by ensuring that the author’s original expression cannot be altered with the production of derivative works. But I would argue that ND cannot protect against mis-representation any better than using a copyleft licence such as Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike, and that copyleft licences are also better for freedom of speech.
How ND Fails To Protect Against Misrepresentation
Fair use (or fair dealing) applies to any copyrighted work, including ND works. This allows quotation for review and critique. Selective quotation or mis-contextualization of quotes can all mis-represent the original argument. Even if the person quoting the original work does not have malicious intent towards the original author, they may be incompetent and accidentally misunderstand or misrepresent the argument.
Fair use (but not fair dealing) may also cover use of the work that is parodic, satirical or transformative. These are some of the strongest and clearest examples of freedom of speech but also potentially some of the most disrespectful and offensive derivatives of the original work.
Forbidding the reproduction of original arguments may make misrepresentation of them more rather than less likely. Rediscribing an argument or paraphrasing it rather than reproducing it can introduce differences from the original argument even if the person doing so is tryiing to be entirely accurate.
Even enforcing perfect fidelity within copies of a work cannot prevent it being misunderstood or misrepresented within society. Some of the most discussed books and essays, those that inspire the strongest opinions and reactions, are ones that very few people have read. This is as true of their proponents as of their opponents. And whether a work is untransformed or mashed up, audiences and other authors may not share the terms, competences, or aims of the original author of a cultural work.
ND therefore cannot protect against mis-representation in practice any better than the normal restrictions of copyright can. If it were the case that it did, what would happen if an ND work was in itself a mis-representation of other people’s ideas or of the facts?
How Copyleft Licences Protect Against Misrepresentation
The Creative Commons licences (and the GNU FDL) ensure that modified works must be marked as modifications. They cannot be passed off as the original untransformed work. 
The Creative Commons licences forbid endorsement (and the FDL requires the removal of any endorsements of the original work in derivatives). A new work based on the original therefore cannot claim that the original author endorses the work or the opinions contained within it when they do not.
The Creative Commons licences protect or simulate the moral rights of paternity and integrity. Paternity means that the work cannot be passed of as anyone else’s, and integrity means that the work cannot be grossly mis-treated in a way that affects the author’s reputation. (Americans tend not to think that moral rights are not particularly strong in the US, but Monty Python got the rights to their shows back from the BBC in an American court case brought on the basis of their moral rights in the work.)
The Creative Commons licences also protect or simulate the moral right of repudiation. An author can demand the removal of their name from a work. This should not be neccessary given the requirements of marking and non-endorsement, but it is a useful extra measure for dissociating an author from uses of their work that they do not wish to be associated with.
Copyleft licences in general therefore allow misrperesentations to be corrected by modifying the text to produce a new derivative work, and to be addressed by ensuring the freedom to present as much of the misrepresentation as is required to criticise it.
How To Protect Against Misrepresentation
The solution to misrepresentation of arguments is not prohibition, it is correct attribution and the right of reply. Copyleft protects this as part of its protection of free speech in general. I recommend copyleft rather than permissive licences (such as Creative Commons Attribution-only) as these do not protect these rights for everyone, including the original author. Copyleft is therefore preferable to both ND and Attribution-only both for the specific case of protecting against misrepresentation and for the general case of protecting the freedom of speech within society.
Livecoding As Realistic Artistic Practice

Realism in art is the absence of sentiment. Livecoding is writing software in public while presenting the source code and its output along with the programmer as a kind of performance. Hacking (computer programming) is usually a solitary activity and hackers (computer programmers) rarely get to hack on (program) software that they themselves will use for their own ends or benefit directly from. Livecoding turns hacking into a public, social, self-directed activity by turning it into an artistic event.

By doing this livecoding briefly restores the kind of shared social context and the relationship of hackers to the fruits of their labour that Richard Stallman described in his account of life in the MIT AI Lab of the 1970s[1]. As Simon Yuill points out[2] about this account, Stallman describes the proletarianisation of hacking as business interests took over from pure (state funded) research.

If livecoding romanticised hacking or was simply an exercise in professional nostalgia for a lost age of authentic relations between hacker and machine then it would be sentimental. Sentimentalising hacking would add nothing to culture or to the socioeconomic situation of hackers. It would mis-represent its subject to its audience. It would be distraction, a comforter, spectacle.

What protects against this and what makes livecoding realistic is that livecoding involves the solving of technical problems in order to produce aesthetic results that maintain a social encounter between performer and audience. This is not relaxing either for the hacker or the audience. It can involve unexpected results and failure for both performer and audience. The hacker can lose their place in the code, corrupt it, or crash it. The audience cannot fall back on the cliches of rock or classical music appreciation. Both have to work at it.

Livecoding is a form of critical self-representation. It does not simply present the everyday activity of hacking as complete and exemplary. The differences between livecoding and hacking in a cubicle or in an office off of Brick Lane identify and make up for a lack. The heroics of performance are deflated by what is being performed rather than inflating the subject of the performance.

The use of aesthetics (sound and vision) as the subject of tasks in livecoding rather than, say, mathematical or logistics problems is resistant to immediate commodification by corporate information culture. Aesthetics, as Alan Liu points out[3], is resistant to corporate information culture because it is based on the quantitative rather than the qualitative. This isn’t to say that the qualitative cannot be commodified, but the culture industry prefers more easily reproduced and less demanding experiences.

Like net.art, Livecoding might be folk art of the hacking (or web and motion graphic designing) class. But its aesthetics are higher than middlebrow, and if it can resist the inevitable attempted putsch by the cultural studies department it will be able to create its own noise within broader cultural life.

Livecoding presents and represents a form of labour through aesthetics. This presentation is socially, aesthetically and technically risky. It requires work on the part of the performer and the audience. Their reward is to experience through an unusual aesthetic event what hackers are missing in society and what society is missing in hacking.

[1] – Richard M Stallman, “The GNU Project”, 1998.
[2] – Simon Yuill, comment at the second “Breakfast Club” round-table at MAKE ART 2009.
[3] – Alan Liu, “Laws of Cool”, 2004.

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Open Source Against Free Software

“Open Source” is in danger of coming to mean corporations sharing source code in order to reduce their development costs for proprietary software incorporating that code and thereby removing the freedom of its users. Those corporations may share code with a “community” and hire people to “manage” that community, but any code shared will be under a non-copyleft licence and/or a copyright assignment to the corporation (rather than to a trusted third party) to protect their ability to make that code proprietary rather than respect the freedom of users to use the software that it represents.

Hackers involved with such projects often support the replacement of freedom for all by the sharing of resources between producers, or at least don’t see it as a problem. This seems to come from a belief that they are not “just” computer users, they are the producers of software and so the benefit of sharing code and deciding which mere users get to use it is their (or at least their bosses’) right. This is misguided. Hackers use software in order to write software, and with such projects use of the software in any given context can always be denied to them. Hackers must make common cause with all users of software otherwise they will end up without freedom as well.

Open Source must not come to describe a guild or camarilla of hackers and their managers that oppose their perceived economic interests to the interests they share with all users of software. Feelgood rhetoric and permissive licences don’t offset the demands for privilege and control that corporate “open source” projects make, they conceal and enable them. Ignore them and instead use copyleft to protect user freedom with all its benefits for everyone.

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Movable Type 5

I’ve upgraded the blog to Movable Type 5.

Woo!