The Future of Copyright (a contest)

How would you change copyright law as it stands today?

A contest is on : Future of Copyright Contest (deadline is 15th April 2012).

If you are thinking of participating, the following may be useful (from the “libre lens” perspective):

For more insight on the libre perspective on copyright, learn about Libre Knowledge (on WikiEducator).


Reminder: libre means free as in freedom and is clearly defined

Libre means free as in freedom.

This posting was prompted by the thread “[okfn-discuss] Problems of nomenclature“.

The meaning of “libre” is well established and is correctly used (at least today) (by definition) on the following pages:

These definitions are rooted in the free software definition.

The licensing of a resource either complies with the definition and the resource is a “libre resource”, or it doesn’t and the resource is non-libre. There is no “semi-libre”. The Free Software Foundation dropped the term “semi-free” some time ago and it has not been picked up and (mis)used systematically (if at all) by libre knowledge communities.

The Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence is the most “pro-freedom” licence in the Creative Commons suite. It is unambiguously a libre licence. The ShareAlike in this case is an assurance of freedom for users of the work and of future derived works – in the face of the current (highly restrictive) state of copyright which came about along these lines: see Brief History of Copyright.

The Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-ShareAlike licence, on the other hand, although it assures shareability, perpetuates a restriction on use, even of future derived works (i.e. non-commercial use only). It is unambiguously not a “libre licence”.

A few Libre Licences are listed here.

The Say Libre essay encourages the various “open” communities to say “libre” rather than “open” in those cases where “libre” is actually meant – i.e. when the licence upholds all of the freedoms (e.g. when the resource to which they are referring is licensed cc-by, cc-by-sa, or is in the public domain/ CC0.

The “open education” community, for example, includes some institutions which use the NonCommercial restriction in their licensing.

It helps with clarity of thinking to avoid the term “IP” – see Words to Avoid (or Use with Care) Because They Are Loaded or Confusing. We are not talking about anything that has the rivalrous properties of “property”.

In the context of software, some people say “free/libre and open source” software (FLOSS) which covers both open source software and libre software – with the understanding that all libre software is open source (in the sense that the source code is available) but some open source software is non-libre (the source code is available but restricted in use and/or is dependent on some other non-libre software).

For more on Libre Knowledge see the Libre Knowledge pages on WikiEducator.

Which software you use is an ethical choice

A reminder, especially for educators and specifically WikiEducators with implications for the OERu, the OERF and other open education initiatives: WikiEducator and Libre Software.

It applies to you too – we are all educators and learners.

Comments are welcome of course :-).

OERu: equality and freedom to learn

Response to ‘OER university’ to cut cost of degree (Times Higher Education, 10 February 2011, Rebecca Attwood)

“… It is up to universities to see the opportunities and live out their vocations. …”

“When we look back, I wonder whether we are going to ask why it took so long,” – Wayne Mackintosh.

Well said!

What might the answer(s) be?
Could some of them be related to institutions forgetting their vocations?
Are there other answers?
How do we address those (ongoing) issues?

The OERu embodies a common vocation: to provide a scalable solution to providing quality education for all. “Opening” the doors to education is not to let more people in but to let us all out: freedom to learn. We are all teachers and learners developing the collective wisdom required for a sustainable world for us all.

Reducing the costs of education while ensuring and enhancing quality (a major role of these institutions) is a means to this end.

This value of freedom – for all to participate – should shine though all our endeavours and rhetoric.

We value the pragmatics but moreso the ethics:

Use of the word “ecosystem”

When people use the word “ecosystem” to refer to something which is not an ecosystem (e.g. the education ‘ecosystem’ or a network of people sharing resources on the Internet), be aware that the analogy will break at some point (unless the system in question is broadened to include the real ecosystem within which it functions). In general, the word “system” will suffice. In some cases “social system” or “socio-technical system” (etc.) might be more appropriate. Be sure to clearly define the system boundaries and make any assumptions explicit.

7 Billion

In terms of being libre, celebrating this milestone is an “anti-pattern” and does not bode well for sustainable evolution unless it stimulates change.

Electronic/digital books vs paper books in terms of environmental sustainability


  • Does selling eBooks at a lower price than paper books encourage people to buy eBooks rather than paper books?
  • Are eBooks generally sold at lower prices than their paper counterparts?
    • Where this is not the case, are people prepared to pay more for the convenience of reading on their portable device(s)?

Some say (e.g.) that:

  • Reading n books on some electronic device surpasses the break-even point.

Libre lens:

  • People making a living directly or indirectly via the sale of (licenses to read/use) (in reality) non-rivalrous resources (such as digital copies of books, non-free software) made rivalrous artificially (e.g. via DRM) are having an impact on the environment: they consume food, use electricity, cars and otherwise pollute the environment, etc..
  • Is their collective impact being taken into account in the comparisons?
  • Is that impact significant as compared to alternative business models?
    • i.e. models alternative to some party/parties raking in money while they sleep as ‘consumers’ pay to download/access digital copies of restricted digital resources.