Competing Open Source Licenses Often Incompatible

“No one would confuse cyber-lawyer Lawrence Lessig with Homer Simpson — symbol for all that is dumb about America. But Lessig, a professor of law at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, has spent a good deal of time lately trying to figure out how to resolve a ‘doh!’ moment of his own: realizing that the various intellectual property licenses that he helped design over recent years to encourage the sharing of intellectual property — a movement collectively known as ‘copyleft,’ in contrast to copyright — may actually prevent it.

“The problem is that the copyleft licenses, like the ‘free software’ licenses from which they’re drawn, require that derivative works be licensed under identical terms. And those terms differ from license to license. So the collections (or ‘mash-ups’) of free text, audio, and video that Lessig and others have championed as the vanguard of a new ‘free culture’ can’t combine works created under different licenses — even if all of the licenses are meant to encourage wide sharing. For example, text from Wikipedia, which uses a license called the Free Documentation License (FDL), could not be used as narration in a documentary film designed to be shared under a Creative Commons license.”

Michael Fitzgerald. Copyleft Hits a Snag. Technology Review. Dec. 21, 2005.

CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the intersection of business, law and technology. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.

Written by sesomedia

01/13/2006 at 08:45

Posted in Uncategorized

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