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July 20, 2005
The Upside of Misunderstanding
One of the positive things about people writing badly misinformed articles like this one by John Dvorak is that the fisking process can often be educational, and in ways you don't necessarily anticipate. If you haven't read it yet, Dvorak calls Creative Commons licensing "seriously dumb. Eye-rolling dumb on the same scale as believing the Emperor is wearing fabulous new clothes." He then proceeds to demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of both Creative Commons and copyright law in general.
Joe Gratz yesterday responded with an excellent point-by-point rebuttal that patiently tackles each misconception in turn. It's worth reading in its entirety, even for people who know this territory like the back of their hand. And today at Crooked Timber, John Quiggan manages to push the discussion well beyond how-to-deal-with-professional-trolls territory (The Creative Commons as a Default Rule):
I've chosen the non-commercial, attribution, share-alike version of the Creative Commons License for my blog. This says that anyone can reproduce my work from the blog, with attribution and for non-commercial purposes, as long as they share it under the same conditions.
I've chosen this, not because it's necessarily the best option in all, or even most cases, but because it's the best default rule. ...The general idea of a default value is familiar to anyone whos done any computer programming and I imagine that if things were put to Dvorak in this way he'd see the point. ...
The idea of a default rule clarifies what is going on here. You can only have one default. At one time this was public domain (since it was necessary to make a specific claim for copyright). Now it's copyright, and advocates of strong IP take this as normal and natural. But if you want to use GPL or CC material with a share-alike license you have to adopt this default. From the viewpoint of people who take copyright as natural, but see CC material expanding, this is like a virus.
It's clear from the article that John Dvorak doesn't really want to understand Creative Commons licensing (the better to troll you with, my dear!). It's nice to see that by publicly professing his ignorance, he's nevertheless helping other people
(Thanks to Seth Finkelstein for the pointer!)
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