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The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

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What Happened to my Creative Commons License? - Updated 2Xs
Monday, June 14 2010 @ 04:52 AM EDT

Whenever there is a big win in the SCO case, I always do the same thing. I rest up a bit. I surf around to see what others are doing, listen to audio of cases I'm interested in, and just set aside all the work and responsibility of Groklaw for a few days.

And as I was surfing around yesterday, I noticed that has an article about building communities that work. The author mentioned that there was a need for someone to write about how to handle trolls:

When I was looking through the chapters on communities in The Open Source Way book, I eagerly flipped to the sections, Do not let poisonous people bog down the community and Disable poisonous communication to see how open source leaders handle these problems. Unfortunately those sections are still blank, so it seems this is a problem that plagues even established communities.
And I thought, I have done that already. I did an essay for the O'Reilly book Open Sources 2.0, edited by Chris diBona, Danese Cooper, and Mark Stone, back in 2005, in which I addressed it. So I tried to find it online, so I could post a link to it. I found it on Google Books, and I decided to read it again, to make sure it still reflected my views and that it would match what the author was looking for. Here's the bitter part: despite my essay being under a Creative Commons license, Google wouldn't let me read it in its entirety.

Hiding my words is contrary to my purpose, and worse contrary to my license. I don't mind if other authors don't want to be in Google Books, or if they want to negotiate terms that keep their words only for those with enough money to pay to read them. To each his own. But when their voices are so dominant that there is no room for respect for the more liberal license I deliberately put on my work, things have gone too far.

I don't blame Google so much as I blame the Neanderthal book publishers who are breathing down Google's neck. Or perhaps it's Google's wallet. Google will probably get to this kind of fine tuning eventually, but at the moment they are dealing with folks insisting on locking books up for fear non-payers will read them. But if you have a paper copy of the book, or go to the copyright page online, you'll see that the book's copyrighted by the editors, but it says right on the same page that the individual essays are licensed under a Creative Commons license, Attribution, NonCommercial, NoDerivs 2.5. That means that everyone in the world is free to read my essay, for starters. It also means they are free in a noncommercial context to copy and redistribute it with attribution, as long as they reproduce it accurately and without changing anything or adding anything. That is my intent. But ironically, I can't even reproduce it for you here unless I want to type it all out by hand, because it won't let me even see all the pages, let alone copy them. I'm mentioning it because it's my hope that Google Books, and other such services, will make a note and tell the computers to look for Creative Commons licenses, and loosen up.

Update: Here is the text, which was done for me by someone I removed as a member for being disruptive. It's a peace offering, he says. I mention this because it's part of covering the subject of handling communities. Sometimes people disrupt just because they care a lot about a subject and may not know how to end a conversation when it's time. That's a more delicate and human story than deliberate disrupters trying to ruin your work, and there, I think one has to try to bend. A community has to have a heart, too. Besides, as Linus has pointed out, the very person who misbehaved before might be the very one whose skills are exactly what you are looking for in your work later.

Update 2: A comment from Google tells us that O'Reilly instructed Google to allow 20% of this book:

Hi. My name is Brandon Badger and I'm a Product Manager on Google Books. In cases like this where we show a 20% preview of a book, it is because the copyright owner of the book has entered the book into our partner program and specified that they want 20% shown. Last year we launched a feature that allows the copyright holder to set an option that indicates that the book has a creative commons license. Here's a blog post with more information about that.
So, as I told you, Google is not the bad guy in this picture. O'Reilly probably isn't either, in the sense that I'm guessing they made a blanket choice for all their books, and most of them aren't CC licensed. Because the crazy part isn't that I'm the author of my segment and I can't access my own work or even that I can't share my work readily as I intended; the crazy part is O'Reilly already makes the book completely available online, and here is my essay, Chapter 17. It's on Internet Archive too. So why 20% only on Google Books? It makes no sense at all.

So how does this happen? It happens because the legal atmosphere of copyright law is so military-like and tilted toward old-fashioned content creators, the default is No. That's how. So the systems are all tilted that way, to block sharing.

Here's a talk by Larry Lessig, Re-examining the remix. It explains how it happens in a deeper context. He's political, which I'm not at all, so that isn't why I'm linking to it. But notice what happened to him when a video on fair use, ironically enough, that he uploaded to YouTube was silenced for a while because it included short snips of music, fair use snips. He got it unsilenced, by following the procedures, but is there really no way to incorporate fair use into the system better than this? The burden is always on those wanting to share. But fair use is part of copyright law too. Why doesn't Warner Brothers Music and the Gang have to respect that part of the law also? When you watch the video, note how many creative works are now under a Creative Commons license, 350,000,000. I'm amazed, and it's enough that there simply has to be a better method than what currently prevails, so those millions of content creators can do with their works what they would like to do. There is also a cute incident where he fixes a fact on Wikipedia, in a way that probably violates one of Wikipedia's crazy rules.


Extending Open Source Principles Beyond Software Development
~ by Pamela Jones

It starts with an idea.

Linus, for example, realized that if he put his kernel project online, people all around the world could work on it together, without having to be in the same building. They could quite literally write software in public that way, scattered around the world though they were.

Understanding such simple things changes the world sometimes.

But what about other areas? Is it possible to extend that same process to other kinds of work, or is it suitable only for software development? One thing can now be said for sure: legal research can be done that way. Groklaw is the proof of concept. But as I will explain, you need to tweak things just a bit.

I've done legal research for a living as a paralegal, and now I've done it with the world as a Groklaw volunteer, and I am therefore in a position to make comparisons. I think any company involved in any legal dispute that touches on technology could profit from using the open source method to tap into the community's group knowledge pool.

I'm a good researcher, and I do excellent work, but I know without a doubt that the input from thousands of readers made a huge difference in what Groklaw was able to accomplish in digging up helpful information in the SCO litigation.

How Did It Happen and How Does It Work?

When I began, it was just l'il ol' me. I had read Slashdot enough to know that while there was a high level of technical knowledge in some of the site's readers, the level of legal knowledge was low. I also saw there was a hunger to understand the law. Technical information that could influence the outcome of a lawsuit was available there, but it was not reaching the attorneys. And legal information that could help techies know what to dig up and helpfully provide was not readily available to the FOSS community.

At the beginning, I was trying to learn how to blog, because I had a job interview for a freelance assignment helping an attorney with his legal blog. You have to write something if you are blogging, so I decided to write about what I knew best, which is legal research. It felt private, like a diary, and I didn't think anyone would find what I was writing about or care much if they did.

I wrote to the air, thinking no one would read it anyway, and I horsed around, finding funny graphics for as many of the entries as I could, but it was just for fun, just to learn. I eventually chose to focus on the SCO v. IBM case because it appealed to my sense of humor and stirred my hatred of injustice, and because I knew quite a bit about the GPL, as it happened, and I knew SCO was going to fail on that part of its claims. I was also quite confident that Linus was not going to infringe on anyone's code on purpose. So, every day I'd add a little bit more to the story, as I saw news stories about the case and SCO's claims. I wrote as though I were talking with a good friend over dinner who asked me, "So, what's this SCO case all about? Is there any chance they could win?"

I didn't dumb anything down, because I wasn't thinking about an audience anyway, and I went into the research I was finding as deeply as possible. It did occur to me that I might find some things that would be helpful to Linus and to IBM I figured IBM might have a service that scours the Net to find IBM-related stories but that was the extent of my ambition. I knew most attorneys don't know a lot about computers or Linux or the GPL, and I knew a fair amount about them all, so I felt like I was throwing a message in a bottle out into the ocean, just hoping someone would find it and it would be useful.

After a couple of months, I got an email from a stranger, asking if I could please make the graphics smaller, because he was in Europe on dial-up and the blog took forever to resolve. He sent me instructions on how to do it.

Until that email, I had never bothered to read the stats on my site, even though Radio Userland, the software I started blogging with, provides them. I come from a family that has very little interest in computers, and I was used to people being emphatically uninterested in things I find fascinating, I didn't expect even my mother to read my blog. So, when I got the email, I was floored. I wrote back that I didn't know anyone was reading what I was writing, and he told me that lots of people read Groklaw, and that the community appreciated very much what I was doing. I was simply floored. I think I will remember that feeling until the day I die.

I looked at the stats and found out hundreds of people were reading what I was writing, apparently regularly. I turned on comments and, little by little, information began to be offered, particularly when I would ask for it, which I did more and more. Radio Userland also has stats on where your readers come from, what web site they visited before clicking on your site, and what I saw from that was that my readership was consistently growing, it was all word of mouth at that time, and the caliber of reader was very high. It included a high number of lawyers and programmers and professors at universities, from all over the world.

Finally came the idea. I had dug up some information about a Linux kernel author who made contributions to the kernel while an employee at Caldera, and when Slashdot put that article up on its site, the first time that had happened to Groklaw, the number of readers exploded. Even better, they had more information to offer. One would find an old press release, another an article from five years ago, another a speech by an executive, and so on.

When I saw that start to happen, I created a Legal Links page (, with links to legal resources, and started pointing to articles explaining things like copyright and patent law, things readers needed to understand so as to know which article or which press release detail mattered.

I realized then that Groklaw could be a bridge between the tech and the legal worlds, and that if I explained clearly how the court system works and what kind of evidence is valuable in that context, the community would find it, add what they knew, and it could work. The necessary pieces were in place. And I suddenly but totally understood the power inherent in this process of open, group effort. It felt like trying to ride a giant wave, as opposed to trying to turn on and then direct a stream of water in a particular direction. It had a life of its own, and my job was to try to follow the flow, not control it.

We found more and more. The readers built on each other's knowledge, and I learned that way too. My email level shot up also, as readers more and more began sending me tips and links and information. At the time, reporters were faithfully writing down every word the SCO folks spoke and reporting it as if it were all true, so I began reaching out to journalists. As we found information, I sent it to journalists, and some, to their credit, responded; some immediately, others over time.

Working as a Group

The first group project, in the sense of planned action, was to help everyone know how to write to journalists and editors so as to get good results. The FOSS community is not a group of phonies, and they tend to speak their minds. Also, a lot of us geeks are not socially skilled, so sometimes journalists would tell me how offensive the email they got had been. So, I put up on Groklaw examples of good letters, letters that did not offend, and the point was well received, so much so that I had two journalists remark that they never got any flames or nasty email from Groklaw readers.

At one point, we decided that someone should answer Darl McBride, CEO of SCO. He had written an open letter to the open source community. I asked if my readers felt like writing a response, and they did, so we worked on it online together, in the open. After all, his letter was addressed to us. Ideas would be left as comments, and then I'd incorporate them into the letter and post the next version; Then readers would suggest tweaks and more data, which I'd then incorporate and post the next version, until we were all satisfied. It took about two weeks. The Inquirer, which had been watching us create it, offered to post the letter and an accompanying collection of research supporting the points we had written on its web site.

This was very helpful, because by then, so many comments were being placed on Groklaw hundreds more than any other site on Radio Userland that the software was struggling, and we were afraid that if we got any more traffic, we'd simply melt off the Internet. That letter led to another growth spurt of Groklaw members, and at around that point, we simply had to move to larger quarters, and ibiblio graciously invited us on board after a Groklaw member wrote them to petition on our behalf.

It was still the early days, back in the fall of 2003, and we hadn't yet attracted many trolls or astroturfers, which is why it all worked so well. We were a group of like-minded people, all striving toward a common goal. No one cared a bit about credit, only results, and it was refreshing, even if it was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

What did I learn? That there truly is wisdom in crowds, and that you can rely on someone in such a group thinking of everything you truly need. Also, that somebody has to be willing to work harder than everyone else and be the final arbiter, or nothing ends up getting done. Later in Groklaw's development, there were other lessons to be learned.

Dealing with the Disrupters

As Groklaw became more popular and began winning recognition, along came the deliberate disrupters. I got my Ph.D. in trolls and astroturfers, you might say, so I'll share with you some things I learned in the University of Trolldom and Astroturfing, because it has a bearing on whether an open legal research project will succeed or fail.

Here's what I know. Trolls are mean. I can't stress that enough. If they see you trying to go to the right, they push to the left. Then they place comments whining that you won't go to the left or insist you ought to be going left but are going right when you shouldn't be. It doesn't matter at all that you are correct in wanting to go to the right. It doesn't matter that it's your decision to make. It doesn't matter that they are interfering with the work you've set out to accomplish. They are spoilers, and the bigger the blotch they leave on your page, the better they like it. There is nothing to do with a troll but delete his comments when you are sure trolling is the purpose. If you are weak in the knees and can't bring yourself to do that, trolls will destroy your open group project. It's that simple and clear. They enjoy destroying what you want to do.

When the open source project is legal research, you also must expect that the side you are working against will show up. They won't be wearing an ID tag. They are essentially spies. Here's how you will know: they work harder than anyone at first, and when they think you are lulled, they try to destroy your reputation and maybe your life, if they have the resources to do so. The interval when they are helping, however, has one purpose only: to gather information to use against you later and to form relationships with your volunteers, so they can undermine from within. It's absolutely essential to identify and either eject or corral such individuals. I can't explain how to do this in great detail until after the SCO wars are over, but it's not impossible to do. Of course, you need a strong stomach and a bit of a tinfoil hat.

I will give just one example. The very first such individual showed up when Groklaw was very new. He began by attacking Linux, then pretended to have an epiphany thanks to Groklaw, and then tried to stir my readers into unhelpful actions. For example, he suggested that everyone send Darl McBride certified letters protesting his actions. Certified letters. Right: SCO would have everyone's address.

Another time, he suggested everyone go to court in Groklaw T-shirts and take PDAs and phones to record the session, which they could stream to Groklaw live. That, of course, would have been a problem. First, the T-shirts would have made participants look undignified, but it would also have made them easily identifiable. This was not helpful. And recording a court session is a violation of court rules. I could just see the headline, so I had to put the kibosh on that fast. I did so by deleting his comments.

I know someone will put up a web site all about this now, but I don't care. You need to know that such things will happen, and you must be ruthless in making sure such individuals don't take over. They will try. Some will be fooled and will criticize you for stomping on the spy's ideas, which he will offer with so much mock sincerity, it isn't hard to comprehend how others accept it at face value. You can't explain publicly that you researched the individual and are reasonably sure they are a spy, and you must just take your lumps. Let them put up web sites. In the end, what matters most is that they are isolated.

Astroturfers are sometimes of that same mind, but usually they just want to steer the conversation their way. They don't want to be kicked off, so they are subtler. We have had a number of astroturfers. I call them the "I used to love Groklaw, but" crowd. Some of them look, at first, like spies. They work harder than anyone, take in all the info they can about you and how you work, and then diverging from the spy path they try to steer your project their way. If they fail, at some manufactured moment they publicly find fault with you and your work and loudly make their grievances known to the world, using your own web site and others to try to destroy your reputation. Sometimes they'll put up whole web sites about it. They're mean too, but it's just a job. Nothing personal. They just play-act the emotion.

All three groups will, sad to say, appeal to some of your readers. They deliberately manufacture issues they know will draw followers. If you leave their comments on your site, they will take over the conversation and readers will leave in disgust. If you moderate them away, they will loudly proclaim their love for freedom of speech, and some will join them, not realizing they are being played like violins. The purpose is to destroy your project and make sure it never succeeds. This is something that rarely happens in Linux kernel development, and in my experience it requires tweaking the open source process just enough to keep getting your work done.

Deciding what goes into the Linux kernel is a breeze in comparison to deciding whose ideas can be trusted in doing legal research. You must trust your instincts, and it is one of the most important reasons the majority can never rule when doing research.

The Difference Between Doing Legal Research in Public and Writing Software in Public

I mention all this because if you are doing legal research in public, sometimes you can't say in the open all you might say privately or if doing legal research for a firm. Parties are in litigation really don't want to show the other side their cards until trial, as you may have observed in the protracted discovery wars between IBM and SCO.

You may have an idea for an avenue to research, for example, but you don't know what the result of your research might be. If it is negative, it might not be wise to present the news that you are researching this area until you know what you have found. Sometimes information that seems negative, upon deeper digging, turns out to be helpful, and you very much might want to wait to tell the world all about it. It isn't a matter of hiding information; it's more a question of timing and presentation.

Someone in a legal research project has to know what to keep private and what to make public. There is a great deal at stake, and the outcome can be affected by the decisions you make. That simply never happens in developing the kernel. So as time went on, I built up a feel for whom I could trust in an inner circle of advisers, for both legal and technical research. No one person can do everything, so spreading out the responsibility is vital.

I view the most beneficial structure for such work as a kind of pyramid, where anyone is free to contribute at the bottom of the structure, but as the information moves up the chain, it finally has to go through one or a few at the top of the pyramid. In my experience, that person or persons must be able to say no and mean it, come what may. They must know enough about legal work to intelligently decide what should and should not be published and in which direction to take the work next. And they have to have thick skin, because criticism is sure to come from those who wish to turn the process upside down and have all decisions made by some kind of democratic vote. Linus doesn't even do things that way, but some will be sure he does and will try to make you follow such a setup.

Perhaps that works in other fields, but in my experience it doesn't in legal research.It probably would work beautifully if all the volunteers were lawyers, paralegals, and professors. Or it might work if your geek contingent didn't vote on legal issues, only tech issues. Otherwise, you are doomed, because it is hard for those who aren't legally trained to realize just how complex the law really is, and when they learn a little, they sometimes think they know enough to begin running the process. A little knowledge can actually be worse than none at all, especially when accompanied by a lack of humility. I could write three chapters on this subject, but I'll spare you.

The reverse is true for me with tech decisions. I know I am not the expert there, so I never make those decisions. I trust reliable lieutenants to decide such things, and I listen to my readers very carefully. It's the same with deciding which stories to mention and which to ignore. Part of Groklaw's purpose is antiFUD, but there is so much of it, what do you cover? I've learned to trust my readers' opinions on this, and if I get a lot of email about a story, I know it matters, even if I didn't think so originally. So, there is a kind of group decision-making.

In many ways, it's not unlike the kernel process, but there are elements of necessary secrecy in legal research that you don't have in programming. No one is likely to sue you for what you post about the kernel, but someone very well may over open legal research.

For example, we tried a second public group project a summary page and the troll-astroturf contribution was so high, I was afraid of being sued, because they left outrageous comments that I frantically scurried to get rid of, and they presented ideas that while sounding superficially plausible were actually designed to take the work in a direction that would undermine the effectiveness.

Eventually, we had to take the work private, which was not a huge problem, because by then I knew who was skilled at this kind of thing. Groklaw is a meritocracy. I leave the structure loose, so anyone can volunteer to do anything they feel like doing, but over time, I notice whose work is most useful, and others usually agree.

Still, it's an unfortunate thing that we had to do that project behind the scenes, because we had to limit ourselves to only those we already knew, which is not desirable in an open project. The workaround I've found is to do the fundamental work with known and trusted volunteers, and then post the results for comment and tweaking by the public at large. That keeps the door open to some brainiac newcomer, which you want, but it doesn't let spies and disrupters ruin things, which you don't want.

Why and When It Works

I don't think the process would work as well for a less, shall we say, inspiring case. Volunteers responded because they seriously cared about the outcome, not because they found learning to do legal research fascinating. I have gotten a lot of email about enjoying the learning, actually, but I also know that SCO was an inspiration. For some, watching an attack on Linux is like watching someone kick Dorothy's dog, Toto: people get mad and want to do something about it. You don't get the same response in all cases or by paying people. There isn't enough money in the world to pay me for the amount of work I donated to Groklaw, the nights without sleep, the anxiety, or the jerks I had to deal with sometimes, if I may speak plainly.

But it isn't by any means the only case I or my readers care about. Patents and standards also interest the FOSS community and should there eventually be a patent infringement attack on Linux or GNU/Linux, as I believe there will be, I know for sure that the community will react and be available to help. I hope and expect that Groklaw will be ready to be useful again, perhaps in doing prior-art searches, for example, which could definitely be done completely in the open, in contrast to the legal research in the SCO case.

I also know that if a company had a tech issue and needed to tap into the Groklaw group mind, they could simply place the issue as a comment, and readers would tell them whatever they knew. The encouragement on Groklaw is that you provide either a URL or personal experience to back up the thoughts you've expressed, so that anyone can follow the thread and prove or disprove it. That is vital. It lets everyone know that what they comment about is important, that they must stand behind what they write and be responsible to be careful.

The power of applying open source principals to legal research is real. I've lived it, and I feel it. It worked because no one knows as much as all of us together. There is no law firm in the world that can afford to hire the numbers of researchers Groklaw made available. And a small group of trained paralegals would not have been able to find all the technical information that we at Groklaw found together.

So the bottom line is this: as long as there is the heart and the will to do it, the open source process is effective in doing legal research. If you would like to experience it in action, come and join in the fun.


What Happened to my Creative Commons License? - Updated 2Xs | 390 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
What Happened to my Creative Commons License?
Authored by: MadTom1999 on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 05:12 AM EDT
I think you've missed the point. The whole setup of Google Books seemed to be to
pry ownership of the books from their authors and set them free: free for Google
to use and profit from.
I have used copyright law to prevent mass copying of my work. You have used
another license. Google have respected neither - they have only kowtowed to
those with enough money to make them listen.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Multiple licenses are a Gordian knot
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 05:18 AM EDT
I've seen it again and again; people slapping GPL on top of BSD is a perennial

Is doing that a violation of the original creator's license? Do you honour the
most liberal or the most restrictive parts of the Chimeraic license?

The thing is, the power behind all licenses are the copy rights of the original
creator. It's really up to them - i.e. PJ in this case - to make the call and
cut the knot by attempting to enforce their rights. Nobody else is going to do
it for them, and debating it on a random intartubes forum (hello!) doesn't
resolve the issue.

Oh, we will discuss it, of course. Dozens of people will declare here what
Google "should" and "must" do, not one word of which will
have the least effect on them.

Let's get on with it. I say that since the collective work has conflicting
licenses, that Google "should" and "must" do nothing, and
can pick and choose between the licenses unless forcibly obliged to do

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: Homen on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 05:21 AM EDT
Keep it off topic.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Happened to my Creative Commons License?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 05:22 AM EDT
Unless I am mistaken and have identified the wrong book, you
can find your book freely available at the Internet Archive:

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks
Authored by: Homen on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 05:23 AM EDT
Discussion about the News Picks on the Groklaw home page.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Happened to my Creative Commons License?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 05:36 AM EDT
Isn't Google's use "Commercial" so is it fact prohibited by the
conditions you have placed on it? Please note I'm not an expert on Creative
Commons conditions but then maybe neither is the Google Books team.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 06:13 AM EDT
Pitch in here to help perfect the article.

There is nothing unknowable--only that which is yet to be known. --The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is Google in violation of your license?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 06:36 AM EDT
Google is distributing your work, but not in its entirety. Your license says
your work can be distributed without any changes. They changed it by truncating
it. ...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Irony 2.0: DiBona, Chris
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 06:38 AM EDT
So this person now works for Google, eh?

He's a BLP over at WP:

DiBona, Chris

There is nothing unknowable--only that which is yet to be known. --The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Happened to PJ's Creative Commons License?
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 07:27 AM EDT
One thing is for sure: PJ ain't happy about it.

But what to do?

Google could be told to either put up, or shut up. But the latter wouldn't
really have the desired effect. Would Google do the former? Something they
should at least think about. It does seem something missing from their
approach. Isn't Google's basic intent to take stuff and make it available for
all? In an ideal world, someone from Google would read PJ's protest, take note
and do something about it.

Without mentioning any names, we wouldn't be happy about someone distributing
Our Stuff released under the GPL without also distributing the source code,
would we? Licences are licences, after all.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Do I understand correctly?
Authored by: Winter on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 08:07 AM EDT
What I understand is that PJ published her essay under a CC license. Great, I
like CC, except that I never really understand the Non-commercial restriction.
So I prefer the share-alike version.

Now Google supplies a fraction of the essay without linking to a full version.
Basically, Google uses a one-license-fits-all approach to Google books.

Given the paucity of books printed (on paper) with a CC license, I can imagine
Google does not see adding this additional linking as a pressing concern.

So, PJ would have been happy if Google would add a link to the full version? Or
so I understand.

So I would suggest PJ could write an article about how Google Books fails to
link to the full works when they are published under a CC license. Then the
outrage in the comments would put Google on the right track to start
implementing such a feature.

Oh wait....


Some say the sun rises in the east, some say it rises in the west; the truth
lies probably somewhere in between.

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Not well presented....
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 08:07 AM EDT
Google are presenting a not very well scanned bitmap copy, in this day and age. I am seriously unimpressed. Think of the unnecessary usage of bandwidth! And, it looks really shoddy.

It reminds me of the time we suspected that SCO were deliberately filing bitmap pdfs, as opposed to text pdfs, with one of the courts in order to make it far more difficult for Groklaw volunteers to convert them to text.

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Licenses and DRM/TPM
Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 08:10 AM EDT

I made a complaint about this to James Moore, the Canadian Heritage Minister,
about Amazon using DRM on works that are Creative Commons licensed, or out of
copyright. He didn't get it. It was like talking to a brick wall.

Nina Paley had an inquiry from Netfix about distributing Sita Sings the Blues -
Nina told them it had to be distributed without DRM, and Netflix refused.

This is an issue that is going to happen more and more often. I have no good
solution, other than my suggestion that DRM/TPM/Digital Locks should be


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It's at:
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 08:11 AM EDT
Open Sources 2.0 by O'Reilly Media

chapter 17: extending open source principles beyond software development -
pamela jones

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This has nothing to do with the license
Authored by: xtifr on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 08:30 AM EDT

CC licenses, like the partially overlapping set of Free/Open Source licenses, don't contain restrictions--they grant limited freedoms. The question is not, "is Google violating your license?" The question is, "is Google violating your copyright?" And since most of the works on Google Books have no extra license attached, my guess is that the answer is no. In any case, your options for redress, if any, have nothing whatsoever to do with the license, I suspect.

That said...CC-NC-ND? Really? That is definitely not in the overlapping set! In fact, that is about as far from meeting the Free Software or Open Source definitions as its possible to be while still claiming to be granting any sorts of freedoms at all. In general, I have very little sympathy for anyone using that license, and I dare say that it has a lot to do with why the text isn't more widely disseminated. NC-ND means most open projects, from Wikipedia to Debian, won't touch it. Aside from music, I generally try to avoid NC-ND licensed material like the plague, myself.

Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for it makes them soggy and hard to light.

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PJ, Consult your Lawyer...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 10:10 AM EDT

PJ, as you tell us, when faced with a legal issue, consult a lawyer. The issue may be much more complex than it seems at first.

The metadata for the copy of the work at O'Reilly (http://commons indicate that the collective work is all rights reserved and that the individual essays CC-NC-ND: "The essays in Open Sources 2.0 are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 license. " A lawyer might interpret Google's use of your essay as commercial, thus not allowing them to distribute your essay in its entirety. The nature of the book that they scanned as a collective work with its own copyright complicates the issue yet again.

With the disclaimer that I'm definitely not a lawyer, this does feel to me like Google is in the position of having to treat this work in the same way as if it were entirely All Rights Reserved (where I think Google crossed the line and violated the Copyright by scanning the entire work in the first place, but that's a separate issue), and they aren't licensed to present your essay in its entirety.

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What Happened to my Creative Commons License?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 10:17 AM EDT
I am working with a friend of mine publishing his works in google books also and
have had the same problem you are discussing. I sent an email to them with the
problem and it was fixed in about 10 days.
The site is still in beta so sometimes things go a bit wonky. But it is usually
fixed in a few days and if not they do respond to the emails.
Be patient :)

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Google is a Commercial Endeavor
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 10:26 AM EDT
One may be able to successfully argue that because Google is a commercial
entity, they might be in violation of your CC license if they were to publish
your work. Why would anyone want to take that risk?

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What Happened to my Creative Commons License?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 10:26 AM EDT
Your license says NonCommercial.

Google books is commercial or at least is being accused of being commercial by
some publishers and lawyers.
Gaining Ad revenue etc.

So Google can not publish your entire article without being at risk. At least
that would be may thinking.

Creative Commons license, Attribution, NonCommercial, NoDerivs 2.5

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What Happened to my Creative Commons License?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 10:27 AM EDT
"... It also means they are free in a noncommercial context to copy and
redistribute it with attribution, as long as they reproduce it accurately and
without changing anything or adding anything...."

But Google is a commercial entity and, as such, they prefer to only publish a
short excerpt as permitted by the fair use doctrine.


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What Happened to my Creative Commons License?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 10:31 AM EDT
Your license says NonCommercial.

Google books is commercial or at least is being accused of being commercial by
some publishers and lawyers.
Gaining Ad revenue etc.

So Google can not publish your entire article without being at risk. At least
that would be may thinking.

Creative Commons license, Attribution, NonCommercial, NoDerivs 2.5

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No Bilski (again)
Authored by: Steve Martin on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 11:42 AM EDT

According to SCOTUSbl og, the Supreme Court has issued opinions in four cases:

Still no decision in Bilski, but there will be more opinions issued on Thursday.

"When I say something, I put my name next to it." -- Isaac Jaffe, "Sports Night"

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Your rights are as important as the book publishers' rights
Authored by: artp on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 12:38 PM EDT
Your rights are as important as the book publishers' rights. That is a legal
foundation. But if the results are going to acknowledge that your rights are as
important, then the matter of money enters the picture.

The book publishers have much more of it, and have people watching this
situation full time. You don't.

Nevertheless, I hope somethings happens as a result of this. While you don't
have money, you do have a certain measure of public recognition, and a large
group of us to do some footwork. Sometimes that can trump the money.

I have consulted lawyers on issues over the years, and invariably, they tell me
that their primary job is to prevent people from suing. Not from getting
results, but from not seeking results at all. The legal world is still a rich
man's world.

Someone pointed out an irony that Chris diBona is an editor of this book. I also
find it ironic that O'Reilly is the publisher, which made its start, and most of
its money, from UNIX books. They used to be Open Source friendly, but I don't
see as much of that any more. The whole book could have been put out as a CC

Userfriendly on WGA server outage:
When you're chained to an oar you don't think you should go down when the galley
sinks ?

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O/T - about the article
Authored by: YurtGuppy on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 01:51 PM EDT
Deciding what goes into the Linux kernel is a breeze in comparison to deciding whose ideas can be trusted in doing legal research. You must trust your instincts, and it is one of the most important reasons the majority can never rule when doing research.
I appreciate the effort PJ has put into GrokLaw even more after reading this article.

In the end it is the Host's reputation on the line. Comments are peanut-gallery stuff.

But, there are certain commenters that really know stuff. They aren't just talking to their hat. Keeping the comments section cleared up of trolls, astroturfers, etc gives the real knowledge people a safer place to put in their valuable insights. Insight has value and you don't "cast your pearls before swine".

So, thanks to PJ for making that environment too. It is almost a reverse interview experience. PJ's articles lure out the commenters who have real information, like a novice seeks training from a master: fill in my knowledge. And the masters who take the time have a forum to educate.

It has been very well done. (kind of like a good deposition?)


just swimming round and round

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dont want "trolls"
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 02:03 PM EDT
take out anonymous, but dont expect honesty after that

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Google Books does some CC books right
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 02:37 PM EDT
We can see that Google can get CC right by looking at two examples: These are modern, in-copyright books published under CC licenses, and Google Books is presenting them complete and unedited. The second book even has both a standard, restrictive book-publisher's copyright notice and a Creative Commons A- NC-ND 2.5 license but Google was still able to figure out that they were allowed to publish the whole thing unaltered. What we don't know is whether they did this because they sought and obtained (redundant) permission from the publisher.

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What Happened to my Creative Commons License? - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 03:06 PM EDT
PJ, I've long been disgusted with trolls, whether issue, cash, or ego motivated.
Thank you for putting together that article.

Thick skin, hard nose, controlled and educated paranoia. Three necessities for
dealing with trolls.

Your article needs more on pattern recognition, descriptions of tactics and
strategy, links to troll "how to" pages, new title so people can find
it, and posting to several venues. Perhaps sent to the people running the
various host sites?

Blast. Work calls. Thanks again.

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Trolling versus Legitimate Dissent
Authored by: mcinsand on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 03:24 PM EDT
First, I agree with the poster that suggested removing the ability to post
anonymously. If people are that concerned about privacy, then they can
certainly create a free internet e-mail account or whatever as well as a
pseudonym. However, back to the point...

There is a difference between honest dissent and trolling, which sadly isn't
always easy to flag in others *or* *ourselves*. When we post or respond to an
article, it is often on a topic that we feel strongly about, and we can drift
from calmly expressing our views into being inflammatory. In case there are any
doubts, the only person that I am pointing out here is myself. On the other
hand, there are people that are driven (or encouraged) to post provoking
messages just to drive a community over the edge. I have no doubt that SCOX'ers
and MSofties have done this. Back to what I have seen in myself, though, I have
responded a bit too vigorously at times, when I should have taken a deep breath
to reword and strip emotions out of what I have written.

This is a line that PJ has walked inspirationally well. While we agree on SCOX
and MS, there are a couple of issues where most (or much) of the Groklaw
community and I are 180 degrees apart. Legitimate dissent is tolerated here, as
long as it is expressed in a mature manner. Groklaw seems to set the
discretionary line to let some trolling pass through, and it looks to me like
this is done to avoid rejecting an honest opinion. Recently, there have been a
couple of posts where I could see responding to agree with part of what the
poster was saying. However, the message appeared to be crafted for inflammatory
value rather than to promote an idea exchange.

Either this list or another one time had a discussion on possibly requiring a
delay for anonymous or new account posts. Those posts might be reviewed by PJ
or a deputy before being allowed to appear in the comments. The problem is that
this makes for a lot of work on the part of the administrative personnel. The
other issue would be the impact on lively, current discussions.

What about deputies being able to put a questionable comment into a holding area
pending review with the author? My main issue here is that it could make me a
bit lazy with regard to self-moderation. Honestly, I did this with one
supervisor when it came to my reports. He did such a great job of editing that
I tended to not bother so much about polishing my drafts.

*Sigh* If there is an easy solution, I don't have it. All I can do is applaud
PJ and her helpers for allowing a wide range of ideas to flow.


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Not at all like kicking a dog
Authored by: vortex on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 04:37 PM EDT

From the first paragraph of the last section of the article:

For some, watching an attack on Linux is like watching someone kick Dorothy's dog, Toto: people get mad and want to do something about it.

I find that an odd perspective. I see the attacks on Linux as more like Martin Luther King (mixed with a dash of John Henry) being dragged off to the plantation by someone claiming he's an escaped slave, as a way to silence him, so as to keep the rest of the downtrodden from hoping to rise free of oppression.

Free software is, if the world be just, a mighty force for good: some fear that, so they strive to prevent it attaining the just rewards of its virtues. Those who see the virtue of it hope for its success – and rise in fury at every abuse that tries to rob it – and us – of the benefits it has earned.

While those who kick a little defenceless doggy appal us, it is for quite other reasons than we are appalled to see a strong, brave visionary cheated, threatened and abused. We are moved – not by pity for an innocent, though innocent the victim is – but by outrage against the injustices with which the vicious try to bring down the noble.

Finally – the SCO group saga's end game.
Break out the pop-corn, sit back and watch the fire-works.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Happened to my Creative Commons License? - Updated
Authored by: FamilyManFirst on Monday, June 14 2010 @ 07:59 PM EDT
PJ, quite unusually, I must disagree with the theme of your post. Let me see if I can explain why.

Your Creative Commons license spells out the conditions under which someone can copy your work. If those conditions aren't met, then that entity is forbidden permission to copy your work, based on copyright law.

However, as you have pointed out before, copyright law is not absolute. There are exceptions and conditions under which an entity is allowed to copy a copyrighted work, whether the copyright holder agrees or not. Fair Use is one such exception, and it is one of the defenses that Google has raised in its lawsuit.

Google Books isn't about making books available to read, in their entirety. It's about making books searchable. Granted, with books that are out of copyright or where authors have granted Google permission, Google does make some entire works available, but that is secondary. To the purpose of making "Open Sources 2.0" searchable, Google has used their Fair Use rights to reproduce portions of the book for searches, but not the whole thing. Had they made the whole thing available then their Fair Use defense would be null and void. I submit that you have no grounds for complaint, as Google is only doing with your essay what you have praised them for doing with others' works.

At some point in the future Google may be able to get around to checking on Creative Commons works to make them available in the "entire text" section, but for now they're more concerned about making books searchable. To that end they have done nothing more or less with your essay than they've done with anybody else's work, and I submit that they have the right to do so.

[ Reply to This | # ]

CC Options on Google Books
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, June 15 2010 @ 01:55 PM EDT
Hi. My name is Brandon Badger and I'm a Product Manager on Google Books. In cases like this where we show a 20% preview of a book, it is because the copyright owner of the book has entered the book into our partner program and specified that they want 20% shown. http:/ /books Last year we launched a feature that allows the copyright holder to set an option that indicates that the book has a creative commons license. Here's a blog post with more information about that: creative-co mmons-to.html

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Happened?
Authored by: rps on Tuesday, June 15 2010 @ 06:23 PM EDT
"Google wouldn't let me read it in its entirety"?
What ever happened to "Do no evil" at Google?

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Thanks, inclusion in The Open Source Way
Authored by: quaid on Wednesday, June 16 2010 @ 07:46 PM EDT

PJ, thanks for this fantastic piece on applying the open source way in legal research. There is enough here to pull in to "The Open Source Way" handbook as a stand-alone chapter (or appendix). However, we cannot do that with the license "Extending Open Source Principles Beyond Software Development" is under.

Originally I wrote an appeal and reasoning for relicensing "Extending Open Source Principles Beyond Software Development" for inclusion in "The Open Source Way". However, I went through the comments and read the whole thread "This has nothing to do with the license". Seeing PJ's final word and reasoning on the subject, I won't make that appeal.

The goal of "The Open Source Way" is to be a focused, canonical location for principles and practices, such as those covered in the story of the Groklaw community. The handbook can then focus on specific domains, such as business or law, covering with more depth, noting where they adhere to and where they diverge from the common principles. Since I can't incorporate the content from "Extending Open Source Principles Beyond Software Development" in to the handbook, I'll work on a brand new chapter that reviews PJ's work, summarizing points and quoting appropriately without infringing, and I've always got the power of the hyperlink.

This whole situation is a very interesting and sticky part of conducting things the open source way. You can't always use licensing and freedom in the same way for all circumstances. It was once clear to me that the NC and ND variants of the CC licenses had no place in free and open discourse, yet I'm less certain now.

For example, this came up recently on the Open Your World Forum hosted by Curt Smith (Tears for Fears founder) had a very real case of a major commercial artist using a Tears for Fears song practically as-is without compensating the original copyright holders. If that song were under a CC license without an NC clause, then Curt wouldn't have ability to seek recompense and would have to watch his work make money for someone else without any credit back to him. (Of course, some people view that as the situation with any FOSS contribution, such as the Linux kernel.) The whole thing is a bit of a mess to me, as I see some areas more at risk of exploitation when under a CC license than other areas. (Audio of that session available at

What I'm taking away today is this thesis: "By choosing NC and/or ND you are choosing to reserve certain rights at the expense of freedom, where the reason for choosing is more important than providing fundamental freedoms to an open work." As well as: "Choose your licensing carefully when it isn't just code." Is that a fair assessment?

For "The Open Source Way", our requirement is to embody the principles we write about. Because the NC and ND variants deny users some of the four essential freedoms of the Free Software Definition (freedoms 0, 2, and 3) and on referring to the Fedora Project licensing page, we've elected not to use the NC or ND variants (project's contribution policy.)

Further reasoning on not using the NC variant is informed by this article on (via URL shortener).

@quaid ( :|: )

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What Happened to my Creative Commons License? - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: tanner andrews on Thursday, June 17 2010 @ 10:23 AM EDT
Parties are in litigation really don't want to show the other side their cards until trial, as you may have observed in the protracted discovery wars between IBM and SCO.

Allow me to offer the advice for which lawyers are so justly loved: ``it depends''.

If I have a crummy case, yeah, I'm going to be a bit reticent in my compliance with discovery. Try to get discovery out of these FC mills, and you will have the textbook example of frustration. There are some judges who still think that a FC plaintiff is a standard bank and there is no question of their case; it is a slow process of education.

On the other hand, if you have a good case, you may want to use discovery as the opportunity to blow your own horn. The answers to interrogatories go into great detail about the facts. The document production is carefully indexed so that the other side knows what you have, and knows that you know what you have.

I like to put all the documents on a cd-rom instead of simply dumping a bunch of paper on the other side. I try to get my discovery out promptly and without requesting extensions of time. If I have a good case, I enjoy thinking that the other side knows it.

I am not your lawyer; please ignore above message.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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