Nimmer₂ on Creative Commons

Seth Schoen pointed me to this article by Ray Nimmer (not to be confused with the (more) famous copyright scholar David Nimmer). Nimmer₂ is an outspoken advocate of strong copyright and is very skeptical of free software.

What is interesting about this article is the overlap between my argument in Toward a Standard of Freedom and the argument made by Nimmer₂. Nimmer₂’s subject is the free information movement and he argues against a principled position and a social movement toward freedom. He argues that part of Free Software’s maturation can be seen in what he sees as the movement’s tendency to look beyond its principles and standards. He positively describes a trend of putting aside core values and principles — both in terms of the particular values in the FSD, OSD and DFSG and in terms of the method of building a movement around a defined standard of freedom — as, "an assertion of productive and healthy individualism [that] arguably, reflects an expansion of the core ideas of open source outside the narrow confines of its own limiting doctrines."

He holds up Creative Commons as a productive example of how the free information and culture movement is getting beyond their whole doctrine, principles and standards nonsense. If we look at CC as part of a larger free information movement that may eventually start influencing free software, he may be right.

Open Source succeeded in separating the doctrine and definitions of Free Software from its principles and ethical arguments. Creative Commons, and others following their example, has now introduced a broader free information movement that has fully excised any fixed definitions of freedom and openness and has even abandoned the strategy of providing definitions at all.

This of course, is precisely the argument I made in Toward a Standard of Freedom but it’s a little disconcerting to see it made by someone on the other side who then comes to the opposite conclusions. As Seth put it, "Nimmer is saying that CC is doing exactly what you’re saying it’s doing, except that he thinks it’s good because he doesn’t like free software!"

2 thoughts on “Nimmer₂ on Creative Commons”

  1. It’s nice that you are able to get a positive point of view to everything. ;)
    Yet, this maybe rather means that CC’s wish-wash/foggy-ways is the wrong way after all, since it leaves so much room of interpretation.

  2. Well, it makes sense: you see the CC as bad evolution because you believe in Free software and CC dilutes Free software principles. Nimmer dislikes Free software and hence likes CC’s evolution, since it dilutes the Free software principles. This whole thing actually strengthens your case against CC’s evolution.

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