Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Libre Knowledge?

I'm pretty much baffled by Stephen's endorsement of generally approving link to the Declaration on libre knowledge. First off, it doesn't seem to address at all his concerns about commercial distribution, which seemed to me to be his most substantive objections to the Cape Town Declaration.

Overall, the declaration is so half-baked and leaky that I can't even come up with a coherent critique of it. By my reading it says they seek a licensing mechanism which would control the terms under which I could use the ideas in a text, which, aside from lacking any legal basis, is practically impossible. I'm supposed to keep track of what knowledge in my head I've obtained from libre knowledge sources and remember to only re-distribute it as libre knowledge?

I see absolutely no reason to use this statement instead of the Definition of Free Cultural Works, which is, in comparison, mature and tightly reasoned.

1 comment:

Stephen Downes said...

I didn't endorse the sattement, I said, "This declaration responds to my concerns," which is something very different.

I agree that the Definition of Free Cultural Works is a better and more precisely formulated statement. I was not aware of it before (I have long since ceased attempting to know everything) and so find this a useful and relevant citation.

In a post to the unesco-oer mailing list today, I identified two major types of commercial restriction I find problematic, as they amount to ways in which access to the free (libre) version of the resource is inhibited:

- enclosure (as when a museum places a public-domain work in a room and prohibits all forms of copying, such as photography, in that room)

- blockage (as when commercial companies successfully lobby public entities such as schools to bar all but commercial versions of works from access by their clients or students)

The copyleft provisions in the Definition of Free Cultural Works go some distance to resolve my concerns (in particular, they cover distribution of resources using proprietary technology, and restrictions on usages of distributed resources), though I note that none of the licenses listed (including CC-BY-SA) could be contemplated as having 'strong' copyleft provisions.