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Choice of license


A copyright license can take many forms. Copyright, as a concept, is related to rights in general and to property rights in particular. Property rights are about social organisation: how can people related to each other and through the objects that surround them? Property is not referring to objects as such, but should be understood as some sort of articulations that makes it possible for people to live together without too much friction. Property rights such as those used in the liberal/capitalist market economy are based on exclusion: if this is my car it is my right to exclude you from using it (and a whole range of other stipulations and restrictions, as well as permissions are possible for the proprietor). The genius of the basic Free Software document, which is in effect the constitution of the Free Software community, namely the GNU General Public Licence (or simply the GPL), is that is subverts this exclusionary logic and bases its property rights (copyright) around distribution instead. That is the concept of Copyleft. Copyleft is a particular Copyright. It is radically different, but it is a Copyright, since it deals with issues that a creator or inventor may have with her work.

More reading can be found on the websites of the Free Software Foundation and Creative Commons.

The purpose of this page is to facilitate a discussion about the choice of Copyright, or as it were the kind of Copyleft, that AktiviX as a collective will use for this Wiki. The GPL and the associated GNU Free Documentation License, which is the current/initial default license of the AktiviX Wiki, indicates that the sky is wide open; and the elaborations of Copyleft licenses by the Creative Commons show that articulations of property rights in a Global Information Society can take an infinite variety of forms only limited by our own imaginations (and political repression and corruption, of course)!


AktiviX is a network, a collective, or a group in formation of people that has come together through a realisation of the exciting explorations possible between traditional political activists and hackers: free tools for a free culture for a free world - or how can we have free minds of we don't have free information?

The need for a license for the Wiki contributions makes sense in at least three major ways: (i) to organise our collaborations in a way that minimises the potential for conflicts about ownership, both internally to AktiviX and with concerns to external "actors"; and (ii) to practice and experiment with property rights to gain a better understanding of this basic legal aspect of social organisation and to do so through experimental, collaborative self-organisation. Moreover, (iii) by discussing, choosing and testing one or more licenses and by providing feedback to those who create them, AktiviX actively engages with and contributes to the Copyleft movement, which is part of the "movement of movements for globalisation from below".

In brief, there is a need for decision making within AktiviX about licensing of the stuff contributed to the Wiki (and other collorative environments that may emerge) in order to avoid future conflict, to experiment and to make a political statement: another property system is possible!

Aims and Terms

It could be said that property rights, in this case Copyrights, are so fundamental to social organisation that a boundary of a community is drawn up with them. The Free Software community is a good example, as well as the higher echelons of corporate power and wealth, who fight to protect their property through all means. While it is well adviced to avoid fundamentalism and other fanatic behaviour, such as racism and xenophobia, it is also well adviced to draw the boundaries of your community. These can be inclusive and exclusive in so many ways.

A question that makes sense to ask: where does the boundary of the AktiviX community go? There are many commons, which do we want to join? Currently we are using the GNU FDL, because it is the original or default Copyleft license for text in cyberspace. FDL, as a license is translated from the domain of software (code) to human language documentation about the software (text, incl. prose).

The obvious alternatives to FDL are provided by Creative Commons. CC license can offer the combination of certain restrictions and permissions as well as an infrastructure for an open participatory revision through user feedback and discussion.

A viewpoint could be that AktiviX endorses the work of the Free Software Foundation and supports the GNU GPL, but consider it relevant to use a CC license, because CC has a wider focus and the FSF is probably better of focusing on the struggle around the GPL or (the question concerning ownership of software code). [THIS IS A STATEMENT THAT DOES ADEQUATELY PRESENT THE ARCHIVES OF THE MAILINGLIST AND HAS TO BE REWRITTEN OR DELETED OR REPLACED OR AGREED TO]

The question of where and how to draw the boundaries of the AktiviX community seems to have to balance on the hand a problem or threat somewhat similar to recuperation and on the other the wish to let an idea travel as far as possible. Activists experience and rhetoric vs. hacker experience and rhetoric.

Social movements and radical ideas or icons have throughout history been subverted for better and worse and there is a strong sentiment that can be called anti-capitalism to which many political activists protest passionately, but there is also a hacker idea of sharing with the big corporate players, (if they play along with rules and because they are needed for acceleration), to gain a stronger position against conservative forces that see the GPL as a threat to their property (see Groklaw for more legal stuff).

These are two ideas between which there are tension, but which should be able to reach a common ground. This common ground, or license, however, may not be written yet. Help us write it!

The propositions

These licenses have been suggested as the licenses that articulate the positions of respectively the "anti-capitalist activist" ethics and the "hacker" ethics:

  *Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike or 

The difference has been discussed on these threads:

  *June 2004
  *July 2004


  *copyright configuration: licensing commercial use?