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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: November ::
Licensing and Public Domain
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.1056  Tuesday, 28 November 2006

[1]     From:     Sean B. Palmer <
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    Date:     Saturday, 25 Nov 2006 10:45:33 +0000
    Subj:     Re: SHK 17.1047 Licensing and Public Domain

[2]     From:     Gabriel Egan <
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    Date:     Saturday, 25 Nov 2006 13:07:26 -0000
    Subj:     Re: SHK 17.1047 Licensing and Public Domain


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Sean B. Palmer <
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Date:         Saturday, 25 Nov 2006 10:45:33 +0000
Subject: 17.1047 Licensing and Public Domain
Comment:     Re: SHK 17.1047 Licensing and Public Domain

 >Personally, I have a problem allowing someone else to make
 >a profit off of something (even if it's $1) that was founded to be
 >free for everyone.

So did I for a long time, but as a software developer that meant that 
people would not use my code since there's a big social understanding 
that software released by hobbyists should be free for any use.

I maintained my position until a friend savvy with licensing issues 
pointed out the crux: "non commercial" is very poorly defined. For 
example, what if someone were to republish some of your "free" online 
edition of Shakespeare, but published a Google ad on each of their pages 
to pay for the upkeep of the server? Non-commercial is too harshly 
defined, out of necessity.

I think that non-commercial licenses are, in a way, trying to enforce 
politeness. Perhaps you could think of using a commercial-friendly 
license as trusting in the inherent politeness of people-even though 
that's going to be a naive standpoint in many cases.

 >1) In the opinion of the people on this list, which is the best type
 >of license to use? (Even another option I didn't mention)

I'd use the GFDL (which you appear to be calling the "GPL", though 
that's the software equivalent of the GFDL documentation license that 
you link to). Wikipedia uses it, so there's a grand precedent there.

 >2) What's your opinion on the quality of texts currently available
 >online and free? Is there one particular site that stands out? Why?

I'd like original spelling texts of Shakespeare to be free as in public 
domain. Conceptually they are, but if someone prepares those from the 
original manuscripts, there are bound to be variations and I believe 
that as such they must be considered under the copyright of the digitiser.

For example, ise.uvic.ca has brilliant transcriptions of the Quartos and 
FF; an example:

http://ise.uvic.ca/Annex/Texts/Wiv/Q1/Work

Yet its copyright statement says...

[[[
All items published on the site of the Internet Shakespeare Editions,
whether text, image, sound or video files, are copyright. They may in
all cases, however, be used for educational, non-profit purposes.
]]] - http://ise.uvic.ca/Foyer/copyright.html

Which seems such as is absurd for the original spelling versions.  
Perhaps someone on here is affiliated with uvic.ca and would be happy to 
discuss the licensing conditions of these texts?

Thanks,
Sean B. Palmer, http://inamidst.com/sbp/

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Gabriel Egan <
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Date:         Saturday, 25 Nov 2006 13:07:26 -0000
Subject: 17.1047 Licensing and Public Domain
Comment:     Re: SHK 17.1047 Licensing and Public Domain

Ron Severdia asks SHAKSPERians whether they think the GNU General Public 
Licence or the Creative Commons Licence is better for a project that 
will, I infer, give Shakespearian content away over the Internet.

It makes no difference, since you are most unlikely ever to attempt to 
enforce the terms of the licence you pick. Even projects as large as 
Linux are unable to stop corporations taking bits of licensed software 
for unauthorized reuse in their products, and you've no chance of 
preventing people commercializing your stuff if they decide to.

And why would you want to stop them? You comment:

 >I have a problem allowing someone else
 >to make a profit off of something (even if it's $1)
 >that was founded to be free for everyone.

HTTP/HTML was founded to be free for everyone and without licence 
restrictions to prevent commercial exploitation. This is a good thing, 
for it allows you, Ron, to promote your commercial theatrical activities 
via the websites you've made. With these websites you are 
commercializing Tim Berners-Lee's gift to you (that is, HTTP/HTML), so 
is it not hypocritical to seek to prevent others commercializing your work?

Regarding the Shakespeare texts currently available on the Internet, the 
most carefully done are Michael Best's extraordinary Internet 
Shakespeare Editions (ISE).

But only Cymbeline, Romeo and Juliet, Troilus and Cressida, and Venus 
and Adonis are currently completed. All the rest are on the way and it 
seems on the face of it pointless to replicate the serious academic work 
of ISE.

Gabriel Egan

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