If you've been following the announced partnership between LessWrong and Castify, you'll know that we would like to start offering the promoted posts as a podcast.

So far, everything offered by Castify is authored by Eliezer Yudkowsky who gave permission to have his content used. Because promoted posts can be written by those who haven't explicitly given us permission, we're reluctant to offer them without first working through the licensing issues with the community.

What we propose is that all content on the site be subject to the Creative Commons license which would allow content posted to LessWrong to be used for commercial use as long as the work is given proper attribution.

LessWrong management and Castify want feedback from the community before moving forward.  Thoughts?

Edit: EricHerboso was kind enough to start a poll in the comments here.

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If you want this post to be discussion about the copyright status of posts on LW, then you should change the title. I expect that a lot of people who would be interested in commenting on that issue might skip over this post because the title gives no indication of the actual topic.

You obviously cannot retroactively change the copyright status of already published posts without the express consent of their authors, but I'd support a move to add a text saying "by pressing submit, you agree to license your post under [some CC license]" to the submission form. Or possibly an option to choose under which license you wish to publish your post, though that would more work for the site programmers.

Also, I hereby declare all of my past and future posts on Less Wrong to be licensed under CC-BY. EDIT: No wait, I can't make such a declaration, because part of my posts are written for MIRI, who owns the copyrights according to the work-for-hire clause in my contract. I'll try to mark these posts somehow, but ask me if you want to be sure.


I just want to draw attention to the following bit of Kaj's comment, which seems like it should be really obvious but Rick's original post seems to indicate wasn't obvious to him:

You obviously cannot retroactively change the copyright status of already published posts without the express consent of their authors

You can "propose [] that all content on the site be subject to the [CC-BY] license", but you can't actually bring that state of affairs about.

I'd like to second a change for so that all future posts are explicitly under whatever license is needed. The mission of LW involves outreach, and you can't effectively conduct outreach if every time a book is published or a podcast is made every author has to be individually contacted for explicit permission. How do others feel about making this change for all future submissions? [pollid:376]
Voted CC-BY-SA, want CC-BY-SA with opt-out ability. I don't imagine it being used often, but if someone really wants it, it should be there.
What would the default license be when someone chooses to "opt out of CC-BY"? Would it be CC-BY-SA?
I can't edit a poll, but obviously option 2 was meant to read "allow", not "require".
I think your intent shows through anyway - content is available under CC-BY unless you specifically opt out.
I've changed the title, hopefully that brings everyone into the discussion.
If you can be bothered, it would be good to edit the posts to add the notice.
It would be, but I'm afraid that I can't be bothered.
Entirely fair enough :-)

All of my original work offsite (I can't do it with my fanfic and have never thought about it for my LW posts, which I always assumed would remain under regular copyright by default) is under CC-BY-NC-SA. I'm happy to formally extend that to my LW posts, but I imagine Castify would find that unsatisfactory/unusable. I'm actually really uncomfortable with people making money off things I wrote without working out a deal with me. It certainly doesn't help that I'm kinda averse to audio content and don't want to check Castify's work to see if it's something I'm happy to have associated with me with this extra level of sorta-endorsement (extending a less restrictive license to the content that happens to interest them).

I'm comfortable with CC-BY, but I would rather it be CC-BY-SA with the SA condition waived for LW's media partners.

For those who don't know, SA means

Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

There's no real reason to have it waived.

Are you looking at CC-BY-SA or CC-BY? I've never written a promoted post, but for what it's worth, I'd be pretty comfortable with my posts being licensed under the former -- which is also used for Wikipedia contributions -- but not so much for the latter.

We can't do CC-BY-SA because we'd have to use the same license, which would allow others to use the audio we've created outside of the Castify service.

We can't do CC-BY-SA because we'd have to use the same license, which would allow others to use the audio we've created outside of the Castify service.

That's an excuse. You can use the license. You just don't want to do so. As you are making money out of the creative work of other people, why exactly shouldn't you get away with not allowing others to reuse your content?

I guess I should have inserted in there that "We can't run a business and do CC-BY-SA". Of course we could use that license but then everyone would just share the recordings for free.

We are not trying to be greedy we just want to build a viable business that provides a valuable service. If you see a clever way to do that and still use the CC-BY-SA license then please let us know. We are still new and are willing to consider different business models.

Experiment proposal: Use CC-BY-SA for some recordings, and other licences for other recordings. A year later, measure how many copies of which recordings are available on internet. (I don't recommend it seriously, but I would actually like to see the results.)

Hypothetically, would it be too big problem for you to use different licenses for audios of different articles, based on how the article author feels about this topic? Yes, your competitors could legally take some of your audios, but not all of them... so their satisfied customers would then come to you for the rest. Depending on numbers, the gains could outweigh the losses.


Emphasis is *asterisks*, not CAPS LOCK.


It's 2012.

This argument has happened over and over again for the past 20+ years.

We all know how it turns out.

If you want to set the terms, you pay the creators.

Actually, whatever license you use, your content will be copied around.

If you use a proprietary license after taking CC-BY core content, copying your content will be less legal and less immoral.

This is "crowdsourcing" in the pejorative sense: a cloud of "suckers", all arrows pointing to "you" in the middle.

You are explicitly demanding to proprietise others' work, for no benefit to them.

You really, really can't make a business except by proprietising contributions to a commons? The word for that is "parasite". You really can't?

Edit: The image I was thinking of, originally by Evan Prodromou (founder of WikiTravel) (here under CC-by 2.5 Canada):

The post the image is from is well worth reading, as are its comments, if you have a business plan that involves others doing the content creation unpaid.

You are explicitly demanding to proprietise others' work, for no benefit to them.

While I'm in rough agreement with the general spirit of this comment, "no benefit" isn't exactly right. If they use any of my material, then they're taking my work, making it more accessible to people who might not have heard of it, and both spreading the ideas I wanted to be spread as well as making me personally more known. That's work that benefits me.

What about when they start sending DMCA takedown notices with your name on them?
That I wouldn't approve of, but the possibility that some people misuse your work is the risk you take when setting it free. Besides, I'm pretty sure that they would be the ones who'd take the hit from that, once I had made clear that I had nothing to do with it and my work continued to be available for all.

It'd be a sucker business model if they had an automated program to compile books from posts and sell them on Amazon and they kept all the money.

This is them spending money to turn things into audio, then trying to sell enough audio files or subscriptions to pay the costs. In exchange, we get more exposure and people who wouldn't hear our stuff otherwise can hear it. This seemed to me like a perfectly reasonable exchange as applied to my own posts, and I have no 'ick' reaction to money exchanging hands. Do you really have a mental image of some hard-working sweating LW poster, like me, living in poverty while Castify, dressed in a suit and dripping jewels, lounges around on my back? This is not a particularly lucrative engagement they're entering, and I see no reason to imagine that audiobooks would ever come to exist otherwise.

Hmm ... Castify doesn't have any other content (and thus, no subscribers) yet. They're literally brand new; the castify.co domain was registered last month. They don't have an audience yet to which to expose or promote LW. For me, this whole exercise pattern-matches much closer to "a tech startup promoting itself in a known technophilic community" than to "an effort seriously designed to maximize accessibility and promotion of the content" or a crowdsourcing ripoff of the sort David Gerard is describing. (The Wikitravel case is pretty icky, but it doesn't resemble this case much at all.) Not that an act can't be both a promotion and an accessibility effort; and it's pretty low-risk for LW, but on the other hand — — how much do you usually charge for endorsements? Ever? That's pretty strong. Even conditioned on the existence of audiobooks of HPMOR — which cannot be commercially done?
The issue is that we have been called parasites, yet we haven't done anything parasitic—in fact, short of asking for feedback, we haven't done anything at all. We are asking for feedback because we don't want to be parasitic. We understand there will some people who will never be comfortable with us using their stuff, some who wish to be compensated, some are happy to allow LessWrong [management] to decide what's in their interest and some who are happy to freely allow us to use their material, perhaps subject to some restrictions. What's offensive is you using loaded terms to those who are actively trying to engage with you to maximize the utility for the community. If the end result is that there are no terms beneficial to both us and the community, so be it. The premise that we'd like to use your stuff with no benefit to you is incorrect. We would rather not pursue our business model than be parasites. That was why we created this discussion in the first place.
Can we be less rude to people that aren't used to our community's discussion norms? Calling someone a parasite isn't going to convince them of anything, and we want people like Rick to engage with us instead of just exchange some money and ignore the community.
The problem is that the arrangement posited is in fact odious, and that that aspect is important. If you have a word of equal accuracy that concisely communicates the problematic nature of the posited arrangement, I'm all ears.
In this case, the point would be just as strong with no word there instead. "Odious" is also a good word, come to think of it - not "you are odious" but "the arrangement is odious, because you seek to make money by other people's uncompensated labor," assume that's in fact the business model.
It is trivially true that people may gain from their work being published, even in the absence of remuneration from the publisher. For example, it may contain product placement they are being paid for, it may gain fans they can later sell products to, or it may spread ideas they wish to see popularized. Indeed, in the absence of these "parasites", many of these would willingly pay for their work to be published, and indeed some do. In this case, the articles in question were not made to provide this site with ad revenue or because they were commissioned by some wealthy individual, they were made to be read, and to inform others of their contents regarding rationality. Anything that allows more people to access this material aids that goal, and as such this deal is mutually beneficial to both parties. Of course, it would be nice if someone was willing to pay, but frankly none of us are going to pay (or donate our time) to produce such material, and we are fortunate that there is someone who expects sufficient benefit from this.
Who do you mean when you say everyone? Do you think that billions of people are going to share those recordings for free? Even more perplexing. If you think that they do, having a subset of your collection be shared by billions would probably have a very good return on the investment because it promotes your website and not all the products of your website have to be CC-BY-SA. For most commerical successful infoproducts it's possible to download them for free on some file sharing platform. People pay for those products usually because they think it's fair to pay the creator of the product in return for the value that they created. Most of that time file sharing is illegal but websites like Zenhabits show that successful businesses who give up on all copyright protection for their work do exist.
Very true. It's hard to know how everyone will use the files once they get them onto the computer. What would happen if we released all copyright protection like Zenhabits? I have no idea. It's an interesting idea. I wonder how it would play out in reality. I'm not sure if you've noticed but we do have Eliezer's large essay "The Simple Truth" available for free so people can try out the service. LessWrong is a unique situation for us. Most of the other blogs we will be partnering with are written by a sole blogger who will want us to use some form of copyright protection. This is why we've asked for opinions on the topic here to see what everyone would like to do. I personally think that an opt-out or opt-in system seems the most fair as it gives the individual the option.
There are two different kinds of freedom. People can download "The Simple Truth" from you without paying anything. They however are not free to remix it and create derivative works based on it. On your end I don't see a need to license every recording the same way. Specifically it wouldn't cost much to make an experiement. Two channels with similar LessWrong content. At the start ask every author for permission. One channel gets a closed license the other gets CC-BY-SA. Both get the same price. It would be interesting to know the practical effects. Does the closed license channel sell better? How widely will the CC-BY-SA content get distributed?
What's the business model, you bear the costs of recording audio and take a share (or all) of the profits, or the writer (LW in this case) bears the costs and you split the profits? Most people seem fine with CC-BY, you could tweak the split or the fee for the odd person that wants CC-BY-SA until it's profitable again (or eat part of the cost to keep a client happy, if LW brings in enough business otherwise.
Well, yeah, you can.

I'm not interested in anything I write being copied and redistributed in a way that does not permit the recipient to copy it further.

Also, y'all don't care for podcast purposes, but Cards Against Rationality is implicitly CC-BY-NC-SA since it inherits from Cards Against Humanity.

There's not really such a thing as an implicit CC by-nc-sa - these licences are not "viral" in that sense. Your post should be edited to add an explicit CC by-nc-sa notice, else it's technically just a copyright violation. (In practical terms approximately nobody will care deeply, but if you're reusing someone's stuff under a CC licence it's good practice to do the small things that constitute doing it properly.)
David is correct about the way the copyleft works, which almost no one ever is: your content never "becomes" copylefted just because you build upon a copylefted work; you must either explicitly license it under a compatible license, be using the original work in a way that doesn't require a license (fair use, de minimis, etc.), or you are infringing. Just to go into slightly more technicalities: if CAR doesn't take copyrightable expression from CAH, you can license original work in the new game under a different license; the share-alike requirement doesn't get triggered if what you got from the original wasn't something that would have been protected under the original license. What counts as taking copyrightable expression can be pretty fuzzy, though. I haven't compared the two games--just clarifying the requirement. And practically, it's advisable to use the BY-NC-SA license from CAH if you're at all unsure.
Not doing so explicitly is a violation of the license.

In response to some of the comments here and as a bit of an experiment, we've made The Simple Truth mini audiobook available with a CC-BY-SA license. Enjoy and share alike.

Wow, I'm impressed. I'd go out and buy all the works you have produced thus far... if I hadn't already purchased them all.
Thanks. New sequence coming very soon.

You can't retrospectively relicence past contributions without explicit permission of the authors, but you can explicitly require a certain licence going forward.

(This sort of thing is why relicencing an open source project is a major goddamn pain in the backside, and why thinking really hard about it ahead of time is a good idea.)

This makes me think that a particular licence, that explicitly requires an approval of all future licences that unambiguously reduce restrictions imposed by any future licence changes, might be a good idea. (In more sane words: By agreeing, you grant us the right to move your stuff to an even freer set of rules than these ones.)

"You agree to release your work under licence X or future versions of licence X as approved by organisation Y" is pretty common, and hasn't been seriously challenged (even when people whine about it, e.g. Wikipedia using the CC-by-sa provision of GFDL 1.3).

(Turns out that Stallman and Moglen knew what they were doing when they invented copyleft.)

Hey, cool, I didn't know about that. I have yet to really dive into all the copyleft/creator's rights stuff, but this sounds remarkably sane for what I know of Stallman's reputation.

Stallman is a socially grating smelly geek of little personal charm who's spent nearly thirty years consistently being pretty much completely right, and utterly uncompromising about it. This is, of course, unforgivable.

1Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
Why do people feel the need to add this sort of prelude when praising someone? (Can I also ask that David answer first before anyone else does?) David, suppose you deleted the preamble and looked at the resulting sentence - what does your brain object to?

Rot13'd to sortof comply with your request.

Vg'f abg whfg cenvfr, vg'f na rkcynangvba bs fubxjnir'f bofreingvbaf.

Fubxjnir fnlf "guvf vf fhecevfvatyl fnar, tvira EZF'f erchgngvba". Qnivq rkcynvaf "EZF'f erchgngvba" naq gur "fhecevfvat fnavgl" ol cbvagvat bhg gung ur'f orra boabkvbhfyl gryyvat na vapbairavrag gehgu sbe n ybat gvzr, jurer "boabkvbhf" rffragvnyyl erqhprf gb "hasyvapuvatyl cevapvcyrq va na naablvat jnl, arpxorneqrq, trrxl".

Gur snpg gung ur vf n arpxorneq vf eryrinag gb nal qvfphffvba bs uvf erchgngvba.

This is about right. (I wrote the above comment before decoding nyan_sandwich's.)
Because I was stating the general source of this sort of view of Stallman's "reputation", per the comment I was replying to. The version with the preamble deleted doesn't quite answer the comment I was replying to.
For what it's worth, the preamble does a better job of explaining to me why Stallman has the reputation he does. Also, I am less sure about this, but I found the prelude to be a joke of sorts - it functioned to set up "completely right" as a negative trait. The edited version lacks some of the punch - it tells me that people hate Stallman for being right, but it doesn't quite communicate the intensity.
I do see and largely agree with your point, and I did consider adding "and by the way, he built your goddamned world", but felt that wasn't really part of an answer to the post as such either.
What David said. If you hit one of his hot buttons, he will get worked up about it until you come around (using the term "intellectual property", for example). But in general he's forward-thinking and holds positions that he's come to after a long time considering their implications and how they fit into his goals--I think very hard before disagreeing with him. (Even if he is lacking in social graces.)

LessWrong and Castify want feedback from the community before moving forward. Thoughts?

Who is "LessWrong", referring to, in this sentence? I usually understand it to mean the community, or the website, neither of which applies in this case... Would it be the owners, either the Trike Apps people or Eliezer and other SIAI / CFAR folk?

LessWrong refers to the SIAI / CFAR folk including Eliezer.
Please edit your post. Either to that reference explicitly or at very least "lesswrong management". (Typically an unadorned 'lesswrong' is used for rather than ).

I haven't written many posts here but for the record, I don't wish anything I have written or will write to be protected by a licence which restricts free propagation.

I hope you realize that the copyright that is automatically applied to all your writings is almost maximally restrictive. The purpose of all the licenses discussed on this page (and of most copyright licenses used on the internet) is to loosen restrictions on propagation.
That's unfortunate. However in practice the copyright is rarely, if ever, enforced for ordinary blog posts written by a pseudonymous author. If hypothetically somebody for whatever reasons violate the copyright, it would be technically illegal, but the copyright violator could be sure that nothing happens because I have no incentives to sue anyone. If, on the other hand, my text were part of some company's business plan, the incentives to sue violators would exist. Therefore the present situation is preferable to me. But anyway, if it can be done this way, I hereby declare that all my past, present and future writing on LW are in public domain.
There is a very knowledgeable man named Mark S. Miller who puts, "Text by me above is hereby placed in the public domain," at the bottom of his posts. He's been doing it since 2002. (He only posts on mailing lists, though, AFAICT, where of course it is accepted practice for static text to appear at the bottom of posts.)

Gur nhqvb evtugf gb zl pbzzragf ner nyernql yvprafrq haqre EBG13 gb Rlyehcast.

V qbhog irel zhpu jr jvyy ghea lbhe pbzzragf vagb na nhqvbobbx, ohg vs jr qrpvqr gb, jr'yy or fher gb nfx sbe rkcyvpvg crezvffvba. :)

What we propose is that all content on the site be subject to the Creative Commons license which would allow content posted to LessWrong to be used for commercial use as long as the work is given proper attribution.


Most objections that come up could be dealt with by making this the default and allowing authors an opt-out clause. For instance, someone who wants to post excerpts from a paper or book that they plan to publish under different terms.

Along similar lines, another potential problem is posts that contain quotes from other works; quoting is "fair use" but I'm not sure this still applies to a reading of the quoted material.

I like the /. approach to user content. Castify, of course, would prefer the license that is of maximal benefit to them. It seems to me that it would not be too difficult to explicitly ask the few people who have something to say that is worth recording.

So we've talked through the implications of having some posts under the CC-BY-SA licence and others under the CC-BY license and we think we could incorporate both into a single podcast feed as Viliam_Bur suggested.

I've never actually posted more than a comment here, so I'm all for the idea.