Monday, February 12, 2007

Creative Commons Controversy

Seth Godin’s blog is one of my favorites. His short, concise thoughts and observations in a webby entrepreneurial point of view, makes for a good read most times.

Today though, he has a post on how a one of his books titled “Everyone’s an Expert” available free online , is now published and sold, it’s available on Amazon, without his explicit consent.

The consent however, was implicit. When Seth originally published the book online, he chose a Creative Commons (CC) license (for the unenlightened, this is a form of licensing that allows content creators to giveaway certain rights so only ‘some’ rights are reserved.). Within CC licenses, there are types which disallow commercial usage of CC licensed content, but the one Seth chose makes what the publisher doing -at least at first glance - completely legal.

The publisher is essentially selling the service of making available a book in printed hardcopy. they are not really selling the product per se, but rather selling the service of providing the product, an enhanced delivery system if you will, from online PDF to delivered paperback. At $10, it’s not a bad deal.

A question can be raised as to whether the publisher should acknowledge the book is available online? The answer is no. The publisher is essentially a competing with the free provision of the book, and it doesnt make sense for them to promote the 'free book', much same way Yahoo doesn’t have to acknowledge that Google is the better search engine.

At this point, I would like to skip the part about ethics. Wouldn’t it have been nice if the publisher got permission from Mr.Godin? Of course! But that’s arbitrary. What if, Seth, as is likely to happen in this case, asked the publisher not to publish his work, Should the publisher oblige? I don’t necessarily think so.

This paves way to raise a few pertinent issues, not only regarding this particular case but regarding Creative Commons (and other copyleft) licensing in general.

  • Can a content creator later change his/her mind about the choice of license?
  • If the license is revoked what will happen to the re-used content using the liberties of the previous license? What if for example, a publisher re-published a work previously under CC license without the knowledge that the license has been revoked?
  • Are there, implicit limitations that content re-users are unaware of? For example, Seth in his post hints that by using his name, the publishers may be violating trademark law.

Creative Commons and similar initiatives are necessary instruments for content creators to survive and profit in the integrated world we live in, it is incidents such as this, which would further strengthen the creative copyright model.

At the end of the day what people have to understand is this: Commons are creative, but nobody said they were nice.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Love is Selfish ?

With the valentine's day around the corner, the capmag has an interesting article on love – I found the following paragraphs somewhat revealing :

Love, we are repeatedly taught, consists of self-sacrifice. Love based on self-interest, we are admonished, is cheap and sordid. True love, we are told, is altruistic. But is it?
Imagine a Valentine's Day card which takes this premise seriously. Imagine receiving a card with the following message: "I get no pleasure from your existence. I obtain no personal enjoyment from the way you look, dress, move, act or think. Our relationship profits me not. You satisfy no sexual, emotional or intellectual needs of mine. You're a charity case, and I'm with you only out of pity. Love, XXX."

The full article can be read here - [What is True Love?]

I believe all individuals are fundamentally selfish whether they’d accept it or not, people who proclaim they’d live for or die for other people are, well, hopelessly romantic to start with, and fundamentally, still selfish.

Perhaps with things like love though, people do not attempt do rationalize it. probably a good thing.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Real M.C. - How I Pimped my Country

Photo by Indi

The era of big government is over. Introducing, Mega Government…

53 Cabinet Ministers, 33 Non-Cabinet Ministers, 19 Deputy Ministers, 1 President, 2 brothers, 100s of Advisors, over 6000 self-hailing billboards, all this on a carefully calculated scientific basis.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Mahinda Chintana.

Yes it is indeed a new Sri Lanka under King Rajapakse, we now have:

A vibrant representative democracy –1 Minister per every 0.2 Million people– India can manage only 1 per every 14 million. No wonder there are bombs in Bombay!

A visionary economic plan spanning over 10 years of planned economic brilliance, all the soviets ever managed was 5 years.

A creative national security policy, 1 person disappears every hour. A truly home-grown solution to menace of terrorism.

All world leaders are now looking up to the chintanaya for answers to their present day crisis. So much so, the king has decided to publish his own book titled the ‘The Real MC: How I Pimped my country’.

Following is an extract from chapter 2: problem? what problem!

“..Is corruption a problem? Why not abolish the investigation body? Getting bashed in the media? Try arresting the editors. Your astrologers fear bad times? Change the time, stupid!. Miss your homies? Build the chaps an airport. Yes now they can fly into parties hosted in your official residence courtesy of the good people in The World Bank, the ADB, and of course your faithful tax payers. ..”

and chapter 4: Mihin-theroy

“..If you are the king, you really got to own your turf. So first, is the multimilliondollar marketing campaign. You have to make your homies feel you are with them; your figure must be visible from every street corner, roundabout and lamppost. Billboards are they way to go, statues are so Soviet Union. Every thing you do, have to scream it was done by you, launching your own Airline? Call it Mihin-Lanka, building a housing scheme? Name it mhindu-sevana, air purification project ? mihin-air…”

and Chapter 5: the Magic Word

“..if you learn only one phrase, let that be - ‘National Security’, now dig that. This is a life saver, yes it is these words that would justify anything and everything you do, it will justify inflation, abductions, shutting down your capital city, crooks in cabinet, yes absolutely anything!. The moment you or your merrymen utter these magic words, your peeps will start nodding. That’s right, time for some big time pimping..”

Many more chapters would be made available at a later date.

All proceeds would go into the ‘Helping Hambantota’ account for safe keeping on behalf of the good people in hambantota.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Karu Vateyta Horu

Gone are the days when the UNP was shouting slogans like ‘Awoth Karu, Payayi Hiru’,
Nowadays the party loyalists are shouting (or rather squeaking) along the lines of ‘Giyoth Karu, Penei Tharu’ while others, at least the sirikotha faction have settled for the slogan ‘Karu Vateyta Horu’. Sighting the alleged corruption charges found during a COPE investigation, against the likes of Milinda Moragoda and some say even Mr. Jayasuriya.

In the wake of the mass jumbo exodus, to what is essentially now, a UNP government headed by Mahinda Rajapakse many have speculated as to the fate of what remains of the Grand Old Party. The answer is – quite a lot.

As one Sunday newspaper claimed some time back, most people in Sri Lanka is inherently UNP. The party can command quite easily, at least 35-40% of the electorate regardless of whether there’s a split, or who’s in the Leadership.

Given this fact, Some say, that the crossovers are in fact a blessing in disguise for Wickramasinghe and the mainstream UNP. I’d beg to differ. Lets be honest, this is a HUGE set back for the UNP, one from which they will have a tough time getting over. Especially, in the reality of having your own parliamentarians against you and given also the possibility of yet more UNPers joining the government, to the point where the opposition leader post could be handed over to the JVP, things does indeed look bleak for the UNP. But even so, it would be premature to pass definite judgments.

The motives of the so called reformists (crossover faction) could be diverse; For some, it could be escaping corruption charges, the others it’s just a matter of sheer lust to become a Minister.

It’s not however, like Rajitha Senarathne proclaims an attempt to promote ‘good governance and peace’ if these were the motives, the act of joining the jumbo cabinet itself is the greatest deterrent for ‘good governance’ in the country.

In any case, there is now, a redrawing of political equations. The JVP after at years of avoiding the programme now participate in the ‘Jana Handa’ the programme hosted by TNL, both UNP and JVP participants were seen in close conference with each other trying to bully poor Tissa Vitharana representing the government. It is clear that the UNP will try to go into a common cooperation with the JVP, similar to that of the pre-2001 era.

Another element of the changed equation is the dissident SLFP members, led by Managala Samaraweera and the Bandaranaike’s. Whether these dissidents are as dissenting as the Morning leader would tell you, remain to be seen.