STEPHEN DOWNES: Hi, Dave and George-- it's me again. Still around for week number three. I welcome both of your students. Just kidding.
Today we're talking about the five Rs, and we're talking about Creative Commons. So the five Rs-- f to go by your site, Dave-- are the rights to, and I quote, "Retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute."
And I'm sure there'll be a lot of discussion about what each of these terms means over the course of this week, so I'm not going to belabor them a whole lot. But I do want to think about the perspective that these five Rs entail.
And they're the perspective of a person who already has the document or already has the resource. They are about what you can do with the resource.
And to me, that's always been a bit of a backwards definition of open. I know that the five Rs are derived from Richard Stallman, and I know that they are derived from the concept of free software-- free as in freedom, as opposed to free as in beer.
I know that the five Rs are about creating software that can be built upon, shared and grown by a community. All that's fair enough.
Even so, Stallman's conditions talked about software with the presumption that people are going to have the software in their hands. And there's this background understanding-- background tacit agreement, if you will, sometimes not so tacit, that this software will be accessible, that it's not going to be obfuscated, it's not going to be hidden behind a compiler or something like that.
After all, the the whole concept is called open source, right? The idea is that you're seeing this first of the software, that it's not hidden away from you.
You apply that concept to content, and the same sort of logic applies. The logic is that-- people have the need to be able to access in order to be able to retain.
They need to be able to use once in order to reuse. They need to be able to read and write in order to revise.
They need to be able to have and to hold in order to remix. And finally, they need to have in their hands in order to redistribute and to share. Without access, none of these permissions works.
Now you might say-- I can picture David in my head saying-- well, yeah, access is pre-supposed with these five Rs. And I agree, it is pre-supposed with these five Rs. But in the actual practice of this, the implementation of this, access doesn't actually necessarily happen.
And we see this-- the way they're instantiated in the Creative Commons licenses, there's been the big debate and David and I have had it for decades-- literally decades, I'm not making that up. Whether open means something can be commercial or noncommercial.
Now, there can be some obfuscation about this. Do you mean-- somebody might say-- commercial entities?
So let me be clear-- no, by commercial, I mean you don't get access unless you give somebody money. That's what I think of as commercial. And then we can nuance that a bit.
Now Creative Commons licenses allow for commercial use of, quote unquote, open content. The five Rs, strictly speaking, allow for commercial use.
And indeed, the argument is even made that it's less free, if it's not commercial. But I don't think you can have on the one hand open, or indeed any of the five Rs, and yet block access by selling.
That's just me and that's my five minutes. Talk to you next week, Dave and George.