Re: Human Friendly Licensing of Patents
Andrius Kulikauskas <ms@...
2005-12-08 01:44:13 GMT
Michael (at Solaroof) and Drew (at Creative Commons),
Thank you for your replies, which I include below and cross-post.
Drew, yes, we met regarding work I and my lab have done to apply the
notion of "Public Domain except as noted". We used the website
http://www.primarilypublicdomain.org and now we've moved to
http://www.ethicalpublicdomain.org "Ethical Public Domain" is the
phrase which Rick Nelson of Solaroof came up with and I have pursued
that. It expresses our need and approach as moral (Ethical, based on
people's best judgement) rather than legal (depending on going to
court), positive (YES this is public) rather than negative (NO rights
reserved), primary (we have a right to share, and a right that people
presume we are sharing) rather than secondary (less relevant than "some
rights reserved"), and practical ("except as noted") rather than
dogmatic ("rights reserved"). It's essential for online social
networking where organizers need to circulate micro-content using their
best judgement without asking for permission or tracking licenses AND
they need to have a moral integrity which means they have to care about
things (like respecting the law and taking it at face value) that most
people might not even think about. Not a lot of people like that, but I
believe they are the moral foundation that actually makes for real
change, first of all, personal growth. Yet most people take as
authority whatever concept is established. For example,
http://www.fluwikie.com (to prepare and respond to a flu pandemic) uses
the Wikipedia licenses even though it draws heavily on Public Domain
governmental sources and has the goal of disseminating information as
readily as possible. Try to get them to change! (As Lawrence Lessig
writes, "we all should consider the consequences of our choices"). Yet
slowly we're pulling together a culture of "Public Domain except as
noted" with about 100 active and 1,000 supportive participants, 10,000+
letters (see http://www.ms.lt), 5,000+ wiki pages
(http://www.globalvillages.info and others) and more in the Public
Domain except as noted, which in practice means 99% Public Domain. And
we've had genuine reuse, but also about 20 clients, including
researching chocolate production for fair traders, and an economic
theory to explain why this works: "An Economy for Giving Everything
Away" http://www.ms.lt/en/workingopenly/givingaway.html So we have the
beginnings of a culture, much as Richard Stallman and his colleagues did
more than thirty years ago.
I'm finding that in our "global villages" work we engage and attract
innovators for whom the patent questions are very real. They would like
to give freely but why are they hesitant? I think that they see that
the world is engineered to abuse their generosity. This is the nature
of the legal contraption that we live in. For example, "fair trade" is
the noble concept that the family farmers who grow the coffee, tea,
cocoa etc. that we enjoy should earn a decent minimum for their hard
work on our behalf (which market competition is designed to squeeze
out). So there are products which are "fair trade certified" and for
about 2,000 euros an inspector will come out and certify a group of
farmers. But no matter how such fees are set up, they inevitably favor
the larger plantations, and the larger organic producers (like Green and
Black's) and the large companies (like Hersheys) that buy them to have
access to their supply chain. The smaller groups of family farmers
wonder how to participate. Or I look at Google and I read their terms
of service and wonder, why are they allowed to scrape and cache all the
websites in the world, but I'm not allowed to scrape and cache any part
of theirs? Isn't that an outrageous abuse? Aren't they a bully? I was
told that such terms of service are written to "cover their xxx" and
should be understood as such. But as a moral being, I know that I
should expose myself to moral responsibility, not try to diminish it or
escape it. But this is how the "good guys" operate. What is the root
I believe that the root issue is that we've walked away from morality
and traded it for legality. That reduces us to legal contraptions and
makes us equal to corporations yet their lessers in terms of size, power
and longevity. Moral questions are without scope as there are no bounds
on our responsibility. The legal contraptions are fine as mechanisms so
long as they serve us, and not we them. They need to be kept within
scope. Just as copyright is fine so long as it is not the "default".
If somebody wants to copyright material, they should take the initiative
to register that, or at the least, to mark it as such. The problem with
the law (since the 1970's) is that you don't have to mark your work, the
default is "copyright". It's assumed that you want to keep control over
your work - we have lost the presumption that we are sharing people, and
that is a slander on our humanity. People who want to control their
work should be obliged to mark it as such. Similarly, people who want
to control their liability by organizing corporations should operate
them within a charter, within some scope. As a minimum, each
corporation should have a well defined purpose (as an NGO might) and a
time limit to achieve that purpose (even if it's fifty years). But in
our days there seems to be no meaningful scope to corporations that
would make clear that they cannot pretend to take human moral
responsibilities and so have no grounds for human rights.
My instinct is that a "human friendly licensing of patents" will make
clear why humans are superior to these legally grounded fictions.
Creativity comes in human vessels. There is no corporation, no "group
mind", no "collective intelligence" that has any creativity of its own.
It simply, at its very best, may magnify and apply the creative spirit
that speaks through an individual. So we simply need to allow
individuals, if they wish, to tax corporations that want to leverage
that creativity, even while sharing freely with other individuals. This
lets us live not as "special" people who are isolated from each other
and manipulated by our differences, but as "one" person who looks for
and lives our humanity in every situation that we find ourselves in.
Yes, it is a discriminatory approach because it favors human reality
over legal fiction. I suppose part of this choice has to do with our
approach to our "personalities" that make us "special" - are they not
fictions? Is not the reality that, at heart, we are one person? When I
create something profound, worth controlling, do I think that I created
it? Or is it not something greater than my limited imagination? Am I
not simply an observer? And is it not intended for all? And do I not
believe that ours is a universe that is supportive and protective of
such gifts? Yet we live in a tortuous social fiction that abuses our
generosity for the purpose of confining us within its legal logics.
Just as Microsoft is happy when people use pirated software, or record
companies are happy when people share files without permission, because
it proves that "people are thieves" and lets the system treat us all as
Yes, I definitely think that we should discriminate against
corporations. I imagine it is legal and straightforward, but ask for
help on how to do it. Thank you, Michael, for your link to
http://gangsofamerica.com/index.html I look forward to exploring that
and learning. I believe that this one issue alone - designing human
friendly patents - will allow individual inventors to flourish and
support each other around the world - and show how barren the corporate
world is in comparison, even as it is "depopulating". When the
difference becomes apparent, I think that then it will become
politically possible to restrict corporations as to their missions, so
that their rights are limited just as their liability is. Perhaps we
might look at NGOs and consider, what kinds of charters make for NGOs
that work well with humans, and what kind don't. I imagine it's the
"efficient" NGOs that are problematic, in that their goal is to squeeze
out human actors rather than to involve them.
I wonder where to find people who might be interested? Michael, perhaps
you know of such venues?
+370 (5) 264 5950
> Hi Andrius,
> You have offered some really creative, admirable and worthwile ideas here.
> I think you are right on point about corps. They are immortal,
> amoral, soulless entities that almost always wind up being run by
> sociopaths. Sociopathy is another great evil that deserves greater
> exposure as well.
> I would like to give a link to a free downloadable copy of a recent
> book that, I think, goes far to explain the sorry state of affairs we
> find ourselves suffering. This is not a pirated copy. but made
> available by the publisher and author. Check it out. I think you'll
> find it rewarding. If you agree, please share it with anyone and
> everyone you think would benefit.
> I would be interested in learning more about what you perceive to be
> the greatest problems with NGO/NPO's. Granted, when they reach a
> certain critcal mass, they can turn into self serving beasts, as can
> any organization. Don't you think protocols could be established to
> protect against such excesses, once they are identified? What do you
> see as the unfair advantage they have over individuals (other then the
> obvious tax free status and tax deductibility of contributions)?
> Anyway, good luck, and carry on.
> Michael Ritcher
> PS Feel free to contact me directly if you wish to continue this
> discussion outside the group.
drew Roberts wrote:
> I have run into you before and seem to remember posting to your site a while
> I find this an interesting approach and it is one I am exploring some as well.
> (IE. giving advantages to actual human beings.) There are going to be tricky
> issues to solve though, especially if you give humans the right to combine
> and build upon these technologies. I will be interested in hearing the
> thoughts of people more in the know. Would t his be considered
> descrimination? Or could we do it?
> all the best,
> On Wednesday 23 November 2005 03:36 pm, Andrius Kulikauskas wrote:
>>TO: Creative Commons, CC: global villages, working-in-parallel, solaroof
>>Hello to all,
>>I have an online laboratory, Minciu Sodas, http://www.ms.lt for
>>independent thinkers. Some of our participants and allies have genuine
>>innovations in software design and ecological technology.
>>I would like to ask for help from Creative Commons or the Electronic
>>Frontier Foundation to think through legally how to license technology
>>so that human beings could use it without restriction but corporate
>>entities would have to get permission.
>>We have inventors who would like to share their technologies widely for
>>people to use without restriction. They understand that they will not
>>be hurt, but rather may find ways to benefit from sharing. However,
>>their sense of fairness is violated if somebody profits inordinately
>>from their work without sharing such profits.
>>I think that distinction between "commercial" and "noncommercial" is not
>>helpful. If we want people around the world to be "self-sustaining",
>>then we need to encourage commercial application and not tax it with
>>requirements of asking for permission.
>>Instead, I propose to make the distinction between "human" and
>>"non-human" (= corporate entities). Our economy has evolved to allow
>>for and favor non-human business entities. The sole purpose of these
>>entities is to limit liability. The resulting entities have unfair
>>advantages - they have all the rights of humans, but none of the moral
>>responsibilities. I find it helpful to think of them as the modern
>>equivalent of Biblical "demons" or Islamic "genies".
>>How difficult would it be to define patent licenses such that:
>>* humans could use the patented technology without restriction
>>* corporate entities would have to get permission (and the patent holder
>>may require them to pay a licensing fee)
>>There are some details, but I think the key distinction is the issue of
>>"liability". Corporations (but also many non-profit organizations) have
>>limited liability. This is what gives them a competitive advantage over
>>humans. I think it's fair to assume that they don't have a concept of
>>"a higher vantage point" that goes beyond them, and so it is reasonable
>>that humans make such decisions for them regarding the bigger picture
>>that may be involved. Whereas one might reasonably choose to believe
>>that other humans should use their own best judgement. That is why I
>>think this is a helpful place to draw the line regarding asking
>>For example, the individuals within a corporation would be free to use
>>the technology. But any time the corporation wants to use it as its own
>>asset (for example, as a tool, or in its products or services) then it
>>would have to make sure that it had permission.
>>The result I expect is that inventors could earn large amounts of money
>>from licenses to corporations while at the same time contribute to a
>>vibrant commons for all individuals. Also, individuals within a
>>corporation would grow stronger, and the shared technology would help
>>tear down the corporate wall which keeps individual innovators from
>>offering their services. The human-friendly technologies would open up
>>conversations that could make Cluetrain a reality. Our "human commons"
>>might circumscribe corporations, make them more livable, and generally
>>"tame" them so that they serve us, rather than we serve them.
>>I think that a proprietorship should be considered an individual because
>>the owner (or owners) has full liability. I'm not sure, but I would
>>imagine that governments likewise have full liability, and so they would
>>qualify as individuals.
>>In my experience, non-profit organizations are dysfunctional in much the
>>same ways as corporations, and they have unfair advantages compared with
>>Could you help us work this out legally? I have discussed this with one
>>inventor who would like us to proceed in this way.
>>I'm also curious if there are others who might like this approach.
>>+370 (5) 264 5950
>>cc-community mailing list