Nupedia Open Content License

Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. rod at
Mon Oct 30 16:20:57 UTC 2000

A point of clarification on fair use. "Fair use" is based on copyright.
Hence, the license may control uses that would otherwise be deemed fair uses
under the default rules of copyright. In this respect, it is not consistent
with open source philosophy to specify what uses the licensor considers fair
uses since doing so would have the opposite effect than what is intended.
You might think of it like this: although the GNU GPL flips copyright by
altering the default rules of copyright to benefit the "public domain," fair
use cannot be flipped in the same or similar manner by a license since fair
use already grants "rights" to the public.


----- Original Message -----
From: "John Cowan" <jcowan at>
To: "David Johnson" <david at>
Cc: "Jimmy Wales" <jwales at>;
<license-discuss at>
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2000 10:43 AM
Subject: Re: Nupedia Open Content License

> David Johnson wrote:
> > "You may not charge a fee for the sole service of providing access to
> > use of the Content via a network"
> >
> > Why not allow someone to charge for the service? Presumably the server
> > which the content is based cost some money to operate. The content
itself is
> > still free beer.
> I agree with this.  Furthermore, dropping this provision allows people to
> provide (e.g.) a better framing of the content, or a better search engine
> for it, for a fee, without even coming close to breaching the license.
> You may say that that is not the "sole service of providing access", but
> I believe an enhanced-services provider would feel safer without this
> > "Attribution Requirement"
> >
> > I have nothing againt attribution requirements personally. But I recall
> > decades during which the BSD license had an attribution requirement
which the
> > FSF called "obnoxious".
> >
> > And will there be exceptions for schoolchildren doing homework :-)
> Actually, I think the attribution requirement is *less* obnoxious for
> text than for software.  Kids, like other scholars, have to cite their
> sources anyway.
> > "Exceptions are made to this requirement to release modified works free
> > charge under this license only in compliance with Fair Use law where
> > applicable"
> >
> > Fair Use is kept deliberately nebulous in law. It would be good if you
> > explicitely listed some example of Fair Use. How much can I quote in a
> > paper before the license kicks in? Are there any additional privileges
> > educational use?
> This clause is legally nugatory anyhow, because fair use is precisely
> *unlicensed* use; it is a right of the public adverse to the copyright
> owner's rights.
> --
> There is / one art                   || John Cowan
<jcowan at>
> no more / no less                    ||
> to do / all things                   ||
> with art- / lessness                 \\ -- Piet Hein

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