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portland imc misuse of the term "copyleft"

The Portland IMC uses the terms "copyleft" and "noncommercial" in the license for material on their website. These terms are mutually exclusive.
On the Portland IMC homepage this notice appears:

"(copyleft) independent media center. all content is free for reprint and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere, for non-commercial use, unless otherwise noted by author."

For something to be copyleft no restriction can be placed on who may use the work or for what purpose, only that the freedom to use it and works derived from it be passed on to others. Specifying that items may be only be used for non-commercial purposes contradicts that. Indeed there are quite a number of commercial companies that make money selling copyleft material.

I refer you to the originators of the idea of copyleft


"Free software" does not mean "non-commercial". A free program must be available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial distribution. Commercial development of free software is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is very important.

They refer to "free software" but the idea extends to broader forms of expressions said to be copyleft.

The publish page references the website opencontent.org. If you visit that website and read the licenses there you will find that there are no such restrictions that works be used for noncommercial purposes.

If the Portland IMC wants the default license for material published to its website to be used for only noncommercial purposes then I suggest it remove the references to copyleft from its website so as to avoid confusion. If it is committed to the idea of copyleft then it should remove the noncommercial restriction. Which one it chooses I have no opinion on. I don't mean to attack the Portland IMC in bringing this up, I just mean to point out the inconsistency in their licensing situation.

Perhaps... 05.Nov.2002 16:23

let's get legal

Perhaps we can allow both an acceptance of the term and then a site-specific narrowing of the term.

The term's originators do not say that copyleft material must be open to commercial use, only that commercial use is not by definition proscribed by it.

Hence, there is a choice legally made and within the parameters to go ahead and proscribe commercial use of this copyleft material.

No problem.

that said... 05.Nov.2002 16:33


There may be some interest for the mission of indymedia to remove the noncommerciality of the content.

If someone wants to use some of the material for a commercial project, how does that change the material? It continues to be spread around, which is good, only to (foolish) people who are willing to pay a price for some digested (and perhaps molested) form of it. We don't know, but how can we proscribe another's efforts to digest it at will and offer the result to others. That is the danger and responsibility of all speech everywhere. And if the others want to pay for such second hand stuff, let them, I say.

See  http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html for more on this.

Who knows. Most media disseminators are commercial. Maybe they just want to quote from the stuff here? I can't say.

upon reflection... 05.Nov.2002 16:53

something else

Memes are kind of like software. Maybe the nomenclature holds fully.

Given the new nature of "dynamic" content in indymedia, wherein any editor can add to or change the article, a case can be made that it is not yours to do that unless you warn contributors that their content will be ascribed to their name yet will have content beyond their control

if you do that, it's not really copyleft, because it is you who are retaining control of everybody's content


if is fully copyleft, then *everybody* should be allowed to alter the memes (postings) with ascription

I think this is done on the main indymedia's site?

and then you wouldn't have the ability to impose non-commerciality

God one more 05.Nov.2002 16:55


Perhaps the comfort can come from the unlikelihood of this site's contents being used in commercial works, because the makers of the commercial works would have to allow any use of their (paid) work to be used for free, which is not likely.