[PP-main] Political/philosophical

Rusty Foster rusty at intes.net
Thu Mar 2 23:52:45 CET 2000

Ok, as requested, I'm taking these in little bits. Here's bit one:

> Political/philosophical:
> * What are the advantages/disadvantages of a system like this in general?
>   I think we're pretty much agreed that it is a good idea, as a whole, but
>   it's probably a good idea if we go through the advantages and disadvantages
>   ourselves, rather than have other find them for us later.
>   In particular, I'm concerned with the discussion I had with Paul Dunne over
>   at Kuro5hin, about who this benefits, and how. His opinion was that the
>   only ones to benefit would be the publishers, while the writers would
>   starve (more or less). I see his point, somewhat. That is, this system is
>   made for benefitting publishers most of all. Specifically, to make smaller
>   and more niche-oriented news and discussion sites possible, without the
>   administrator having to wear him or herself out looking for relevant news.

For anyone who hasn't seen it, that thread begins here: 

>   Now, he states that journalists usually can get paid for every
>   republication in the system as it is today. This isn't really true. The
>   system of republication is a vastly smaller one than the one of wire
>   services, in which the writer gets a one-time fee, no matter how many times
>   things are published, and republication happens on an immense scale, world
>   wide.
>   I think the recognition given to a writer by wide publication, especially a
>   young, up and coming writer, far outweighs whatever compensation she would
>   get from republication rights, especially in the long term.

I agree with the above, and have a little bit to add. People said that
distributing free software was crazy, because programmers would starve.
This has obviously not happened. Now the two cases are not the same, but
they are *similar*. Basically, I'm of the opinion that the system we're
designing is supposed to benefit publishers, in the sense that it makes
it much easier to get relevant and interesting content. It is also
supposed to benefit readers, in that their favorite community can be
exposed to a source of more, better, and more consistent news and
content for them to discuss.

If writers want lots of readers, and publicity, here's a free publicity
machine for them to take advantage of. If their attitude is "pay me or I
don't write word one." then it's not the sort of thing they're going to
be interested in participating in, and they're welcome not to. Same as
Free Software, basically.

I don't think our job is to provide for the livelihood of anyone. We're
attempting to create a network of shared-content weblogs, not provide a
great financial opportunity for writers.

That said, if anyone has an idea how this could be made attractive to
writers (financially or otherwise), beyond good publicity, please do
share. :-)

> * What do we want the license to allow/disallow?
>   There are several issues that need to be sorted out. I think we all agree
>   on some sort of copyleft-like base principle, but how infectious should it
>   be, and what should it require in the way of returning the favour?
>   There are some thing I feel strongly should be infected by use. All
>   directly derived works, translations (which could be an interesting
>   resource in themselves), and other things that obviously build on a story
>   from Peer Press.

Yes. Derived works should be infected by the license. I think this is
one reason the GPL has been so successful, and no reason to fix what's
not broken. :-)

>   Now, should we require the site to return the favour? I think this is hard
>   to quantify. Should a site have to open up all their content just because
>   they use a single item from us? Sounds a bit dubious. In particular if the
>   item is used in a paper publication, which might not even publish all their
>   content on the net themselves. Also, I would consider it a good thing if
>   our content got picked up by more traditional sites, given that we would
>   get attribution.

I think again the GPL is a good model to look to here. IBM doesn't have
to release all their software under the GPL, just because they sell some
GPL software. I think the "derived works" idea is sufficient. If a
publication (web, or otherwise) runs a PeerPress story or derived work,
it must be licensed under our license, independent of the rest of the

Now, this is a somewhat separate issue from the terms of using *our*
content-feed system, which you get into in the "technical" section of
this message. I'll address my thoughts on that in a separate message.

>   Which brings me to that. The attribution should ideally both link to the
>   site of origin, the writer, and to peer press, I think. That will make it
>   easy for the sites to profit in the way of user mass and publicity, for the
>   writer to get recognition, and for peer press to get some publicity as
>   well.


>   In addition, do we want to place any limitation on commercial use? That is,
>   sites that have banners, are owned by big mean media syndicates, etc.? I
>   say we shouldn't. If we really want to change the way news and media works
>   (hey, we can dream, right?), we should aim for really wide distribution,
>   and make sure we protect the core principles, while not messing around too
>   much with the peripheral details. In addition, if some of the sites get
>   cash flow through banners, and thus perhaps can pay their writers a bit for
>   the stuff originating from them, it'll gain us all.

Yes, again. The only limitation on commercial use should be that no site
can take a PeerPress article, reprint it, and say "No one else can copy
this." This includes "derived works" as well. Hey, people do need to
make a living somehow, and I think commercial media outlets will need to
play some role in content distribution if this is to go anywhere.

Next response will be "What can/should be syndicated?"


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