Advocating the Open Publication License easier?

MJ Ray markj at
Thu Jul 18 23:24:29 UTC 2002

Wouter Vanden Hove <Wouter.Vanden.Hove at> wrote:
> Could you please change the copyright-notice to the FDL.

Has to be done for any copyright change.

> And could you add some cover-texts that has to be on the book if some
> publisher prints your course commercially without paying you any
> royalties which he's then very much allowed to do.

Bah, royalties are not worth much.  A few meagre % of the sale price, but
promotions etc are billed out of that.  Far better to sell the book yourself
at a more favourable price.

> And could please download and install OpenOffice.
> And could please load your Word-file into Openoffice and save that in an
> open and transparant format.
> And could you check that all of the conversion of your 200-page syllabus
> went OK.

That should be done anyway.  Otherwise, they may lose their book.

> And could you put that file in your ftp-directory .
> And could you write in your text-book that anyone can download it from
> there.

That's just your requirements, isn't it?

> And could leave that file there for at least one year. [...]

Is that required?  (Sorry, I should know, I know.)

> Wouldn't be more succesfull (on a quantitative scale) to advocate the
> Open Publication License for university-syllabusses?

No.  The Open Publication License has its own problems.  The optional parts
have the ability to make the licence very nasty indeed, either prohibiting
modification or discriminating against certain uses.

> The only thing they have to do then is change the copyright-notice.
> Right?

Wrong.  They still need to convert the book to a useful format.

> I can imagine that quite some people don't like the commercial
> redistribution by publishers without receiving any royalties.

It is normal that commercial publishers will want modifications to the book. 
Under the plain OPL, they cannot use the original author's name to promote a
modified version, unless it was modified by that author.  In that case, they
are likely to ask the original author to do them as part of a publishing
deal, aren't they?

If they want to print an unedited copy, then the author didn't have to do
any more work, so it's no loss if they get no extra money.  They were doing
the work anyway and were probably paid by the university to do it.

> They will probably refuse to switch to the FDL. Instead of sticking to the
> traditional very restrictive notice, they can choose option B of the OPL,
> that prohibits commercial publication.
> I don't really see objections in this option B, since it is more like an
> industrial regulation, not affecting small distributors like students
> and non-profit-organisations, giving a lot more freedom to users then
> traditional copyright-notices. 

Pardon?  Non-profit organisations can still engage in commercial activity,
such as offering a for-fee book printing service.  The OPL+B prevents them
from printing those books.  In fact, it is hard to see how any OPL+B work
can be printed legally through a print-on-demand service without asking for
special permission.

> The Open Content License, on the contrary, prohibits asking a fee for
> the copies. This renders it useless if courses are distributed by
> student-organisations.

OPL+option and OCL are both flawed, IMO.


More information about the Discussion mailing list