CopyFair Licenses

Commons Based Reciprocity Licenses (or “CopyFair” licenses) provide for the free use and unimpeded commercialization of licensed material within the Commons while resisting its non-reciprocal appropriation by for-profit driven entities, unless those entities contribute to the Commons by way of licensing fees or other means.

Copyleft licenses allow anyone to re-use the knowledge commons they require, on the condition that changes and improvements are added back to that commons. This is a great advance, but should not be abstracted from the need for fairness. Physical production involves finding resources or raw materials and making payments to contributors. Extractive models benefit from the unfettered commercial exploitation of these commons. Therefore, while knowledge sharing should always be maintained, we should also demand reciprocity for the commercial exploitation of the commons. This would create a level playing field for the ethical economic entities that presently internalize social and environmental costs. The use of CopyFair licenses, which allow knowledge sharing while requesting reciprocity in exchange for the right of commercialization, would facilitate achieving this balance.

A first working example of a CopyFair license is the Peer Production License, in effect a fork of a Creative Commons Non-Commercial License which permits worker-owned cooperatives and other non-exploitative organizations to capitalise the licensed content, while denying this possibility to extractive corporations.