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    I’m kind of [Citation Needed] about the blogging-bubble stuff. He’s making a lot of assertions that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Anyway, “bubble” only applies to blogging as a commercial enterprise; the interesting part was and is the use for self-expression and community. I am not super broken up about the sad fate of a million clickbait content farms that rose and were cut down.

    As for OSS, where was it written that it’s a way to make money? Free software came out of academia where it was produced by zealous students and paid faculty, and to a lesser degree from spare-time hackers. In general it’s not going to be something that pays a salary any more than playing classical piano is. I don’t think most people go into it for that reason; we sure wouldn’t have such a glut of web-dev frameworks if people were thinking of factors like supply and demand.

    I always get bemused when I see these collisions between the idealist/leftist/futurist vision of a post-scarcity world where people work on what they love, and the reality of modern life which is built around markets and wages. (Let’s not even use the C-word; this is true in socialist countries too.) It’s like if you join a game of Catan thinking it’s co-op, then complain that the other players keep screwing you out of your sheep.

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      I don’t think there’s a single reason why people write Open Source (or Free, whatever you prefer) Software. For example this morning I spent some time on some hobby projects I wrote 100% for my own usage which also happen to be useful for some other people. Great! But I never expect to make money of it, and it’s MIT licensed because I simply don’t care what people use it for.

      But then I also have other projects that I do make money from, and that’s a bit of a different story. It’s open source simple because I want to make the most useful software for the users as I can, and as I see it providing the source code is the best way to do that. It’s like providing a detailed maintenance and repair manual with a car. For me at least, this isn’t some sort of ideological stance, it’s just a pragmatical thing. For others, it’s a more ideological thing; that’s fine too, but I think a lot of authors aren’t all that bothered with that. It’s just a subcommunity of the wider community.

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        If I may ask, do you make pocket money or a living off your OSS? What’s the plan?

        All this “capitalism will find a way to loot” rhetoric feels banal and inane if you build a lighthouse without income from harbor fees or a gas station toilet without the gas station.

        (Though I did enjoy the post and consider this a real issue, but I don’t know of a good solution except that I wouldn’t go making my livelyhood open/free without a damned good business plan in advance.)

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          I make a living off of it, but I also live in Indonesia at the moment where the cost of living is very low and I can survive on ~€500/month (even less if I’m more careful, for reference, a typical wage is maybe 4 million IDR/month, or about €300, although as a white person you always pay more in these kind of countries 🤷); I never would be able to afford it in e.g. Europe.

          Though I did enjoy the post and consider this a real issue, but I don’t know of a good solution except that I wouldn’t go making my livelyhood open/free without a damned good business plan in advance.

          I think this perfectly reasonable. To be honest I’m horrible at running a business. I have an almost pathological aversion to anything related to marketing for example, which is perhaps not the best of traits for this kind of stuff.

          The backstory here is that I got really burned out two years ago for various reasons to the point I just couldn’t write any code. It’s hard to explain, and I don’t even fully understand it myself, but I could open Vim, look at the code, roughly understand what needed to be done, but actually writing it down just didn’t happen no matter how hard I tried. After two months of this I just quit my job with no real plan because clearly this wasn’t good for me. After taking a month or so off I started working on some ideas for the fun of it an for the first time in quite some time I not only wrote code again, I actually enjoyed doing it. Eventually GoatCounter came rolling out of that and that’s been (mostly) paying the bills ever since.

          I grew up pretty poor; I worked minimum wage jobs until I was 25 (mostly just because I didn’t have the confidence to actually apply for programming jobs at the time). Overall I’m just happy that I can work on something I enjoy.

          But this is obviously not for everyone, which is perfectly reasonable. I don’t really have a good solution for these kind of things. As I’ve written about before, I feel organisations with some clout such as the FSF or OSI should focus more on this.

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            I sympathize a lot, especially the burnout sounds familiar. It’s worst for the people who never knew not having money or for other reasons can’t take time off for burnout. It takes a long fscking time to recover, even if you never got back into programming.

            Questions about uprooting one’s family and such as well. Maybe it would be easier in Indonesia, but there are a lot of people that would have to come along…

            Maybe an organization could try to apply pressure, but people (even those comprising a megacorp) react to incentives, and I dunno how that would work.

            Even governments’ laws boil down to most of them being aligned well enough with morals to be ok, but a lot of it gets disregarded. Eventually the majority of people will want to agree that some executive power is required even if it comes with legislative ballast they disagree with.

            I was at the “zomg I don’t have to pay and people still develop things and support contracts and outsourcing go brrrr” age some 20 years ago when this was all new (at least to me).

            In hindsight it’s amazing no one saw this coming, that there wasn’t enough money in support or the need would arise for projects started off as hobbies. This mode of thinking hasn’t always come naturally to geeks, ideologues, or ideological geeks, so maybe the business people wanted to see it play out with no skin in the game.

            A special DeLorean would come in useful, have some special commerce clauses in every floss license since the 80s.

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              I think “pressure” isn’t quite the right way to put it. Right now, it just requires a lot of administration to do these small donations to 30+ projects. What would help is better tooling to identify who to donate to and an organisation you can just pay one lump sum to; it’s then up to this organisation to distribute this. Kind of like Spotify (except that the distribution is actually fair).

              The first step would be to just make this easy, which it actually isn’t right now. After that we can probably go a long way with just advocacy rather than pressure.

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                Liberapay (istr it’s called) is a nice idea for this, but way back I was trying to make a one-off donation, and the site wanted to shoehorn it into monthly payments no matter what :( The usability felt in general more like a Bootstrap template than something a MegaCorp would trust to use.

                A meta feature would also be nice there, kinda what you’re saying, that you’d send in payments (monthly or not) and the site would split it by your preferences!

                Or just a real business doing that brokerage ;)

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        I was there being quite active in the blogosphere ecosystem throughout the rise and demise of it, I don’t share the same opinions on the reasons behind the decline of blogging as the author — even though I posted the link here —what I find interesting about this blog post are the considerations about the lack of sustainability in OSS, which is a topic very dear to me, and for which I have no solution at all.

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        I’ve been reading the comments here and I think that comments like “blogs still exist” are missing the point. I’m a blogger too, but I remember when blogs were basically the main thing we were accessing on the web. Large web portals existed but a good chunk, if not the majority, of what you accessed ended up being someone’s blog. This is what changed, blogs are no longer the dominant platform on the web, they still exist but the dominant platforms are social networks.

        Oh, let me specify what I mean by dominant platform: I mean the platforms used to hold human interaction, conversations, and form opinions.

        Readers here might still have blogs as their favourite medium in the web, but even though I don’t have the numbers to back it, I bet that statistically most of what I mentioned above is happening outside blogs and probably in social networks.


        In the end, that article is not about blogging, I don’t agree with the reasons the author posted for the decline of blogging at all. Those reasons explain the decline in revenue for blogger, but that is not the whole story is it?

        What I find most important is the convo about OSS sustainability. I’ve been forming a very subjective opinion that FOSS is unsustainable, if we frame sustainability as in providing the ability for those working on it to pay their bills. Most FOSS developers I know are either working for a company that derives value from FOSS and pays them to work on something else, thus funding them to use their free time for FOSS, or are simply putting their own time and money into it. Very few are able to pay their bills with the FOSS work they do. For most people this is a non-issue because they have other jobs and other forms of income, but it worries me that someone can’t simply work on FOSS projects and pay their rent.

        We can always point to people and teams being able to pay full-time developers, but if we account for the amount of FOSS projects that see their usage in the millions, and how many of those projects can actually pay their developers, we’ll see that it is not common at all.

        I agree that there is more to FOSS than money, of course there is, but there is also the need for safety for the developer, as in they need to be able to afford housing, pay their bills. If the only path that works for everyone is to get their money elsewhere, then I think our ecosystem has a problem.

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          There’s something a little surreal about going to a blog aggregation site like lobste.rs and reading a blog describing the demise of blogging.

          It’s true that OSS has a big problem with entitled users, which is leading to burnout. But it’s only unsustainable if there are more developers exiting than entering.

          Digital assets have always had strange economics because the cost of duplication is so low. If you can imagine a thing that 1 billion people will pay 1c for (directly or indirectly), then you have $10m in revenue. That, in turn, pushes salaries for programmers to the moon, because low value ideas are valuable given enough scale.

          However, increasing connectivity also means that there are billions of people capable of creating digital content in various forms. If a task is capable of being performed by a large enough set of people, the cost of that task over time goes to zero.

          This is really the economic consequence of the “information wants to be expensive; information wants to be free” tension playing itself out.

          The real anomaly IMHO is something like SSL which can only be done correctly by a small number of people, but we have an ecosystem assuming that it can be done for free by a plentiful supply of people, resulting in a lot of insecure systems.

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            There’s something a little surreal about going to a blog aggregation site like lobste.rs and reading a blog describing the demise of blogging.

            If you were around in the 2005-2010 period you could easily make $500 a week by running a blog on any topic after spending 6 months on it. I know, because I paid for my clubbing at university using that money.

            Digital assets have always had strange economics because the cost of duplication is so low. If you can imagine a thing that 1 billion people will pay 1c for (directly or indirectly), then you have $10m in revenue. That, in turn, pushes salaries for programmers to the moon, because low value ideas are valuable given enough scale.

            And yet the cost of the transaction in every system, including bitcoin, is higher than the payment by an order of magnitude. The reason why programmer salaries are high is because very few people are autistic enough to be programmers. The same reason why the salaries of 7 foot tall people tend to average in the millions (20% of them are in the NBA).

            If a task is capable of being performed by a large enough set of people, the cost of that task over time goes to zero.

            Tends to the average cost of raising a family of all the places where the task can be performed. Nothing can be done for free in the long term.

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              in the 2005-2010 period you could easily make $500 a week

              Sure. That doesn’t happen anymore, and blogs still exist.

              Tends to the average cost of raising a family

              Plenty of aspects of human endeavor don’t pay a living wage. We often use terms like “arts”, “hobbies” or “recreation” to describe categories of things that people do which are not “business.” This can be incredibly widespread - being a full time parent doesn’t pay a living wage, and society has no incentive to provide that wage, since so many families are willing to subsidize that part of their lives.

              There is an alternate universe where people are paid to work in salt mines, come home and write software as a hobby.

              The reason why programmer salaries are high is because very few people are autistic

              This doesn’t explain why so much software is produced for free.

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            My main thought is that we should stop using corporation-friendly licenses. We don’t have to be so easily exploited.

            A surprising amount of OSS is made by former big tech developers. They can afford to subsist on meagre revenue—for a time—because their pay and stock options have left them free of debt and with well-stocked savings accounts. … Scratch away at the surface of pretty much any active OSS project that has no discernible revenue, and you either get a burnout waiting to happen, or you’ll find a formerly well-paid dev coasting on savings.

            Why not both? Google’s interference in my FLOSS projects and spare-time activities burned me out, but at the same time they had made me a financial offer I couldn’t refuse, and so they ended up funding my work even as they tried to prevent me from releasing it.

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              Why not both? Google’s interference in my FLOSS projects and spare-time activities burned me out, but at the same time they had made me a financial offer I couldn’t refuse, and so they ended up funding my work even as they tried to prevent me from releasing it.

              Can you share the details of this interference, and throffer?

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                Yes, but I don’t like talking about it, so I’m going to only give an abbreviated summary.

                • I was a starving-artist university student working on university campus
                • Google offered me an unreasonably good salary if I were to drop out
                • After I’ve worked at Google for a year, they demanded that I relicense repositories like Bravo and Typhon and assign copyright to them, and threatened me with legal action
                • The resulting stress accelerated my burnout and I eventually left Google
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                My main thought is that we should exclude non-people from licenses. I’ve added a clause to the GPL for my software that only allows the software to be run and distributed by and on behalf of natural persons.

                If you want limited liability for whatever it is you’re doing it with you need to pay me.

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                  Which makes it neither Free Software nor Open Source.

                  I very much doubt the FSF appreciates you using their license as base for yours.

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                    The FSF also holds the copyright to the text of their licenses, and does not allow modification. From the GPLv3:

                    Copyright © 2007 Free Software Foundation, Inc. https://fsf.org/

                    Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

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                      You can legally use the GPL terms (possibly modified) in another license provided that you call your license by another name and do not include the GPL preamble, and provided you modify the instructions-for-use at the end enough to make it clearly different in wording and not mention GNU (though the actual procedure you describe may be similar).

                      https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#ModifyGPL

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                      And yet it’s both for people. Raytheon is welcome to ask for a license.

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                        If the license does not allow them to use the code to begin with, it is neither an Open Source nor Free Software license. Not even freeware.

                        You’re free to use whatever license you choose (as long as you respect the licenses of any code you use, of course). But, like that, it will amount to yet another form of shareware, and nothing more.

                        I suspect your intent would be better served by the Affero license, but ultimately I’m neither you nor know what your intent is; I can only guess.

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                          My intent is to give power to people and not corporations. That it seems impossible for a huge number of people to understand why someone who values freedom of people might not value freedom of corporations would be worrying if not completely expected given the amount of corporate propaganda we are exposed to.

                          My license is open source for people. That it isn’t for corporations is a feature, not a bug.

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                            Your license is not Open Source. Stop using these words.

                            Other than that, you’re free to use whatever shareware terms you’ve come up with.

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                              It’s open source for people 😇

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                                Open Source has a definition - https://opensource.org/osd

                                Free Software has a definition - https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html

                                A license that restricts who can use the program is not a Free nor Open Source software license.

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                                  “Open Source” was in usage long before OSI came up with the term, a quick Usenet search and you’ll find usage of it throughout the 90s. Besides, I reject the notion that any organisation or person has the authority to single-handedly define language in the first place. I’m sure that if Google or Apple were to try to the same thing people would be up in arms about it.

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                                    Google nor Apple are charities nor community initiatives? It’s not like it’s the Technical Dictionary of Dianetics and Scientology, they’re just explicitly defining the terms “Open Source” or “Free Software” to avoid confusion. The reason the OSD was put together is to stop the confusion on what it actually means - otherwise the MIT license and “ethical” source licenses are in the same category, when they’re designed to achieve completely different things.

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                                      Google nor Apple are charities nor community initiatives?

                                      So? Why does that matter?

                                      This reminds me of the time when I asked the Dutch cancer foundation how they got my phone number, which they are legally obliged to tell me, as I was sure I never gave it to them yet they called me anyway. Their explanation was “we’re a charity”. Good for you, but that doesn’t mean the law doesn’t apply to you and can harvest/buy my data from unknown sources (I never did find out where they got it from) or engage in other dubious behaviour.

                                      Besides, the OSD was written by a single person in 1997 (or 1998? I forgot), and the Free Software definition was written by a single person as well (who is also notoriously impervious to feedback I might add). The reality of the matter is that both terms are and always have been frequently used in ways that was not the intention of those authors as both are a common adjective + common noun, the combination of which has been independently coined dozens of times, if not more frequently, before the so-called “official definition” was written down. If they wanted to “avoid confusion” they should have picked something which isn’t confusing. It’s nice that a community formed around these terms, but that doesn’t mean you get the authority to decide how ~8 billion people use the language.

                                      otherwise the MIT license and “ethical” source licenses are in the same category

                                      I don’t see a problem with that.

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                                        The whole charity anecdote is a red herring as this isn’t a legal issue nor one of “dubious behaviour”. They’re both in software generally well-supported definitions as demonstrated by people’s willingness to define their licenses as Free Software or Open Source respectively.

                                        otherwise the MIT license and “ethical” source licenses are in the same category

                                        I don’t see a problem with that.

                                        You don’t see a problem with the MIT license being bunched in with the Cooperative Non-Violent Public License, two completely different licensing models entirely?

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                                          My point was that being a charity isn’t important and a, well, red herring. Red herrings for everyone! 🐟

                                          Why should the license be problematic? For a lot of people “open source” just means “access to the source code”. That this means something different to you is okay, but that discussions like this are held on a regular basis on e.g. HN demonstrates that this definition is very far from universal.

                                          The licensing obligations between e.g. MIT and GPL are vastly different as well, and even between fairly similar licenses there can be details that differ and have a large impact. Basically, you need to read the license text (or a summary thereof) anyway to know what you can and can’t do.

                                          At any rate, I already wrote an article about this entire thing last year which has a Lobsters discussion, so I won’t repeat it all here.

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                                  Your “license” sounds like one of those ethical source licenses. It is neither free nor open source — don’t misuse those terms.

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                                    Your “license” sounds like one of those ethical source licenses.

                                    This license is based on the BSD 3-clause license, but with specific exclusions for using licensed code to promote or profit from:

                                    violence, hate and division,

                                    environmental destruction,

                                    abuse of human rights,

                                    the destruction of people’s physical and mental health

                                    Yeah, no.

                                    As I said, it’s open source for people 😇

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                                      I meant it’s in the same vein as ethical source licenses.

                                      As I said, it’s open source for people 😇

                                      Okay, assuming you aren’t trolling by incessantly repeating yourself, aren’t corporations made up of people? They aren’t like, some mechatronic evil beast or something. How will your license hold up legally?

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                                        I am made of cells yet I’m not a cell. The law still has the distinction between a natural and legal person.

                                        How will your license hold up legally?

                                        The same way the GPL did.

                                        If they manage to win a court case that shows it’s not legally binding then they have been using software without a license and will need to negotiate for one going forward. I have no idea why so many programmers thing that if you ‘hack’ the legal system you magically remove all protections it provides.

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                                          There’s precedent in the USA that you don’t lose rights through association. If I, as an individual, have a right then I don’t lose that right by being a member of a company. What does it mean it a license grants right to a person, to all employees of a company, but not to the company as a whole?

                                          I presume since you want to be like open source, you’re talking about licenses that cover distribution and modification, not end-user license agreements (EULAs)? If I can modify your code and distribute the result as an individual, a company can pay me to modify and distribute your code. If you want to place restrictions on use then that’s a very different matter. There have been a load of ‘free for non-commercial use’ licenses and they’re always a bit tricky because the boundary between commercial and non-commercial use is difficult to define. Is someone working for a charity but paid a salary engaged in commerce? Is someone who writes a blog and sticks ads on to cover some of the hosting costs engaged in commerce? Am I engaged in commerce when I update an open source project that counts some companies among its downstream users?

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                                            All the questions you ask here are quite easily answered by looking at what assets are owned by who on an assets sheet. This is not esoteric gnostic scripture open to interpretation, it is a basic document provided by any half decent accountant.

                                            If you are using a piece of software on your corporate laptop, during your work day, doing work that is being charged to the corporate account than you are clearing not acting on the behalf of a person.

                                            You can still provide services to a corporation by running the software for them on your own machine, one owned by John Doe as clearly stated on his tax form. Since you are, as stated, providing them a service and not distributing the software to them.

                                            If you are redistributing the software it is quite easy to tell if you can by looking at who owns the copyright on it. If it is “John Doe, Person” then knock your self out, if it is “Doe Corp Inc.” then it’s a corporation and needs to negotiate a license.

                                            Your tax rates very much depend on exactly which entity is doing what and as you can expect there is a very rich set of legal precedents for anything you can imagine.

                                            There have been a load of ‘free for non-commercial use’ licenses and they’re always a bit tricky because the boundary between commercial and non-commercial use is difficult to define.

                                            Which is why I’m making the distinction between natural persons and legal ones. A distinction that we have been able to make for close to 500 years and one that is at the basis of our tax law. It is something you have to legally declare to the government each year and trivial to check. And impacts the tax rate you pay greatly.

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                                              If you are using a piece of software on your corporate laptop, during your work day, doing work that is being charged to the corporate account than you are clearing not acting on the behalf of a person.

                                              So if I require employees to bring their own laptop then I’m allowed to use your software? In a BYoD world, that’s not even unusual.

                                              You can still provide services to a corporation by running the software for them on your own machine, one owned by John Doe as clearly stated on his tax form. Since you are, as stated, providing them a service and not distributing the software to them.

                                              So if I am an independent contractor, I can modify and redistribute your software, but if I’m an employee then I can’t? That’s great, tax law is more favourable to corporations hiring contractors than employees already!

                                              If you are redistributing the software it is quite easy to tell if you can by looking at who owns the copyright on it.

                                              Uh, this is software that you’ve released, so it will have your copyright on it, not copyright of whoever is redistributing it. If my employees need to own copyright for modifications, that’s fine too. Companies have been using similar work-arounds for the US government not being able to own copyright for almost a century. The simplest way of making this work is for the employee to own the copyright and assign the enforcement rights to the company.

                                              Your tax rates very much depend on exactly which entity is doing what and as you can expect there is a very rich set of legal precedents for anything you can imagine.

                                              Tax law is completely different from copyright law and has a lot of corner cases that are very tricky to enforce (see: Uber).

                                              Which is why I’m making the distinction between natural persons and legal ones. A distinction that we have been able to make for close to 500 years and one that is at the basis of our tax law. It is something you have to legally declare to the government each year and trivial to check.

                                              Corporations are made up of natural people. Creating a license that grants rights to individuals but removes those rights from the individuals when they act as members of a collective that also counts in some cases as a legal person (which, by the way, is not a single concept even in US law, it’s a large mesh of loosely related things) is going to be incredibly hard and will almost certainly not stand up on court.

                                              The rule of thumb I’ve learned from dealing with lawyers on IP issues is quite simple: if something seems obvious and clear, I probably don’t understand it. You should probably have a conversation with an IP lawyer about this: I suspect you will discover a similar rule.

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                                                Are you a lawyer? Because I had one check my license and he ok’d it.

                                                So if I am an independent contractor, I can modify and redistribute your software, but if I’m an employee then I can’t? That’s great, tax law is more favourable to corporations hiring contractors than employees

                                                Or, and this is the crazy part, they pay for the license the exact same way they license every piece of software from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google, either on prem or in the cloud.

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                                                  Are you a lawyer? Because I had one check my license and he ok’d it.

                                                  What questions did you ask him? In my experience, lawyers will correctly answer the questions that you ask but often won’t try to guess the questions that you mean to ask. Did you discuss any of the scenarios that I outlined? Did you say ‘is there a way that a corporation could violate the intent of the license without breaking the letter of it?’.

                                                  I’m also really suspicious of this claim, because lawyers never ‘ok’ a license, they always give caveats. You can write anything you want in a contract, a good lawyer will tell you what lines of attack someone challenging it in court will attempt and how likely they are to succeed. If they just say ‘this is fine’, then you should be very nervous if it’s anything other than an off-the-shelf contract that’s been tested in court before: it’s probably a sign that you need a better lawyer.

                                                  Or, and this is the crazy part, they pay for the license the exact same way they license every piece of software from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google, either on prem or in the cloud.

                                                  That really makes me doubt that your lawyer understood what you’re trying to do. Software that they pay a license fee for has an end-user license agreement. This is a completely different category of license to an open source license (which covers distribution and modification but explicitly does not restrict use in any way).

                                                  If you have written an EULA, then it’s possible that it may stand up. There’s conflicting case law around EULAs, because they’re contracts of adhesion, which is a fairly murky area in general. Open source licenses are on simpler gounds because they don’t try to restrict use (you may be able to argue that the right to use is implicit in receiving a copy of the software from a suitably licensed distributor) and only deal with modification and redistribution (which, by default, are disallowed in copyright law and require an explicit license). You are free, on receipt of a piece of open source software to refuse to accept the license and still use the software. If you redistribute it or modify it then you either accept the license or the default provisions in copyright law kick in (i.e. it’s not allowed unless you can demonstrate fair use / fair dealings to mount an affirmative defence).

                                                  But it also doesn’t answer my question. If I can work around your license by hiring an independent contractor to make the changes I want, why would I pay for it?

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                        Liability is the key concept here. A corporation sheds liability from its employees and managers, which empowers them to act beyond the typical ethical context of a human. (There’s not really a better explanation for how the lowest-level employees of a corporation can directly commit crimes on a regular basis; the story of Uber is instructive.) Because these folks are not necessarily operating according to societal norms, we should be careful about extending the legal fiction of personhood to their employer.

                        The sibling argument is an excellent example of how this entire philosophical exploration can be easily preempted if we allow ourselves to agree with corporations that corporations are just like ordinary humans. There is some powerful memetic blindness inflicted by corporate propaganda.

                        The main reason that Free Software cannot exclude corporations, in the USA, is because of corporate personhood in the context of copyleft as a strategy for ensuring that Free Software stays free. Non-copylefted Free Software is still Free Software, but can be made unfree by selfish folks; copyleft is a legal option for preventing those folks from acting. However, since corporate personhood is a legal fiction, it is enforced by the same system as copyleft, which requires copyleft licenses to consider corporations as people.

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                          However, since corporate personhood is a legal fiction, it is enforced by the same system as copyleft, which requires copyleft licenses to consider corporations as people.

                          I’m not sure if you’re being descriptive of current popular licenses, in which case you’re correct, or prescriptive, in which case you’re not. A software license can easily be formulated to only apply to natural persons. Since biological existence, or lack there of, is not a protected group you can enforce contracts that exclude legal persons from your license.

                          I largely agree with the rest of your post.

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                          I hope you never distribute a binary using github, or a CDN.

                          I hope you never want to have your software packaged in a linux distribution.

                          I hope you do not want anybody in academia or working on any project bigger than themselves using your code.

                          If these are in fact your wishes, then congratulations, you have outsmarted all the people who just want their stuff to make the world a better place.

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                        The weblog ecosystem was built entirely around extracting value from Adwords. For a few, it was a springboard to launch something else. A few writing careers got off the ground. But the vast, vast majority was just Adwords. Weblogs as social media? A sideshow. Weblogs as a unique medium? Incidental.

                        So many people miss this. I see people complaining all the time that all new content is on YouTube, which is harder to parse, and to scan, and it for most technical content much worse than text. So why is everyone on YouTube. Because that’s where the money is.

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                            Yeah well those media orgs fell victim to expensive and useless consultants. But I’m thinking more about 1-person “influencers” who used to have blogs and now have videos / podcasts.

                            Some stuff is a good fit for Y/T. Let’s plays, DIY channels, general “be here with me and see what it’s like”. But when you’re reviewing a lens, for example, text + images (ideally in big sizes) is a better fit than a video.

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                              I’m pretty sure people will realize that again. I can’t believe they actually like wasting time on sequential access video versions of content that is text plus images.

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                            I fondly remember 9rules and Technorati. I’m happy to have been there to experience it. MoveableType vs. WordPress. Those were the times. :)

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                              MovableType still alive, the last release was 4 days ago. :-)

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                                Say what?! TIL… I had no idea. Thanks for sharing.

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                                  I learned it couple months ago when I was creating some toy blog client and wanted to check who was still alive and which APIs they were offering.

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                            Imho that’s the elephant in the room of open-source. Software users aren’t good at spontaneously sustaining the infrastructure that they live in. Nowadays, writing open-source usually means sacrificing income for ideals. Often the sacrifice is too big, and good projects die, or never get written in the first place. Donations rarely match the actual value provided, and even if you manage to spin it into a webservice and charge money, Amazon could step in at any moment and outbid you, using your own software.

                            While this ecosystem was struggling for air, trapped in contradictions, the big tech companies became its main lifeline. Perhaps those big companies wouldn’t have existed without open-source, but now they have all the power, and they are calling the shots. I don’t know if it can still be called a bubble, when there’s a handful of players who alone can grow and shrink it as they please.

                            Given all that, it seems to me that open-source needs to evolve, and that the way forward is to find a way to bake into open-source the ability to extract some value from its largest users, while still remaining open and free for the individuals and nonprofits. That would encourage the growth of grassroots projects, maintain important infrastructure, and lead to a healthier ecosystem, where writing open-source can be considered a reasonable thing to do, and not a risky crusade. I know it blurs the line between free software and commercial one, but I believe it’s worth exploring.

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                              Open source serves many purposes:

                              • as a building block for many other things (in which it suffers the tragedy of the commons, no one wants to pay for it)
                              • as a strategic lever for both big and small companies to force adoption of their preferred tools and approaches
                              • as a “standards organization” where companies can cooperate on non-strategic components so they can lower costs and compete better on the strategic components (not that different from IEEE or ANSI in that way)
                              • as a low cost R&D laboratory where companies can try out lots of things and see if they gain traction, without the stigma of a commercial project failing
                              • as a way for people new to the tech industry to prove their skills and get jobs
                              • finally, as an outlet for brilliant and creative people to learn new things and express themselves outside corporate rules

                              It’s ok to have different opinions about each one of these.

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                                This infrastructure should be free so that everybody can use it

                                [ time passes ]

                                Why is nobody paying for this infrastructure?

                                Until “OSS” can print their own money, or tax the public, this is never going to change. If you want to run on voluntary donations and keep the lights on, you’re going to have to behave like other charities that survive more than a few years. That means becoming an annoying figure hassling people trying to walk down the street, or calling up old donors and cajoling them into donating again. Or spending six months trying to close a sponsorship deal just like you would a big-time sale for corporate “enterprise” software.

                                Very few people go into programming as a job because they want to spend their lives chasing donations.