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    I’m surprised this is being received this well, when it should be apparent to anyone that the license is practically unworkable, and quite sloppy in legal terms. Your source is public for the good guys, and you tell the bad guys, “don’t you use this!”. To properly enforce this, you would require user-tracking like actual propitiatory software (not that the license denies this fact), which is not trivial to begin with, and especially so for a non-commercial entity. And that’s assuming you can enforce it in the first place.

    I think it goes without saying, that this should not be used for any serious project. You isolate yourself from the entirety of human software progress, and just like a revolution surrounded by adversary forces, the chances are slim that you’ll get anywhere.

    Ultimately, even if you agree with the spirit of the license, you should consider replacing the moralist particularism with an universalism, such as that of the GPL. We don’t live in revolutionary times, and capitalism will (for better or worse) be a reality of our society for the time to come. Copyleft licenses are the only ones that transform “egoism” into “altruism”, that align the private interest with the common interest. In my eyes, that is far more subversive than whatever the indent is of this license.

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      I don’t really disagree with your comment, but I think it misses the point a bit: this is activism, not an attempt to build a software ecosystem. Generally speaking, people aren’t too concerned with this kind of pragmatism when it comes activism.

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        I get your point, but the activism begins and ends with choosing the license. After that, it would seem to me that you’ve only got the software to use, with it’s limitations.

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          I can’t say I personally care much to join in either, for the reasons you mentioned as well as some others. But I’m all for people expressing their beliefs in their own ways as long as it doesn’t unreasonably interfere with other people. Personally I would phrase any criticism as “here are reasons why I wouldn’t use it/join this: [..]” rather than “this is bad”.

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          For activism to be affective it needs to do something right?

          This could be used by hobby projects, but the best way to spread word on this license would be to be in a useful project. As currently written it’s almost impossible to be used by any private org since it requires equal share ownership by all “workers” that includes anyone who performs work and really ambiguous. Is a company allowed to use janitorial services without giving their workers equity? Etc etc

          This seems very meta until there are projects using it, and the license doesn’t seem like it will be used.

          “ 3. If the User is an organization with owners, then all owners are workers and all workers are owners with equal equity and/or equal vote.”

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          Exactly. Capitalists, i.e. “big tech”, avoid the AGPLv3 (and GPLv3) already, so that seems to be quite effective at preventing them from using it…

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            The GPL3 licenses don’t forbid any practice or field of endeavour, and yet those organisations self-select out of the field. That makes it a much more principled and subtle tool than a license that says “boo, capital sucks”.

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            To me it’s more than just unworkable, it’s goes against what I believe is valuable and good. To me it is slightly disgusting to be honest. And I would consider such license to be a step towards evil.

            But that aside, I think it will only spark purity spirals between some hard-core socialists and communists, and they will start claiming infringements on one another. Which maybe is a good outcome.

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              it’s goes against what I believe is valuable and good

              What do you mean by that?

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                Well, people here hate some of Apple or Microsoft licensing. They pull updates on you, spy on you. You don’t own the software that you bought. The way I interpreted it - this license is worse than that.

                Imagine buying some software licensed under this (it allows for commerce). You don’t own that software unless you promise to live a certain way. And what is that way - you cannot make certain kinds of voluntary associations with other people (i.e. offer your services and ask for something you want in return, as that would be capitalism), and you cannot join or help the police (and wtf is that?!). If you do, you must abandon using the software, even thou you gave something in exchange for it.

                I do support their right to do anything they want and write any license they want of course. But as for being involved with anything licensed under it - no thank you.

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                  (i.e. offer your services and ask for something you want in return, as that would be capitalism)

                  That’s not what Capitalism is. Capitalism is an exploitative relationship wherein a class of people who own the tools and means necessary to produce enter into a forcibly non-equitable relationship with others who use those tools to produce.

                  What’s described there is a fair exchange between an individual who (ostensibly) owns their means of production, with another person who wants that good or service. It’s about who gets to keep the value of their labor – in Capitalism, you go to work for Charlie Capitalist at Acme Corp, you make software or widgets or whatever for them all day and generate something Charlie Capitalist can have their other employees sell – Charlie Capitalist rarely does anything directly – generating some amount of money. You can think of this as a chain of employees generating X$ of value, in the simplest case that chain is exactly you -> capitalist, but generally it’s fairly long.

                  So far, so good, if you have a chain of n people and generate X$ of value – what is the proper distribution of that value? There are lots of arguments about proportional amounts of work, but for the moment let’s keep things simple and say you make a widget, and Sally Salesperson sells it for X$, the only two people bringing value to the thing are you and Sally, so the natural expectation would be you get X/2$ and she the same.

                  But that’s not what happens, instead, you get paid some flat rate Y$ and Sally some flat rate Z$ such that Y + Z < X. Charlie takes the difference.

                  So in essence, Charlie is not paying you, you are paying him for the privilege of making Widgets for him. Because if you made them for yourself, you would split that difference with Sally and make a little (or more typically, a lot) more.

                  “But Charlie is taking all the risk!” Perhaps, but let’s look at a real example of a Capitalist at work. Bezos.

                  If Bezos, tomorrow, wanted to try a new venture, and invested 100 million of his own dollars into it, is Bezos really taking any risk? I mean, he’s got billions of dollars – 100 million barely registers. So there’s no real material risk to Bezos, but, if his venture is successful, he will extract that 100 million and likely more from the people he hires. Is this efficient?

                  The argument in favor of capitalism is that it is the most efficient means of distributing resources, but I’d argue it’s abysmal at doing exactly that. We generate more than enough food to feed the world, but we don’t because there is no profit in it, poor people can’t pay for that food, so we don’t give it to them. We can generate plenty of power in clean ways via Nuclear and Renewable sources, but we don’t because it’s not profitable[1]. We can provide healthcare and education for absolutely free if we wanted to, but we are artificially limited by people who are resisting the force-of-production for their own gain.

                  In an anti-capitalist world, you would absolutely be allowed to sell your services to another person for a fair wage – that kind of interaction is exactly what we want. The issue right now is that you (and the majority of other people who actually do shit for a living) are being exploited by a system to artificially inflate the wallets of capitalists, who take no real risk and experience no pain in failure – while you and I suffer their failures immensely.

                  [1] Nuclear energy is the only viable energy strategy and I will fight to the pain anyone who disagrees.

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                    Capitalism is an exploitative relationship…

                    Well, if we start with definitions like that, then the conclusion is already defined in the assumptions.

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                      I didn’t define it that way, I made a claim and then showed why it was true. That’s called a ‘thesis’, the rest of the post is the demonstration of that thesis.

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                        Sorry for not engaging you after you wrote your long post. But honestly I do not see anything meaningful coming from this discussion. For one - I do not care about capitalism that much, and your post is a bashing of capitalism from the left. The only difference is that I would bash it from the right.

                        I think the only substantive dialog to be had here is about how we interpret this statement:

                        1. The User is one of the following: a. An individual person, working for themselves

                        I think this excludes me offering contractor services to (say) CocaCola. If it does - my point stands, as the license would not allow certain types of voluntary associations between people. And if it doesn’t forbid that - then I am really unsure what it tries to say there.

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                          Unfortunately, any discussion of a license that is explicitly anticapitalist (or at least trying to be) is likely to come back to capitalism. So if you’re not interested in engaging on that, I understand and we don’t have to talk about it.

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                            Sorry again, I hope someone else engages you in the discussion you want to have, as you spent some effort putting that out.

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                              Lesson learned - sometimes it’s actually better to stay silent here (especially if you’re educated). It’s hard to argue with pseudo-leftist pseudo-intellectualism.

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                                That’s not the lesson I took from this discussion, if that’s what you’re implying here. I took that KKPMW didn’t want to talk about this, and that’s fine – we don’t have to, I’m not here to like, preach at people. I did enough of that in my youth.

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                                  Wise choice.

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                                  I flagged your comment as unkind. Your comment makes it appear that being educated makes it harder to deal with other people in here, and probably those same people are not of the same point of view due to being uneducated on the issue at stake. Maybe other people are educated as well, but share different point of view than you. Also, why would you imply that people arguing here are fake leftists and intellectuals?

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                          I think in your Bezos example you are conflating risk with impact. The risk is still the same but the impact of that risk is different. The risk isn’t based on the amount of the investment. It’s based on the viability of the venture. Bezos is able take on riskier ventures because the impact of that risk is lower for him.

                          There is a case to be made that having a segment of the population that is capable of taking on a venture with high risk is a good thing. There is also a case to be made that having a segment of the population capable of taking on that risk comes with it’s own set of risks to society. But I’m not particularly persuaded by an argument centered around the relative risks of high wealth in an individual as a moral argument if it ignores the potential upside of that risk.

                          Your argument about feeding the world is a much better argument I think. But in order to make the case well it needs examples of non-capitalist approaches that work at scale. Most attempts in the worlds history that were not capitalist in nature have devolved to either massive authoritarianism and/or massive poverty.

                          In general I agree that capitalism has failure modes that need mitigation. I’m open to suggestions of replacements to captilisim or modifications to capitalism. Most such suggestions I have seen have failed to address their own failure modes and fall short when deployed at scale.

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                            Yah, I’m playing a bit loose here – but I do think there is some connection between risk and impact – kind of like a mass/acceleration relationship. Bezos can take bigger risks only because the impact is lessened. I always find this stuff easier to talk through than write though. I would argue that while there may be benefit to having people capable of taking those bigger risks, we should certainly be deciding who gets to do that by means other than the ruthless drive towards personal enrichment – that’s not to claim that syndicalism or any other anarcho-leftist philosophy is the ‘right’ way to do that, but I’m happy to walk away from conversations agreeing there is at least a problem worth solving.

                            I definitely concur that the feed-the-world argument is the better of the two (I’ve also found it “works” better in getting people to understand the core complaint I, and those of my persuasion, have with capitalism). I do disagree with:

                            Most attempts in the worlds history that were not capitalist in nature have devolved to either massive authoritarianism and/or massive poverty.

                            In three ways, first, sure – there are high profile examples of bad Leninist/Stalinist regimes, but there are just as many examples of bad capitalist regimes as well (I gesture here, wildly, towards the United States and the imperialist shitshow that it is and has been for a long time). I think the tendency towards authoritarianism isn’t rooted in economics, but in the nature of big hierarchies to become unjust over time – i.e., it’s a philosophical/social problem that’s influenced by, but not fully controlled by, economics.

                            The second way is that Capitalism isn’t immune from massive poverty, indeed, the earliest capitalists were building their system around the Slave trade. It proceeded to maintain that institution for hundreds of years as something ‘too big to fail.’ It echoes today in the way it exploits prison labor, certainly those people should be counted as suffering under authoritarianism and poverty. It’s not even like we can cleanly say “Well they broke the law, so that’s their punishment,” we know the laws are unjustly applied (the data is readily found) and that the laws themselves are not based on ethics or morality, but often purely predicated on creating an underclass to act as slaves. We weren’t even creative enough to define the class differently than before. This doesn’t even get into the issue of housing, healthcare, or any of that.

                            So I guess my question is, “Why is it that non-capitalist economic systems have to prove their worth, when Capitalism didn’t and couldn’t even if we asked it to?”

                            The third way is that there are functional examples – the Paris Commune wasn’t destroyed from within, but by embargo from without. Cuba has lived under decades of embargo from without and is still, by all accounts, as okay a place to live as anywhere else. It’s not perfect but it’s not a hellscape either. Rojava in the middle east is a great current example of an anarcho-leftist system working pretty alright (and this despite huge outside pressure to fail from Turkey, Syria, and ISIS). Sure, we can argue these are ‘too small’ – but that’s kind of the point of anarchism as a philosophy – governments should be small, and there should be lots of them – high granularity government.

                            Again, I don’t think you’re wrong, but I also don’t think you’re right. You have (arguably good) company in this regard as I also don’t think I’m right or wrong, I’m not sure what the right fix is, I only have confidence that whatever we’re doing isn’t working very well and we should probably try to fix it. :)

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                              Regarding Cuba and the Paris Commune, I think both of those are worth considering as examples in the small and not the large. Part of what I think you need to address is what happens when you scale these models up. That is where I think history shows that they begin to fail.

                              I think a key point of nuance that needs to be considered is that all systems have failure modes. It doesn’t matter which one you pick, at the extremes it will have pathologies. A more pragmatic and I think productive discussion would start with the system you have and the failure modes that system exhibits and then propose mitigations for those failure modes.

                              So then the discussion doesn’t start at: “Let’s replace capitalism” or “Let’s replace communism” or “Let’s replace socialism”. Instead it becomes what form of Capitalism (or communsim, socialism, …) + X would mitigate the worst elements of the system and be acceptable to society. It turns the conversation away from “Find the perfect replacement system” and toward “What useful changes can we make now to the current system”.

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                                Regarding Cuba and the Paris Commune, I think both of those are worth considering as examples in the small and not the large. Part of what I think you need to address is what happens when you scale these models up. That is where I think history shows that they begin to fail.

                                history shows that they get sabotaged, attacked, and undermined by the powers that they threaten. this is a filter that destroys non-authoritarian anti-capitalism, because to survive they need to put all of their resources into military development, including forcing people off their land and into factories (just like capitalism does).

                                before alternative systems can be tested and compared fairly, you would need to dismantle this filter, i.e. huge military and covert resources controlled by a group dedicated to preserving capitalism. short of dismantling it, people around the world who would like to try new things need to be protected from it, even if they are brown or call themselves communists.

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                                  I think where you and I may diverge (and I don’t mean that to imply I think my way is better, we just take different forks somewhere) is that I don’t want to scale things up – rather I prefer to scale them down to the Rojava/Cuba size and let them federate (but not integrate) from there. A large number of small states acting independently is a way to deal with a wide variety of pathologies (and I really like that term for them) that arise when you ‘scale up’ by simply not scaling up.

                                  I wholeheartedly agree that the right answer isn’t “Let’s replace X” but rather, “How can we modify X” – I think there are a lot of things to try to do that, but I think getting into the hows and whats would be scope-creeping this conversation a lot.

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                                    Fair enough, I’m not backing a particular horse in this necessarily. I just find the topic interesting when you focus on achievable goals rather than pure philosophy.

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                            From my point of view, it’s less harmful that traditional propitiatory software, because the source code if freely accessible, and I can imagine people using it would want it to be so, they just don’t want certain people to profit from it. You have the practical freedom to do whatever you want with it, but not the legal freedom.

                            you cannot make certain kinds of voluntary associations with other people (i.e. offer your services and ask for something you want in return, as that would be capitalism),

                            This is actually a good example for the ambiguity of the license. I can guarantee you that the people who wrote this don’t have this understanding in mind, and then again, there are others who would regard their sympathy to coops as the failure to actually overcome capitalism.

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                              From my point of view, it’s less harmful that traditional propitiatory software, because the source code if freely accessible

                              Regarding available source, they do have this in there:

                              The Anti-Capitalist Software License is not an open source software license. It does not allow unrestricted use by any group in any field of endeavor, an allowance that further entrenches established powers. It does not release your project to the creative commons or public domain, nor does it require derived source code to be made available. The availability of source code is less important than the organization of software labor.


                              You have the practical freedom to do whatever you want with it, but not the legal freedom.

                              I got a different impression. They wrote stuff like “The user is such and such”, “The user is not such and such”. Which is practical freedom (?). As opposed to GPL which really is just about legal things as in “if you release further software, do what you want, but include GPL freedom clauses in the license”.

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                                It seems I didn’t phrase myself clearly enough. By “practical freedom” I was thinking about the brutal, simple ability to do something. You download the tar archive of the source, and it comes with this license – even if you’re working for EvilCorp, you can still compile, change, distribute it, etc. – even if it is “illegal” from the perspective of law. That isn’t usually given with “traditional” propitiatory software.

                            2. 1

                              (i.e. offer your services and ask for something you want in return, as that would be capitalism)

                              i suggest you read the license; it’s not very long

                              You don’t own that software unless you promise to live a certain way. And what is that way - you cannot make certain kinds of voluntary associations with other people

                              all things that can be said of usual proprietary EULAs. yet you find this license worse?

                              do you also have a vendetta against CC-BY-NC?

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                                I said I didn’t like the license, so now those disguised insults begin. Nice.

                                If you want me to respond - you should try to outline what you disagree with and how your interpretation differs; it’s not that hard.

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                                  and i don’t see why any of what i said should be taken as an insult. hardly anyone reads things before they comment on them.

                                  i mostly just have questions about your position; you don’t have to answer them if you don’t want to.

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                                    Your questions were edit-added later, after the insult, so I didn’t get them when replying.

                                    Now that I read them, here is the answer:

                                    all things that can be said of usual proprietary EULAs. yet you find this license worse?

                                    Usual end user agreement licenses do not force me to live a certain way. i.e. I can be a communist and use the software. The licensing here seems to be different as it wants to control how I choose to relate to other people. So yes.

                                    do you also have a vendetta against CC-BY-NC?

                                    There is a big difference between those two licenses. One doesn’t allow me to re-sell a thing I got for free for profit, that’s all. Another tries to control the fields in which I work and the ways I associate with others. While at the same time not being free itself.

                                    Here is an illustration:

                                    CC-BY-NC: Here is this book, I am passing it to you for free. Promise me that you will pass it freely from now on as well, and please be sure to mention who is the author. Thanks.

                                    Anti-Capitalist: Here is a book you can buy from me. Additionally: if you buy it - promise me that you will stop reading it if you ever start working for a company or associate with others in the ways we do not like. Oh and one more thing - you can only use it if you promise not to disclose its contents to the police.

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                                      Usual end user agreement licenses do not force me to live a certain way. i.e. I can be a communist and use the software. The licensing here seems to be different as it wants to control how I choose to relate to other people. So yes.

                                      microsoft’s EULA does not allow you to share your copy of the software with another end user. the source code that microsoft distributes can only be modified by the licensed individual, not shared or distributed:

                                      https://download.microsoft.com/documents/useterms/visual%20studio%20.net%20professional_2003_english_be8aa149-b0fd-494d-a902-07fdb2007b90.pdf

                                      does this not control how your relate to other people?

                                      do you also have a vendetta against CC-BY-NC?

                                      There is a big difference between those two licenses. One doesn’t allow me to re-sell a thing I got for free for profit, that’s all. Another tries to control the fields in which I work and the ways I associate with others. While at the same time not being free itself.

                                      Here is an illustration:

                                      CC-BY-NC: Here is this book, I am passing it to you for free. Promise me that you will pass it freely from now on as well, and please be sure to mention who is the author. Thanks.

                                      Anti-Capitalist: Here is a book you can buy from me. Additionally: if you buy it - promise me that you will stop reading it if you ever start working for a company or associate with others in the ways we do not like. Oh and one more thing - you can only use it if you promise not to disclose its contents to the police.

                                      this isn’t what the ACSL says. again, reading it would help (again, not meant as an insult). if you are using the software (or reading a book) as an individual, there is no restriction on how you use it (unlike the M$ EULA), regardless of whether you are a cop or work for a for-profit investor-owned company.

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                                        I am an individual person, but like many people I primarily make my living by working for a company. Therefore I am not “[a]n individual person, working for themselves” and thus ineligible ever to use any ACSL-licensed software.

                                        I’m sure you would read it in a different way which implies that I only would be forbidden to use such software directly in the work I do for that company, but the plain English text of the license does not provide that clarification. And an argument could be made on grounds of that clause that the license simply re-victimizes those whom the authors feel are already victimized by capitalism, which I doubt would qualify as a good under the systems of thought with which they appear to be associating.

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                                          no disagreement that it is unclear and poorly written. fwiw, i don’t think “working for themselves” is legally meaningful, so i don’t think it would exclude those who sometimes work for others.

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                                          the source code that microsoft distributes can only be modified by the licensed individual

                                          No, this is different. It’s the same as Beyonce not allowing someone to modify her songs after you buy them. the Anti-Capitalist license would not allow you to play the song you bought because of things that have nothing to do with the song in the first place.

                                          reading it would help (again, not meant as an insult)

                                          Fine, let’s read it together, you tell me your interpretation of it. I might be wrong. Willing to learn. Here goes:

                                          Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person or organization (the “User”) obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software for any purpose, including the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, and/or sell copies of the Software, subject to the following conditions:

                                          Note: “rights to use” … “subject fo following conditions”. My reading: you cannot use the software unless you satisfy the conditions. OK what are the conditions. These are conditions relevant to what we discussed:

                                          1. The User is one of the following: a. An individual person, working for themselves b. An non-profit organization c. An organization that seeks shared profit for all of its members and allows non-members to set the cost of their labor

                                          Here only part “a” applies to individuals. You say any individual can use/modify/etc the software. But in the license it has an additional clause “working for themselves”. Which I interpret as not working for somebody else (as i.e. being employed).

                                          Now you write:

                                          as an individual, there is no restriction on how you use it, regardless of whether you are a cop or work for a for-profit investor-owned company.

                                          Can you elaborate on where you found this interpretation?

                                          1. 1

                                            i see how you could interpret “working for themselves” to mean “self-employed.” at best it would mean you can’t use it while working for someone else, which would be a restriction on individual use, contrary to what i said before.

                                            this part made me think the restrictions only apply to organizations:

                                            1. If the User is an organization, then the User is not law enforcement or military, or working under either.

                                            why have the clause “if the user is an organization” if individual cops and soldiers are not allowed to use it?

                                            needless to say the license is not ready for prime-time. if workers could not use a ACSL-licensed tool to organize for a union during a shift, it would seem to contradict the spirit of the license. if the authors think all workers should quit their jobs and spontaneously form co-ops, that’s pretty idiotic.

                                            incidentally it looks like the phrase “working for themselves” was added literally yesterday:

                                            https://anticapitalist.software/past_versions/

                                          2. 1

                                            does this not control how your relate to other people?

                                            Given its control is restricted entirely to relations that directly involve the software under licence - not particularly, no.

                                            There’s a bit of a difference between “what can I do with my life” and “what can I do with this bit of software”.

                                            1. 1

                                              whether the license depends on an individual’s employment status depends on how you interpret the phrase “working for themselves,” which was added yesterday. if it means you can’t use it if you work for a for-profit investor-owned company, then i see your point.

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                                          and i don’t see why any of what i said should be taken as an insult. hardly anyone reads things before they comment on them.

                                          No, that’s an insult.

                                          1. -3

                                            well now you’re insulting me by implying that not reading things before commenting on them is a charge worthy of taking offense. like saying “that’s so gay”

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                                We don’t live in revolutionary times, and capitalism will (for better or worse) be a reality of our society for the time to come.

                                I don’t view this as an attempt to spark a revolution, but rather to try to deal with a real ethical problem when working on free or open source software. If my software gets used by some government or police department or what have you to hurt people illegitimately, I am – in some sense – ethically liable for it. If I don’t produce that software, then it prevents the harm that it would have otherwise enabled. At the same time, if I don’t produce that software, then it can’t help the people it may have helped.

                                For instance, if I build some CMS tool, it may be used by a Police department to track the doings of BIPOCs in their area so they can be more easily tracked, and thus be at greater risk of being shot by police; it may also be used by a non-profit somewhere to track where the unhoused tend to live so that they can be better served by that non-profit. If I make my software available under traditional licenses, I enable both groups to use it to both ends; so instead I try to create a license that denies use to the former but preserves use to the latter. I agree this license is likely not legally viable / hard to enforce, but that doesn’t mean such a license is impossible. Indeed, your average EULA probably includes language accomplishing the same effect.

                                I agree that Capitalism will likely be here for a while, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to change our society for the better, that will likely involve lots of missteps (like this license very well may be), but I don’t think the argument of, “It’s always been like this, it’ll always be like this” holds water. It’s always been like this, but only up till it isn’t, and it only changes when people try to do something about it.

                                1. 2

                                  Would you be ok with a private, worker owned organization using your CMS to track BIPOC people in their area and then shooting them? This license allows that.

                                  Or an individual using your CMS to track BIPOC and then providing that info to police to track them? This license allows that.

                                  I’m not sure that police are the only groups that track BIPOC and also not sure what that has to do with capitalism.

                                  The fourth clause is kind of tacked on and irrelevant to the state’s goals.

                                  It seems a more effective license would be a single clause of “I promise not to be evil and can’t use this for evil actions or evil intents.”

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                                    I wouldn’t, obviously, but the argument you’re making seems to be, “This license doesn’t solve this problem in every single case, so therefore it’s bad.”

                                    The argument I’m making above isn’t about whether the license itself is good, it’s about whether the attempt and intent of the license is good, and I think trying to solve a problem is better than not, even if the solutions aren’t great at first. It’s pretty common parlance in engineering – fail fast. I’ve taken that message to me, “Try to solve your problem, if you fail, throw it out and try again.” I take the same stance with licenses, is the ACSL a good license? No, likely not. It doesn’t appear to have had input from a lawyer experienced with this sort of thing and has some gnarly loopholes that are self-defeating. Is it a good thing that someone is trying to do something like this? In my opinion, yes, trying to find a way to ensure that the people who use your work are doing so in a way that isn’t exploitative is good, even if you fail in the implementation.

                                    The police are agents that are primarily tasked with preserving capitalism, which is why they are relevant to the discussion. In particular, the police enforce laws which disproportionately endanger and imprison BIPOC, where the state and cooperating corporations extract from them labor at essentially no pay. The prison-industrial complex is a major engine of the modern capitalist machine and is well documented elsewhere, so I won’t belabor it here. I think that’s why the fourth clause of the ACSL is explicit in denying the apparatus of the state (the police and military) from using the licensed product, they both act as elements of the capitalist machine intent on preserving it. (I’m reading in here to the authors views, and making them match with the most mainstream bit of anarcho-leftism, but I am doing some interpretation here and my own biases might leak through, so take it with a grain or two).

                                    1. 1

                                      The police are not primarily tasked with preserving capitalism.

                                      Police existed and exist in non-capitalist countries and communities. They are still proscribed from using this license.

                                      My complaint isn’t that it missed every potentiality. My complaint is that it is confusing, sloppy, and ineffective at what it wants to do. I was just pointing out a few specific flaws, but there are countless more.

                                      A license that can’t be used by businesses is not very useful for society. So if the purpose is to harm capitalism or to improve humanity, it fails.

                                      One of the things I like about open source and free software is its massive benefit to society and benefit to humanity.

                                2. 2

                                  I think a lot of people are missing the fact that there is no requirement to make the source available in this license.

                                  Not only is it done sloppily and full of obvious loopholes (speaking as someone who works on licenses of my own with somewhat similar aims), but it isn’t even copyleft, which doesn’t exactly seem “anticapitalist” to me.

                                  1. 1

                                    I think you overestimate the capabilities of most “bad guys” to hide usage of a library. Especially for web dev.

                                    It’s very easy to see if someone is using React on their pages, for example.

                                  2. 23

                                    For all this talk of how “unenforceable” this is, I really fail to see how it’s any less enforceable than literally any other license. Unless “unenforceable” means “written with requirements I don’t like”. Java’s license says you can’t use Java to run a nuclear power plant. Is that unenforceable?

                                    Furthermore, who cares? If a lawyer from a tech company sees software they want to use licenced with this they’re going to go “lol fuck no, not worth it” so it seems like the license did its job.

                                    1. 4

                                      Oracle never intended to enforce the provision against nuclear power plants. They just don’t want to be held legally responsible when a bug in Java causes a nuclear meltdown.

                                      1. 5

                                        It’s still in the license, and using the license as a legal defense is certainly a form of enforcing it.

                                    2. 19

                                      I have no idea if it will meet its goals but I was really pleased to see this line:

                                      The Anti-Capitalist Software License is not an open source software license.

                                      The recent takes on software morality that I’ve heard about are antithetical to free software and open source philosophy. That’s not a value judgement, just a statement of fact. If you want to restrict the use of your software it’s more productive to start from proprietary and progressively free things up than to take open source as we know it and try to restrict it, whether through licencing or social coercion. I have no idea what will “stick” but good on them for trying - it worked for the GPL.

                                      1. 8

                                        I have no idea if it will meet its goals but I was really pleased to see this line:

                                        The Anti-Capitalist Software License is not an open source software license.

                                        Yes, it is honest compared to attempts to hijack or bend free software or open-source. But it is probably the only advantage of this license.

                                      2. 17

                                        Since I see lot of comments here on this license but nobody seems to know that there are many licenses like these and much more well-designed and “enfoceable”

                                        http://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Peer_Production_License

                                        https://wiki.coopcycle.org/en:license

                                        Just a couple of them. They are basically the same of this one, but more polished. This one just reinvented the wheel and gave it a more catchy name, but the others are as radical as this one.

                                        1. 2

                                          The PPL specifically is very interesting to me, as it’s essentially an extension of the battle-tested CC-NC license to be much more strict in how “NC” you need to be to use it.

                                        2. 25

                                          This license has probably been sufficiently analyzed here, but I want to give a tangible example on why it is problematic: A few years ago, suckless.org became a legal entity (an e.V. in Germany). Because German tax law is so complicated, we’ve decided not to apply to become a non-profit (because the cost and time for tax-declarations and other formalities would outweigh the benefits). Everyone would still agree, though, that suckless.org is not a “capitalist” entity given we release everything under MIT/ISC and don’t earn anything with the software (except donations). Nevertheless, we would be prevented from using any software licensed under the “Anti-Capitalist Software License”, as we are, formally, not a non-profit organization.

                                          1. 17

                                            wouldn’t suckless e.V. fall under

                                            c. An organization that seeks shared profit for all of its members and allows non-members to set the cost of their labor

                                            1. 5

                                              That provision is so vague as to be meaningless. A lot of big software companies give stock as part of their compensation for all employees. That could be considered “shared profit”, and contractor positions could be considered “non-members setting the cost of their labour”.

                                              The provision immediately after that (equal equity and voting rights) rules out those big software companies, but taken in isolation this one clause could easily apply to, say, Google.

                                              1. 1

                                                Employees of a for-profit corporation also set the cost of their labor.

                                                1. 1

                                                  yeah it’s a mess

                                                2. 1

                                                  Does it seek profits at all? If it doesn’t seek profits, then how can it seek shared profits?

                                                  1. 1

                                                    http://suckless.org/donations/

                                                    does this count as seeking?

                                                    1. 2

                                                      Is that a profit, or is it just covering operating costs? It doesn’t seem like they’re seeking shared profit for all members at all, just covering hosting costs and conferences.

                                                      Under a similar line, it seems as long as your’e employed, you can’t use any of the software developed under this license, since the only non-organization option for this license is:

                                                      a. An individual person, working for themselves

                                                      And that doesn’t provide a carve-out for people using the software in their spare time.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        it depends on the legal meaning of “working for themselves.” i assumed it is legally meaningless and includes people who use software in their spare time, but i am not a legal expert.

                                                        1. 5

                                                          it depends on the legal meaning of “working for themselves.” i assumed it is legally meaningless and includes people who use software in their spare time,

                                                          That’s the problem: That’s almost certainly what they wanted to say, but also not obviously what they said. A phrase being legally ambiguous doesn’t mean that it doesn’t apply: it means that you have to go to court to establish what it may mean.

                                                          1. 0

                                                            yeah

                                              2. 11

                                                We should remember that programmers are petite bourgeoise - not proletarian. By being socially adjacent to investors we typically share in a thin slice of exploitative gains, making us naturally more incentived to celebrate folks like Elon Musk instead of the vast graph of minimum wage workers who toil for our same day delivery purchases that bring us so much delight.

                                                We are the extractors. I disagree with the license because a commune of tech workers owning an equal share of their exploitative ad tech company or whatever does not make it anti capitalist at all. It turns otherwise subservient capitalists into a bunch of capitalists who make slow decisions :P

                                                I’m only half joking - those of us who are inclined to move in this direction need to both live progressive lives and work toward the emancipation of others.

                                                Many of us were shocked when GPT-3 started parroting the racism it learned from us. But GPT-3 is not so different in form or function to the systems many of us work on every day - it simply has the ability to talk about its conclusions in a way that is easily understood. Its function essentially boils down to “more of the same” by inferring the current racist and abusive state of our communication and repeating it back in non-novel variations. What systems do you optimize? What current realities do you allow to repeat at lower cost? Maybe your current work is not so different.

                                                Let’s keep iterating on this - while remembering the real racist, sexist and abusive realities that we want our systems to stand against. I don’t want to create a “dictatorship of the tech bros”. I want to limit their damage.

                                                1. 9

                                                  We should remember that programmers are petite bourgeoise - not proletarian.

                                                  People who work in startups and have stock options, maybe. Not the majority of “dark matter” developers and especially not outsourcees (those to whom work is outsourced).

                                                  1. 3

                                                    Yeah, that’s a lot of Californian ideology for a leftist. I’m sure Rajesh, working 12 hours a day in a shitty office in Bangalore to maintain a Java behemoth of some Western bank, would totally understand being called a petite bourgeois

                                                    1. 1

                                                      Who chooses a license?

                                                      1. 2

                                                        The owners of the company in a for-profit context, that in some cases are workers if the company is a coop. For the software created outside of a for-profit context, it depends on the organization. For software developed by independent individuals, the individuals themselves.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          That doesn’t sound similar to the situation you described above.

                                                    2. 2

                                                      Sure, but that’s not the target. The target is the people who are in the position of selecting a license for their project. People who work in sweatshops may not have so many side projects on GitHub. The target is essentially us, the users of this site who often have the luxury of having enough time to start a nights and weekends project at all.

                                                      1. 3

                                                        I think “only the petite bourgeoise use open source software” is a hell of an assumption - and even if it were true, it would be an admission of our failure, not a defense.

                                                        1. 4

                                                          Yes. Free software did fail. It certainly failed at what Ramsey Nasser & Everest Pipkin would have wanted it to accomplish, it failed at what I wanted it to accomplish, and it failed at what Richard Stallman wanted it to accomplish. It sounds like it didn’t accomplish your goals, either. Admitting our failure seems like the only honest evaluation of the situation.

                                                          1. -6

                                                            It seems like you’re angry about something.

                                                    3. 10

                                                      While I agree with the sentiment that employees deserve fair compensation for their labor, the idea that a company would change its ownership structure just so they can install someone’s open-source library is ridiculous.

                                                      Let’s walk through the steps:

                                                      1. I start a company, and through 5-10 years of luck and struggle it somehow becomes profitable.
                                                      2. Someone installs a javascript utility library that uses this license.
                                                      3. Now all of the partners that have been there since the beginning (and made countless personal sacrifices) need to give equal equity and voting rights to the Q/A kid that started last week.

                                                      That would be destructive to the company and unfair to the existing partners.

                                                      Also the idea that large companies don’t contribute ‘free labor’ back to these projects is misguided.

                                                      The ACSL is right for you if you want your code to empower students, artists, hobbyists, collectives, cooperatives and nonprofits to survive under capitalism while not contributing free labor to corporations.

                                                      I have several popular open-source libraries, and I get more contributions from people that work at ‘corporations’ than I get from ‘students, artists, hobbyists, collectives, cooperatives and nonprofits’. If I had to pay for that labor at cost, it would be worth well over $100k.

                                                      Honestly whenever I see contributions from employees of large corporations, it gives me hope that the project will survive without my constant involvement.

                                                      1. 8

                                                        While I agree with the sentiment that employees deserve fair compensation for their labor, the idea that a company would change its ownership structure just so they can install someone’s open-source library is ridiculous.

                                                        I don’t think that’s the idea here; rather, as with the way many people use the AGPL, the point is to stop large companies from using the software.

                                                        I have several popular open-source libraries, and I get more contributions from people that work at ‘corporations’ than I get from ‘students, artists, hobbyists, collectives, cooperatives and nonprofits’. If I had to pay for that labor at cost, it would be worth well over $100k.

                                                        If you value that more than preventing the use of your software by capitalist entities, then this license is not for you, and I think that’s okay. It can exist for people who want it, or even for particular projects that want it, without needing to be everything to everyone.

                                                      2. 10

                                                        For those pushing back on “politics” here, recall that free software is the product of libertarian political thought. Software licensing itself is nothing but politics, as the whole point is to regulate who may leverage tools for what purpose. For all the heat this is getting, I’m happy to see discussion about licensing as a way to engage in ethics in our field.

                                                        1. 3

                                                          Thank you for saying this. It reminded me of the discussion arising from License Zero.

                                                          At first, when I saw the sheer number of comments compared to votes on this submission, I thought to myself, “Oh boy, another contentious topic on Lobste.rs…” But I stopped myself, since now I’ve learned (thanks to Lobste.rs!) that discussions that are typically contentious don’t always have to be contentious. Not all discussion is good discussion, but it’s all better than no discussion; that is, we are privileged to partake in dialogue. Sometimes it’s worth taking a dispassionate dive and seeing what you find—to do otherwise is to keep a closed mind.

                                                        2. 8

                                                          I’m not a lawyer and I haven’t even played one on TV since the early 1990s.

                                                          It’s hard to say without seeing a piece of software that’s distributed under this license, but the attempt to restrict use of the software rather than distribution would seem to make it harder to apply than your standard copyleft license. Those have teeth because copyrights are automatic in most places; if I write something (book, software, belligerent essay, whatever) and post it online, you can’t copy and distribute it unless I grant you a license to do so, and you can only do so under the terms of the license I grant you.

                                                          There’s a higher bar to clear for preventing you from running/reading something that I write and post online. I have to get you to agree to my license before you download the software/see the thing I wrote.

                                                          That distinction makes me think they should be aping click-wrap EULAs rather than the open source licenses they’ve clearly based their work on.

                                                          I get that enforceability is not really their point, but I still think they’ve chosen the wrong model to copy. I do like that they’re explicitly mentioning the non-open source-ness of their license.

                                                          1. 6

                                                            Ah, this is a purely political stance. I respect that, as it gets discussion going.

                                                            However, I’d argue that we already have something that has been tested in court, and has the gist behind this. It’s the GPL3 Affero license.

                                                            Now, the Affero license doesn’t have a “no military, no cops” license addendum. But again, that’s political knee-jerk from BLM. Supporting or saying nothing about military and/or cops is deleterious in a social justice sense.

                                                            1. 12

                                                              But again, that’s political knee-jerk from BLM.

                                                              I think this betrays some political naivete. I will avoid directly discussing theory at length, as this is forbidden on this board, but suffice it to say that this is a very common viewpoint among Leftists in general and Syndicalists in specific and has been for over a century.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                I get that. Those sorts of discussions usually devolve into never-ending flamewars. Seen it too many times on Fb and usenet prior.

                                                                But I guess my comment was that this, and all software licenses are all inherently political. And when you see “anti-capitalist software license” it’s not really meant as a legit license, but more of a political statement and a thought experiment. And from how many comments are here, looks like it caused a lot of discussion and thought. I’d guess it served its purpose.

                                                            2. 5

                                                              This is tagged as satire, so the whole thing is a joke, is it?

                                                              1. 5

                                                                No, any user can suggest tags. I believe the satire tag has been added to mock the contents, or in bad faith.

                                                                1. 6

                                                                  Seems that way. I’ve removed it. A mod editing the story metadata also means suggestions can no longer edit it.

                                                              2. 5

                                                                Honestly, if I was the big bad capitalist and I saw that a library EvilCorp needed was licensed with this, I would:

                                                                a) Do an Amazon and rewrite it from scratch

                                                                b) just use it anyway

                                                                A license at the end of the day is just words in a text file. Depending on what you’re doing you might not ever get caught.

                                                                1. 13

                                                                  Except when you have a sufficiently large organization, the risk of being caught vastly outweighs any benefit you’d get for using it and hoping you don’t get caught.

                                                                2. 9

                                                                  How is this on-topic? I didn’t think that political activism had a place here. I should ask the mods at thedonald.win to start a capitalist technology community…

                                                                  1. 12

                                                                    I think we can consider this off topic if and only if we would also consider a discussion of GPLv3 vs GPLv2 off topic. I suspect we would not.

                                                                    1. 8

                                                                      If discussion of free software is allowed, discussion of its successors should be allowed too.

                                                                      1. 5

                                                                        This is not a successor to the ideas behind Free Software licensing.

                                                                        1. 5

                                                                          The ideas no, the values yes. The need to go beyond free software is because the flaws and assumptions were wrong

                                                                          1. 4

                                                                            I don’t know what you’re trying to say, sorry. These restrictions to the user do not seem like something anyone would want in a successor to a Free Software license. I don’t have any idea what assumptions the Free Software Definition makes, nor how they’re flawed or wrong.

                                                                            1. 3

                                                                              The whole problem is that the Free Software gave also freedom to explot others’ people labor, use the software to kill people, organize concentration camps and jail political dissidents among many other things. The freedom to oppress is a freedom we should take away from governments and corporations. The new licenses aim to try to make a small step in this direction in order to increase the freedom, both natural and synthetic, of individuals.

                                                                              1. [Comment removed by moderator pushcx: If you don't think responding is worth your time, don't respond. Flouncing is just trolling.]

                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                  …you’re effectively speaking in tongues. Thanks.

                                                                                  You may reasonably disagree with @chobeat, but the point they make is clearly stated, and not “speaking in tongues”: they believe traditional FOSS licenses are overly permissive for not opposing human rights violations.

                                                                                  There’s room for discussion on whether licenses should try to go that far, what power such licenses would actually have, whether or not you may want to use such a license, and the effects these licenses would have on the software ecosystem and a society dependent on large software systems. There’s also always room for ducking out for any reason. It feels needlessly dismissive to tell someone they’re “speaking in tongues” when in fact they’ve made their point quite clearly.

                                                                                2. 2

                                                                                  I mostly agree with your sentiment but I fail to see how a software license would be of any use in preventing software from being used in the ways you listed. The GPL is enforceable because it’s used by major software (namely the Linux kernel) and enforcing it involves suing companies (as well as the point brought up in this comment: https://lobste.rs/s/qmkbvh/anti_capitalist_software_license#c_g4u3uf). Could this license be enforced against a corporation that chose to use software licensed with it? Possibly, but companies that are large enough to exploit others’ labor in any significant capacity would run far away from software licensed this way.

                                                                                  No oppressive government is going to care if someone sues them for an intellectual property or copyright law violation. I’m afraid that the kinds of issues you mention can only be taken care of by international diplomacy and the United Nations, not software licenses. Software-related ethics (especially with regards to technologies like facial recognition, which are rarely open-source in the first place) are a real issue. I don’t think that software licenses are going to achieve anything other than hindering the adoption of a project among not-evil-but-legally-conservative entities.

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    Nobody believes software licenses can make that difference. It’s not their goal and it’s not in the expectations of anybody.

                                                                                    To understand these licenses you need to insert them in the context they are used for, for the goals they are used for: slowly syphoning capital, talents and software to funnel them into economies that produce value that cannot be appropriated or co-opted by capitalism in its current form. These licenses are just one of many tools employed in these environments but they are not a magic wand. I don’t like this one specifically because it employes a grandiose language that seems useful only for signaling or rallying people around the cause, but it has no actual value as a tool.

                                                                                    Having licenses to improve the current world or creating new ones for an ideal, utopic futures is instrumental to achieve bigger goals, directly or indirectly, but they are not themselves imbued with particular liberating power. This is a mistake that should be avoided, because it’s the kind of misplaced idealism that rendered the Free Software useless in the real world.

                                                                      2. 7

                                                                        I don’t think this license is fully consistent with its goals: if an post-capitalist society arises and is attacked, they can’t use any of this software to defend themselves from capitalists, since then it’d be for military purposes.

                                                                        1. 3

                                                                          It could be argued that there are alternative to the “military” such as militia that would be formed on a needed-basis. And in any case, this license only makes sense in a capitalist world, so no need to find loopholes in a post-capitalist society.

                                                                          1. 5

                                                                            It could be argued that there are alternative to the “military” such as militia that would be formed on a needed-basis.

                                                                            If militia are okay, then it allows things like the Proud Boys and paramilitary groups to use the license, which I don’t think is what the writers wanted.

                                                                            And in any case, this license only makes sense in a capitalist world, so no need to find loopholes in a post-capitalist society.

                                                                            Any post-capitalist society won’t appear out of thin air. It will have to arise in the current context, meaning the post-capitalist society will be surrounded by capitalist neighbors. So violence is probable, as is counterrevolutionaries and instigation.

                                                                            1. 3

                                                                              Let me rephrase it as such: This legal document doesn’t make sense in a society lacking the legal framework to enforce this. In most post-capitalist society, the concept of property and more specifically in this case, intellectual property, would be obsolete. To whom and what would you claim in such a hypothetical society? As you said, since a post-capitalist world won’t appear out of thin air, some people are looking for ways to use the capitalism rules to restrict capitalism.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                In most post-capitalist society, the concept of property and more specifically in this case, intellectual property, would be obsolete.

                                                                                I’m not sure I see the connecting line between “post-capitalist” and “no more property” (which to me entails “no individual can own anything anymore”). Can you explain your opinion further?

                                                                            2. 1

                                                                              Militias would be considered part of law enforcement, no?

                                                                              “4. If the User is an organization, then the User is not law enforcement or military, or working under either.”

                                                                              It doesn’t specify any legal entity for organization, so a militia would be trying to enforce laws. Militias are also military, so it seems to be a bit hosed.

                                                                            3. 1

                                                                              I think this is the fundamental problem at play when trying to create a license in a political or ethical pursuit: how do we get it right from the start, and how do we ensure we don’t discover later that we actually got it wrong? I have a couple of thoughts:

                                                                              1. In your scenario, if the society truly needed to use this software for existential survival, I’m pretty sure the importance of that would outweigh the problems of breaking the license, that the society would forgive itself from violating a software license, and then probably draft a V2 with what they’d learned from the experience.
                                                                              2. Following from that point, I think to address the broader issue of I feel like our discussion of “licensing” at this point could learn from the domain of law and policy. I’m sure there are theoretical frameworks for creating sound policy that both helps us now and down the line but I’m completely unfamiliar with those topics.
                                                                            4. 4

                                                                              I feel that paragraph 2-3-4 in practice is going to restrict the licensed software from being used by most for-profit companies of more than a handful of people. I do not know of any larger companies where every employee/worker/owner has equal vote (and ditto for equal equity), but I’d love to know of such companies.

                                                                              Given the name of the license, this does seem to be the intended purpose, so I guess the license is just right for it’s, admittedly small, audience.

                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                The author seems to have broadly Syndicalist views (similar to my own), there are a few syndicalist companies around – there’s a games company that has been doing fairly well in that regard, I can’t recall the name offhand.

                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                  My (of course limited) experience says that all successful software co-operatives with 2 or more equal people sooner or later escalate to a “proper” company with employees.

                                                                                  Example from Germany: 2 or more people form a “GbR” and they’re personally liable. Very, very often after a few years this will be transformed into a “GmbH” (roughly like an LLC afaik) once you have employees or want to take on contracts from bigger companies. This is very common, and I wouldn’t even hold it against the founders, there are so many reasons why you wouldn’t want to have it if you have benefits. Oh, I don’t think this would conflict with 2d or 3 in general, but it seems very, vary rare. And now I really wonder why, or if I just haven’t noticed those.

                                                                                2. 3

                                                                                  I’m not adding much to the discussion, but I like to share that I’ve never considered the use of a software license for such a specific political goal.

                                                                                  It could be argued that GPL, and with different degrees depending on the version, by philosophical design has some political overtones. But even if that’s true, the end goal is not the political, but practical. But not this one. This is purely political.

                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                    This is not “anti-capitalist”, it’s “socialist”, it talks about worker cooperatives right from the start. If you want to (control/reign in/move away from) capitalism you don’t have to move through all viable options right into another extreme that has a long, bloody history of proving itself unworkable at scale.

                                                                                    (I don’t have a fancy hat, but I was born and spent first 12 or so years of my life in a big country ostensibly trying to make socialism work.)

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      How are worker cooperatives socialist? They are a tool used by a wide array of political sides to retain control of their labor and generate power. There are indeed socialist coops but there are also ancom coops, mutualist, eco/solarpunk/anprim cooperatives, there is a long history of conservative/catholics worker cooperatives in Southern Europe and Southern America. There are even capitalist cooperatives that have been so depoliticized and turned into an instrument of exploitation to dodge labor laws.

                                                                                    2. 5

                                                                                      It’s annoying and confusing that this gets upvoted on lobste.rs, then appropriately and predictably slated in the comments. Lobste.rs has proved itself to be a capitalist, democratic, libtertarian-leaning and consciously anti-political community and is entirely ignorant of and unconneced to the realm of politics and social endeavour which is addressed by content like this. Ask a stupid question (i.e. ‘what does lobste’rs think of an anti-capitalist software license?’), get a stupid answer. Politics will only destroy lobste.rs, and if people post this kind of thing here then a #politics tag is critical so that it can be filtered out.

                                                                                      1. 10

                                                                                        From reading the comments, the strong impression that I get is that users have very different political backgrounds and opinions, and are generally able to have a thoughtful conversation about those differences.

                                                                                        1. 6

                                                                                          I was gonna come in here and complain about the content of the article and how I disagree with it, but you really nailed it on the head here, politics should be banned. It has no place in any online community. Esp one like this. I’ve seen a few forums rot from the inside out because the mods didn’t curb political discussion

                                                                                          I mean really what does anyone have to gain by talking about politics on an internet forum? Does anyone really think an internet comment from a stranger on the Internet, probably written because they are bored out of their mind and have nothing better to do with their lives, is gonna change their opinion?

                                                                                          1. 18

                                                                                            You are entitled to express these opinions - which are political. I think it is important that you be able to express them, even though as a moderator I disagree with them. Please respect that other people here also have political opinions that it’s important to them to express.

                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                              A stance on keeping politics out is not political in the same way that other things are political, and I think it is disingenuous to treat it as such.

                                                                                              1. 7

                                                                                                I’ve been told, as a queer person, that I should devote my life to pretending I don’t exist, because my existence is inherently political. When I refuse to do that, people tell me that I at least shouldn’t mention things that make them think about my queerness. At the same time, they aggressively mention things related to their non-queerness, and I have nothing analogous in my life that I’m allowed to talk about. When I refuse to do that, too… well, there are some people who are unhappy about it, but I don’t care.

                                                                                                (None of this was stated so clearly, but it’s been repeated a lot, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to study the reasoning behind it.)

                                                                                                When people say “no politics”, they mean “nothing that makes me uncomfortable”, and they get to decide what makes them uncomfortable. It is a position that cannot possibly be enforced without harming somebody. Some people would say that “no politics” upholds the status quo, but it’s worse than that. It gives all the power to the person who defines what “politics” is. That person, and nobody else, gets to advocate for whatever changes they want in the world.

                                                                                                I do appreciate your engaging. I understand that not everyone has witnessed this stuff as vividly as I have, and it must be very tempting to believe that “no politics” is a consistent stance when it’s a stance that doesn’t harm you too much. I understand why it might look disingenuous, and I’m not hurt that you said that, because at the very least it’s a position that I have some obligation to explain. To reiterate, it’s fine to disagree with my position here! I hope I’ve clarified what that position is.

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                                                                                                  When people say “no politics”, they mean “nothing that makes me uncomfortable”, and they get to decide what makes them uncomfortable.

                                                                                                  Again, I think you are being reductionist here. There are very much people who aren’t uncomfortable talking about something but who merely want to hold space for the primary content of discussion–in this case, technology.

                                                                                                  It isn’t that political is uncomfortable, it is that most discussion here is going to be of low quality and actionability, and that efforts to bring it up to snuff will take so much space and time (imagine, the amount of space needed to educate the other side on whatever context you think is needed to have informed policy discussions…and that is assuming good-faith efforts to learn!) that it will completely derail and suck the air out of a thread.

                                                                                                  Also, re: “making uncomfortable”…somehow I doubt that charity is going to be extended to political or ideological opponents who disagree with, say, the validity of queerness as an identity or who are ethno-nationalists or what have you. The effective and fair solution is to just direct everybody to take that shit elsewhere (pol or mastodon or wherever feels like a good crowd).

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                                                                                                    My apologies for how long it’s taken to get back to you on this; I’ve been preoccupied. I would be happy to take this topic to a 1:1 chat on IRC or something like that; given how long it’s been, I don’t want to re-ignite the thread by responding here.

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                                                                                                    I would have preferred to discuss this on any other medium.

                                                                                                    Politics doesn’t make me uncomfortable, now or on any of the many occasions it’s got doors slammed in my face. I’ve always believed it was too important for discomfort to be a consideration. But I also don’t think, given the diverse representation of political views in the thread, that subscribers to any particular political theory need find the subject matter uncomfortable. That’s not the problem I have with politics on the site, and seems like a generalisation stretched too far.

                                                                                                    My problem with politics relates instead to kindness. Lobste.rs usually manages to be a civil and respectful community. While there are successes you could point to in this thread, there’s also been an unusual level of bad-faith engagement; at least two users even felt it was worth their time to take to the suggestions box to vandalize the tags. Habitually good participants get toxic. People will leave the site, if not because of this submission, then because of the next dozen like it. Politics itself may not be uncomfortable, but the community’s reaction to politics sure as hell is.

                                                                                                    I’d also invite you to look at this thread and tell me you think progress is being made. Has anyone changed their mind? Has anyone even tried to change minds? Would a spectator look at this and change theirs?

                                                                                                    Political threads are very engaging because we all want to express an opinion. But I believe that, as a matter of political strategy, they’re terrible at making a difference. The opinions thus expressed are irrelevant to a user so engaged; they need to respond to them, but they don’t need to spend meaningful time to understand. Similarly, the replies, being written to refute rather than to persuade, are unlikely to win many minds.

                                                                                                    Returning to whether it should be on the site, though, I have one final thought. Your argument against “no politics” could be applied to any forum with a narrow focus—and I think it’s fundamentally okay for some forums to do that. From the angle of convenience, people should be able to browse a site about tech stuff without seeing business news, and I think it’s reasonable to extend that to politics. But, perhaps more importantly, I think this thread stands testament to the fact that the community is not socially equipped to handle heated political discussions. If we continue to entertain them anyway, I fear that the atmosphere will become persistently adversarial. However you frame the line between political and not, every tool available to users was abused here, and I don’t think that should become the norm.

                                                                                                    Finally, I believe it’s both possible and necessary to address your concerns about erasure, which is a serious and important threat, by more direct means. Politics, generally an accepted topic of public discourse, hasn’t been the only or even primary label used to effect queer erasure over recent decades.

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                                                                                                      My problem with politics relates instead to kindness. Lobste.rs usually manages to be a civil and respectful community. While there are successes you could point to in this thread, there’s also been an unusual level of bad-faith engagement; at least two users even felt it was worth their time to take to the suggestions box to vandalize the tags. Habitually good participants get toxic. People will leave the site, if not because of this submission, then because of the next dozen like it. Politics itself may not be uncomfortable, but the community’s reaction to politics sure as hell is.

                                                                                                      I’ve observed this as well but I may have a more pessimistic outlook than you. I genuinely mean this constructively, and I say this with compassion for the users on this site, but my view is that “politics” is not the problem, but rather the culture of this web forum, period. There are plenty of internet communities discuss politics, intentionally or not. I read a few of them, and I’ve been genuinely surprised by the degree to which users on this specific website get triggered by topics that even remotely brush up on politics, ethics, gender, or race.

                                                                                                      IMO this idea being parroted that “we can’t have politics because it destroys communities” is lazy. I’m not calling people lazy, just the idea. The idea is lazy because there’s absolutely no reason we couldn’t have read this post and had a normal discussion about, say:

                                                                                                      • how effective are software licenses in general?
                                                                                                      • do we think this license could achieve it’s goals? why or why not?
                                                                                                      • are there similar licenses we can compare this to?
                                                                                                      • do other industries place ethical constraints in their licenses? how has that worked out?

                                                                                                      It’s not an unreasonable challenge to engage in the interesting bits, and set the search for moral truth aside. Likewise it’s not particularly hard to look at the post, and admit to oneself “I don’t relate to the worldview being expressed here”, and then to move on with your day.

                                                                                                      When you write:

                                                                                                      Lobste.rs usually manages to be a civil and respectful community.

                                                                                                      I honestly don’t see this. I mean sometimes we have purely technical discussions where frankly the opportunity for being rude to one’s peers doesn’t strongly present itself. To me, that’s not the definition of a respectful community. Whether or not the community is respectful, civil, thoughtful is something that I really believe we’ll know when we can have a genuine, thoughtful, respectful discussion on an otherwise contentious topic without folks losing their minds.

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                                                                                                        There are plenty of internet communities discuss politics, intentionally or not. I read a few of them, and I’ve been genuinely surprised by the degree to which users on this specific website get triggered by topics that even remotely brush up on politics, ethics, gender, or race.

                                                                                                        IMO this idea being parroted that “we can’t have politics because it destroys communities” is lazy. I’m not calling people lazy, just the idea. The idea is lazy because there’s absolutely no reason we couldn’t have read this post and had a normal discussion about […]

                                                                                                        There are certainly groups that could have, but I don’t think this is one of them, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem. I’d prefer it if we could discuss politics without people losing their minds, sure, but as I said I don’t think the community is socially equipped for that. It’s not alone—I’ll bet many people’s immediate group at work wouldn’t survive many of these conversations—but how unfortunate it is is beside the point. The calibre of a debate is as its least debater, so unless we start being more selective about who we invite, the expectation can only get worse.

                                                                                                        I think it pertinent that this is a pretty big, and at this point quasi-public, community, with members who are here because they’re interested in tech stuff. By contrast, the forums I’ve seen successfully grappling with political topics have been relatively small, and the members, in many cases, self-selected for their interest in discussing difficult subjects.

                                                                                                        Incidentally, I think the ability to discuss strictly technical stuff without getting nasty is still an achievement.

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                                                                                                      I can’t say much to your experience with people avoiding queer topics, but I’d put at least no politics as some kind of self protection from the toll it takes to discuss them. Because in a way I’d also like lobsters not to degrade into a political discussion. There are so many sites I can do that, but I’m here to discuss more on the technical topic. Not watch some ramblings in some general “computer news” site. Having to search for the comments that are actually interesting, because there are so many discussing some political definition.

                                                                                                      Now obviously that’s not the complete truth, as I’m also interested in GPLv2 vs GPLv3 or the general FOSS stuff. But, and that’s the problem: I don’t and won’t read lengthy posts on left vs right, communism vs capitalism. When it’s starting to repeat itself over and over. I’ve read the stuff in here this time, was interesting to see how the folks here are argument for their opinion. But if we’d do the same thing again tomorrow, I’d just simply ignore the whole post.

                                                                                                      It’s like the old discussion of people arguing that mozilla could’ve been so great it they didn’t remove that one feature from it, or that it was the straw that let people leave the browser. You can’t prove it, it’s only an opinion, and we’ve heard 99% of the arguments already.. And at that point I’m avoiding the topic.

                                                                                                      Overall it’s probably a thin line between not arguing too much about politics but also preventing a complete ban. And people arguing against politics probably just want a safe place without all the flame wars, repetitive arguments and so forth. Writing this I think you can call this as agreeing to disagree and thus leaving (fundamental) politics out.

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                                                                                                        @angrysock has a great term for the difference between these - “is it actionable”.

                                                                                                        The reason most political discussions are pointless rehashing is there’s no action to take other than rehashing.

                                                                                                        License discussions are useful to people who release new software - they may take the action of choosing a new license for future releases of their work.

                                                                                                        “Should Mozilla have disabled XUL” is not actionable. There’s nothing for you to do with that information.

                                                                                                        “We should be more socialist” is not, in general, actionable (other than at the ballot box / private letters to your local parliamentarian).

                                                                                                        It’s not “no politics” that we need, it’s “only actionable politics”.

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                                                                                                          “Actionability” strikes me as an impoverished signal for the health of a discussion. There are so many ways to learn through discussion that don’t involve taking an immediate action as a result.

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                                                                                                            [edit: removed a statement which could have been more charitable, replaced with]: That’s not at all what I intended to convey.

                                                                                                            I didn’t say immediate, and gave an explicit example of a long-term future action in a quite short comment.

                                                                                                            What do you gain from, say, another ten-page thread about systemd? Accurate information on the pros and cons is widely available; new insights are rare amongst the endless rehashing of the same talking points.

                                                                                                            There are plenty of topics which remain contentious even though practically everyone has the same information available. They don’t generate good discussions because there’s no new information available. Conversely there are topics which are contentious because everyone has their own partial set of information - these tend to start with disagreements and end with someone bringing a really good treatment of the subject to our attention.

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                                                                                                      Yeah exactly

                                                                                                      Like in my ideal forum, even stuff from Richard Stallman would be banned. And I’d also ban those articles about how FB is spying on you or whatever. Those types of threads attract armchair sociologists that love to ramble on about what the ideal society is and how people should think morally etc etc. It just becomes a giant trashfire of a thread. Just look at this one it’s 117 comments of people talking about how they love anarchy or whatever. Who cares!!!!!

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                                                                                                    Everything can be “political”.

                                                                                                    You wouldn’t get triggered by someone presenting a particular way to manage large code base but you get triggered by a discussion how interpersonal relationships are managed by some? It’s both matter of personal aesthetics to a degree and OP did not call for universal adoption.

                                                                                                    The discussion consisted mostly of efficiency of such a license and it’s necessity, same as a discussion about a monorepo or something similar would proceed.

                                                                                                    I happen to be an anarchist by conviction, but a capitalist by necessity. I am interested in anarchist tech-related success stories (this is not it).

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                                                                                                    Contamination is important. It is dangerous bubbles in which extreme right-wing ideology is pushed onto neutral spectactors that have not enough critical means to understand what they are subject to. Break the bubble, enter these spaces, show them that they are a small reality and the world is moving forward without them.

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                                                                                                      I agree in principal but the formula for the potential success or benefit of ‘contamination’ contains some amount of resistance and a possibility of success. If the resistance is extremely strong (see most comments here, so far inside the capitalist box they can’t see the box), and the possibility of success is low (individuals deeply embedded in an ideology, unable and/or unwilling to think outside it, and highly resistant to change, especially in a space they came to talk about other things and ‘feel safe’ in a particular bounded context), then even the most well meaning ‘contamination’ is at best a waste of breath and at worst consciously inciting conflict. The latter is how I’d now categorise political posts on lobste.rs. It’s just not what people are here for.

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                                                                                                    similar idea to copyfarleft/copyfair:

                                                                                                    https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Copyfarleft

                                                                                                    the ideas and licenses in that wiki article seem better thought out than this license.

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                                                                                                      I’d prefer if the license made it explicit that you couldn’t use the software in your capacity as a member of a capitalist organization, while allowing you to use it in an individual capacity.

                                                                                                      In any case, I think conflating non-capitalist with good is a mistake. For instance, non-profits include religious organizations, which nowadays are part of promulgating lies about COVID-19.

                                                                                                      Maybe we need a template license where you can check off all the things you think are “good” or “bad”—like a political quiz!—and only allow creators of derivatives to do the “good” things with your software.

                                                                                                      Alternatively, maybe this shit is so complicated that anyone who has scruples about use of their software should just make it “All Rights Reserved” and grant individual licenses. I think License Zero is a step in that direction.