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      It’s becoming more and more obvious that the old “open source and free software are basically the same thing” line is just wrong. There’s incidental overlap, but the underlying logic of “help the end user” and “make companies more effective at Doing Cloud Capitalism” are inherently at odds in the long run.

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        I think the OSD and Four Freedoms having 100% overlap is hardly “incidental”.

        Open Source and Free Software as movements differ greatly in focus, but the software and licenses are 99.9% overlapped.

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          Yes, that’s a good clarification on what I meant. The fact that the output (the software) technically happens to qualify as open source and free software at the same time is incidental to the fact that the intent of the underlying movements are in very different directions.

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        Which one would be more appropriate for “just throwing code out there, I don’t care what happens”? :)

        (I use the Unlicense and identify more with “open source” – so it’s kinda weird to see “open source” being associated with “cloud capitalism”…)

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          The reason for the “cloud capitalism” is because in practise if you “don’t care what happens” and your code is useful, it will be used by a cloud corporation to profit. Some people believe these corporations encourage developers and users to “not care what happens” because it directly benefits the corporations.

          Which is not to say that not caring is bad by itself, but only that some bad actors are very happy about it in some cases.

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      Ugh, what Mongo and others are doing isn’t free software. It’s not open source. Trying to broadly expand the scope of copyleft far beyond the GNU licenses “derivative work”, which solely relies on copyright law, not contract law (or wasn’t intended to), is not in the interest of promoting free software.

      Copyleft GNU licenses are pretty clear: no discrimination against fields of endeavour (actually, this is what the open source definition says, but it’s the same spirit of the GNU licenses). Saying “if you make money, we treat you differently” is discriminating against commercial interests. The new Mongo license is discriminating solely on your income. Not whether you release source or not, but whether you’re making money. This is not free software! This is not open source!

      GNU copyleft licenses are trying to level the playing field. Author gave you the source code and in exchange you must pay it forward. You cannot deny someone else the freedom that you were granted. Conditionally granting someone else freedom on whether they’re making money or not is not at all the same thing.

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        “Copyleft GNU licenses are pretty clear: no discrimination against fields of endeavour (actually, this is what the open source definition says, but it’s the same spirit of the GNU licenses). Saying “if you make money, we treat you differently” is discriminating against commercial interests.”

        My first question is “Why?” In a market where money talks and theyre mostly selfish, why structure your licenses to give selfish, freeloading, for-profit companies a bunch of free labor and software at others’ expense? Those commercial users are also themselves usually discriminatory by paying proprietary developers but not OSS. OSS-like for non-commercial with paid for commercial is more fair.

        Next, there’s the issue that it’s a capitalist market where money defines the very laws that govern software freedom. In this system, big companies in software are actively removing software freedoms and increasing lockin with their money. OSS/FOSS proponents need lots of money to counter it. Telling them not to do models that generate revenue to protect user’s and developer’s freedoms aids those taking them away. Today, I see most free licenses as unethical and damaging to freedom as proprietary sector for that reason.

        The author of post is trying to address this with License Zero. He, imho correctly, focuses on use and modification as triggers of software freedom and/or payment instead of distribution conditions. His Parity license also forces all changes to be shared. That counters the cloud folks quite a bit since a new player can leverage their changes. So, mixing commercial licensing to capture developer and lawyer funds plus strongest, reciprocal copyleft seems most freedom- and developer-protecting compromise.

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          why structure your licenses to give selfish, freeloading, for-profit companies a bunch of free labor and software at others’ expense?

          Because there’s no inherent connection between “for-profit” and “abuses the trust of their users”. The FSF doesn’t want to prevent companies who respect user freedom from making a profit; that would be the opposite of what they’re trying to achieve.

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            I said force them to share some profit they derive via software with those whose work produces the software. That’s opposite of what you’re saying where FSF wants OSS people to make no profit or little profit while companies can freeload and profit massively. That’s not hypothetical: it’s what’s occuring in the current environment with current licenses.

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              I don’t think that’s what the FSF wants at all.

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                It’s what their strategies are doing and have since they started. If they continue, then it’s what they want in practice if not in theory. I care about practical results more than good intentions.

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                  The FSF doesn’t want companies to freeload. It wants users to be free.

                  The practical result is that users are free.

                  If we are concerned with the investors in corporations that aren’t able to rent-seek because of this then that’s a different conversation.

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                    Users cant be free if politicians are paid to reduce their protections. Money is needed to defend them. My point is models that dont generate revenue needed to protect software freedom… a large amount on just patent side alone… dont protect software freedom. Esp if other side is rewriting or reinterpreting the law while free side is relying on same law.

                    Models that maximize revenue from business use plus allow free, non-commercial use (or even free commercial under certain revenue) can fund a defense against those removing software freedom. That’s on top of funding tons of paid work on such software and/or FSF-style software. If looking at outcomes, it achieves overall goals better even if limiting distribution goal a bit.

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              The problem is not wanting to get paid – the problem is wanting to use a copyright monopoly to restrict legitimate use in order to get paid.

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                Why is that a problem if the alternative is massive, evil companies getting paid while mostly freeloading on ethical people and paying to reduce/remove their software freedoms? What is your alternative that doesn’t keep most FOSS developers working for pennies to lower-middle-class income? And captures more of the value FOSS is creating to sustain it? (Hell, secure it, too.)

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                  Write software that does something useful and charge for that.


                  Trying to treat software development like the search for an old fashioned pop music hit, something you write once then live off the residuals if you get lucky, isn’t a good model.

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                    There are multiple business models in the wild that don’t abuse users. This is one of them. I call this one “libre non gratis” and it is used, to my knowledge, by at least Conversations, Synergy, Jason Rohrer’s indie games (and some other video games too by other people. similar setup), to name a few.

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        What the GPL means to me is to give the end user the freedom to fix abusive software. It isn’t really about money or even paying it forward (it doesn’t require you to contribute back to the author at all, only to make the source available to your users so they can modify it same as you have).

        Ever use a smartphone app that sends spammy notifications? Wouldn’t happen with GPL - you can just fix the crap yourself.

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          Right, paying it forward to your users, not paying back to the original author.

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            Yes the latter is the “but what about the project?” antipattern.

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        While i would generally agree that there should be no discrimination for fields of endeavor. I am however sometimes thinking about the possibility that my software might be used for controlling weaponry. And I don’t like that thought.

        Probably a non-binding preamble might be the better solution than a pacifist license though, given the complications that a pacifist license would have.

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          That sort of thing comes up often. It doesn’t seem like software licenses are the right place to make a stand against that.

          We had a discussion about this not long ago,


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      If you want to use copyright for rent-seeking against the users of your software, that is an unethical abuse. Saying “but if I don’t, I’m not creative enough to know how I’ll make money” is not an excuse.

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        I’m not sure if it’s the small proprietary businesses that are engaging in rent seeking, so much as the AWS’s of the world that open source just enough to get you hooked.

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        As I argued here, the FOSS licenses sending all the money to businesses subverting copyright and patent laws are facilitatimg damage. Better to have business models that get developers paid, open up more stuff, and having power to fight back in Congress and courts.

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      This is currently limited to “big data” databases: this class of products is aimed to large companies. So it’s largely irrelevant, they are trying to extract more money from these large companies and there’s basically no “end user” to give freedoms to use, modify, etc. Yes, these companies’ staff are people too, and users of these cloud things can indirectly benefit from freedoms given to companies using these databases, but at that level all these bigdata-using cloud/saas/paas/adtech companies are nowadays perceived as “evil” and abusive to people.

      If Postgresql or Gimp or Blender changes license to some ShadyPL with “no commercial use”, then it would be real reason to concern, but all these mongodbs changing licenses does not mean immediate GNUapocalypse.