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    I use ISC/BSD0 for all my projects, but what I’d like to see for the GPLv4 is for it to become simpler. Nothing beats the simplicity of ISC/BSD0 and I accept the fact that Copyleft might be a bit difficult to formulate in lawspeak, but one should try.

    The GPLv3 was too restrictive and basically disallowed linking dynamically to GPLv3-licensed libraries (yes, some people don’t use LGPLv3 for their libs) which was really pissing me off. In the end, it’s the developer’s decision, but it often forces to use inferior solutions which in total lower the quality of any written open source software.

    The ideology the FSF proposes of evil corporations executing evil force on the poor free software community has proven to be false or at least dated. I bet it was true in the 90’s, but I don’t think the Linux Kernel and many other projects would be possible without the contributions of big companies which embrace open source software of any kind. The move nowadays is towards SaSS, so if Richard Stallman wants to impose force in that matter, he will have to make the GPL even more restrictive, forcing SaSS-offerings to reveal their source code. But I don’t see myself reading through thousands of pages of license text, which tries to formulate a legal background to impose this restriction on SaSS offerings.

    In general I don’t think that a software license is capable of keeping up with all recent advances in the software world. We all know the world changes in a fast pace.

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      The ideology the FSF proposes of evil corporations executing evil force on the poor free software community has proven to be false or at least dated.

      This is something I strongly disagree with, but I’m going to focus on one comment you’re making: whether or not linux would be possible without the contributions of big companies. I disagree, heartily. Frankly, the question is whether or not someone is getting paid to work on that OS. When people stop getting paid to work on it, the OS generally dies, or becomes a bus number situation. Things like copyleft provisions force many law abiding companies to give back. This is huge for hardware support in Linux, notably ARM.

      And there is already the AGPL that is a more restrictive SaaS license, but because it’s optional, companies don’t choose it.

      Fuck - facebook will REVOKE your license of react.js if you compete with them.

      http://react-etc.net/entry/your-license-to-use-react-js-can-be-revoked-if-you-compete-with-facebook

      I feel lucky that linux chose GPLv2. All of the work I’ve done at proprietary companies that used a FreeBSD OS, none of it got open sourced, and never will, even though it’s non-essential to the company’s competition and would have been very nice to share.

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        Fuck - facebook will REVOKE your license of react.js if you compete with them.

        http://react-etc.net/entry/your-license-to-use-react-js-can-be-revoked-if-you-compete-with-facebook

        I’m not sure this is correct, my understanding of the patent grant was that it is only revoked if you file a patent claim against Facebook.

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          Meaning – if you’re in a company that competes in the social space, and run up against anything they’ve patented (hint hint hint: likely), you can’t use the court system or you must stop using React.js. Facebook can violate any patent of yours they want to, and you can’t do anything about it if you rely on technology they’ve released. It’s a pretty extreme clause, and makes it such that competitors basically should stay the hell away from facebook OSS.

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        The GPLv3 was too restrictive and basically disallowed linking dynamically to GPLv3-licensed libraries

        what?

        There’s nothing disallowed about it. Your only obligation is that if you dynamically link and you distribute, you also have to provide source in accordance to other clauses of the license. Since you, as a suckless.org developer, are already providing source, there’s no further obligation from you.

        The only reason to have a problem with the GPL is if you want to do non-free software or you want to help others make non-free software or you have anything to do with non-free software. If non-free software isn’t important to you, then you should have no problem with the GPL.

        But I don’t see myself reading through thousands of pages of license text,

        Please read the GPL. It’s about 10 or 11 printed pages. It’s not that long and it’s not impossible to understand. There is far more fear than understanding when it comes to the GPL. If you need help, there is a FAQ, because unlike EULAs, the authors of the GPL want you to understand the GPL. Unlike EULAs, the GPL isn’t constantly changing, so you don’t have to keep constantly reading it to know what new thing they’ve snuck in there under your nose.

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          The only reason to have a problem with the GPL is if you want to do non-free software or you want to help others make non-free software or you have anything to do with non-free software. If non-free software isn’t important to you, then you should have no problem with the GPL.

          Or your code is licensed under a free, open source license that is GPL incompatible. OpenSSL being the best example because of how many projects have had problems it.

          For example it has lead to hilarious busywork like offlineimap having to get all their contributors to agree to a relicense to prevent Debian from pulling their project. And Postgres which had similar problems. Or stunnel, which includes an OpenSSL exception but the author asserts that doesn’t apply to forks such as LibreSSL (see also: tedu’s post about stunnel).

          There are other niggly bits in the GPL that are only acceptable because they are widely ignored and never enforced. Is there any project at all that complies with GPLv2 section 2.a? Is there any small town electronics store selling Android phones complying with sections 3.a or 3.b? (They can’t use 3.c as selling a phone isn’t noncommercial).

          Or, the P2P problem. So much for the joke that seeding Linux distributions is the only legitimate use of BitTorrent.

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            Yeah, the OpenSSL incompatibility is a weird case. It’s even weirder when people write licenses to be GPL-incompatible just because.

            Section 2.a of GPLv2 seems to me like changelogs. GNU changelogs are written exactly in this style, saying which files were changed. Nowadays DVCS logs are the same thing. It’s a thing that we already are doing as a matter of course.

            I have seen most Android distributors include GPL materials in their distribution that give an indication of where to download the Linux source code, satisfying 3b. They usually include a text of the GPL next to the manual and a url somewhere that points to the code. You haven’t seen this?

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            The only reason to have a problem with the GPL is if you want to do non-free software or you want to help others make non-free software or you have anything to do with non-free software. If non-free software isn’t important to you, then you should have no problem with the GPL.

            … or you don’t want to force the GPL into everything your code touches. In other words: I disagree with the very essence of copyleft, since it is built on a system of monopoly copyright interest.

            I am a strong advocate and practitioner of free software, and I absolutely despise the GPL. Inconveniently for you, my distaste for the GPL has nothing at all to do with non-free software. So please, stop spreading the myth that the GPL’s only enemy is non-free software. It’s not, and I’m your proof.

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              If someone is using copyright in a way that is completely unrelated to something you dislike, i.e. to prevent non-free software, then why do you have a problem with it? What negative effects does the GPL have on you completely unrelated to non-free software?

              I don’t get this hating something on principle if it doesn’t affect you in any way, so it must affect you in some way. Is it the OpenSSL incompatibility that is just completely untenable?

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                I think copyright is unethical and ought to be abolished completely. Distaste for the GPL immediately follows from that.

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                  So you don’t object to the any effects of the GPL? Even though its effects are completely benign in your view, you won’t use it because you don’t like copyright law?

                  I really don’t understand this. How can you object to something just on the feeling of it instead of what it actually does?

                  The GPL is only preventing something you already said you don’t like. It’s like (for example) saying you hate condoms because Jesus said no, but you still object if all the condoms of the world were repurposed as Christmas balloons.

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                    Of course I object to the effects of the GPL! Coplyleft uses copyright to impose restrictions on what you can and can’t do with source code under the GPL. Without monopoly copyright privilege, those restrictions aren’t possible.

                    Even if I didn’t, I don’t understand how “I believe copyright is unethical” isn’t enough of a reason for you. I could dive deeper into why I think that (and indeed, all forms of intellectual property in the broadest sense), but that’s a waste of time in my experience. Stephen Kinsella’s “Against Intellectual Property,” is pretty good for the theory part of it. “Intellectual Feudalism” is pretty good from the practical part of it. It should be enough for you to cite myself as a counter example to the myth you’re spreading.

                    Please please please don’t link me to some FSF page describing how I’ve misunderstood/misused the term “intellectual property.”

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                      Did we already have this discussion? You’re the one who doesn’t like intellectual property and you think trademarks are the same thing as the GPL and both are indistinguishable from regional designations because people call them all “intellectual property”, right?

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                        Did we already have this discussion?

                        Yes. The point I’m trying to make is that not all opponents of the GPL are in the non-free software camp. There are free software opponents too.

                        In any thread about the GPL here on lobsters, I see you checking everyone’s understanding of the technical minutia of the GPL. Consider this interaction returning the favor: stop claiming that the only opponents of the GPL are non-free because you are missing lots of counter-examples.

                        You’re the one who doesn’t like intellectual property and you think trademarks are the same thing as the GPL and both are indistinguishable from regional designations because people call them all “intellectual property”, right?

                        No. This is a gross oversimplification of our previous interaction and I’m not sure how to interpret it charitably, so I’m just not going to respond.

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                          I think this position is completely incoherent, especially considering the links you provided.

                          All of those use “coypright” as a vehicle to provide users with more freedom. What you dislike is that “copyright” might have the “wrong defaults”, but that’s exactly what copy-left licenses as well as the licenses on the website you linked fix.

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                            From unlicense.org:

                            The Unlicense is a template for disclaiming copyright monopoly interest in software you’ve written; in other words, it is a template for dedicating your software to the public domain. It combines a copyright waiver patterned after the very successful public domain SQLite project with the no-warranty statement from the widely-used MIT/X11 license.

                            What I dislike about copyright has nothing to do with the “wrong defaults” and everything to do with the fact that it exists in the first place. Copyfree licenses are, in practice, as close as one can get to releasing software as if copyright didn’t exist. Copyleft doesn’t exist in any similar form in a world without copyright.

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                              Copyleft could exist on its own if there were only copyleft laws but no copyright laws. For example, laws that required software to always be accompanied by source code, worded as being a fundamental right of the user. We could conceivably remove all laws that put restrictions on copying and replace them with laws that required giving source code upon demand.

                              But since these laws don’t exist, the GPL just works with the laws that do. It is realpolitik. The GPL isn’t an endorsement of copyright restrictions. It is a subversion of them.

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                                Copyleft could exist on its own if there were only copyleft laws but no copyright laws. For example, laws that required software to always be accompanied by source code, worded as being a fundamental right of the user. We could conceivably remove all laws that put restrictions on copying and replace them with laws that required giving source code upon demand.

                                This is an immaterial semantic point because these laws rely on the same fundamental assumptions that copyright does. Namely, that creations of the intellect ought to be legislated and treated as if they were property.

                                But since these laws don’t exist, the GPL just works with the laws that do. It is realpolitik. The GPL isn’t an endorsement of copyright restrictions. It is a subversion of them.

                                I understand that the GPL is using the system of copyright against itself. Nevertheless, the GPL requires some form of intellectual property law to exist, and I therefore disagree with it. Without intellectual property law, I could take your code, mix it with my own, and release the product without ever being required to share the source code. Anyone should be free to do that. On the same token, if you some how acquired the source code—whether by reverse engineering or some other means—than you’d be free to use it and modify it without legal repercussion. Anyone should be free to do that as well.

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                                  Without intellectual property law, I could take your code, mix it with my own, and release the product without ever being required to share the source code.

                                  This leads me to wonder: is there a copyleft-like license that does allow this, but doesn’t allow you to redistribute the work with an “all rights reserved” type clause, where you can sue downstream users for modifying/redistributing the software? The GPL goes further than an no-copyright world would by affirmatively requiring you to distribute source code with binaries. But BSD/MIT style licenses go less far, by not even guaranteeing the downstream user’s right to modify the binaries, which in a copyright-free world would be taken for granted. Is there a license that says something like: you can use my software however you want, except that you agree to waive the right to sue anyone for copyright violation regarding a derivative work of this work?

                                  This would be “viral” but in a different way than the GPL: if Microsoft put my code into the next version of Excel, they wouldn’t have to publish the Excel source code, but they would have to agree not to sue anyone who reverse-engineers, modifies, or distributes their modified versions of Excel. In practice this is probably not likely to appeal to many more companies than the GPL (most who don’t want to publish source code also don’t want to waive their “all rights reserved” copyright), but it’s interesting to me whether it’s possible.

                                  edit: Come to think of it, is the Creative Commons ShareAlike license (cc-by-sa) more or less what I’m looking for here? It’s a copyleft license, but has no terms requiring you to distribute a “source” or “human-readable” version.

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                                    Yes, I would also find that interesting and possibly more appetizing indeed. Truthfully, I’ve never thought about it! I don’t know enough about our legal system to know whether it would actually work or not.

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                                    Your conception of freedom is based on old Roman slave law. It’s deeply intertwined with your arguments where you start confusing ideas.

                                    Just as you, I believe creations of the intellect are not property. But I have a sense you don’t really believe that given that you say that people ought to be “free” to mix “their” code with “yours” and release “their” product without releasing “their” source code.

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                                      I’m not really sure how to respond to “you don’t actually believe what you say you believe.” There’s really no point in continuing the conversation because nothing I say has any credibility in your eyes. If that’s true, then please move on. I’ll try though:

                                      You might consider the use of the words “my,” “your” and “their” doesn’t necessarily connote a legal entitlement or ownership. You might also consider that the way we talk about code and ideas (“My idea didn’t turn out so well” or “your commit broke the build”) is so deeply ingrained that not speaking that way can be quite challenging! Similarly, I might say, “my fiance” or “your boyfriend,” and of course neither of those connote some sort of legal entitlement over another person.

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                                        Your second point about the conventional use of language is fair. I just wanted to point out how deep it goes.

                                        However my most important point is the first about what I think your conception of what freedom is given your other posts here. Generally there are two kinds, “freedom from” and “freedom to”. You are clearly arguing from the “freedom from” camp while GPL folks are arguing from the “freedom to” camp.

                                        I think this is the crux of the disagreement and just recognize you are square within the Open Source camp vs the Free Software camp. Not sure you intend to be but that’s where I see you arguing from.

                                        If you think about what releasing source vs binary is, it is like releasing a story as a written book in a conventional language vs the book written in a language that only a computer can read. You don’t want anyone restricting people from doing that. I see where you are coming from, but the argument is flawed. Why should people be allowed to do that?

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                                          I know where I stand and I understand the surrounding context. My rejection of IP is born out of more fundamental beliefs about the role of government in society and specifically what it even means for something to be considered property, but as I’ve said a few times in my comments, it’s a waste of time in my experience to dig into that drudgery. I mentioned Stephan Kinsella’s “Against Intellectual Property,” which should solidly place where I’m coming from.

                                          As I’ve also said several times, my point was that I am a free software advocate and practitioner that opposes the GPL. This ran contrary to what @JordiGH said. I’m not here trying to debate whether we should have IP or not, although that’s what many of the commenters here have nudged me to do by shifting the goalposts. For example, not a single person I’ve talked to has even bothered to acknowledge that, hey, maybe it is possible to be against the GPL but in favor of free software! This acknowledgment needn’t require accepting my argument against IP!

                                          Your mentions of slavery and the Catholic Church are unnecessary trolling. Hitler would applaud social welfare, does that mean social welfare is bad? It’s one of the most degenerate ways to disagree with someone in my opinion. Please, knock it off.

                                          Your second point about the conventional use of language is fair. I just wanted to point out how deep it goes.

                                          For what it’s worth, this isn’t some new fancy of mine. I’ve been opposed to IP for several years and have had that opposition challenged in many different ways (not just on an Internet forum). For example, every argument in this thread is one I’ve seen before.

                                          Why should people be allowed to do that?

                                          I never ask the question. Instead, I ask, “Why should we use force to disallow that?” (Because that’s what codifying it into laws means.) That question will take us far away from IP and into more broader political philosophy, and I don’t think I have the energy for that. I very much doubt I could provide any new perspective on the matter.

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                                            It’s not interesting to know some people are for free software but against GPL, it is more interesting to know “why?”.

                                            I have read Kinsella. I don’t think big ‘L’ Libertarians are genuine when then whip out the NAP card. When talking politics (which we are when we talk about GPL, free software, open source, etc) there are usually two meanings to terms. The technical meaning and the intended meaning. The technical meaning of NAP is a society free from violence. The real meaning of NAP is “I am allowed to response however I damn well please”.

                                            So going back to your question, “Why should we use force to disallow that?”. Same reason we should use force do disallow rape, or racism, or fascism. In 100 years the goal is that when someone mentioned releasing binaries only, we look at them as strangely and with disgust as we would view people who advocate slavery today. That’s progress!

                                            Once again your sense of freedom comes from roman slave law. A “freedom from” kind of freedom. This is a very novel and relatively new idea in the history of humanity.

                                            I am strongly against this idea since it has been proven to be extremely exploitative and behind probably much of the suffering we have today.

                                            If you don’t have the energy to participate in this kind of discussion, fine, take a rest. Let your mind mend. Fight another day.

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                                              It’s not interesting to know some people are for free software but against GPL, it is more interesting to know “why?”.

                                              I understand that it’s not interesting to you, but it’s clearly beyond belief for a number of other commenters here.

                                              I have read Kinsella. I don’t think big ‘L’ Libertarians are genuine when then whip out the NAP card. When talking politics (which we are when we talk about GPL, free software, open source, etc) there are usually two meanings to terms. The technical meaning and the intended meaning. The technical meaning of NAP is a society free from violence. The real meaning of NAP is “I am allowed to response however I damn well please”.

                                              I’m not a big ‘L’ libertarian. (I don’t vote.) I guess I could identify as a small ‘L’ libertarian, but that word has become so meaningless. Did you know Glen Beck thinks he’s a libertarian? Yeah. Chew on that one.

                                              In any case, I disagree with both of your interpretations of the NAP. The technical meaning of the NAP is a society free from the legitimized use of coercion. (Where coercion means the initiation of the use of physical force or threat of force.) I don’t know what you mean by the “real” meaning of the NAP, but here are two things worth saying:

                                              1. I disagree with your “real” meaning and most other principled libertarians I know of disagree with it too. You need to develop a theory of proportionality that is implied by the NAP. It’s been written down, but I don’t have a link handy.
                                              2. There are many so-called libertarians who use the NAP to justify insane things like, “I can shoot dead anyone who dare step foot on my property.” I can’t really say they aren’t libertarian because there are a lot of them, but I can say it’s one reason why I’m not particularly active in any online libertarian communities. It’s too painful listening to that kind of bullshit and seeing it accepted by your peers.

                                              So going back to your question, “Why should we use force to disallow that?”. Same reason we should use force do disallow rape, or racism, or fascism. In 100 years the goal is that when someone mentioned releasing binaries only, we look at them as strangely and with disgust as we would view people who advocate slavery today. That’s progress!

                                              We don’t need laws preventing X to look at someone doing X with disgust. (I do support laws against rape, but it seems not for the same reasons as you do, because I don’t support laws against racism, which is a really broad and vague concept.)

                                              Once again your sense of freedom comes from roman slave law. A “freedom from” kind of freedom. This is a very novel and relatively new idea in the history of humanity.

                                              I suspect you’re referring to “negative” and “positive” rights.

                                              I am skeptical of your historical framing, but without more context about what specifically you mean, I don’t really stand a chance at reasonably refuting it.

                                              I am strongly against this idea since it has been proven to be extremely exploitative and behind probably much of the suffering we have today.

                                              I mean, I obviously disagree, and I wonder how you square it with democide:

                                              His research shows that the death toll from democide is far greater than the death toll from war. After studying over 8,000 reports of government-caused deaths, Rummel estimates that there have been 262 million victims of democide in the last century. According to his figures, six times as many people have died from the actions of people working for governments than have died in battle.

                                              It’s hard to imagine a source of suffering greater than that.

                                              … and this is why I said this conversation is just pointless. I’ve been through it a million times. We could keep digging, but we’re just going to disagree about really fundamental things, like what ownership means, the nature of property (if it exists at all), whether freed markets always lead to feudalism and so on.

                                              I mean, I literally can’t even state my position clearly because there is so much baggage at play. If I could, I’d just say, “I think all forms of legitimized coercion ought to be abolished.” It reality, this statement makes lots of assumptions about property and ownership, because you need them to come up with some coherent definition of what “coercion” actually means. Nevertheless, this is at the heart of how I can be against things like IP, but in support of laws against things like rape.

                                              At the end of the day, I see property as a means to resolve conflict peacefully. I very much suspect that you see property as exactly the opposite! I have no idea how to reconcile these things and have never done so successfully. I suspect it boils down to some really fundamental things about how we perceive human nature.

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                                                One more question. You claim to support free software. My question to you is, since you don’t agree with practical approaches like the GPL , what approach do you feel is better for increasing the amount of software that respects the four freedoms and discourages proprietary software?

                                                Since you don’t believe in hacking copyright, would you use a more technical approach?

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                                                  I don’t have any good answers. The way I support free software is by producing it. I’ve taken to dual licensing recently under the MIT and the UNLICENSE, in an attempt to compromise between the practical (MIT) and the ideological (UNLICENSE). More free software means more companies using free software which hopefully means less proprietary software.

                                                  Similarly for my political philosophy. I don’t know how to get there from here, and I certainly don’t support violent revolution. My hope is for a peaceful transition through education, probably over centuries. But I recognize that that is a bit naive, and history tells us that the only way we see major changes like that is at enormous cost in human life.

                                                  Personally, I’ve made my peace with life as it is. Spending too much time thinking about this stuff is too painful.

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                                  Copyfree licenses are, in practice, as close as one can get to releasing software as if copyright didn’t exist. Copyleft doesn’t exist in any similar form in a world without copyright.

                                  In a world where copyright didn’t exist, copyfree and copyleft would be completely equivalent - there would be no line you could draw between them. If you’re not interested in using copyright to restrict your users' rights, they are equivalent (modulo bookkeeping) today.

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                                    In a world where copyright didn’t exist, copyfree and copyleft would be completely equivalent - there would be no line you could draw between them.

                                    Yes.

                                    If you’re not interested in using copyright to restrict your users' rights, they are equivalent (modulo bookkeeping) today.

                                    Could you please rephrase this claim without using the phrase “users' rights”?

                                    Copyleft places restrictions on what one can do with my code. Copyfree (as much as possible) does not. In this way, they are decidedly not equal.

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                                      Could you please rephrase this claim without using the phrase “users' rights”?

                                      Under both copyleft and copyfree, anyone who directly receives your code has the freedom (implemented as a copyright license) to do all the things they could do in a world without the restrictions of copyright (modulo bookkeeping): redistribute it, make derivative works and so on.

                                      The sole relevant difference is that copyfree additionally licenses them to distribute derivative works restricted by copyright (something copyright would normally restrict them from doing). This is not really a freedom that would be present in a world without copyright. So I don’t see why you would regard it as an important or valuable freedom for those people to have? Is it just the fact that it’s technically implemented as leaving some of the restrictions of copyright in place that bothers you?

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                                        Under both copyleft and copyfree, anyone who directly receives your code has the freedom (implemented as a copyright license) to do all the things they could do in a world without the restrictions of copyright (modulo bookkeeping): redistribute it, make derivative works and so on.

                                        Under copyleft, they can’t redistribute changes they’ve made without also making the source code available. This is something they could do in a world without copyright (that is, make changes, distribute the artifact and hide/obfuscate the code, i.e., non-free). To be clear, this isn’t something that I want to happen personally, but I do think it ought to be legal.

                                        Now, square that with the original comment that I took issue with, emphasis added:

                                        The only reason to have a problem with the GPL is if you want to do non-free software or you want to help others make non-free software or you have anything to do with non-free software. If non-free software isn’t important to you, then you should have no problem with the GPL.

                                        I don’t want any of those things, yet, I am opposed to the GPL.

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                                          To be clear, this isn’t something that I want to happen personally, but I do think it ought to be legal.

                                          Is that a coherent position? It seems to me the only reason to want something to be legal is if one wants it to happen. (A freedom that no-one actually exercises is meaningless, surely?)

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                                            It seems to me the only reason to want something to be legal is if one wants it to happen.

                                            Is that a coherent position?

                                            Sorry, but I don’t believe the full weight of the legal system is justified for every little thing I don’t want to happen. I don’t want to use heroin, but I think its use should be legal. I wear my seatbelt, but I don’t think people should be penalized for not wearing it.

                                            Really, I’m kind of baffled that some people in this thread haven’t come across the notion that laws and ethics aren’t necessarily one in the same. It seems pretty coherent to me!

                                            I guess it’s a thing though. Someone once told me that I should be totally OK with plagiarism because I disagreed with all IP. What kind of ridiculous incoherent line of logic is that? See my other comment for more details: https://lobste.rs/c/qouv2v

                                            (A freedom that no-one actually exercises is meaningless, surely?)

                                            How do you get from, “I don’t want to do non-free software” to “nobody actually participates in non-free software”?

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                                              Sorry, but I don’t believe the full weight of the legal system is justified for every little thing I don’t want to happen. I don’t want to use heroin, but I think its use should be legal. I wear my seatbelt, but I don’t think people should be penalized for not wearing it.

                                              Is your position that enforced laws against these things would likely have large negative side effects to the extent that they’re not worth having laws against? Or that you wouldn’t want there to be a law against these things, even if it could be enforced otherwise harmlessly?

                                              Really, I’m kind of baffled that some people in this thread haven’t come across the notion that laws and ethics aren’t necessarily one in the same.

                                              Law is an imperfect expression of our ethics, sure; in practice there are things that are ethical but illegal and vice versa. But surely the goal of law is and should be for unethical things to be illegal and ethical things to be legal.

                                              Someone once told me that I should be totally OK with plagiarism because I disagreed with all IP. What kind of ridiculous incoherent line of logic is that? See my other comment for more details: https://lobste.rs/c/qouv2v

                                              I’m with that person. Why grant them permission to copy your code and take the credit if you don’t want them to do that? It’s like putting a sign on a field you own saying “I hereby grant permission to walk across this field” and then complaining when someone walks across that field because you actually only put up the sign because you oppose trespassing law.

                                              Maybe you could clarify this “full weight of the legal system” phrase you keep using? I mean if you’re saying that you think e.g. the statuatory damages for copyright infringement are too high to apply to this project but a smaller amount of damages is appropriate, wouldn’t the appropriate thing be to grant them permission to copy your code and take the credit on the condition that they pay whatever the smaller level of damages you think is reasonable is?

                                              How do you get from, “I don’t want to do non-free software” to “nobody actually participates in non-free software”?

                                              Well either you want there to be people participating in non-free software - in which case the original characterization of “if you want to do non-free software or you want to help others make non-free software or you have anything to do with non-free software” applies - or you don’t. I don’t think there’s a coherent position that says “I want people to have the right to participate in non-free software but not exercise it”.

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                                                Is your position that enforced laws against these things would likely have large negative side effects to the extent that they’re not worth having laws against? Or that you wouldn’t want there to be a law against these things, even if it could be enforced otherwise harmlessly?

                                                The latter. (I’m not a utilitarian when it comes to laws.)

                                                But surely the goal of law is and should be for unethical things to be illegal and ethical things to be legal.

                                                I disagree with that goal.

                                                I’m with that person. Why grant them permission to copy your code and take the credit if you don’t want them to do that? It’s like putting a sign on a field you own saying “I hereby grant permission to walk across this field” and then complaining when someone walks across that field because you actually only put up the sign because you oppose trespassing law.

                                                You’re conflating “permission” with “legal,” and therefore, your comparison isn’t accurate. I do not grant anyone permission to plagiarize my code, but I do promise that I won’t pursue any legal recourse against those who plagiarize my work.

                                                A suggested rephrasing: “I won’t pursue legal action against you for trespassing because I oppose laws against trespassing. Nevertheless, please don’t trespass.” That seems like a perfectly coherent position to me (assuming that the coherency of opposing trespassing law is taken as axiomatic).

                                                Maybe you could clarify this “full weight of the legal system” phrase you keep using? I mean if you’re saying that you think e.g. the statuatory damages for copyright infringement are too high to apply to this project but a smaller amount of damages is appropriate, wouldn’t the appropriate thing be to grant them permission to copy your code and take the credit on the condition that they pay whatever the smaller level of damages you think is reasonable is?

                                                This isn’t a matter of degree. I’m using “full weight of the legal system” as a term to imply that I don’t think the legal system should be used to solve every ethical problem. It’s not a matter “how close can we get,” it’s a matter of, “we shouldn’t try at all.”

                                                Please keep in mind that just because I don’t want to use the legal system doesn’t mean I think these problems aren’t worth solving.

                                                I don’t think there’s a coherent position that says “I want people to have the right to participate in non-free software but not exercise it”.

                                                Please explain why this isn’t a coherent position because it seems perfectly fine to me. Let’s throw out more examples:

                                                • I don’t want my spouse to cheat on me, but I definitely think she should have the right to do it.
                                                • I don’t want my boss to fire me, but he should have the right to do it.
                                                • I don’t want people to plagiarize code I write, but they should have the right to do it.
                                                • I don’t want scientists to fake data to support erroneous conclusions, but they should have the right to do it.
                                                • I don’t want my friend to ride his motorcycle without his helmet on, but he should have the right to do it.

                                                None of these seem incoherent to me. As I’ve explained so many times already, laws aren’t ethics and laws shouldn’t be used to prevent every type of bad thing that can happen. Nevertheless, being against a law that purportedly prevents a bad thing from happening doesn’t mean I am in favor of that bad thing happening in the first place!

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                                                  I don’t want my boss to fire me, but he should have the right to do it.

                                                  I want management to fire incompetent people but not fire people who do the right thing. In my country this is reasonably formalized (“performance improvement plan” etc.). I want there to not be firings because I want everyone to be competent, but that’s compatible with wanting management to fire all incompetent people.

                                                  I think it’s similar with your other examples - in principle it would be better to formalize which grounds for doing these things are adequate justifications and which are not, and make those a matter of law. (In practice of course the law can’t cover all eventualities and there are a lot of cases where it’s better to err on the side of allowing some unethical things to be legal - but that’s a purely practical concern).

                                                  Please keep in mind that just because I don’t want to use the legal system doesn’t mean I think these problems aren’t worth solving.

                                                  But the “legal system” is just a formalization of human actions. I mean you could come up with some kind of negotiation and mediation process but that would ultimately end up just recapitulating the development of the legal system.

                                                  As I’ve explained so many times already, laws aren’t ethics and laws shouldn’t be used to prevent every type of bad thing that can happen.

                                                  You haven’t explained, you’ve asserted. I still think it’s an incoherent position.

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                                                    I think it’s similar with your other examples - in principle it would be better

                                                    I disagree that it would be better.

                                                    to formalize which grounds for doing these things are adequate justifications and which are not, and make those a matter of law.

                                                    Just to give you an idea of where I’m coming from: I find this notion to be disgustingly repulsive. The idea that some group of law makers should arbitrarily decide which types of behavior are “acceptable” and which are not is terrifying.

                                                    But the “legal system” is just a formalization of human actions. I mean you could come up with some kind of negotiation and mediation process but that would ultimately end up just recapitulating the development of the legal system.

                                                    You couldn’t possibly know that as a matter of fact.

                                                    You haven’t explained, you’ve asserted. I still think it’s an incoherent position.

                                                    You haven’t either! All you’ve bothered to do is assert that my position is incoherent, where your reasoning is that ethics should be formalized in laws. I disagree with that reasoning, as I stated before. Since I disagree with that, you don’t get to use that as axiomatic to judge the coherency of my position. The core thing that I think laws should exist for is to prevent coercion, but I view many laws (like laws governing the voluntary relationship between employer and employee) that exist today as a form of legitimized coercion. Legitimized or not, I oppose all forms of coercion.

                                                    You’re clearly coming from a position of “we should legislate the way we live” and we couldn’t possibly disagree more on that point. The reasonable thing to do here is to acknowledge that not everyone shares your views on the role of laws in society and that reasonable people can disagree. The unreasonable thing to do is refuse to acknowledge that people can disagree on that point, which is exactly what you and several other commenters are doing. It takes a certain kind of conceit, honestly, to be so certain of your own position that alternative positions are not only wrong, but cannot even exist.

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                                                      The idea that some group of law makers should arbitrarily decide which types of behavior are “acceptable” and which are not is terrifying.

                                                      It’s not arbitrary. Governments are made of people, and legitimate governments represent the people they govern.

                                                      This whole thread you seem to be talking like the legal system is some kind of irreducibly different thing, separate from ordinary human activity. But the system is just the effects of a bunch of humans doing human things. If our ethical principles don’t affect our actions then they are meaningless.

                                                      You couldn’t possibly know that as a matter of fact.

                                                      The experiment’s already been done. We’ve seen many independent human cultures, we’ve seen groups that tried to live without laws, we’ve even seen a version of the same thing happening on the internet.

                                                      The core thing that I think laws should exist for is to prevent coercion, but I view many laws (like laws governing the voluntary relationship between employer and employee) that exist today as a form of legitimized coercion. Legitimized or not, I oppose all forms of coercion.

                                                      How are you distinguishing between coercion and not?

                                                      The reasonable thing to do here is to acknowledge that not everyone shares your views on the role of laws in society and that reasonable people can disagree.

                                                      At what point does the consensus become established enough that it becomes unreasonable to disagree? I think we’re well past that point on this topic.

                                                      It takes a certain kind of conceit, honestly, to be so certain of your own position that alternative positions are not only wrong, but cannot even exist.

                                                      All false positions are unreasonable, ultimately. As evidence accumulates you shift from “reasonable people can disagree” to “anyone disagreeing hasn’t thought this through / is ignoring the evidence”. Without the willingness to do that we couldn’t ever accumulate knowledge.

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                                                        If you saw my original comment via email, please know that I’ve deleted it. This is just a waste of time. More than that, it brings out the worst in me. Sorry, but I can’t talk to someone who can’t even grant the most basic requirement for conversation: good faith. I’m literally debating with someone on the Internet over whether I’m coherent or not. Wow, that sounds ridiculous.

                                                        This is now our second conversation on lobsters that has ended in complete and total frustration. To be honest, we probably shouldn’t talk again, which is sad, because I like most of your comments.

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                                                          I don’t know what other conversation you mean. (I don’t pay a lot of attention to usernames).

                                                          I don’t think incoherence is necessarily bad faith (and I think a lot of us are probably walking around with views that are subtly incoherent in ways we haven’t yet noticed, myself included).

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                                                            I can tell you right now that my views on IP are not unexamined.

                                                            The other frustrating conversation we had was about property based testing for ASTs.

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                                    Yeah, and this license exists within the framework that copyright defines. Just like any other open-source license.

                                    Please just read the sentences that you have quoted: “copyright waiver”, “no-warranty statement”

                                    Without copyright – in whatever capacity and irregardless of the defaults – your “licenses” would be nothing than a few sentences on a computer screen.

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                                      Yeah, and this license exists within the framework that copyright defines.

                                      Is this anything other than stating the obvious? I really don’t understand what point you’re trying to make.

                                      Without copyright – in whatever capacity and irregardless of the defaults – your “licenses” would be nothing than a few sentences on a computer screen.

                                      Right. I don’t understand what I’ve said or implied that is contrary to this point.

                                      My guess at our confusion: did you miss the words “as if” in my previous comment? They’re important.

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                                        I really don’t understand what point you’re trying to make.

                                        You are not making any sense. (Like a few other people are also trying to tell you.)

                                        There are at least four different theories from which the idea of intellectual property is derived. You might not agree with them, but you need to be aware of them when discussing this topic. Otherwise you are factually and intellectually unprepared to have this discussion.

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                                          You are not making any sense. (Like a few other people are also trying to tell you.)

                                          Thanks for the clarification. I’m trying to engage you in good faith, but if you’re not interested in a constructive conversation, then I’d kindly ask you to please leave me alone.

                                          There are at least four different theories from which the idea of intellectual property is derived. You might not agree with them, but you need to be aware of them when discussing this topic. Otherwise you are factually and intellectually unprepared to have this discussion.

                                          This isn’t helpful.

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                                            Well, you keep responding with non-sense after you get answers you don’t like or understand.

                                            This isn’t helpful.

                                            This really only depends on what you make out of it. It could be an impulse for you to do your research, and come back with a more structured, coherent line of thought.

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                                              Then help me to understand. Telling me that I’m “intellectually unprepared” or “not making any sense” doesn’t help me understand. I’ll grant you the benefit of the doubt that you think it does, but I’m telling you right now, point blank: it is not constructive and does not help move this conversation forward.

                                              If you don’t want to move the conversation forward, then that’s OK. Just say so (or don’t) and move on.

                                              (Telling someone that they are uninformed as if it were an unquestionable fact isn’t a good way to interact with other humans in my experience. I tend to have better luck with explaining where the misunderstanding is happening.)

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                                  I don’t see how else to consider your support of the “intellectual property” concept than to conclude that regional designations are in some way similar to the GPL. I’m very frustrated because you insist on glossing over the huge, huge differences between the GPL and a design patent on rounded corners just because people use the same word to refer to them.

                                  Or perhaps you have a different meaning of “intellectual property” that doesn’t mean “whatever WIPO tries to regulate”. What is intellectual property?

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                                    I’m very frustrated because you insist on glossing over the huge, huge differences between the GPL and a design patent on rounded corners just because people use the same word to refer to them.

                                    Just because they are different in a lot of meaningful ways doesn’t mean they don’t share the same underlying legal foundations that I inherently disagree with. It also doesn’t mean that I find all forms of IP equally distasteful. This is a thread about the GPL in a forum filled with software people and you’re spending some amount of your time fixing the misunderstandings that people have with the GPL. It’s only fair that someone else spend some time fixing your misunderstandings about those who oppose the GPL. This gives disproportionate attention to the GPL when there are far far far worse things that use IP to inflict harm.

                                    You want me to debate the relative merits of the GPL and I simply refuse. I’m just not that interested in it. But if you want to present an honest advocacy of the GPL then you do need to acknowledge that there are those that very strongly disagree with you that can’t be placed in the non-free camp.

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                                      Let’s just stop. You won’t give practical examples of how the GPL produces a result you disagree with, and I refuse to consider any similarity between the GPL and Mickey Mouse.

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                                        I already did produce practical examples: if I release GPL’d code, then users of that code are forced to comply with the various restrictions of the GPL. That legal force is precisely the result I disagree with. The actual outcomes mandated by the GPL seem like great things to me (as I said, I’m an advocate of free software). The problem is that the GPL isn’t suggestive; it’s legally binding under threat of force. In other words, I disagree with your means, not your ends.

                                        Frankly, I don’t really appreciate your dismissive tone which has been pretty consistent in our conversation. If you represent opponents of the GPL in good faith in your advocacy, then there’s no problem. If you expect patience and understanding from those that you’re trying to teach then it’s only fair for others to expect the same from you.

                                        and I refuse to consider any similarity between the GPL and Mickey Mouse

                                        Which is weird considering you’ve appealed to courts in a few of your comments, and courts undoubtedly see a lot of similarity between them—they both rely on the same fundamental legal framework.

                                        1. 3

                                          Argh, ok, let’s not stop.

                                          if I release GPL’d code, then users of that code are forced to comply with the various restrictions of the GPL. That legal force is precisely the result I disagree with.

                                          This is still speaking too abstractly. The only real restriction in the GPL is that you cannot restrict others. So if you disagree with that restriction, you must think that you need to give others the right to impose restrictions. So you must not have a fundamental opposition to non-free software, since you want to give people the right to make it.

                                          But you said you don’t want non-free software. So when you speak of “restrictions”, what exactly is it that you would like to do that the GPL doesn’t let you do? What do you want to modify, release, use, distribute, discuss, do that the GPL won’t let you do?

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                                            The only real restriction in the GPL is that you cannot restrict others.

                                            That’s not true. If I modify GPL’d software and distribute, then I must release my modifications under the same terms of the license. That is a restriction that is only possible in a world with intellectual property laws. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to enforce it.

                                            So you must not have a fundamental opposition to non-free software, since you want to give people the right to make it.

                                            I’m opposed to using heroin but want others to have the right to use it. I’m also a huge proponent of wearing seat belts, but I disagree with laws that penalize those who don’t wear seat belts. Similarly, I’m a proponent of free software but totally support the right of others to attempt to keep modifications of any source code to themselves, regardless of whether they redistribute it or not. So long as they don’t invoke IP, in which case, I’d disagree with it for the same reasons that I disagree with the GPL.

                                            The other problem with your claim is this: what does non-free even mean in a world without copyright? At best, it’s obfuscation, but there’s no legal weight behind it. I’m not necessarily saying “everything is free software in a world without copyright and nothing is non-free,” certainly not, but I am saying that the landscape changes and that needs to be considered somehow.

                                            I draw a very thick line between means and ends, and I draw a hard distinction between what others ought to be allowed to do without legal ramifications and what others ought to do that is considered ethical by the wider community. I’m with the GPL advocates on the latter, but not the former.

                                            Honestly speaking, have you really never come across the idea that laws and ethics aren’t necessarily one in the same? That’s really the crux of the matter here.

                                            Someone once told me that, since I release all my software under permissive licenses (or the public domain) and since I hated all IP, I should therefore be “okay” with them copying my code and taking all the credit. It then went like this:

                                            • Me: Of course I’m not OK with that! It’s totally unethical to take credit for work you didn’t do.
                                            • Them: Well, then, you should have used a difference license.

                                            So maybe this is a microcosm of the problem you’re grappling with? Of course I don’t want people to plagiarize, but that doesn’t mean I necessarily think it’s appropriate to use the full weight of the legal system to prevent it.

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                                      What is intellectual property?

                                      Wikipedia’s definition looks as good as any other:

                                      Intellectual property refers to creations of the intellect for which a monopoly is assigned to designated owners by law.

                                      The proceeding sentences are clarifying:

                                      Intellectual property rights are the protections granted to the creators of IP, and include trademarks, copyright, patents, industrial design rights, and in some jurisdictions trade secrets. Artistic works including music and literature, as well as discoveries, inventions, words, phrases, symbols, and designs can all be protected as intellectual property.

                                      I’ll say this once more: going down this path is a waste of time because we’re going to disagree at some fundamental level. My point really isn’t to debate the ethics of IP with you. My point is to get you to stop misrepresenting opponents of the GPL. I am a free software advocate, I hate the GPL and I am not alone.

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                                    [note to self: reload before posting (oops)]

                                    Are you referring to this thread?

                                    To my knowledge, burntsushi didn’t write anything implying that “trademarks are the same thing as the GPL”. Could you clarify why you think he did?

                                    By the way, at least one of the books cited in the post you’re replying to distinguishes explicitly between copyright and trademarks in its attack against IP.

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                            Thanks for clearing that up. It’s insane that the GPLv3 forces you to license your code under the GPLv3 as well if you just link to a library published under the GPLv3. GPL-advocates will tell you that there is a LGPLv3, but I know a lot of library projects which license under the GPLv3 instead of LGPLv3.

                            I have good reasons to use ISC/BSD0 and think that the GPL does more harm to the community than it does good. Even companies willing to “go open source” might be hindered and rather try to rewrite the software they can’t use, with all involved bugs and everything.

                            Even at suckless.org we receive patches by Google from time to time, even though we reject them all because we don’t want legal entities in our Licenses and only just persons. Google is so liberal that up until now, every patch rejection due to this licensing issue was resolved that Google put the Google employee’s name into the license section instead of the company name. I don’t see comparable influx for GNU projects or generally projects licensed under the GPLv3.

                            1. 4

                              Even companies willing to “go open source” might be hindered and rather try to rewrite the software they can’t use, with all involved bugs and everything.

                              I’ve seen this as well - companies who distribute proprietary software who won’t go anywhere near anything GPL licensed (even where they could just link to it), but are happy to use BSD-licensed code and contribute to those communities. IMHO, in a lot of cases companies not distributing changes is more down to education and organisational maturity than anything else - they need to be educated to the benefits (changes upstream rather than local patchsets, etc) as well as needing to get the lawyers involved so that the paperwork is in place.

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                                companies who distribute proprietary software who won’t go anywhere near anything GPL licensed (even where they could just link to it), but are happy to use BSD-licensed code and contribute to those communities

                                We have all seen how well that worked out for the *BSDs, right?

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                                  We have all seen how well that worked out for the *BSDs, right?

                                  Hmm, not sure what you’re trying to say? There are plenty of commercial contributors of code to the *BSDs (and, of course, many who use the code without contributing). Does that mean that they’re inferior to Linux (for example) because of this?

                                  One thing to remember is that the GPL only requires making source available if you distribute your modifications. Companies are free to make whatever modifications they like to GPLed software as long as those modifications are internal only (I believe Google does this with Linux).

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                                    Well LLVM seems to be getting more and bigger corporate contributions than GCC. If and when companies start needing to do serious OS work I suspect we’ll see major corporate contributions to *BSD. But most companies don’t really care about the OS.

                                2. 2

                                  Thanks for clearing that up. It’s insane that the GPLv3 forces you to license your code under the GPLv3 as well if you just link to a library published under the GPLv3. GPL-advocates will tell you that there is a LGPLv3, but I know a lot of library projects which license under the GPLv3 instead of LGPLv3.

                                  That’s by design, no? I mean are you arguing that the GPL should become the LGPL because what, library authors might not realize they actually wanted to use the LGPL? The GPL exists for library authors who want to release their libraries with a strong copyleft (among other people), the LGPL exists for library authors who want to enforce user-upgradeability of their specific libraries but not a full copyleft.

                              2. 2

                                There’s nothing disallowed about it. Your only obligation is that if you dynamically link and you distribute, you also have to provide source in accordance to other clauses of the license. Since you, as a suckless.org developer, are already providing source, there’s no further obligation from you.

                                I would be okay with that if that were the whole truth. However, this “accordance to other clauses of the license” means that you have to license your code under the GPLv3 as well. I am not allowed to use GPLv3 code in a dynamic linking context, because ISC/BSD0 are not compatible.

                                At suckless.org, we only use permissive licenses like ISC/MIT/BSD0, and we ran into this issue writing a client for ToxCore where people complained about it. We told them to piss off, as I would be really surprised to see something like that turning up in court… However, just this fact alone makes me never use this license ever again.

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                                  I am not allowed to use GPLv3 code in a dynamic linking context, because ISC/BSD0 are not compatible.

                                  They are compatible. GPL-incompatible licenses are the OpenSSL license or CDDL. To be “GPL-incompatible”, a license must impose a restriction that the GPL does not impose. OpenSSL has a 4-clause BSD, and the advertising clause is the extra restriction. CDDL has more intricate clauses, and it’s hard to find an exact explanation of the incompatibility. The ways in which it dictates how you may charge for support seem to be like restrictions that the GPL doesn’t have.

                                  However, you said that you are not allowed to use GPL code in dynamic linking. Is that because someone else is not allowing you? If so, that’s the person involved in non-free software that you’re trying to help. The GPL itself imposes no such restriction against dynamic linking.

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                                The move nowadays is towards SaSS, so if Richard Stallman wants to impose force in that matter, he will have to make the GPL even more restrictive, forcing SaSS-offerings to reveal their source code. But I don’t see myself reading through thousands of pages of license text, which tries to formulate a legal background to impose this restriction on SaSS offerings.

                                This was what the AGPL was intended for, but never took off.

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                                  There are some important AGPLed projects out there: edX and Mongo come to mind. Not many, but some.

                                  1. 1

                                    And every startup that uses Mongo certainly follows the AGPL with their users, right?

                                    b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

                                    d) If the Program as you received it is intended to interact with users through a computer network and if, in the version you received, any user interacting with the Program was given the opportunity to request transmission to that user of the Program’s complete source code, you must not remove that facility from your modified version of the Program or work based on the Program, and must offer an equivalent opportunity for all users interacting with your Program through a computer network to request immediate transmission by HTTP of the complete source code of your modified version or other derivative work.

                                    It’s a case where, while I appreciate the spirit of things, they’re reaching outside their grasp to enforce.

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                                      How many of those startups are modifying Mongo itself? They say that’s what they consider to be derived work. Nobody thinks that applications that merely use Mongo must also be copylefted.

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                                        I mean this is the failing of the AGPL, right? That’s Mongo’s interpretation of a derived work, but they still use a license that may disagree with their interpretation.

                                        All of this would be cleared up if the AGPL folks said, “Hey, look, when we said network services/derived work, we don’t mean that the copyleft infects beyond the IP stack.”

                                        Then again, if they did do that, then what’s the fucking point?

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                                          Because that’s how laws work. You can’t spell out every damn case to the last detail. We write laws in a language that we expect will cover most cases of interest, but we cannot anticipate every possible case, so we have to take an approach between general language and specific language. If the GPL spelled out in exact detail exactly what derived work is (which I’m not even sure it could do, as that’s probably up to jurisprudence), then it would be a completely useless license, as everyone would find ways to deviate from this specification in way the original writers of the GPL couldn’t foresee.

                                          Like ethereum has shown, laws and code are fundamentally interpreted in different ways. Laws aren’t little programs with predictable outcomes. They’re not even non-deterministic Turing machines. They are just vague guidelines that we hope judges and lawyers will interpret in the right way.

                                          In this case, Mongo has given a public statement of their interpretation of the GPL. If they go to court now and decided that they really mean, gee, yeah, anything that comes within a 100 km radius of a Mongo is also copylefted, a judge would probably look unfavourably upon them going back on a public statement.

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                                Note that the keystroke-by-keystroke traffic generate a high-bandwidth timing side channel that can be used to infer a substantial amount of what you are typing.

                                1. 1

                                  Very interesting, I did a search and found this paper if anyone else is interested:

                                  http://users.ece.cmu.edu/~dawnsong/papers/ssh-timing.pdf