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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Gitlab and Gitorious (was Re: support me)

From: Jb
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Gitlab and Gitorious (was Re: support me)
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2015 07:23:23 +0100

Thanks all for this very interesting thread!

Copyleft minimizes the restrictions on all users of your code, by preventing middlemen from imposing any restrictions on it as they redistribute it to additional users. 

But what about copylefting documentation (tutorial, step-by-step guides, classes) ? I know it is not code but it is just around it, in many cases vital to its understanding by humans.

If I, as a freelancer, work hard with others to publish a copyleft comprehensive training or book about how to learn Blender or to code in C, what prevent teachers in a school or middlemen consultants to just take all this content without our consent nor knowledge that they use it with their students, clients ? 

Isn't it a case where CopyLeft helps training the 'middlemen' so they impose restrictions to users to benefit from the virtuous economy induced by sharing ?


On Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 6:47 AM, Aaron Wolf <> wrote:
Since we aren't actually discussing real legislation, my point is basically this:

First, copyleft is a means to an end. It is not defensible in itself for its own sake, it is a strategy.

Second, copyright law is mostly negative for society and simply abolishing it with no other change would be positive.

Finally, because software freedom is more important than ever (and will only grow in importance in the future), measures should be taken to protect software freedom (and other types of creative freedoms).

Thus, for sake of rhetoric and discourse, we should get rid of the lousy idea that copyleft supporters should be copyright supporters per se. Copyleft supporters should realize that we are focusing on defending freedom and that we can and should embrace all the significant legitimate critiques of copyright and simply hold that we should, in principle, promote other means of protecting software freedom if we can have them.

I'm all for copyleft as long as it remains our strongest tool to protect software freedom. We must keep in mind that it isn't the only tool that is feasible. Whatever the details of other tools, they will surely, like copyleft, have some unintended consequences or inadequacies. Other tools not based on copyright law would be preferable because copyright law is generally a bad thing for society.

It makes sense to present our views this way so that it is as clear as possible that we are not aligned with the copyright maximalists and other copyright apologists. I know I'm not alone in this concern ­— in fact, John Sullivan told me he is working on language and presentations to try to distance the way we talk about GPL "violation" so that we reduce the way it sounds like the language of the copyright maximalists who we do not agree with.

We need not delve into the precise details of alternative software-freedom defense mechanisms until we find ourselves actually having the prospects of implementing some. For now, copyleft is the tool we have, so we should indeed promote it — but remember that it is just a tool and not the only possible one.


On 03/08/2015 10:33 PM, Robinson Tryon wrote:
> On Sun, Mar 8, 2015 at 11:56 PM, Aaron Wolf <> wrote:
> > Anyway, today, the best ethical tractor is this actual open-source
> > tractor:
> Yep -- that's the LifeTrac machine I was referencing.
> > And otherwise, no, you cannot just easily adapt other tractors because,
> > like cars, they are today all complex computers running proprietary
> > software.
> I'd be interested in know to what extent tractors have changed over
> the last couple decades. Tractors and farm gear are an interesting
> case, as (unlike cars) their operators often rebuild and repair them
> year after year. I'm assuming that computers and non-user-serviceable
> parts are intruding into them more and more, but I haven't done my
> homework on that yet, and only hang out around older tractors most of
> the time. Perhaps there's future talk fodder buried in the details ;-)
> > I don't see any real justification for the view that mandating source
> > release for mass-distributed products could be a bad thing.
> Well one piece to decide is what qualifies as mass-distribution.
> > Products distributed over the
> > internet publicly are necessarily mass-distributed, but if you
> > distribute a few copies of something or productions of something more
> > privately, mandated-source-release wouldn't apply.
> So for example, this kind of model might mandate source/blueprint
> release for Craftsman tools sold in a Sears store, but not to Snap-on
> tools that were only sold directly to professionals and not available
> to the general public ?
> > See, I'm not proposing utopia here. All laws and situations are
> > imperfect. But measures that protect the public interest, openness, and
> > freedom combined with abolition of copyright law would be a dramatic
> > improvement for society over the status quo.
> Without more information about how this might be implemented in a
> reasonably fair manner to designers and manufacturers of all sizes,
> I'm undecided on whether there would be an improvement for society,
> dramatic or otherwise.
> > I'm not concerned or
> > interested in discussing hypothetical minor downsides to the policy
> > details of something we don't see realistically happening any time soon.
> I didn't propose mandatory source release as an alternative to
> copyleft -- I'm just taking the proposed change and extending it to
> (what I believe are) its logical conclusions. If the nuances of the
> proposal do not capture your interest, then perhaps we can discuss a
> smaller step forward, such as appealing to people at schools,
> governments, and companies to prefer free/open formats over closed
> ones... :-)
> Best,
> --R


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