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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] ethical edtech edit-a-thon

From: Pen-Yuan Hsing
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] ethical edtech edit-a-thon
Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2019 17:32:35 +0000
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:60.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/60.5.3

Hi all,

Much has already been said, so I'd just like to suggest a few quick things for reference:

(1) There is a very clear and informative graphic delineating the differences between what is free (as in freedom, not free of charge) software, open source software, and copylefted software (such as those with a GPL license) [1][2]. As you can see, all GPL software is copyleft software; all copyleft software is free software; and all free software is open source. The thing is that there is a very small amount of open source software that might not be free (and hence, proprietary); and some free software is not copyleft.

(2) Outside of software, I think it is also crucial to consider everything else (e.g., teaching material like artwork, multimedia, text, etc.). Specifically, there should be discussion around free culture and the use of the Creative Commons licenses. This is a whole other big (but important) topic so I won't go into details in this message. But I've been certified in Creative Commons licensing, so let me know if you'd like more information.

(3) I would urge that, at the very least, this ethical edtech wiki (very exciting!) should not try to redefine existing terms such as free software or open source software. Doing so would just add to the confusion!

Hope this is useful...


On 12/03/2019 20:39, Nathan Schneider wrote:
Thanks Erin and Dmitry.

I take responsibility for this. For one thing, the Atom entry was
incorrect—MIT is free/libre according the criteria I was using (GPL
compatibility <>). I would
think of "open source" as everything that's GPL compatible plus non-free

I agree that the distinction is tricky, and I don't love it. In fact,
originally we were planning to call this "open tech for open ed" or
something, and I happened to be in an email exchange at the time with
Richard Stallman, who objected on the "open" language, and so I set up
the open vs. free/libre distinction to avoid antagonizing anyone further.

I would love any suggestions about how to handle this matter better!


On 3/12/19 1:54 PM, Erin Glass wrote:
Hi Dmitry,

You raise good questions. In this early stage of the project, we have
been focusing on showing educators alternatives to commercial (and
invasive) forms of academic technology more than establishing hard
distinctions between free/libre and open source software (which as you
note, is more complicated). However, I can now see how our tagging
system has perhaps emphasized the difference between free and open
source without any helpful description as to why.

My flight is about to take off but I will give this some more thought.

I’m copying my collaborator Nathan so he can weigh in as well.

Thanks for your input.


On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 11:08 AM Dmitry Alexandrov <
<>> wrote:

     Erin Glass < <>> wrote:
     > I'm writing to let you know about the 'Ethical Ed Tech
     wiki and
     > edit-a-thon on April 3 that may be of interest to the free software
     > community.

     Looks interesting.  And the first thing that strikes in the eye
     right at the main page is a tag cloud with distinct categories for
     ‘free/libre’ [1] and ‘open source’ software [2].  What definitions
     of that terms do you use, so this is required?  Afair, Wikipedia’s
     experience showed, that so fine yet vague categorizations tend to
     be faulty.

     Actually, the wiki in question already features ‘open source’ yet
     _not_ ‘free/libre’ Atom, CommentPress, Pandoc, Omeka, GitLab,
     Hypothesis and LibreOffice, with no examples of the opposite.

     The only commentary, that explain this oddity concerns Atom [3]:

     > It is open source, under the MIT license, but is not free/libre.

     But what is that supposed to mean?  Of course, a program,
     published in sources under any of ‘MIT licences’ (here — under the
     Expat licence), _is_ free in any sense of that word!

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