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Re: The sad decline of copyleft software licenses? :(

From: Ali Reza Hayati
Subject: Re: The sad decline of copyleft software licenses? :(
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 2020 20:06:20 +0330

One thing I should mention is that we are surrounded with proprietary
software and companies. Almost all of the major tech and publishing
companies are proprietary ones. Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, IBM,
and Amazon (GMAFIA) are constantly working to protect the proprietary
software and patents of theirs.

Sadly, the majority of people use almost only proprietary software and
these companies are benefiting from them. Now, what we do (supporting
the free culture) is against their benefit so they have to advertise
against it and target people with false accusations against software
libre world.

For instance, the Google page about the AGPL[1] details inaccurate (but
common) misconceptions about the obligations of the AGPL that don’t
follow from the text. Google states that if, for example, Google Maps
used PostGIS as its data store, and PostGIS used the AGPL, Google would
be required to release the Google Maps code. This is not true.

These companies don't like software libre. This is actually one of the
reasons that they use the term Open Source instead of software libre.

Now, if they have to pretend to like a software libre, they prefer the
ones they can control, the ones like MIT that can be used
proprietorially. An example is BSD. One of the major developers of BSD
is Apple which benefits a lot from the weak BSD licenses.

Copyleft restricts big tech from benefiting and not giving back to
community so these companies don't like it and do everything they can to
weaken the copyleft culture so they can survive on benefiting from our
community and violating people's freedom and rights.


On 9/22/20 1:32 PM, Pen-Yuan Hsing wrote:
> (whew, finally changed my registration on this list to my FSF member
> alias address! :D)
> Ugh.
> I don't know if it's by chance, but recently I've read many an opinion
> claiming that copyleft free software licenses such as the GNU GPLv3 are,
> among other terrible qualities:
> 1. Viral
> 2. Cancerous (!!!)
> 3. Harmful to the "open source movement/principles/ethos"
> 4. Restrictive
> 5. Anti-social
> 6. Unfriendly
> 7. [other negative adjectives...]
> Usually, the same people would advocate for the "permissive" set of free
> software licenses like the increasingly popular MIT license, or BSD,
> Apache, and so on. Some reasons I've seen are that these "permissive"
> licenses are easy to use so "you don't need to think about it", are
> highly compatible with other licenses, "truly open source", "truly free"
> because they don't come with any restrictions like the "restrictive"
> GPL, or that "history has clearly shown permissive licenses to be more
> successful and welcomed." Once, I asked a self-identified open source
> (not free software) advocate whether they're concerned "permissively"
> licensed code would be incorporated into proprietary software, and they
> said no: "If I create a piece of open source software, and it helps
> others even if that means it being used in proprietary products, I'm
> fine with that."
> What prompted me to write this post is an academic paper I just saw:
> Wilson, G., Bryan, J., Cranston, K., Kitzes, J., Nederbragt, L., & Teal,
> T. K. (2017). Good enough practices in scientific computing. PLOS
> Computational Biology, 13(6), e1005510.
> This paper is licensed CC BY (which is commendable and sadly still rare
> in peer-reviewed academic literature, though I'd prefer CC BY-SA even
> more), and IMHO it's actually very good in recommending "good enough
> practices" so that scientists who are not programmers can begin to
> improve their scientific computing practices. Quick side-note: I have an
> academic science background and I can write a thesis lamenting the
> terrible state of software development in many academic disciplines.
> Physics/mathematics/astronomy are better for sure, but scientists in
> most fields are well-meaning but horrible programmers (if they can write
> code at all, many still use proprietary GUI spreadsheets to wrestle with
> huge datasets) who don't comment their own spaghetti code that manages
> to just squeak by (usually just once, before a reboot) to produce an
> analytical result just "worthy" enough of publication. And since they
> don't really know much about programming, many genuinely think that's
> adequate. So I can say with some confidence that the paper I just cited
> is already huge progress.
> To their credit, the authors of this paper emphasise the importance of
> including a LICENSE with your code, which - believe it or not - most
> other "recommendations" in the scientific literature don't mention at
> all, effectively keeping tons of scientific code unintentionally
> proprietary.
> Sadly, those authors also state:
> "We recommend permissive software licenses rather than the GNU General
> Public License (GPL) because it is easier to integrate permissively
> licensed software into other projects; see chapter 3 in [17]"
> Where [17] is the book:
> St Laurent AM. Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licensing.
> O'Reilly Media; 2004.
> The above was literally the only justification they gave for
> recommending a "permissive" license. Now, many scientists will just read
> this without critically considering its implications (somewhat ironic in
> itself) and use MIT (or similar) licenses for their code. In my opinion,
> that statement is misleading and gives the impression that the GNU GPL
> is somehow bad for code.
> In case it's not already clear, I'm deeply disappointed by the almost
> complete lack of support I've seen for copyleft free software licenses.
> Other than perhaps some people on this mailing list, I have *literally*
> not interacted with any other human being who prefers copyleft licenses.
> Zero.
> Also in case it's not clear, a value I hold deeply is to assume good
> faith and by default I truly respect other opinions regardless of how
> much I might disagree. Here the disagreement is regarding the nature of
> free software licenses, and it troubles me deeply.
> My personal reason for desiring copyleft licenses is, in my opinion,
> simple: Software freedom is a value I hold dearly, and I want to ensure
> that freedom is perpetuated. In my view, the only "restriction" of a
> copyleft license is that it insists that freedoms are not infringed. On
> a high level, isn't a crucial mechanism for freedom to work the rule
> that "you are free to do anything as long as it doesn't infringe on
> other people's freedom?" Unless I am grossly mistaken, this is what a
> copyleft license does. Is that so bad, or "cancerous", as some might
> say? If anything, licenses such as the GNU GPL *protects* freedom, yet
> practically everyone I've ever talked to think it *limits* freedom. I
> totally understand why the FSF lists permissive licenses as free
> software-compliant, because they technically are free. But without
> protection of those freedoms, we have seen time and again how derivative
> works of free software have been locked up into proprietary products
> (with Apple's Mac OS lineage of operating systems perhaps being a famous
> example that derives much of its core from free software - some
> technically cool features, yes, but tragically proprietary and
> ultimately user-hostile).
> At this point, if you also prefer copyleft licenses, I hope for your
> constructive thoughts on two sets of questions:
> (1) WHAT are some common well-intentioned arguments YOU encounter for
> permissive licenses and against copyleft licenses? And what are your
> constructive responses?
> (2) WHY do copyleft licenses seem to be in steep decline? What are
> positive, constructive solutions to encourage its adoption? Any big
> success stories other than the Linux kernel?
> Or, if you do prefer permissive licenses, are you concerned about
> software using those licenses being used in, or made into, proprietary
> software? Are there concrete ways to secure software freedom with
> licenses such as MIT?
> If there are lots of constructive responses to this post, I'd be happy
> to compile them into a FAQ of sorts and put them somewhere like the
> Libreplanet wiki or elsewhere. Ideally, I hope to foster some sort of
> curated and well-reasoned set of constructive arguments to advocate for
> copyleft licenses.
> It goes without saying that I know this can be a contentious topic, but
> I know we are much better than starting flame wars and making personal
> attacks. So let's be excellent to each other. :)
> Hope to learn from you!
> _______________________________________________
> libreplanet-discuss mailing list

Ali Reza Hayati /
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