W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-rdf-ruby@w3.org > March 2014

Re: (boring licensing thread) Re: WebID sketch

From: Arto Bendiken <arto@bendiken.net>
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2014 09:04:25 +0100
Message-ID: <CAE7aNuR2z=BRnMcQ-Dgawkn-of12UiGi5C8YKyJ0t48kAmd0qw@mail.gmail.com>
To: hellekin <hellekin@cepheide.org>
Cc: W3C Ruby RDF mailing list <public-rdf-ruby@w3.org>, The Unlicense mailing list <unlicense@googlegroups.com>
On Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 4:36 AM, hellekin <hellekin@cepheide.org> wrote:
> On 03/18/2014 11:18 PM, Gregg Kellogg wrote:
>> How, exactly, dos UNLICENCE not favor the commons?

Gregg's question is a good one, as the public domain is the very
definition of the commons.

> *** The Public Domain allows defector developers to build proprietary
> code from public code, and share it without sharing the sources.  They
> could pick UNLICENSED code and modify it, and sell it back to you with
> some nasty feature builtin. That's how.

You are free not to purchase it. Indeed, you'd be a fool to purchase it.

We hereby heartily welcome any and all nefarious efforts by little
greedy evil corporate industrialists to fork RDF.rb and attempt to
sell it back to us in shiny wrapping. It will make for a good laugh.

> In contrast, the GPL still allows defectors to keep their own
> modifications for themselves, but forces them to share what they
> distribute.  That is to ensure that distributed code remains favorable
> to the user's freedom.
> Once the code is in the public domain, it's difficult to keep it for
> oneself, but it's possible.  The UNLICENSE fosters the commons, and GPL
> enforces the commons.

Slapping the GPL on a piece of software isn't enforcement. Taking
someone to court for a GPL violation, i.e. sending men with guns after
them, is enforcement. If you're not prepared to do the latter, there's
little point to the former. Gotta walk the talk.

The notion that just slapping the GPL on something will somehow make
evil people or evil corporations behave differently is a form of
magical thinking. Those who would benefit from your software without
reciprocity will do so in any case, with or without the implied
copyright-sanctioned threats; and regarding my software I say, they’re
 welcome to knock themselves out [1].

Indeed, this point is perhaps best demonstrated in Rob Landley's
writings and presentations on the infamous BusyBox GPL lawsuits [2],
which he initiated but in due course lost control over after they
became a nasty self-perpetuating and self-funding lawyer-enrichment
machine [3]. These days, he regrets the whole sordid affair. In short,
Landley used to be a True Believer, even a Prophet, of the Cult of
Stallman, but the lawsuits and the FSF's GPLv3 antics quite cured him.
Now he's all in on permissive licensing, already even a little public

There's some very good perspective in Landley's recent presentation
[3] from a guy who's seen all sides of the story and converted just
about 180 degrees. The presentation is about the project he's now
leading to rewrite the whole Linux userland to be permissively
licensed, and includes choice words on the futility of GPL enforcement
(violations are matter of course) and the ongoing slow death of *GPL
as well; as Landley puts it, "Copyleft is dying. The one thing GPLv3
achieved was undermining GPLv2."

> There's an ongoing discussion re: GPL vs. PPL.  The Peer Production
> License is similar to the GPL but restricts commercial usage of the
> software to producers.  That is, only active cooperators are entitled to
> make money from their work.  That effectively cuts the middleman--i.e.,
> the capitalist--from the equation, but it does not prevent proprietary
> software companies to employ the same strategy, and exclude free
> software developers--that is, really, anyone that is not their
> partner--from contributing or using their software.

As the original author of RDF.rb, I acknowledge that anyone and
everyone is entitled to try and make a buck from my
publicly-available, published work. Good luck, I hope it works out for
you. In any case, it's no loss to me. (Incidentally, this is known as
a positive-sum outcome.)

> For those reasons, I prefer the GPL, even if I consider the legal
> framework to be a vast field on bullshit. [...]
> In a perfect world, we would not use any license at all.

People like to say that, but their actions demonstrate the contrary
and show what they really believe. They might do well to note that
their guru, the noble Mr. Stallman, is in fact forthright about being
opposed to ending the copyright monopoly [4]: "Richard is against
abolishing copyrights because, to his view, without copyright,
enforcing copyleft would be impossible."

Gregg, Ben, and I--plus many dozens of active contributors on this
mailing list--have *by our actions* made genuine, concrete steps
towards a post-copyright future, producing a useful, large code base
that is free and rid of the copyright monopoly [5], wholly free and
unencumbered for anyone to use for any purpose (including making a
buck). It is firmly on the right side of history, free and rid of the
poisonous legacy institution that, contrary to platitudes taught in
civics class, in fact always had its ignoble origins in censorship and
monopoly [6, 7], and is getting ever worse on that front, as none can

We are laboring at backporting the bright copyright-free future into
the copyright-afflicted present [8], increasing the overall wealth and
productivity of all mankind, and you say that we do not favor the
commons? We *are* the commons, and we are the future.

[1] http://ar.to/2010/01/set-your-code-free
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BusyBox#GPL_lawsuits
[3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGmtP5Lg_t0
[4] http://rudd-o.com/monopolies-of-the-mind/thoughts-after-my-dinner-with-richard-stallman
[5] http://torrentfreak.com/language-matters-framing-the-copyright-monopoly-so-we-can-keep-our-liberties-130714/
[6] http://questioncopyright.org/promise
[7] http://falkvinge.net/2011/02/01/history-of-copyright-part-1-black-death/
[8] http://ar.to/2010/12/licensing-and-unlicensing

Arto Bendiken | @bendiken | http://ar.to
Received on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 08:05:34 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 6 January 2015 19:53:42 UTC