GPL is basically the software equivalent of Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike.

Those who have a problem with it do so because they don’t want to share alike.

They want to take but not give.

So you decide how you feel about that.

@aral I've heard open source devs say "big companies won't touch (A)GPL with a ten foot pole", but as an argument *against* using it. They seem to believe it's a badge of honor for a FAANG to appropriate their work, which is just... wild.

@ttiurani @aral This gives me a reason to prefer the AGPL. I did not think it would make much difference in my telephony projects, which are GPL, when the server is also on-premise, but I suppose if someone did offer cloud telephony services without offering source to their changes, the distinction would become important.

@aral I think that there is a more nuanced discussion there.

The way you frame it leaves no space for licenses such as MIT, which are about sharing as well, but with different constraints and guarantees.

Yes, I know that licenses such as BSD/MIT allows one to close their alterations on derivative work. If that is a concern, then GPL is your friend.

Still, there are cases when the authors are perfectly fine with that, and still want to share their work. In these cases BSD/MIT make sense.

@soapdog @aral non-copyleft only makes sense if you are OK with intellectual creation not being part of the commons. If creation empowers those who experience it, use and create from it, non-copyleft means you are OK giving even more power to a select few who usually already wield it, rather than the entirety of humanity of today and tomorrow.

Saying "I don't care how it's used" is the same as saying "I don't do politics": it means you're ok with the current system and willing to give it more weight (and incidentally you *are* doing politics)

@rakoo MIT license is copyleft, and it is also a political stance. In my opinion, there are software who benefit from GPL and other software benefit from MIT. It is not a binary "GPL or bust" for me.

Also, caring about digital commons does not mean just the GPL. There are many options, unless of course you think that the BSDs are not a part of digital commons...

It is a political action that says "this is what I did with it, do it as you wish, if you want to contribute back, it is ok"


@rakoo also, be aware that I'm not attacking GPL & Friends. I like that license too.

What I find odd is that I often see activists that seem to think that GPL is the only way forward, when it is just yet another tool in the toolbox, and people can care as much as them and yet use a different tool.

It is ok to ship BSD/MIT code. It is OK to put things in the public domain as well.

@soapdog MIT is not copyleft in that it doesn't force derivative works to also be MIT.

Shipping code in BSD/MIT/MPL is not a problem in itself; my main issue is capitalistic powers using that code and extending their power over users or society in general by using the work of usually benevolent developers.

I like the idea of "do whatever you want", but it only works if everyone acts in good faith. Unfortunately that's not the system we live in.
@soapdog also to be clear, I am forever grateful for BSD/MIT licenses and code, thanks to what they have taught me and what they have made possible for the world. But I'm growing more and more uneasy at the idea that that code can be used by a private company to gather every bit of information on them, sell that information and manipulate them.
In practice sharing code under copyleft doesn't change much for the authors compared to non-copyleft, but changes a lot for others. That's why I'd like to see developers use GPL and friends as much as possible


some people are OK with not forcing terms on derivative work. That is up to each author.

Regarding capitalistic encroaches in FOSS, I think that the license is the least of our worries today. Most large FOSS projects are being maintained by people employed by those same companies. They can dictate de agenda, just like it happened with the web.

I agree, different tools depending on the context. I've used copyleft licenses and permissive licenses for my own work.

And yeah, copyleft definitely isn't a binary: just look at the MPL and LGPL, which are both "weak" copyleft licenses.

Factual correction: MIT is not a copyleft license, it's a permissive license.

@aral That's true for copyleft licenses in general. I wrote in my own blog why I generally prefer the MPL rather than GPL. I reserve GPL for server side work in the form of the AGPL. I wish there was an equivalent MPL license to the AGPL.…

"They want to take but not give."

sounds like a plan

I'm not sure I see why CC BY-SA isn't suitable for software. I use it myself for some software as well as some writing.

@oldcoder What Lessig told me a long time ago when I asked him the same thing was because it doesn’t have a limitation of liability clause so you can get sued if your foss app causes damages. As far as I know, that’s the main reason.


O.K. I generally include the appropriate disclaimer for that. My assumption is presently that the license and the disclaimer can be combined.
> GPL is basically the software equivalent of Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike.

that's kind-of sort-of true in a specific way, but... it feels a bit like saying that money is basically the government-issued equivalent of bitcoin, or that GNU is basically the whole-system equivalent of the kernel Linux. it may convey a very limited and probably faulty understanding of the former out of familiarity with the latter, but it's IMHO so limited as to be misleading, and it's historically backwards
Sign in to participate in the conversation
Aral’s Mastodon

This is my personal Mastodon.