My personal journey from MIT to GPL
@sir Nicely put, and I agree. Thanks for taking the time to write that.
IMO there are strategic reasons to sometimes prefer a non-copyleft license, but copyleft is always my default.
@sir I used to be in favor of extremely permissive licenses but that view has changed recently. I now couldn’t care less about anyone outside the FOSS ecosystem so in future projects I’ll pick licenses which I believe will benefit the free software world and hurt capitalist scumbags.
@sir Because if we’ve learnt anything in the recent years, it’s that the way in which corporations (especially Google) “give back” is almost always extremely damaging.
i usually license libraries on eclipse or mit, and actual tools or apps with agpl. not sure how this will change with time
@sir Good article, but I slightly disagree with this part:
"Anyone who can’t agree to this is looking to exploit your work for their gain - and definitely not yours."
I think lost opportunity for gain is not the same as loss (unlike some recording associations would want us to believe).
I'd ask a question:
Does it harm you when they make a proprietary fork of your code?
In many cases it does, for example:
- When they base a device's firmware on your code, and you end up buying that device, but can't customize the firmware because they didn't provide the source.
- When it's a zero-sum game, like making competing communication networks.
...and probably many other cases.
And in such a case, I think copyleft is necessary.
But in other cases, I'd say a permissive license is OK. If them using your code in closed-source product doesn't hurt you, why care if they gain something?
Then there are these edge cases, where you actually want them to "steal your code" and put it in their proprietary products. You're probably aware of those. One example is free codecs and libraries for standardized file formats. And in that case a permissive license is often more beneficial.
@sir my main gripe with the GPL is that it's so hard to follow compared to other licenses (such as MIT).
I'm not a lawyer, but I am 100% certain what I am agreeing to when I use MIT/BSD/similar. They're short and unambiguous. It's easy to understand when people infringe, and I don't worry that I'm giving away more or less than I intend.
I can't say the same about the GPL. For me to use it I'd have to spend more time grokking it.
I had an unfortunate incident in school regarding copyright law, where the school basically tried to steal our money, and if it weren't for me reading the copyright law they would've gotten away with it too.
So I don't want to release things without the certainty of understanding the license.
@clacke @sir @kungtotte Sadly, this is wrong. The GPL is not the only copyleft license, but it is incompatible to most of the others. For example, take Linux (GPL 2) and ZFS (CDDL). Both are free software projects and not backed by a single company. Both use a copyleft license. Combining them is extremely hard and annoying.
I spent countless hours trying to understand the GPL. It is not easy at all.
@sir This was a really good piece. I'm not anywhere near that level of immediately looking for the code when I run into a bug, but I've found myself gravitating more towards the GPL the longer I spend in open source.
@sir most salient point:
"The GPL is [...] the unfortunate acknowledgement that we’ve created a society that incentivises people to forget the Golden Rule."
@sir now can we solve the problem of how to pay people for their work?
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