Considering the Future of Copyleft

Bradley M. Kuhn

Saturday 25 April 2015

Are We A Community?

I’ve been coming to the event for 15 years. There are so many other events now that charge so much for nothing.

— LFNW Attendee in BoF Atrium, 09:05 PDT, 25 April 2015

Talking Politics and Faith

A Recitation of Faith

Should Copyleft Exist?

The Truce We Once Had

Back When It Was a Cause …

The Politics of Cooption

  • 2010-2013, Conservancy used a coworking facility, called Green Desk.
    • marketing: coworking that’s good for the environment.
  • They didn’t even recycle the paper there: just bins to pretend.
    • It’s not the first office I’ve worked in like this.
    • Usually, I’m the only one who cares.
    • most say: eh, “what are you going to do?”

The Politics of Cooption

Fundamental Assumption Remains

Non-Copyleft Is Easier

OSCON, 12 years later

Apache Software Foundation Today

This is not just a theoretical concern. As aggressively as the BSA protects the interests of its commercial members, [GPL enforcers] protect the GPL license in high-profile lawsuits against large corporations. … FSF … writes about their expansion of “active license enforcement”. So the cost of compliance with copyleft code can be even greater than the use of proprietary software, since an organization risks being forced to make the source code for their proprietary product public and available for anyone to use, free of charge.

The Apache Advantage

However, not all open source licenses are copyleft license [sic]. Not all of them have that viral quality that radically increases the risk for an organization. A subset of open source licenses, generally called “permissive” licenses, are much more friendly for corporate use.

Apache Software Foundation, Compliance Costs and the Apache License (until 2015-02)

Apache Software Foundation Today

In order to avoid the expense and penalties of an audit from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), including those originated by employees, turning in their employer for software piracy, organizations are increasingly adopting Software Asset Management (SAM) practices to ensure that their use of commercial software complies with the applicable licenses. These practices generally include employee education … The Apache License has no propagative (or “copyleft”, or “viral”) effects, i.e., it does not influence the license of the derivative product: if you base your product on source code distributed under the Apache License you have no legal obligation of releasing the entire source code tree.… The Apache License thus reduces the need for employee education, the frequency of internal audits, the intensity of internal audits.

Apache Software Foundation, Compliance Costs and the Apache License (since 2015-02)

Divide And Conquer

Those Who Forget the Past…

This Game Is Over

Old Days: xdm, Solaris and NIS+

Chasing the Bug Down the Stack

The Two New Fronts

So, raise your hands:

The Blurry Line of Javascript

JavaScript is an assembly language. JavaScript + HTML is like a .NET assembly. The browser can execute it, but no human should care what’s there.

Erik Meijer of Microsoft, on 5 July 2011.

Today’s Developers: Children of Web

As the Web grows up



The next slide and my comments about it are a spoiler for a 1945 film entitled It’s a Wonderful Life!.

Logically Consistent Copyleft?

Logically Consistent Copyleft?

If It’s Just a Symbol

Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.

Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being

Embedded Freedom is Complex


More Info / Talk License

Presentation and slides are: Copyright © 2008–2015 Bradley M. Kuhn, and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

Some images included herein are ©’ed by others. I believe my use of those images is fair use under USA © law. However, I suggest you remove such images if you redistribute these slides under CC-By-SA 4.0.