[License-discuss] For Public Comment: The Libre Source License

Howard Chu hyc at openldap.org
Wed Aug 21 19:22:04 UTC 2019

Russell McOrmond wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 2:23 PM Bruce Perens <bruce at perens.com <mailto:bruce at perens.com>> wrote:
>     On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 11:16 AM Howard Chu <hyc at openldap.org <mailto:hyc at openldap.org>> wrote:
>         I am offended by the notion that someone may benefit from code that I released for free, but
>         would deny anyone else the benefit of improvements they make (privately or not) to my code.
>     Ignoring Howard's return umbrage, isn't this a valid point? Having put my own labor into making something that I choose to share with the world, /_under my
>     own terms,_ /how does it become your fundamental right to do what you wish with it, in private?
> Copyright is a bargain struck between society and creators for a variety of public policy purposes.  I believe the UN UDHR article 27 articulates that bargain
> well https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ 
> You are trying to state copyright law in reverse, presuming the right to control culture and science is natural and any limitations on that (such as the
> protection of privacy rights) is a restriction.  The participation in and protection of culture and science in article 27 seems pretty focused on public
> activities, not private ones.

Article 27:
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is
the author.

clause (2) seems pretty clear - the author's rights are protected.

> Copyright holders have never had some sort of fundamental right to restrict any activity they wish, and there are many limitations and exceptions to copyright
> that describe some of those boundaries.  Copyright isn't a single right, but a bundle of rights describing a series of activities which copyright regulates.
> I do not believe copyright holders have any legitimate reason to be granted the ability to regulate private activities, and believe the law within each country
> should clarify private activities as outside copyright.

Your belief is wrong. The author of a work *owns* that work and dictates exactly how and when anyone else
may use that work, by means of the license attached to the work. If you refuse to abide by the terms of the
license, you have *zero* rights to use the work.

When you benefit from Free software, you have an obligation to contribute back, either through contributing
monetary support, or through labor - writing/updating documentation, submitting bug reports, or even submitting
bug fixes. Getting contributions back from the people benefiting from the work is the only way the work can
remain sustainable. The fact that GPL and other OSS licenses fail to take this into account is one of the
main reasons you see more and more open source maintainers burning out and quitting these days. (I mention GPL
specifically because I tried to get a similar clause into GPLv3 during its drafting process, but was rejected
as being too restrictive.)

  -- Howard Chu
  CTO, Symas Corp.           http://www.symas.com
  Director, Highland Sun     http://highlandsun.com/hyc/
  Chief Architect, OpenLDAP  http://www.openldap.org/project/

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