[License-discuss] Thoughts on the subject of ethical licenses
rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Mar 9 03:35:13 UTC 2020
Quoting Coraline Ada Ehmke (coraline at idolhands.com):
[Just a few parts that caught my eye. Not commenting on the
remainder without taking time for more-considered thought.]
> But licensing via OSI-approved instruments is about the rights of
> users, not creators.
The plain language of the OSD (not to mention its underlying conceptual
framework) clearly shows that this assertion turns out not to be the
case. Licensing via OSI Certified legal instruments must satisfy rights
grants covering both users (e.g., OSD#6) and developers (pretty much the
entire OSD). A casual re-reading (which please do) should confirm for
you that it's primarily about the rights of developers, vouchsafing to
them for any work under an OSI Certified licence the right to
independently develop and restribute the covered work in service of any
field of endeavour.
> Framing matters. I am not an outsider to the open source community;
> I’ve been participating in open source since the early 2000s. Before
> that, I released software under the Artistic License back when I was a
> Perl hacker, and shareware before that. I have worked tirelessly for
> almost a decade to make open source more welcoming, inclusive, and
It would be unfair to ding you for having relied on an infamously bad and
legally disastrous licence (Artistic License 1.0, judging from the years
you cited), as it was a very common misstep at that time (leading to
the adverse court decision in Jacobsen v. Katzer, 535 F.3d 1373 (Fed.
Cir. 2008), but it's troubling that you consider shareware to be open
source -- as it very much is/was not. In my honest opinion, people
who cannot distinguish between such proprietary code efforts (which as
I've separately noted also includes considerable ESD-covered code) and
open source ought to think twice and thrice before running for OSI's
Board of Directors.
> (I can't think of a single example in the modern world where
> "evil people" enjoy the same full set of rights and privileges
> as the rest of a community.)
Pondering this proposition, I fumbled through my wallet, digging out a
few offhand, very casual test cases:
o my ACLU & ACLU-NC membership card (joined 1976). The group considers
civil liberties a categorical public good (the same way OSI does open
source), and extends the full set of rights and privileges to every
o my NOW and NOW CA0530 Chapter membership card (joined 1978). The
group considers feminism a categorical public good (the same way OSI does
open source), and extends the full set of rights and privileges to
o my Menlo Park Library card (since 1963) and Palo Alto Library card
(since 2006). The libraries consider literacy a categorical public
good (the same way OSI does open source), and extend the full set of
rights and privileges to every member.
Examples abound outside my overstuffed wallet, too, e.g., my county
public health agency looks after the well-being of the evil and the
virtuous alike, deeming public health and not dying from bad sanitation
like descendants of the Golgafrinchan 'B' Ark to be a categorical public
good -- the same way OSI does open source.
I'd think any of those groups had lost its bearings if it suddenly
started trying to peremptorally short 'evil people' on rights and
privileges (or responsibilities, either). But obviously Views Differ[tm].
Cheers, "Maybe the law ain't perfect, but it's the only
Rick Moen one we got, and without it we got nuthin'."
rick at linuxmafia.com -- U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves, circa 1875
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