motivation Re: For Approval: Transitive Grace Period Public Licence, v1.0

zooko zooko at
Thu Feb 26 20:18:20 UTC 2009

[adding license-discuss and following-up to a post originally to  
license-review -- please direct futher follow-ups to license-discuss]

Dear Nigel Tzeng:

Thank you for posting about the possibility that the TGPPL could  
engender greater production of open source software.  That is indeed  
exactly my motivation.

What I call "the capitalist feedback loop" is that under capitalism  
the greater the magnitude of value created by something, then the  
greater the amount of resources that tend to get directed to making  
more of that thing.

I used to call this by the economics jargon term "incentive", but  
this is misleading as it makes it sounds like people don't *want* to  
create open source software enough, and we're going to make them  
*want* to by paying them.  That's not it at all -- it's a question of  
resource allocation.

If you haven't already, please see Ping Yee's eloquent slides:

On Feb 18, 2009, at 21:41 PM, Tzeng, Nigel H. wrote:

> That said, I echoed Matthew's objections about code escrow and  
> trust.  This is not an issue that can be easily dismissed.  My  
> recommendation is for Zooko and/or Ajay to create a modified GForge  
> site that automatically released code 12 months after check in and  
> the license be modified to require that folks use that or some  
> other equivalent escrow service to ensure (or at least increase the  
> likelihood of) compliance with the license.  Bonus points for  
> having the code encrypted in the repository so not even the site  
> maintainers can see the code for a year.  You make a release or a  
> patch for anyone and you need to check source for those changes  
> into the repository at the same time so the clock starts.  Extra  
> bonus points for having a software storefront as well.

Those are several interesting ideas right there.

Note that even if the source code were encrypted, then whoever held  
the key would be able to determine when, if ever, the code is  
publicized.  There is a notion of "time release crypto", originally  
due to Rivest, Shamir, and Wagner, by which one could make it so that  
the source code would eventually be released even if the original  
creator reneged on their agreement to do so.  However, such a hack  
could only be a technical "fail-safe" to back up social and legal  
mechanisms.  (For one thing, it isn't all that precise -- the code  
might turn out to be decryptable a few months earlier or several  
months later than originally intended.)

Further conversation along these lines probably belongs on license- 


Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn
Tahoe, the Least-Authority Filesystem --
store your data: $10/month --

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