[License-discuss] exploring the attachment between the author and the code

Russell McOrmond russellmcormond at gmail.com
Sat Feb 29 17:59:48 UTC 2020

On Fri, Feb 28, 2020 at 11:31 AM Gil Yehuda via License-discuss <
license-discuss at lists.opensource.org> wrote:

> I'm exploring the psychological relationship between the author of a work,
> and the work. i.e. parsing the phrase "my open source code" and would like
> your thoughts.

What you appear to be asking is how proprietary people feel about the
software they have authored.

Google has one of the early questions I asked in gnu.misc.discuss back in

I wanted to add a GPL license to my derivative of software that was
dedicated to the public domain, as I wanted to ensure that follow-on
contributions would not be able to be made proprietary (meaning, software
licensed primary for the benefit of a proprietor). The only restriction I
wanted was the restriction to not allow personal/proprietary restrictions
on derivatives (freedom from).  This was a concept that wasn't as clear
with the 4 software freedoms from the FSF at the time, but became much more
clear with the Debian Free Software guidelines that became the OSD.  This
includes the non-discriminatory core of the OSD, understanding that demands
for discrimination are personal to a proprietor and thus make the license

I liked what I learned in gnu.misc.discuss back in 1992, and became an
active part of the movement as a software contributor and policy advocate.
In 2002 I was the private-sector co-founder of GOSLING (Getting Open Source
Logic INto Government) http://goslingcommunity.org/
<http://goslingcommunity.org/#content> , and have been a witness at various
parliamentary committees, met many members of Canada's federal parliament,
and have been both a volunteer and paid consultant to bureaucracies on
FLOSS policy.

While I did these things, and I enjoy receiving credit for the
contributions I have made, I do not at all feel proprietary about any of
the results.  Whether my work is encoded in the form of machine readable
instructions (software) or human readable instructions (policy, submissions
to government consultations, etc), I consider the work to have more value
the more it is built upon, and the less personal to me the results become.

One of my influences is Lawrence Lessig and his "Code and other laws of
cyberspace". http://codev2.cc/
I believe there are many things in common between software code and legal

If the elected official who introduced a bill in a parliament kept
referring to it as "my law" after it passed and became the law of the land,
people would not be respectful of that proprietary perspective.  If there
was preamble that said that the policy encoded in the bill could not be
introduced in the governments of unfriendly parliaments,t he preamble would
be ridiculed.  I have the same view about software code which I consider to
be part of the rules that govern our lives, and while I don't ridicule
people for feeling proprietary about their contributions as that is not yet
the common culture, it is not something that I personally respect.

I am grateful for when I'm in the company of fellow long-time FLOSS
advocates who feel the same way, and who don't need to have explained why
the personal desires/politics/etc of an individual software author should
not be a consideration once software has been released and is used publicly.
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