Can we please agree not to call apples "oranges" just because we like how "oranges" sound, and we also happen to like apples?

These are different kinds of fruit, and calling one using the name for the other is simply misleading.

Same with "anti-capitalist licenses" being called "open-source licenses".

They're not. They're different. The difference matters - if it didn't, there would be no reason not to use open-source licenses!

@bookwyrm is not "open source" (doesn't mean bad!):

I am of two minds about "anti-capitalist licenses" that started springing up in random places.

On one hand, I understand why people feel we need them. I, too, take precautions against software I write being (ab)used by Big Tech.

On the other, I feel it might be counter-productive.

AGPL, I believe, provides enough protection against Big Tech using software licensed using them. At the same time, having clear rules of licensing compatibility is powerful -- it allows us to collaborate and build together.

Finally, all "anti-capitalist licenses" I've seen so far use very broad terms that can easily be interpreted in a lot of different ways. They likely do not offer the protection they claim to offer.

In the end it might turn out that by creating a myriad of "anti-capitalist licenses" that are incompatible with each other and with the larger body of FLOSS code, we handicap ourselves - by making it effectively impossible for different projects to be used together to build more complex and more useful systems.

To @bookwyrm 's credit, they do not seem to be using the term "open-source" anywhere on their site, as far as I can see. So, kudos!

@rysiek @bookwyrm >not "open source" is? Unless those quotation marks change the meaning significantly in a way that I'm unaware of.
That project definitely doesn't seem to be *free*, though.

@vyivel @bookwyrm it is not open-source software. Open-source software has a very clear definition: software available on one of the licenses that are OSI-approved.

Bookwyrm's license is *not* OSI-approved.

Again, that doesn't necessarily mean it's "bad". But it does, in fact, mean it's not open-source.

@rysiek @vyivel @bookwyrm open source, to me, means that source code is, well, openly available..

@dhfir @vyivel @bookwyrm and this is exactly the same argument that Microsoft and plenty of random techbro startups were making about their own "source-available" licenses, of which there were plenty (each worse than the previous one).

Either terms have meaning, or they don't. If they don't, we cannot communicate. If they do, then Bookwyrm is not open-source.

And yet again, this is not a value-judgement on Bookwyrm. We just need to have clarity when we discuss complicated stuff like software licensing.

@rysiek @dhfir @vyivel @bookwyrm see also other '''ethical source''' licenses that are basically 'source available'

@rysiek @vyivel @bookwyrm foss has the f in it specifically to distinguish FREE open source software from nonfree open source software.

@dhfir @vyivel @rysiek @bookwyrm not to distinguish copyleft and non-copyleft open source from 'shared source'

@dhfir @vyivel @bookwyrm no, "F" in FOSS/FLOSS stands for "free software", and the whole term is an umbrella term for "Free/Libre, *and* Open Source Software".

That is, any software that is is *either* Free/Libre Software, *or* Open Source Software.

"Anti-capitalist licenses" are neither.

@rysiek @bookwyrm I'd say OSD [1] is just one of the definitions of open source, and OSI isn't the only source of truth. In my book, for software to be qualified as open source, it must, well, have its sources open.

Also, OSD has conditions like "the license must not discriminate against any person or group", which, while they sound good, are absolutely unrelated to source code itself. Frankly, I'm not a fan of such definition.


@vyivel @bookwyrm great! But that term has been *defined* this way and *used* this way for decades.

Coming now and saying "I'm going to just start randomly using it to mean something else" is, well, not helpful.

There is a need for a term that refers to "anti-capitalist licenses". But "open-source" is not that term.

If you take the effort to come up with a new definition, bite the bullet and come up with a new term too.

@vyivel @bookwyrm plus, Bookwyrm's license also has plenty of conditions that are "absolutely unrelated to source code itself":

All the conditions around "individual person", "organization", "ownership", "educational institution", "law enforcement" in that license have nothing to do with the source code, after all.

@rysiek @bookwyrm My post wasn't related to Bookwyrm at all. They can have whatever they want in their license, I don't mind.

@vyivel @bookwyrm welp, you did reply in a long-ish thread specifically about Bookwyrm, and generally about anti-capitalist licenses being mislabeled as open-source licenses.

So, there's that.

@rysiek @bookwyrm I was merely replying to a phrase "Bookwyrm isn't 'open source'"; guess we just have different views at what words "open" and "source" mean.

I agree that "anti-capitalist" ≠ "open source", though.

@vyivel so let me get this straight:

1. you claim Bookwyrm *is* open source
2. you agree "anti-capitalist licenses" ≠ open source

Are you aware that Bookwyrm is, in fact, licensed under an "anti-capitalist license"?

If so, I am unsure how you can hold 1. and 2. to be true at the same time...

Yes, Bookwyrm is open source (according to my definition of open source).
Yes, an anti-capitalist license isn't necessarily an open source license, and vice versa.
Yes, Bookwyrm is licensed under an anti-capitalist license, while also being open source.
I don't see the problem.
@rysiek A software which legally has its sources open to inspect. Simple as.

@vyivel so, all of the Big Tech "source-available" licenses that let you see the source code but not run or use it are "open-source", according to your definition.

Is that correct?

@vyivel @rysiek I mean, vylvel is correct, "open source" does not imply that you are allowed to _use_ the source, only that it is open

@Mia @vyivel no it doesn't:

"Open-source software (OSS) is computer software that is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, study, change, and distribute the software and its source code to anyone and for any purpose."

Other sources of OSS definitions have been quoted in this thread already, if you mistrust Wikipedia.

@vyivel well if that is not the definition of "open-source washing", I don't know what is.

It's clear to me that we will not find common ground, just as it's impossible for me to find common ground with Big Tech and random techbro startups that insist that them making their source code available for inspection (but not use or modification) is somehow "open-source".

Language matters, terms have definitions. If suddenly "apple" can be defined as "orange-color citrus fruit", we have no way to communicate.

@rysiek IMO, the term "permissive free software license" would be more suitable for licenses that allow inspection, modification and usage of the source code.

@vyivel these debates have been going on for decades. The terms that have been eventually agreed-upon, with reasonably clear definitions, are "free software" (if we're talking copyleft licenses), and "open source" (if we're talking non-copyleft permissive licenses).

You are insisting on calling an apple "orange", just because it sounds better to you. That is not a good way to have meaningful conversations. that is, in fact, a way to muddy the waters and make meaningful conversations hard or impossible.

> "free software" (if we're talking copyleft licenses)
no, free software encompasses software licensed under both copyleft and non-copyleft licenses.
narrowing down the meaning of free software to cover only copyleft is a common misconception, but free software is defined by *respect* the four freedoms, not necessarily their *defense* (which is what copyleft does)

nitpicking a bit here, @rysiek, free software and open source software are equivalently defined for the most part by the FSF and the OSI respectively. At least from the FSF side it is entirely correct to describe both permissively licensed and copylefted software as free, as both subcategories comply with the four freedoms. I do not read much materials from the OSI, but I’m pretty sure the OSD does cover copyleft licenses as well.

What you might mean was the permissive crowd usually referring to their software as being open source while copyleft and FSF worshipers like me insist on the term free software. Personally I’d use the word libre or the umbrella term FLOSS if I need to communicate with people outside of my circle though.

To @vyivel, I assume that you are arguing in good faith, but I find bookwyrm hijacking a term with a widely accepted meaning in the FLOSS community to gain validation and trust is a very deceptive act for a selfish gain, albeit perhaps not of capital.

@cnx @vyivel I must make *VERY CLEAR* that @bookwyrm does not seem to be trying to hijack the term "open-source"; they don't seem to be using it anywhere.

A lot of people who promoted Bookwyrm here on fedi did use that term though, hence the thread.

Show newer
Show newer
> term "permissive free software license"
... is redundant. the only thing a license can do is grant permissions, so it is permissive by definition. yes, copyleft licenses are permissive: all they do is grant permissions, even if narrower ones than other lax permissive licenses.

now, software industry has succeeded in getting people to conflate licenses with licensing agreements. licenses can't take rights away, only revoke prohibitions stated in law: they're unilateral grants. agreements, OTOH, are contracts, and they can take rights away, but they require explicit consent to accomplish that.
people trying to write copyright licenses to impose restrictions on actions that are not constrained by copyright, such as software execution, have been successfully confused, and are further inducing others to error by giving them the idea that their so-called licenses accomplish what they set out to do. yet another layer of unethical behavior, or just foolishness?

@vyivel @rysiek @bookwyrm Technically, of course anyone can make their own definition of ‘open source’. But a definition only becomes meaningful in widespread usage if it becomes widely accepted. And it just so happens that OSI’s definition has been there since the early days of the term and is by far the most widely accepted; see their recent affirmation supported by many prominent organisations.

Granted, there’s nothing in the name ‘open source’ that points to this exact definition. Kinda like ‘free software’ could be interpreted as ‘free of cost’. But both of them have long had more precise fixed meanings, and I don’t think deviating from them will do anyone good.

@rysiek @vyivel @bookwyrm A terrible fucking take. The meaning of words does not depend on institutions. Language is descriptive, not prescriptive.

@Hyolobrika @vyivel @bookwyrm and describing an apple as "orange citrus fruit" is bonkers. Regardless if there is an institution that provided a definition for apples and oranges, or not.

But thanks for being the first person to f-bomb this conversation. It's an achievement, as heated as this thread got in a few places, nobody felt the need to throw around expletives.

@rysiek The anti-capitalist licenses are interesting. I think someone should make a similar license, call it "the coop license" and get it vetted by a copyright lawyer. If such a thing existed and carried real legal clout (i.e. could be used in a court case without getting laughed out) then this would be a more favorable tool against the status quo.

We definitely do need to be finding better ways so that BigTech doesn't keep stealing from the commons and grifting on our collective labor, and so that we can build up counter-organizations which are focused on real needs.

Maybe talk to
Look at
If you connect with him, he might remember me from SSB which he visits occasionally.

Or he might say, oh no, not him again, so maybe mentioning me is a bad idea. I don't know. But we never got into any disagreements...

@bob @rysiek

Yeah, actually I like this better than kosher free software and open source licenses. Free software can't do nothing to avoid the big tech monopolies world we live in. Rather, it was an enabler. If you want to change that, you can't use the same set of tools. I hope it gets legally standardized, as Bob says.

@tagomago @bob I remain unconvinced.

It really feels like playing the "wack-a-corporate-ownership" game is a losing strategy (I'm skewed, worked too long for people investigating byzantine corporate ownership structures...).

At the same time, AGPL seems plenty effective against both Big Tech and techbro startups, is well-understood, vetted by lawyers, and has a huge body of code already licensed under its terms.

@tagomago @bob
I also note that all "anti-capitalist licenses" I've seen so far curiously miss the single most anti-capitalist measure possible and available: a requirement to share back any modifications made.

Which is something I don't get. Clearly people who write them are opposed to capitalism. Can there be a better way to combat rampant capitalism than, well, sharing broadly?

@aral @rysiek @bob

Turns out knowledge is not the power source in capitalism. Of course, without knowledge free distribution, it gets worse. But in capitalism, capitalists have a huge advantage given the uneven distribution of material resources.

How does AGPL or any free software license prevent that?

@tagomago @aral @bob by undermining their very business model. AGPL is *toxic* to cloud-based Big Tech, just as GPL was toxic to the previous generation of Big Tech.

Software is not knowledge. Software is a tool. By creating useful tools that are unusable by capitalists we build our common toolset and expand our abilities, without providing these tools to the capitalists to use against us.

Anti-capitalist licenses are trying to do the same, of course, but in a way that undermines this community-building.

@tagomago @aral @bob think about it: an "anti-capitalist license" would not have given us Linksys WRT-54GL OS's code, and thus would not have jump-started the ecosystem of projects focused on embedded devices, like OpenWRT and the like.

If Linksys had used code under an anti-capitalist license, the lawsuit (if any) would result in Linksys being forced to stop using the code and pay compensation to the original developers, that's it. No code would have been published. No common toolset made available.

@rysiek @tagomago @aral If I understand it correctly, if Mastodon used an ‘anti-capitalist licenseʼ, there would be no contributions from pixiv/pawoo developers

@rysiek @aral @bob

Tools and tools' improvement are the product of knowledge, it's the same thing to me. Anyway, let's not turn this into a logomachy.

From what I know, I don't think AGPL is not usable by capitalists, it's just that they can't exploit any labor invested in the tool to sell it as an end, as a capitalist product by itself, but it can be used freely as a, well, tool, for their capitalist goals. Correct me if I'm wrong...

@tagomago @aral @bob technically it can. Practically it is so toxic to their business models that Google outright bans not just including AGPLed software in their own projects, but also bans their employees and contractors from even *having any AGPLed code on their machines*!

Straight from the horse's mouth:

> Do not install AGPL-licensed programs on your workstation, Google-issued laptop, or Google-issued phone without explicit authorization from the Open Source Programs Office.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon for Tech Folks

This Mastodon instance is for people interested in technology. Discussions aren't limited to technology, because tech folks shouldn't be limited to technology either!