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 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.
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...
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
The answer: When you put GPL-code in your own webservice, it acts like the weakest of BSD licenses, because you never propagate your code, only results.
The antidote is AGPL which fixes that hole.
Decentralization prevents the other part of of the problem. But there the regular GPL is effective, so big corps can’t take this route as effectively as the webservice-route where they can profit off free labor without giving back by circumventing the terms set by idealistic volunteers.
@rysiek Most licenses in this category that I have seen seem to have been written by people who understand neither licences nor capitalism.
I mean, who really thinks that “An individual person, laboring for themselves” does not “operate by capitalist principles”!?
@__h2__ exactly this.
An "individual person, labouring for themselves" is the pinnacle of capitalism. That person is very likely to be a member of the precariat, pushed out even from proper employment with benefits, now working as a contractor for Big Tech...
@__h2__ @rysiek 💯 And educational institutions‽ I graduated from RIT and they are most enthusiastically capitalist (of course, the professors certainly were usually not). The license even mentions the evaluation of price. I don't care who makes the evaluation; putting a price on something enables cancelation of debt, which supports capitalism.
@rysiek regarding AGPL, MongoDB devs found it to fall short in protecting their open core business model, so they had to come up with Server Side Public License https://www.mongodb.com/licensing/server-side-public-license
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