Just saw a CC No Derivatives licensed artwork fly through my timeline. I have opinions on -ND:

Short version:
ND doesn't stop bad things (say, appropriation) from being done, while stopping good things (say, translation) from being done.

On a broader level it makes promoting and building libre-culture together harder.

ShareAlike is as effective at stopping some bad things (say, corporations using stuff in ads) from happening, while explicitly allowing the good.

I dive deeper into my reasoning in the blogpost (inb4 "like and subscribe").

Sorry about the subtoot (kinda-sorta), but didn't want to jump into the artist's thread and do a reply-guy thing.

Obviously everyone has the right to choose whatever license they like and feel suits them best!

But I feel there is a lot of mythos around what No Derivatives can and cannot do, and I believe it is harmful to the broader libre culture movement.


Semi-related, there is a batch of new "anti-capitalist" software licenses that is getting traction. I have similar problems with them as I have with NC and ND. I guess I should write them up, too.

But tl;dr would be: fragmenting the FLOSS codebase by using incompatible and legally unclear software licenses like that is shooting ourselves in the foot; AGPL achieves the same (big corporate capitalist entities stay the fsck away), without causing that much legal incompatibility/fragmentation.

@rysiek There is an uncomfortably large group of software engineers cosplaying as lawyers in the licensing space.

@jhulten well, I should add that and this is not legal advice!

But I used to do copyright and libre licensing trainings for public institutions and get paid for them, I guess that's something? 😉

@jhulten @rysiek I really see the problem. When scanning source-code, it looks like half of Github is filled with licence-information.
I'm really tempted to write a LICENCE-file filled with the text: "I solemnly swear I'm not going to sue anybody over copyright. Don't sue me, I won't sue you."

@rysiek exactly, the AGPL licence is already good enough.

@ozamidas it's not just good enough. It is in fact *better* at being anti-capitalist than these "anti-capitalist" licenses.

source licensing meta, legal code is code too 

@rysiek @ozamidas with all due respect, homogenization of open code under big name licensing is not the panacea y'all seem to think it is.

Re-inventing the wheel drives progress, and homogenization breeds stagnation and exclusion.

There's certainly reasons to license using the big name licenses. That it works for all of your use cases seems...shortsighted to the point of uselessness in the world outside the FLOSS ivory tower.

Why is fragmentation bad?
Maybe it's unworkable for you, or has negatively impacted your attempts to use it.
But that's not what you're saying here in these absolute statements you're broadcasting in public.

You're saying "stop innovating because i think it's a solved problem", and that's not a great message to hear when the problem is obvious and people are motivated to try something better.

(Especially given that a decade or three ago, people said the exact same things about a/gpl/etc other licenses...literally "why bother other license do this better" was things said.)

source licensing meta, legal code is code too 

@jakimfett @rysiek @ozamidas Indeed. Once the community reaches a consensus and consolidation happens the ideas may be included in the bigger licenses.

This is exactly FLOSS at work!

@rysiek @ozamidas The GPL licenses have real problems which the FSF isn’t fixing, and at this point the GPL licenses are mostly anti-competitive capitalist tools used to suck free labor from volunteers.

The anti-capitalist licenses are wonky, and I think a harder copyleft license would be better, but it’s a place to start.

They do need to consult a lawyer.

@rysiek And if you need one in another language, the EUPL is available in 23 languages, and is similar to and downstream-compatible with AGPL.
"For the same reasons that the AGPL is banned, the use of EUPL-licensed software is not allowed at Google."

@owl @rysiek The EUPL is actually designed explicitely for public bodies that want to release their software as #FOSS.

Last I checked it was an OK license, but you wouldn´t really use it for your project unless you were a public sector organization.

(I was involved in developing the early versions, not sure where it´s gone from there.)

@kgerloff @owl @rysiek We are using it at @teckids_eV for @AlekSISorg because it is available in many languages and quite short, thus much easier to grasp for (especially young) beginners.

Why would it not be suitable for organisations that are not public bodies, in your opinion?

@Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg I think that’s a wonderful use for the #EUPL! It is definitely suitable for that purpose.

The license is designed primarily with public-sector organizations in mind (hence all those translations). But it is a fully functional #FOSS license, and compatible with lots of other licenses.

@Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg The only potential downside I can see is that downstream recipients might not be familiar with the #EUPL, and therefore reluctant to re-use the software.

But there’s always the compatibility mechanism, which is either refreshingly straightforward or brazenly hamfisted, depending on your taste.

@Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg Btw, watching the European Commission write to the OSI license approval list was quite a culture-clash moment

@rysiek @Natureshadow @owl @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg Oh, and the other theme was „perhaps we as the European Commission could negotiate with the FSF and the OSI about the definition of Free Software”.

Fortunately this idea was not pursued in the end 😅 That wouldn’t have gone so well.

@kgerloff @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg I intend to use the EUPL for my future projects. But I can't help but worry that the downstream compatibility mechanism will be abused, since it provides compatibility with weak non-network copyleft licenses like LGPL and EPL.

I'm not the only one worrying about that: GoatCounter uses EUPL modified to have compatibility narrowed only to OSL and AGPL.

I'd like to ask: why are the EUPL authors so confident that this won't be abused?

@mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg

This sounds like you should maybe pick another license, perhaps one with strong copyleft like the GPL.

The #EUPL ´s compatibility mechanism is intended to maximise reuse of software developed by the public sector; and to enable other users (mostly public bodies) to combine the EUPL software with whatever else they´re running.

Those are good goals for a public sector org IMHO. They don´t have to be yours.


@mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. And I most definitely am not _your_ lawyer. 🙂

@mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg

And re GoatCounter: Please, PRETTY PLEASE don´t modify #FOSS licenses.

Modified licenses make it super hard to use, and especially recombine and redistribte, your software. Your modifications are also easily overlooked by devs who want to write software rather than read licenses.

A lot of work has gone into making #FOSS licenses work as well as they do today. Ripping out a half-sentence here or there can really mess things up.

@kgerloff @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg I don't intend to modify any FOSS licenses or say that this is the right thing to do. But I expect that there will be more projects modifying the EUPL like GoatCounter does. There seems to be a perceived vacuum there due to the worry I explained above.

@mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg What I don´t understand is why the developers behind the projects you mention don´t simply pick a mainstream #FOSS license that does what they want.

Unless you´re a public body, choosing the #EUPL for your project is like riding into town on a unicycle rather than a regular bike: Doable, but somewhat impractical.

@pixelcode @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg Do you have an example of a #FOSS license that needs to be adjusted to local law?

I know such cases exist, but they’re much rarer than either developers or lawyers tend to think.

(For lawyers, FOSS licensing is a niche within a niche. Not a lot of them specialize in it, and I appreciate those specialists all the more for that reason. But it means getting good advice is hard unless you find a real pro.)

@pixelcode @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg I should add that for established #FOSS licenses, most adjustments to local law, where necessary, have already happened.

What I’m trying to get across: just because some local lawyer says “this license needs to be adjusted”, that isn’t necessarily true. If you’re talking to a non-specialist lawyer, they often simply won’t know enough.

@kgerloff @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg For example, the MIT licence excludes any warranty, which is not possible in German civil law. That's why, whenever I use the MIT licence myself, I add this footnote: “at least in the absence of gross negligence and intent to the detriment of the Licensee”

@pixelcode @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg I think that´s one of the oldest discussions in the German FOSS legal space, and it´s been successfully resolved.

If I´m not mistaken, the consensus is that addition is unnecessary, because that´s what the law says anyway.

@kgerloff @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg The point is that the MIT doesn't contain a severability clause, meaning that the warranty thing being invalid could theoretically make the licence invalid in whole, which I'd like to avoid 😅

@pixelcode @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg Not sure if there´s an ultimate truth to be found here. But the (German-based) globocorp for which I used to work in #FOSS governance/compliance, with all its sceptical lawyers, didn´t think that addition was necessary or even helpful.

@jens @kgerloff @pixelcode @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg which is a big problem if you're a globocorp that uses MIT-licensed software all over the place.

If MIT is invalid, you are not licensed to use the software. That would expose you to a huge legal jeopardy.

So if a well-lawyered-up globocorp thinks"this is fine", this is almost certainly fine in this particular case.

@rysiek @pixelcode @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg

Here´s the gold standard FAQ on this for se Germanz: ifross.org/?q=open-source-lize

1. The warranty/liability exclusions in the license aren´t valid in Germany
2. They´re simply overridden by the standard rules in German law
3. The license remains valid nevertheless.

@kgerloff @rysiek @pixelcode @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg Well, yes, but ifross.org/?q=welcher-gesetzli explains further.

If the FOSS software is distributed free of charge, you tend to only be liable if you caused damage intentionally or through gross negligence, or when you maliciously hide flaws.

It's probably good enough for FOSS-as-a-hobby. FOSS-as-a-business could be a lot trickier.

@jens @rysiek @pixelcode @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg If by "FOSS for business" you mean "I charge someone to use the software", it´s definitely good enough.

You´re liable for damages due to intent or gross negligence, and that applies whether you´re selling software, car tyres or potted plants.

@kgerloff @rysiek @pixelcode @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg Not to put too fine a point on it, but there's a very subtle difference between charging people for the use of software, and making modifications to the software on behalf of the same people (even if they remain firmly FOSS). The question then is how that second work is charged. Is it "for free", part of the service fee? Or is it bespoke development?

It's that kind of distinction that may matter.

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@rysiek @pixelcode @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg (Btw, some truly ancient "the GPL isn´t valid in Germany" FUD used to hang on this question. So forgive me if I´m a bit more passionate on this point than seems rational.)

@kgerloff @rysiek @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg Why would the licence remain valid? I'd think there's at least some probability that § 139 civil code applies, according to which a partial invalidity would lead to a complete invalidity.

@rysiek @jens @pixelcode @mikolaj @Natureshadow @owl @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg Perhaps it´s also worth pointing out that MIT really isn´t a license that has compliance people worried.

Just ship the copyright notice+ license text along with your software. Boom, you´re done.

(Watch out for all those weird variants, though.)

@pixelcode @kgerloff @mikolaj @owl @rysiek @teckids_eV @AlekSISorg The MirOS Licence is a good choice if you need an MIT-style licence tailored to German/EU law (and including non-code works as well). It is OSI-, FSF- and DFSG-approved, and widely excepted, e.g. by Google for Android's system shell.


@rysiek in my opinion fracturing the software sphere with confusing broken licenses a business would never touch is a good thing

@penny now go ahead to Pleroma's git repository, check all the dependencies, and imagine they all use incompatible licenses.

And then try to write a complicated piece of software and release it for free onto the world, without risking somebody who might disagree with you on something sues you for it.

Licensing compatibility is the *superpower* of FLOSS. Undermining it is exactly what corporate drones would *love*. They don't care that much about your code, as long as nobody uses it for anything serious.

@rysiek I just disagree. As a small user, I can do whatever I want, I can steal, I don’t care about licenses. Only lawyers care about licenses, and I can’t afford one.

@penny well if you don't care about licenses, why are you debating stuff about licenses?

Thing is, nobody cares about licenses, until they do. Until it turns out that their little project has grown to a point where it suddenly matters, but now they're stuck.

I'm probably not going to convince you. That's cool. I hope you never bump into this issue in any of your personal projects.

You might want to not make public statements about your potential intent to infringe on software licenses, though. Stay safe!

@rysiek Because I do care about how licenses affect businesses- which is, I hope they suck eggs and have to pay someone to write their own damn code.

I think anti capitalist licenses accomplish this, if not from being well written, from not being well written.

and no that’s ridiculous, people aren’t secret about the fact that they pirate, it’s not a secret that everyone breaks licenses and intends to break licenses all the time forever

@rysiek Those licenses are completely unenforceable because they could plausibly interfere in the pursuit of law enforcement.

@atomicpoet also that, yeah. But even on the purely philosophical level (and they are all very philosophical) they are counter-productive.

@rysiek My objection is that they're ideological wankery pure and simple.

@atomicpoet yeah, and harmful wankery at that. They will probably not stop a well-resourced Big Tech company with a legal department from using the software if they want; at the same time they *will* stop many FLOSS projects from relying on that software.

The exact opposite effect that their authors intended.

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