Bradley M. Kuhn
Open Source Summit 2017
Wednesday 13 September 2017
My slides aren't on sched.org with the others because uploading them required agreeing to a proprietary software license for the sched.org software
So…Conservancy has many activities…very few of which are licensing work…
…but people love hearing about copyleft most of all.
…& this is the talk Jono wanted. ☺
Copyleft is a strategy of utilizing copyright law to pursue the policy goal of fostering & encouraging the equal & inalienable right to copy, share, modify & improve creative works of authorship. Copyleft … describes any method that utilizes the copyright system to achieve the aforementioned goal. Copyleft as a concept is usually implemented in the details of a specific copyright license … Copyright holders of creative work can unilaterally implement these licenses for their own works to build communities that collaboratively share & improve those copylefted creative works.
— Definition of copyleft from copyleft.org
… and more complicated.
Because they have a job to do.
In the early days, companies avoided copyleft and rewrote such software from scratch.
When I first got involved with copyleft in 1997, when asked about how to comply with copyleft licenses, I gave a glib answer:
If you can't figure out how to comply, don't use copylefted software; write your own instead.
Copyleft is always a trade-off between adoption and software freedom.
If we want copyleft adopted, education about it is essential.
So, I started teaching courses on copyleft in 2002.
Between GCC, Linux, Glibc, Bash and a few other packages…
… it became obvious that companies would seek to adopt copylefted software…
… and the charities like Conservancy & FSF that understood copyleft would not necessarily be the only places to offer educational resources.
In 2004, Black Duck attempted to hire me away from my (then) employer, FSF.
Black Duck offered me the position of “Director of Marketing”.
It was then I realized that I personally would be used, whether willingly or not, as a boogeyman to fear monger among confused copyleft adopters.
I got into software to make people's lives better, not to make them afraid of incorporating software.
Dozens of entities now exist that provide proprietary tutorial material and software assistance with Open Source and Free Software license compliance.
Black Duck remains the most prominent, but even Linux Foundation offers proprietary courses and materials in compliance.
Many use so-called “freemium” models that offer some basic information freely, but the “good stuff” is proprietary and is licensing is expensive.
So, the software is Free as in Freedom…
… but to learn how to incorporate it into your company, you'll license proprietary software and take proprietary, NDA-covered training courses?
University of Phoenix is a for-profit “university”…
…it's only one step away from being Trump University…
…courses are proprietary; they trick students into taking loans to attend.
MIT is admittedly expensive, but it's also a 501(c)(3) charity. They've freely licensed nearly all of their course material.
FLOSS is filled with barriers to entry.
Those who do not freely license their training materials inherently increase barriers to entry & adoption.
It's frankly scandalous that proprietary FLOSS license compliance training materials exist at all.
125 pages, and growing, of the best content available on how to comply with copyleft licenses including:
Copyleft.org seeks to consolidate all freely licensed materials that teach about copyleft into one place.
I'm a trained computer scientist and software developer…
…but my skills there are more or less average …
…and my licensing knowledge is now at expert level …
…I believe anyone with knowledge has a moral obligation to share that knowledge freely with others.
All parties are biased about everything.
The only way to find truth is study all sides of an issue.
Any guide about a complex political reality that seeks to be neutral will fail.
Architect the community to welcome input, however it arrives.
We've literally gotten feedback by rumor.
We were leaked a specific criticism regarding a specific section of the Guide from an industry lawyer conference call (to which we weren't invited).
We updated the Guide based on the feedback and emailed the criticizing lawyer.
We hope that you'll be more willing to give us direct feedback, of course.
Some education projects purport they'll release materials for “everyone”.
Yet no project exists that is releasing everything; it's all subsets or “front-matter” to sell the “real stuff”
We nevertheless plan to incorporate anything released freely so copyleft.org is truly comprehensive.
Is it even worth switching formats if most experts have other (non-free) agendas?
Nearly every expert in the field of copyleft compliance who doesn't work for FSF or Conservancy has a for-profit business selling their expertise.
Of course the Copyleft Guide incorporated the “freemium releases”.
But we'll have to forever compete with those who wish to want to get rich from building pay-walls to access knowledge.
The irony is enough to make one wonder if people are really serious about what they claim of support for “Open Source”.
Our only option: develop copylefted material that's good, promote it, and encourage community around its development.
Here are a few of the plans we have for Copyleft.org:
Switch to Markdown, in hopes for more contribution.
Continue advocacy to ask the many entities releasing proprietary materials to liberate them.
Actively listen to your ideas here in the room today.
URLs / Social Networking / Email:
Presentation and slides are: Copyright © 2015, 2016, 2017 Bradley M. Kuhn, and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.