Like , and the , is yet another attempt at mususing the term to describe the software license equivalent of the licenses in the suite:

I sympathize with the concern driving these hybrid license experiments. I agree corporations parasitizing the software is a problem. But to me, the deeper problem is the corporation being the dominant model of political-economic governance. The more radical solution is replacing tech corporations (and startups aiming for IPO or acquisition) with networks of co-ops, which can collaborate to make sure all commons contributors can thrive. But these hybrid licenses make that harder.

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When the phrase "" was coined, as a rebranding of "free software", the theory was that explaining the concept in more business-friendly language would make businesses more willing to release the code they fund as . 20 years later, the results are in, and it turns out that theory was wrong. We can debate at length about *why* tech companies extract far more value from free code than they contribute back to it, but that's what happens and there's no sign that's going to change.

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I don't think the theory said anything about whether they'll contribute back more than the value they extract. And if as you said, the theory was that businesses will be more willing to release the code they fund, then I think the theory was right. Linux kernel is one example, but I'm sure there are many other projects where most contributors' emails end with a domain of a company who needs that project to run their business.

So I'd say the theory worked, but it missed the point. We didn't forsee the side effects. We didn't predict SaaS.

> I don't think the theory said anything about whether they'll contribute back

The pitch was that the corporate sector would fund most free code development (though there would still be hobbyists/ students making unpaid contributions). The argument was that talking about software freedom would scare them off and prevent that. Turns out that despite "open source" becoming the standard term, not-for-profit entities (including co-ops) still fund far more free code dev than for-profits.

>> I don't think the theory said anything about whether they'll contribute back

Don't twist my words.
I said:

> whether they'll contribute back MORE than the value they extract

It obviously said they will contribute back. And they do. Your argument was that they extract more value than they contribute.

Now I have no idea how one'd measure how much value is "extracted", especially that using a piece of code doesn't diminish its value to other users.


You're saying that we hoped that most of the work would be corporate-funded. Well, in some projects, like Linux Kernel, it is[1] - apparently only 16% of the contributions were from unpaid volunteers.

OTOH, there are projects like OpenSSL and GPG which are short on manpower because everybody uses them but nobody wants to maintain them, except for a few volunteers.

So I think there's some nuance there. Some projects succeeded according to the theory. Some ended up in big trouble. Some have proprietary forks offered as SaaS. But what determines how a particular project ends up? What is the reason some of them benefit from corporate interest, and others suffer from it?


While I do understand your points about terminology @strypey I do think that language changes over time, and if you're worried about confusion, I am not opposed to either:
1. clarify this as dual licensing "free software + conditional license" (like MySQL and other projects already do)
2. call it something else entirely (Commons Code? Peerware? Coop Source?)

IMO it's more important to discuss the actual issues and to experiment with solutions than to get stuck in strictly interpreting old labels and rules, which just leads to going around in circles (like the recent disagreements around Fedilab and F-droid, or about constitutional amendments in the US...)

the reason I'm being fussy about terminology is that there are *reasons* the were defined as they were. It's not like the Project folks didn't think through the potential consequences of including unrestricted commercial use in the freedoms their licenses protect. But they concluded that the cost of limiting commercial re-use outweighs the benefits and saw as a better solution.

Most of the projects complaining about parasitic use and proposing these commercial use limits release their software under non-copyleft licenses. Why? Because they *want* greater uptake by companies that don't want to use copyleft softwarw that obliges them to contribute back. Then when they get exactly that, they complain about it. The solution seems obvious: copyleft. But instead they try to have their cake and eat it too, with these vanity licenses.


@mayel the deeper problem I see with trying to restrict commercial use is that it's the wrong target. There are, as @Wolf480pl points out, plenty of commercial entities, even corporations, that *do* contribute back to the free code projects they use, through hiring contributors, funding community infrastructure. etc There are also plenty of large, non-commercial entities (both govermental and NGO) that parasite off free code when they can afford to contribute. The issue is reciprocity.

I agree with @strypey here, but I also think a major part of why terminology matters here is that some of those new licenses and the people behind them seem like they're trying to hijack the "Free Software" or "Open Source" terms for their new ideas which are different than and incompatible with FOSS. It feels like they're trying to hijack our community.

I have nothing against someone trying to form a new community around a new type of licensing, and even invite some dissatisfied members of our community to their side. Try it, see if it works, let the experiment decide which is a better idea.

But don't try to pretend to be us.

Come up with your own name, write your own manifesto, and build your own reputation, instead of trying to hijack ours.


So we're clear, I am not involved in any of those project, nor am I lobbying for them. I do think they've got some points though, and I'm kinda surprised at how strongly you are reacting against them. For one, I haven't seen any of them trying to hijack FOSS (do you have links?)

I need to finish some work, but will come back to the thread when I can...


@mayel @strypey
The "Commons Clause" did try IIRC,
and I'm speaking mainly of this one, as I'm most familiar with it.

Then I kind of stopped caring and started putting them all in the same bin, which is ofc lazy as fuck and not very objective.

Maybe I was too aggressive in my last post. Just want to draw the line really hard in hopes that nobody will try the hijacking part ever again.

> I haven't seen any of them trying to hijack FOSS

What's meant by that is most of the people pushing these shareware licenses have claimed the projects are still "open source" (they're not), thus hijacking the goodwill associated with that term. The Licence0 blog is full of references to "open source" and claims that relicensing code (so it's no longer open source although they obfuscate that) solves the open source funding crisis. It can't.

@mayel shareware isn't a new model. It didn't work in the 90s when they tried to get money out of enterprise users and it's unlikely to work now. I don't mind them trying as long as they're honest that it means giving up on open source, not finding a novel way to fund it.

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