Like #FairSource, and the #CommonsClause, #LicenseZero is yet another attempt at mususing the term #OpenSource to describe the software license equivalent of the #NoCommercialUse licenses in the #CreativeCommons suite:

I sympathize with the concern driving these hybrid license experiments. I agree corporations parasitizing the software #commons 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 "#OpenSource" 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 #FreeCode. 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...)

@mayel @strypey
>clarify this as dual licensing

technically dual licensing is when the user can choose which of the two licenses they wish to accept, which AFAIK is not the case here.

IMO, a new name would be a better idea.

@Wolf480pl @strypey

> technically dual licensing is when the user can choose which of the two licenses they wish to accept, which AFAIK is not the case here

Well the user (project initiator) can choose whether to set up as a individual/not-for-profit/cooperative project vs. as a for-profit/extractive business. (This is meant to be semi-sarcastic, and a mockery of people who claim that freedom exists within wage labour, as you can choose whether to sign a contract or not.)

@mayel @strypey
By "the user" I meant "any person obtaining a copy of this software" eg. a random person who just stumbled upon the project on github. Not project initiator.

Oh, you meant that private comercial license you can buy from the author as an alternative to the public license on the code... well, ok, that is dual licensing. I thought you were referring to "free software license + additional restriction" like with the "Commons Clause" as dual licensing, that's what confused me.

@Wolf480pl @strypey

Right, and actually isn't this specific license (License Zero has two different ones for project creators to choose from) more like a reinforced AGPL, it has no restriction on commercial use, just strong requirements to contribute back:

@mayel @strypey
yeah this one looks interesting, but I'm not sure how effective it would be against "I'm not doing anything that would infringe copyright", eg. SaaS. Patents would probably give it more teeth, but AFAIK only corpos can afford patents...
Would also be interesting to see OSI or FSF's opinion on the license, maybe it would actually qualify as a Free Software or Open Source license.

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