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Author Topic: Software Freedom Scale  (Read 31923 times)

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Alex Libman

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Software Freedom Scale
« on: March 29, 2009, 05:20:34 PM »

I've recently lifted a self-imposed taboo of Microsoft software, but I still care about being able to use and develop software without falling victim to "intellectual property" aggression.  The line between free software and proprietary isn't black-and-white, there are many shades of gray.  Thus, without doing much prior research, I'd like to brainstorm up a scale of software freedom vs software tyranny.  There obviously are many potential combinations of restrictions and finer details, so I'll only try to hit the fundamental ones.  This is my first whack at it, I'll probably revise it over time:


  • Software Tyranny Level 0, Permissive (AKA the Permissive Libman License) - I don't give a fuck what you do with this software and source code.


  • Software Tyranny Level 0, Reciprocal (AKA the Reciprocal Libman License) - I don't give a fuck what you do with this software and source code, UNLESS you aren't as nice a person as I am.  Specifically, use of this software for whatever purpose is specifically denied to any individual who has violated the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) and has not paid restitution, including any government employee and any person otherwise profiting from institutionalized theft (i.e. "taxation").


  • Software Tyranny Level 0, Closed Source - I don't give a fuck what you do with those binaries, but you ain't getting my source code so you could laugh and my typos and redundancies and total lack of organizational skills.  (May also be Permissive or Reciprocal - see above.)


  • Software Tyranny Level 1 (AKA the Ian Freeman License) - same as Level 0 permissive, but the author asks you to pretty-please not distribute the software (or source code) without his permission, but if you do he isn't going to stop you.  I came across this situation when I was an AMP'lifier of Free Talk Live and wanted to spread the show around, so I started posting latest episodes on various bittorrent trackers.  I then found out that Ian didn't like the fact that I was posting the AMP-only high-quality version, so I switched to the regular podcast version.  I'm pretty sure Ian won't revoke anyone's AMP access over something like this though, and he most certainly won't use government force to put a lid on it.


  • Software Tyranny Level 2 (AKA the Creative Commons Attribution) - you can do what you want, but you may be sued if you fail to give credit to the people whose work you are using.  (Which of course is redundant since there are plenty of other ways to prove who did what first without using government force.)




  • Software Tyranny Level 4 - various shares of gray between the "permissive" license of Level 3 and the evil "copyleft" license of Level 5.  This includes the "lesser" GPL, Eclipse, and Mozilla licenses.


  • Software Tyranny Level 4 - "copyleft" software, as promoted by the anti-business Free Software Foundation.  The vast majority of the software people associate with Linux fits this category (GPL).  Similar licenses include the Q Public License from Trolltech, the Sleepycat License from Oracle, and NonCommercial / NoDerivs / ShareAlike clauses of Creative Commons.  So, for example, if you make a proprietary solution that embeds the Linux kernel, BusyBox, or the Qt toolkit, then jackbooted thugs may come and put you out of business!


  • Software Tyranny Level 5 - typical proprietary software, usually closed-source but can include supposedly "open source" components with additional legal strings attached, like the Microsoft Limited Public License.  Copies usually leak onto warez networks pretty quickly, and your odds of being busted for using a pirated / cracked version are pretty low as long as you keep a low profile.


  • Software Tyranny Level 6 - aggressive proprietary software that snitches on you to the mother ship, or where the company actively monitors P2P networks and prosecutes people who don't pay up, etc.  Additional restrictions may include non-disclosure agreements, limits of publishing quality / performance details (i.e. MS / Oracle database benchmarks), and so on.


  • Software Tyranny Level 7 - "top secret" intellectual property that is illegal for anybody to have without a special government clearance.


OK, so people concerned about software freedom will try to use software that falls as low on this scale as possible, like using a BSD operating system instead of Windows or even Linux, or coding in Python instead of Java.

Does anyone have any tips for using less tyrannical software?  Please share.  :D

« Last Edit: March 29, 2009, 05:49:38 PM by Alex Libman »
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Alex Libman

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2009, 09:19:53 PM »

So, anyone have any opinions on choosing freer-than-GPL software whenever possible?
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blackie

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2009, 09:29:15 PM »

So, anyone have any opinions on choosing freer-than-GPL software whenever possible?

Roll your own.
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M83

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2009, 07:57:43 AM »

That's always bothered me about the GPL, too -- how is it "free" software if I'm not free to do whatever I want with it?
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TimeLady Victorious

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2009, 09:48:12 AM »

So, anyone have any opinions on choosing freer-than-GPL software whenever possible?


I do what I want cuz a pirate is free, yarr!
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NHArticleTen

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2009, 10:33:41 AM »


seems more and more folks are carrying around Puppy Linux and Damn Small Linux...

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Alex Libman

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2009, 05:22:54 PM »

I do what I want cuz a pirate is free, yarr!

You're free until someone sends the pigs after you - Bill Gates for trying out Visual Studio without paying for it, Richard Stallman for closed-source-forking a GPL'ed project, etc...  Then you're not so free anymore.


seems more and more folks are carrying around Puppy Linux and Damn Small Linux...

That's still GPL.  Damn Small BSD (or MINIX 3) would have been better from software freedom point of view.  Just look at how much good BSD software has done for the industry, for example: MacOS X (BSD/Darwin), Google Chrome / Apple Safari (WebKit),  ActiveState Komodo IDE (non-copyleft scripting languages, scintilla, etc), and so on.  If Stallman had his way, none of that would be possible.




That's always bothered me about the GPL, too -- how is it "free" software if I'm not free to do whatever I want with it?

It's free as in North Korea - Dear Leader decides what freedom is and isn't...
« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 09:17:49 PM by Alex Libman »
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fatcat

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2009, 05:26:25 PM »

Theres nothing wrong with controls on software as long as it is done contractually, and not the bullshit assumed contracts that are currently standard
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Alex Libman

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2009, 11:19:35 AM »

From Slashdot -- Wikipedia Threatens Artists For Fair Use --

Quote
Can a noncommercial website use the trademark of the entity it critiques in its domain name? Surprisingly, it appears that the usually open-minded folks at Wikipedia think not.

The EFF reports that Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern have created a noncommercial website at WikipediaArt.org intended to comment on the nature of art and Wikipedia. Since "Wikipedia" is a trademark owned by the Wikimedia Foundation, the Foundation has demanded that the artists give up the domain name peaceably or it will attempt to take it by legal force.

"Wikipedia should know better. There is no trademark or cybersquatting issue here," writes the EFF's Corynne McSherry. "Moreover, even if US trademark laws somehow reached this noncommercial activity, the artists' use of the mark is an obvious fair use." It is hard to see what Wikipedia gains by litigating this matter but easy to see how they lose.

This is particularly depressing.  Notice how I haven't stopped linking to Wikipedia, even though they've banned me for calling Global Warming a hoax, and now this.  I wanted, as a gag, to hyperlink everything I usually hyperlink to Wikipedia to other online encyclopedias, but they seem to be missing very basic articles, and are otherwise harder to work with...  So then, is Wikipedia becoming a "natural monopoly" that cannot be forked, and is my addiction to it partially to blame?  Switching away from an OS, an app, or a search engine is easy.  Switching away from a service site like MySpace or YouTube is harder, but it still can be done.  But Wikipedia, on the other hand...  We're trapped!  The horror...  The horror...  :|
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NHArticleTen

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2009, 11:36:10 AM »

From Slashdot -- Wikipedia Threatens Artists For Fair Use --

Quote
Can a noncommercial website use the trademark of the entity it critiques in its domain name? Surprisingly, it appears that the usually open-minded folks at Wikipedia think not.

The EFF reports that Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern have created a noncommercial website at WikipediaArt.org intended to comment on the nature of art and Wikipedia. Since "Wikipedia" is a trademark owned by the Wikimedia Foundation, the Foundation has demanded that the artists give up the domain name peaceably or it will attempt to take it by legal force.

"Wikipedia should know better. There is no trademark or cybersquatting issue here," writes the EFF's Corynne McSherry. "Moreover, even if US trademark laws somehow reached this noncommercial activity, the artists' use of the mark is an obvious fair use." It is hard to see what Wikipedia gains by litigating this matter but easy to see how they lose.

This is particularly depressing.  Notice how I haven't stopped linking to Wikipedia, even though they've banned me for calling Global Warming a hoax, and now this.  I wanted, as a gag, to hyperlink everything I usually hyperlink to Wikipedia to other online encyclopedias, but they seem to be missing very basic articles, and are otherwise harder to work with...  So then, is Wikipedia becoming a "natural monopoly" that cannot be forked, and is my addiction to it partially to blame?  Switching away from an OS, an app, or a search engine is easy.  Switching away from a service site like MySpace or YouTube is harder, but it still can be done.  But Wikipedia, on the other hand...  We're trapped!  The horror...  The horror...  :|


chime

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Ghost of Alex Libman

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2009, 12:37:51 PM »

From Slashdot -- Is Apache Or GPL Better For Open-Source Business? --

Quote
While the GPL powers as much as 77% of all SourceForge projects, Eric Raymond argues that the GPL is "a confession of fear and weakness" that "slows down open-source adoption" because of the fear and uncertainty the GPL provokes. Raymond's argument seems to be that if openness is the winning strategy, an argument Michael Tiemann advocates, wouldn't it make sense to use the most open license?

Geir Magnusson of the Apache Software Foundation suggests that there are few "pure" GPL-only open-source projects, as GPL-prone developers have to "modify it in some way to get around the enforcement of Freedom(SM) in GPL so people can use the project". But the real benefit of Apache-style licensing may not be for developers at all, and rather accrue to businesses hoping to drive adoption of their products: Apache licensing may encourage broader, deeper adoption than the GPL.

The old GPL vs. BSD / Apache debate may not be about developer preferences so much as new business realities.

« Last Edit: April 29, 2009, 12:39:55 PM by the ghost of Alex Libman »
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anarchir

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2009, 01:08:01 PM »

[youtube=425,350]y_ctSlBxptM[/youtube]
So, anyone have any opinions on choosing freer-than-GPL software whenever possible?


I do what I want cuz a pirate is free, yarr!

Same here!
[youtube=425,350]pZ_btTYk9v4[/youtube]
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Harry Tuttle

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2009, 09:17:19 PM »

I used to like H2G2.com before Wikipedia came along.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A8906790
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"If you're giving up your freedom to have freedom you don't have freedom, dummy."              - Mark Edge (10/11/08 show)

Kevin Freeheart

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2009, 05:17:04 PM »

Software licensing depends on coersive force. They all suck.

As I refuse to comply with unethical laws, I merely ignore all license and do what I want anyway.
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AL the Inconspicuous

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Re: Software Freedom Scale
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2009, 12:11:31 AM »

(BUMP)

I'd really like to get more feedback on this.


...


BTW, a minor correction to the original post: I wrote "Software Tyranny Level 4" twice, forgetting to increment the number, and now it's too late to edit because I've cycled accounts.  Also, I've described Qt's license as a tiny bit more tyrannical than it is, because I didn't know they've made LGPL an option since version 4.5.  And some existing licenses are similar to the "Libman License" described above, including WTFPL (permissive) and HESSLA (reciprocal - but deeply flawed).



Software licensing depends on coersive force.  They all suck.

Yeah, but some suck more than others.  GPL clearly encourages government force, even more so than closed source does, because proprietary / closed-source can still exist in a free society through contract law, while GPL can't.  Most developers use the BSD license only for its warranty clause - to discourage others from using the government to initiate aggression against them!

With Google BSD'ing many awesome Web-browser components, I'm starting to revive hope of a full-stack libertarian (aka "pure BSD") OS being functional on the desktop.  All libertarians who use (or plan to try) GNU/Linux should watch this first:

[youtube=425,350]mMmbjJI5su0[/youtube]


(NOTICE:    THIS THREAD IS PROVIDED WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, ESPECIALLY
                    IF THE LULZ IN THE ABOVE VIDEO MAKE YOU POOP YOUR PANTS.)

« Last Edit: November 20, 2009, 12:19:20 AM by Alex Libman »
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