On open source licenses and FOSS

also, slightly offtopic, but i have been researching lately for a talk i will give about open source , and since i was just on your site and you mention it:

  • what licence are you using to open source your work ? and where is this stated ? it is quite common for projects that use git repos to have a licence.txt or similar in them although i didnt see this here,

if i understand it correctly any project without a stated licence is copyrighted to the author by default, and despite best intentions will be avoided by foss community due to incompatibility with some open licences

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i more or less dont believe that there is any kind of legitimacy for claiming ownership, rights, licensing, etc for any kind of software (it goes farther than that but off topic) and that the even the act of adding open source lisences in text form serves to implicitly prop up the concept of intellectual ownership of ideas.


if i was you then i would remove any mention of your projects being open source - the term has a specific meaning which does relate to how it is licensed, and misusing it can at best be confusing and at worse damaging

open source is more than sharing the source - it is a commitment to providing essential freedoms - the details of which your choice of licence clarifies to anyone using the code. it also serves as protection for you and the users.

imo a strong copy-left licence does the exact opposite to this - it actively, legally (and successfully ) dismantles this very concept. it is what empowers us to reject claiming ownership, rights and licensing

no licence as protest is the same as not voting as protest - it only benefits the status quo - to misquote (probably ol chomsky or someone) - take one day to protest a system within, every other day to protest from outside


i strongly disagree with many things you say here and would enjoy discussing this on a seperate thread perhaps as to not derail this thread. short response would be: i think it is patently impossible to dismantle the legitamacy of liscencing by using any kind of liscence.


Could someone please split this topic so I can chime in? xD

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hi, i’ve split off this discussion into a separate thread from the video waaaves suite release. hope thats ok with everyone


from https://mifactori.de/non-commercial-is-not-open-source/

Blockquote Also it is worth to mention: The Open Source Initiative is an NGO and owns the trademark “Open Source” . It allows others to use the trademark as long as they use an open source compatible license for their work. It is thinkable that you risk to be sued when you use “open source” and have the wrong license next to it.

The words and actions of the open source initiative seem to be in direct conflict here. What I mean by open source is a far larger and older idea than anything that can be trademarked as ‘intellectual property’. the fundamental idea to my understanding of open source and the tenets of hacking culture in general is not just that information and ideas should be free if their ‘legal owners’ feel fit but that information and ideas are free. Of course there are power structures that will threaten individuals with ‘legal violence’ if you go against these concepts. This is ridiculous and I do not have any interest in explicitly or implicitly supporting an initiative that acts in ways which uphold these ideas.

To be as explicit as possible: what ‘open sourcetm’ says as far as i can parse is: “the fundamental concept of private ownership of ideas is entirely valid and we will use this power structure to threaten dissent with legal violence. Taking that into account if you want to make some of ‘your’ ideas free it is necessary to play by the rules of this system and act to uphold the basic concept of private ownership of ideas”

what i am saying by open source is: “the ideas are all free. they don’t belong to me, they never belonged to anyone, and they never will belong to anyone. Many power structures can and will act in ways to restrict this and they will all fail. Only by delegitimizing the basic concept of owning ideas can we remove the power from those structures which profit from intellectual property”

to be even more explict: i dont believe in private property, capitalism, consumerism, democracy, communism, or despotism. I don’t beleive in the legitimacy of any legal systems based on any of these structures either.

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While I fully support the author doing whatever they want with their work, the approach of not giving a damn and not displaying any license is counter productive.

So please, don’t claim ownership, don’t use any license at all, but have a notice that states that your work is public domain because otherwise you’re playing along with licensing which is the opposite of what you’re trying to do, isn’t it?


Also - screw the OSI. xD

Also http://www.wtfpl.net/ or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unlicense

Blockquote not displaying any license is counter productive.

again i have to disagree. much of what props up power structures is belief. actively fighting against structures by using the same tools by which they maintain power serves to increase belief in their power. just ignoring the fuck out of them is a far more powerful form of protest than most people think

Hmm, OK, suit yourself but when has ignoring anything ever really fixed anything?

I mean simply changing the disclaimer on the bottom of your page to the public domain open source software and educational material would be enough :slight_smile:

when has ignoring anything ever really fixed anything?

when a power structure is based primarily on large scale belief systems then ignoring them is fundamental to removing them. In a very huge way the decline of the catholic church as the ultimate arbiter of political power in western europe was largely due to individuals ignoring the doctorine in their day to day lives and actions. its a much less sexier proposition than aggressive protest and does not follow the standard western historical narrative of ‘great men doing big things’ but i believe that actively ignoring things (meaning that it actually translates in terms of actions) is a massively powerful way to enact change

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@andrei_jay i think part of the concern is that since none of this information is on your website, people could look at it and conjecture that you are letting your work fall into the standard default of copyright ownership. you also use the term open source on your website without explaining what it means to you. perhaps you could create a page that outlines some of your thoughts that you have shared here so that it is available to people who view your website and wonder if they can copy or distribute your materials?

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makes sense, i avoid proslytizing as much as possible as that seems like one of the most counterproductive methods of changing thought and activity patterns (compared to leading by example and action) but a quiet hypertext link from ‘open source’ seems reasonable.


I don’t really have answers here, but I want to point out that putting out your work completely unprotected might mean that ‘the bad guys’ come along, copy it and release it as their own, and then use the legal system to block others - and maybe even you, even though you did it first - from putting out a derivative or similar work. At which point the onus is back on you to defend yourself, even though you chose not to be a part of the system in the first place. It’s shitty all-round :frowning: If you go down this route then I think the only workable approaches are to attempt to deconstruct the system itself - which is almost certainly impossible at this juncture - or decide to operate outside of the law altogether, which has fairly obvious potential ramifications.

the thing is im pretty sure that no matter what kind of ‘liscence’ or ‘patent’ or ‘trademark’ i could get for my work, if some big bad corporation wants to take it and use it for profit they could do it no problem, and absolutely financially ruin me for life in the process if they cared to. even if i thought that ideas could be owned, i have absolutely no faith in any legal system for protection as wealth seems to win out no matter what.

The underlying discussion here (which I think is key) around ownership is actually one of personal accountability: morally, what do I owe others? If I owe nothing to anyone else then the idea of copyright seems to be fair - I did the work, I should take 100% of the advantage of it. But of course that’s nonsensical, because others always did supporting groundwork. If nothing else then I owe my very existence to my mother, and all those who supported her, and so on. But beyond that, for anything non-trivial there’s always going to be a tool or a consumable or knowledge or an opportunity that’s come from someone else. Nothing we do exists in a vacuum. We begin and live our lives in debt to others. The only way we can get to a place where taking advantage from something we’ve done is morally justifiable is where we have already paid back all of our debts to others first, and that’s a huge amount of effort. Think about simply driving from point A to point B - you are benefitting from the effort that went into making your car, and building the road, and so on. It’s an impossibly complicated equation, and at some point people just draw an arbitrary line and say “I don’t care about my debt to that person because it’s too indirect.”

Andrei, do the thoughts I’ve written above relate to why you feel that ownership is an inherently unfair/unreasonable thing?

Note: I have a personal definition of “morality” that essentially equates it with fairness and honestly. It’s important to keep that in mind, because if your definition differs then what I’ve written about may not make sense.

no idea happens in a vaccuum, everything is dependent on something which came before it. I absolutely do not think that we are begin our lives or live our lives ‘in debt.’ the prevalance of metaphors like this is kind of an example what i’m saying about how ingrained capitalism and private property is in western societies. I don’t think that ownership of ideas is inherently unfair or unreasonable, i think that history shows that no matter how much anyone might want to think that they can claim ownership of a concept, it just wont work. information essentially wants to be shared, and the more useful it is the stronger it spreads. not only that but the more that everyone works to help share useful information, the better off everyone is as a whole. so what is the point of ever trying to restrict the flow of information? short term profiting off of manufactured scarcity is just about the only motivation i can see. short term profiting off of manufactured scarcity seems to basically sum up a lot of the global capitalist economy at this point in time as well which probably is not a coincidence.

some mathematicians believe that mathematical truths and entities essentially have an existence outside of human thought, and that no one ever ‘invents’ theorems or ‘builds’ structures, they can only be discovered. the usefulness of any kind of theory like this which really cannot be proved or tested in any kind of mathematical or scientific manner is pretty much just up to individuals to decide whether or not using this model of ideas living in their own ‘idea space’ matches up with their perception of the world and provides a decent framework for operating. this concept of ideas being alive outside of human thought and having their own independent structure and, to a certain extent, agendas has been and continues to be an incredibly useful framework for me, and serves as the basis of much of my worldview.

i feel like the topic of open source - or any attempt to break out of the box of capitalist ideas of intellectual property etc can really quickly turn into a rabbit hole of ideological discussion. i’m not opposed to having these kinds of discussions here but i feel there is a limit to it being the best venue for it. for example i try to operate in a way which contributes toward dismantling certain power structures and hierarchies. these powers are also responsible for the creation of many types of laws. historically many important movements and influential people have opted not to follow certain laws which they feel are unjust. however there obviously are potential repercussions to that and this is an extremely public and searchable forum, so i personally might not want to go too far into detail about my own views on the matter. i feel like having this forum be very open is nice for the intention we created it for, sharing creative and technical information and ideas. as i said this can totally be discussed here and is somewhat relevant but just wanted to mention this…

Thanks Andrei, I appreciate you sharing your perspective and thoughts. I absolutely agree with your points on manufactured scarcity.

Paloma, sadly I can’t find anyone in my (admitted limited) circle who is interested in discussions like this so I take it wherever I can get it :slight_smile: I do take your point, though - from memory I think you’re USA based? If I was there I would certainly be very circumspect about what I was saying in a permanent public forum right now, given the current socio-political climate. We live in ‘interesting times’ and it sure feels like we’re on the cusp of some huge upheavals, and who knows which way it will go or how we might be held accountable for our words in the future, given the examples of the past :frowning: