In the [Choosing a software license](https://man.sr.ht/license.md) document, the framing is currently: * I want others to share their improvements with me. [GPL family] * I want a simple license with few obligations. [MIT, BSD 3-clause] * I want to protect my company's trademarks and license my patents. [Apache 2.0] I think the mentality of SourceHut regarding ethical/political issues is that you should properly and honestly think about them and then do what you consider good. To the best of my current understanding, people choose different free software licenses because they have a different view on the following question: Which freedoms should I give people / which freedoms should people have? I assume most people would agree that whatever freedoms every human should have, these freedoms should not include restricting other humans' freedoms. Compare this with e.g. Immanuel Kant's Categorical imperative . It is important to understand that this doesn't necessarily lead to strong copyleft licensing, because it strongly depends on what freedom means: Does freedom include the freedom to take a piece of software and make a proprietary software out of it? Then I should not be allowed to restrict someone else's freedom to do that. : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative#Third_formulation:_Autonomy This roughly leads to the following framing: * Everyone should be free to use, study, share and improve software they interact with. [AGPL, GPL] * Everyone should be free to use, study, share and improve the code I wrote. [LGPL. Explain how this enables certain proprietary uses, which means more end users will have software freedom for at least a part of their software.] * Everyone should be free to use the code for any purpose, even proprietary software. [Apache 2.0, MIT, BSD 3-clause] I am particularily worried about the framing of "I want a simple license with few obligations." This makes it sound as if the default answer to the underlying ethical/political question is "software freedom should include the freedom to take a piece of FOSS and make proprietary software out of it". Given the assumption that people's freedom should not include restricting other people's freedom, this "default answer" implies there is no such thing as the four freedoms that everyone should have. Since AFAICT this is not SourceHut's ethical/political view, it should not implicitly make such a statement in such an important document. Note also that the AGPL3's preamble says "A *secondary benefit* of defending all users' freedom is that improvements made in alternate versions of the program, if they receive widespread use, become available for other developers to incorporate." (emphasis mine) This is quite different from the framing "I want others to share their improvements with me." The main reason for choosing the AGPL, according to the AGPL itself, is to protect the end users' software freedom. Since this framing happens to naturally make the same split into three options as https://licenseuse.org (by Bruce Perens), I intentionally listed the AGPL, LGPL and Apache licenses first, because they are the licenses he recommends. This also happens to order the licenses from strongest copyleft to most permissive. : https://perens.com/about-bruce-perens/ Should I send a patch for this?
Hi Michael! I don't think that this page is the appropriate place for a fully fleshed out introduction to the philosophy of software licensing. Its purpose is to offer quick answers to those who don't already have a license. Further in-depth research is at their own prerogative.
On Fri 14 May 2021 at 07:34:09 -1000, Drew DeVault wrote: > Hi Michael! I don't think that this page is the appropriate place for a > fully fleshed out introduction to the philosophy of software licensing. > Its purpose is to offer quick answers to those who don't already have a > license. I had indeed wondered whether I would also write an introductory paragraph that refers to the ethical/political nature of the decision. I can relate with the argument that the page is there only to provide pointers, so no further introductory text should be added. > Further in-depth research is at their own prerogative. Would only changing the headings (and accordingly the grouping of the licenses) already be too opinionated? Another issue might be that the first heading would hit people out of the blue if there's no introductory paragraph. Maybe the necessary bit of context could be provided by changing the first sentence after the first heading to become something like this: | # Everyone should be free to use, study, share and improve software they interact with. | | If you want to contribute to a commons that is licensed for this | purpose, consider the GNU General Public License, published by the | Free Software Foundation. In the third proposed heading, I would say "including proprietary software" instead of "even proprietary software", because it's more inclusive ;) I step back on the proposal to list the AGPL and Apache 2.0 first in their respective sections, because that is probably too opinionated. The order would stay as it is currently, only the grouping would change.