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Extreme Copyleft, Redux

Updated: Aug 21, 2020

At Copyleft Conf 2019, I did a presentation under the provocative title "Extreme Copyleft, Boon or Bane?"

The main point of the presentation was to look at current hot issues in license drafting, that were roiling around the FOSS world both inside and outside the OSI's license approval process. As a thought experiment, I posited an "Extreme Copyleft Public License" (ECPL), representing the potential end state of copyleft licenses (no, APGLv3 isn't the end state). In summary, a license that says "all your code are belong to us" (to the extent that is possible under any intellectual property regime under which the license is exercised).

It was an interesting thought experiment (and pointed out that the *GPL family of licenses have plenty of carve-outs that, if one were so inclined, could be plugged), although at least one person in the audience (I think Harald Welte) pointed out a drafting error in my proposal (it didn't obligate you to reuse the license -- oops).

Well, Extreme Copyleft seems to still be a matter of interest; there's a presentation at State of the Source* next month on the topic. Perhaps a call for the ECPL to be submitted to the OSI and for all to adopt it? [That's sarcasm; when I posited the license, I said it was a thought experiment and I doubt anyone would want to use it or code licensed under it.]

There was some ancillary discussion in the presentation, and in the questions afterward, about license experimentation and license proliferation; on the former, I was pro (even pro failed experiments), on the latter, neutral to anti, depending on my client. These topics are also becoming a bit hot (at least in the Twitterverse, which doesn't really represent reality), particularly given some of the recently-proposed ethical licenses, the most recent example being the Anti-Capitalist Software License (ACPL?).

It's nice to see people still talking about things I talked about almost 2 years ago (not everything I say is just ephemera!). For those who weren't at my presentation in 2019, I've posted my slides. Note that they are a bit messy, as I had a full-scale laptop brick event on the plane ride over to Brussels, so reconstructing my beautifully constructed and presented pre-flight slides to absolute fidelity was not possible; they may also not be fully self-explanatory (that's what the spoken presentation was for!) but readers may be able to get the drift.


*Lex Pan Law is a watch party sponsor of State of the Source, but had no involvement in the proposing or approving of this session. I was just a fortunate happenstance.


Extreme Copyleft from CopyleftConf 2019
Download • 144KB

Extreme Copyleft from CopyleftConf 2019
Download • 465KB

Extreme Copyleft from CopyleftConf 2019
Download • 465KB

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