TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - Printable Version
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TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - z3bra - 27-08-2014

Quote:I'm affraid to use this library, because it's release under GPL. I'd like to sell my software, but I have clue which rights I have when using GPL...

This is a common problem... What does License <XXX> means, and what can I do ?

This website provides an answer, so I though it would be worth sharing:

TL;DR Legal -

RE: TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - pizzaroll1 - 27-08-2014

On a related note, it really annoys me when people think you can't sell any GPLed, BSDed or other open source software. In cases like this for example. For some reason he thought open sourcing software meant stopping sales completely! When he stopped sales, surprise surprise, he stopped making money!

It's probably down to people not reading the licenses, so maybe things like this TL;DR legal site will help.

RE: TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - kirby - 28-08-2014

tl;drlegal is a very nice place, and it seems to get more content every time I have a look. Well worth checking out, thanks z3bra.

(27-08-2014, 10:17 AM)pizzaroll1 Wrote: On a related note, it really annoys me when people think you can't sell any GPLed, BSDed or other open source software. In cases like this for example. For some reason he thought open sourcing software meant stopping sales completely! When he stopped sales, surprise surprise, he stopped making money!

Lunduke annoys me in general. He keeps moaning and using his own software as an example of the failings of open-source and this and that, but honestly his software doesn't even look that good anyway. Sometimes things aren't profitable just because they suck.

RE: TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - rwzy - 29-08-2014

Similar site but for tos/eula:

Lunduke still is an absolute retard in my opinion. (Don't even think it's worth it to go into it, he just doesn't seem as though he understands what he talks about&hellip;)

More examples of misinterpreting the gpl (I think):

I disagree because that's making the assumption that, as pizzaroll1 pointed out, that gpl'd software cannot be sold. Now his point might of course be that there's now no point to try and sell it anyway since it is now *free* software, meaning others can redistribute free of charge anyway. But again that's making the assumption that directly selling the software is the only way to make money off it (other ways include services, support, crowdfunding, getting paid to write it, hosting etc.), making it quite the shitty analogy, because I'm assuming he means the milk from the cow is the only real way to make money off it (probably right), whereas with software it's not that simple. For example, unlike milk which the cow has to produce, software can be *copied* infinitely and free of charge (as long as you have the hard drive space/a computer), meaning there's literally no loss to the original owner when their software is copied/redistributed. (Whereas when selling/redistributing milk, you do actually lose the milk itself as well, can't just *copy* it.)

I think his point was that free milk means farmers get hard done by (of course they do), which affects everyone else since death of farmers means less/no milk for everyone else. But with software, if the programmers die because they couldn't sell their software, there's really no effect on the community (other than of course a possible lack of development) because using software doesn't mean you use it up, unlike with milk. Imagine though if milk was able to be freely copied and redistributed like with software, the community is much better off having freedom respecting access to it, even if it means the farmers die, since they are not needed anymore. That's the whole point of free software, the programmers/farmers (of freely copyable milk) should just find new ways to make money/get food on the plate if they have to, the coummunity shouldn't have to give up their freedom.

With respect to copyleft then, some argue that this creates a lack of incentive for programmers (unlike with non-copyleft where anyone can just jump on the shoulders and make it proprietary), meaning the community would also suffer if programmers aren't willing. Well yes I guess you can say that, fine, if there's a lack of incentive for you, sure, stop developiong software but there are incentives other than (direct) money, like oh I don't know, software functionality. If anything you could argue that copyleft creates incentives since it means your company isn't going to possibly be at a competitive disadvantage further down the track if you choose to contribute to a copylefted project (that another company might take your work and further itself off it (directly make money from it and make it proprietary so that no one else can) and therefore have an unfair advantage over you if it was non copylefted software).

The first sentence is where he actually fucks up though, because he's attempting to explain why it's specifically bad for *programmers*. This is because the gpl isn't about *price*, or *selling*, or incentives or any of that&hellip; that completely misses the point if you're arguing about the effects of gpl on the ability to sell. It's about freedom to the masses.

He then goes on to attack rms/the gnu project, making technical arguments ("versionitis vs non-versionitis"), but of course that's irrelevant to the gpl. I don't giva a shit whether or not rms/the gnu project want to lay claim to whatever the fuck they want (licensing under the gpl certainly doesn't mean that your software comes under the label 'GNU', unlike what some seem to think. See nongnu:, or if ulrich confuses gplv2 with gplv2+, these are all claims/arguments about stallman/gnu project, not the gpl itself and therefore not what I'm arguing about. (For the record, just because I'm arguing for copyleft/gpl, doesn't mean I agree with everything stallman says or writes.)

Another example:

His main point I think culminates to 34:37 - 39:58 in the video. Basically he comes up with a license (just as a thought experiment) which he claims is just simply a more strict version of the gpl, but still the same principle and hence gpl/copyleft is bad. The license, 'the general slavery license' is as follows:

Quote:Each user is required to contribute 4KLOC or 500 man-hours, whichever is higher, to maintaining, updating, or improving the software.

(The actual license would be longer, but for the sake of a thought experiment, this extract is the main principle.)

His line of reasoning is quote (from 37:42):

Quote:Let's think about what the consequences for freedom are of having this license. Um, so such a license would actually make your software much better, think about it, because everyone who uses it is forced to contribute in some way, and because the software's better, there are more things you can do with it, and because there are more things you can do with it, you're more free. So forcing all your users into slavery would actually make them more free.

And then in relation to the gpl, from 39:08:

Quote:In thought experiment terms, the only difference between this [gsl] and the gpl is the nature of the restriction imposed. There's still a restriction under the gpl, it's just less extreme; instead of forced labour, you've got um, sort of prevention from doing specific things. The gpl and gsl are of different amplitude but the same type of idea.

And then, from my understanding, because there's no real fundamental difference between gpl and gsl, and because gsl is obviously bad (he goes on to explain why 'positive freedom' is actually bad, but I'm stopping him here since this is where I think he's wrong), the gpl is therefore also not good for freedom.

From the first quote above, "because there are more things you can do with it, you're more free". No, because the gpl defines freedom in terms of the four 'fundamental' freedoms. Being able to do more things doesn't *increase* in any way your four fundamental freedoms&hellip; don't think you can increase that anyway, you either have all of those freedoms, or you do not. This is why his argument falls apart, because his definition of freedom is being able to do more with your software (so therefore the more you can do, the more free and the more better it is). The gpl however defines freedom as having *all* four freedoms, and if not, even if you have 3 of the 4 freedoms, then it's simply not free (proprietary); a binary notion. This guy is concerned with the *technical* benefits to the software and calling software that is technically better, more free (as in freedom). Free software (not even just the gpl/copyleft) by definition is indifferent to technical proficiency.

From the second quote above, "instead of forced labour, you've got prevention from doing specific things". But there is a fundamental difference here, copyleft (in principle, ianal, so dunno about the actual license text) is about retaining the four freedoms down the line (in derivatives or whatever). And one of the main points about free software is that you may run the progam as you wish for any purpose (freedom 0). (From first quote again) "because everyone who uses it is forced to contribute in some way" quite clearly conflicts with freedom 0 (you cannot run the progam as you wish since you are always forced to contribute, what if you don't want to contribute and want to simply just run it?). If you're gonna put more restrictions upon free software that conflicts with any of the fundamental freedoms, it stops becoming free. (See the first paragraph starting with 'however' in I mean, if you don't want to distribute your modifications, you shouldn't need to, if you're forced to ("required to contribute 4KLOC [...]" from the gsl extract), then that impedes on your freedom to not have to do so if you do not wish and hence the gsl is a proprietary software license. It's only when you actually decide to *distribute* those modifications when copyleft forces you to release it under a (copylefted) free software license.

I think the second question taker (at 51:43) nails it, making the argument that the four fundamental freedoms are sort of like the universal declaration of human rights, as in you should have the right to not have the four fundamental freedoms taken away from you. His response is thinking that the question taker means you should maximize freedom all the time. And he therefore says that it's hard to define if that's really 'right', i.e. if that's really the 'right', or the 'best', thing to do. With that I agree, but again, it's not about 'maximizing' freedom, it's about either having it (the four freedoms), or not. So the problem again is different definitions.

I guess he could argue about whether or not free software is truly an ethical matter or not, but that's another topic altogether (whereas this was about copyleft/gpl). I don't think it's hard to see stallman's argument here though about software freedom where if the software is proprietary, it creates a tool of *unjust* power for the developer of that software over the users of the software, but of course that's just my opinion.

If you read through that, you may have noticed that I simply commented on their interpretation of gpl/copyleft, didn't try to state my preference really for the sake of objectivity and coz this thread is about understanding licenses, esp. the gpl which z3bra brought up, not yet another bsd vs gpl war. But for the record, if you're wondering, I do prefer copyleft, especially on my own stuff. I love how it ensures the four freedoms down the line, like how it's a self-sustaining model. That being said, I still have no hesitation contributing to a non-copylefted (but still free software) project if I want to contribute.

So hopefully that stuff also clears up some of the confusion with copyleft/the gpl (assuming I'm right?).

RE: TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - venam - 29-08-2014

Thanks a lot rwzy, your answer is really concise.

RE: TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - rwzy - 29-08-2014

Thanks! ;)

Nah I just never had a reason to write about misinterpretations (or so I think they are) like these so I just thought this would be an appopriate place, and that these examples might actually help/further understanding in some way.

RE: TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - pizzaroll1 - 29-08-2014

Holy shit, rwzy, you took the words right out of my mouth, I agree 100% with everything you said.

Speaking about slavery, I remember hearing a talk by Stallman where he talked about permissive licenses. He said that copyleft licenses make your rights (the fundamental freedoms) inalienable. This is similar to the situation with slavery in modern times. Everyone is free to do what they want, as long as they don't violate anyone's fundamental rights, including their own. This means that they are not free to sell themselves into slavery, and definitely should not be. Similarly, it is wrong to make it possible for your program to be made proprietary, as this violates people's fundamental rights.

That article really pisses me off, too. Especiall the bits where he says that Stallman didn't manage to write a whole OS before Linus did. What the... Linux - GNU = Not an OS, not even almost an OS. Apparently the GNU project "only" contributed:

Quote:just a compiler and a collection of reverse-engineered Unix utilities with non-standard extensions

THAT'S THE ENTIRE OS (apart from the kernel)! Because I was curious, I looked at the linked article Right. In his opinion, the kernel is exactly the same thing as an operating system. And he takes Stallman's logic "OS cannot run without kernel, therefore kernel is part of an OS" and "OS cannot be used without programs therefore some programs are part of the OS" and twists it into a shitty analogy.

Quote:A car cannot run without the road, but a road isn't part of the car.

That is such a flawed analogy it's just incredible. Yes cars can run without roads! Besides, in this case it'd be more like saying "can the car run without an engine? No because it's part of the car".

Jesus Christ, I wish I'd never seen these articles.

On a related note: none of my friends in real life care about ethical issues relating to software, they mostly just say "It's open source, so we can hack on it, so it's good". A view that lines up with mine, for the most part, but doesn't allow for discussions like this.

RE: TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - Foggalong - 13-09-2014

GitHub have a pretty good summary page too (, though it isnt' as in-depth as TL;DR Legal

RE: TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - z3bra - 13-09-2014


There isn't a GitHub Page here.

RE: TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - rwzy - 13-09-2014

Foggalong seems to have messed up the link somehow. Notice how it links to ',' instead of

RE: TL;DR Legal - Summarize licenses - Foggalong - 13-09-2014

That's a nixers bug. I copied in the link and for some reason it's added the '),' to the link