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Licensing for Bat Butt code

As part of the NGI-Assure grant, we have to choose a Software License we're going to publish our work with.
Yesterday Mix, Staltz, Powersource met and explored what we value (in no particular order):

  • app store compatible
  • stops abuse by bad companies/ entities
  • license possible to comply with
  • enable individuals / non-profits to do their work

The recommendation we came to was LGPL-3.0

Proposal

We use the LGPL-3.0 license for all bat-butt grant-group code.

we're taking a day or so to all mull on this, and will confirm this proposal on Friday 2022-05-20

cc @staltz @Powersource (pc) @arj @nonlinear

Art by Jon Juarez

@mix.exe %MCUQcFVQa/OBvMGbP9m/vlDUvRbe95VVpdxPkmQRvVY=.sha256

A copy of the license for ease of review:


GNU LESSER GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE

Version 3, 29 June 2007

Copyright (C) 2007 Free Software Foundation, Inc. http://fsf.org/

Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

This version of the GNU Lesser General Public License incorporates the terms and conditions of version 3 of the GNU General Public License, supplemented by the additional permissions listed below.

0. Additional Definitions.

As used herein, “this License” refers to version 3 of the GNU Lesser General Public License, and the “GNU GPL” refers to version 3 of the GNU General Public License.

“The Library” refers to a covered work governed by this License, other than an Application or a Combined Work as defined below.

An “Application” is any work that makes use of an interface provided by the Library, but which is not otherwise based on the Library. Defining a subclass of a class defined by the Library is deemed a mode of using an interface provided by the Library.

A “Combined Work” is a work produced by combining or linking an Application with the Library. The particular version of the Library with which the Combined Work was made is also called the “Linked Version”.

The “Minimal Corresponding Source” for a Combined Work means the Corresponding Source for the Combined Work, excluding any source code for portions of the Combined Work that, considered in isolation, are based on the Application, and not on the Linked Version.

The “Corresponding Application Code” for a Combined Work means the object code and/or source code for the Application, including any data and utility programs needed for reproducing the Combined Work from the Application, but excluding the System Libraries of the Combined Work.

1. Exception to Section 3 of the GNU GPL.

You may convey a covered work under sections 3 and 4 of this License without being bound by section 3 of the GNU GPL.

2. Conveying Modified Versions.

If you modify a copy of the Library, and, in your modifications, a facility refers to a function or data to be supplied by an Application that uses the facility (other than as an argument passed when the facility is invoked), then you may convey a copy of the modified version:

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The object code form of an Application may incorporate material from a header file that is part of the Library. You may convey such object code under terms of your choice, provided that, if the incorporated material is not limited to numerical parameters, data structure layouts and accessors, or small macros, inline functions and templates (ten or fewer lines in length), you do both of the following:

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  • d) Do one of the following:
    • 0) Convey the Minimal Corresponding Source under the terms of this License, and the Corresponding Application Code in a form suitable for, and under terms that permit, the user to recombine or relink the Application with a modified version of the Linked Version to produce a modified Combined Work, in the manner specified by section 6 of the GNU GPL for conveying Corresponding Source.
    • 1) Use a suitable shared library mechanism for linking with the Library. A suitable mechanism is one that (a) uses at run time a copy of the Library already present on the user's computer system, and (b) will operate properly with a modified version of the Library that is interface-compatible with the Linked Version.
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https://tldrlegal.com/license/gnu-lesser-general-public-license-v3-(lgpl-3)

This license is mainly applied to libraries. You may copy, distribute and modify the software provided that modifications are described and licensed for free under LGPL. Derivatives works (including modifications or anything statically linked to the library) can only be redistributed under LGPL, but applications that use the library don't have to be.

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@andrestaltz %SpuC0RFbDJ930hhy2VjaHtlFlgfLPxDJvdSfEk0hxHA=.sha256

@moid community feedback is always welcome in my opinion. In this specific instance, we might not change our course of plan, because it was already difficult to find consensus with 3 people in a video call, consensus will be much harder with N people on SSB.

I'm curious to hear more of your thoughts about LGPL-3.0, especially since we already use it for ssb-db2 and several other repos produced during #ssb-ngi-pointer. And it seems like Planetary was/is using ssb-db2 for their new web viewer project, and Planetary is a company.

Regarding hardware manufacturers, do they even get to be involved in this? It's not like our repos are pre-installed on computers coming out of factory.

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@Rabble %UH7I6EwOoxp0ACaH88LAhkSWu9Z+jIoYIGx39QFq1sI=.sha256

Look, if you want your software to include companies, use less restrictive licenses, when you don't want companies to use it then use AGPL/GPL. That's the same logic if you're a company releasing software or a community project.

Choosing a more restrictive license means less contributions. Choosing a more open license means the more people and organizations will contribute.

If a person would take an MIT licensed code and update it, incorporate it in their app, and not release updates back, it's the same to the project and community as if they never touched the code because it was licensed under some GPL type license.

Under a less restrictive licenses, companies will use code and some contribute back. Under a restrictive license, they won't use the code or contribute back. Or if they do, they've got competitive commercial reasons for doing so. Companies don't want to use restrictive licenses, so sometimes they release code under those licenses because they know their competitors can't use it.

As an example, in think p2panda and earthstar are super interesting. But I haven't considered ever touching the code, using it, or contributing to it because of the AGPL license. To use it, there needs to be complete rewrite using the concepts. I actually see now that earthstar relicensed 6 months ago to LGPL, so maybe they do want other people to use their code.

As far as i'm concerned, LGPL is a reasonable compromise for libraries. It's not as good as MIT/BSD, and won't lead to more contributions but it's not as anti-commercial as the other options.

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@mix.exe %fhHACijLKZwFy+UlM1HbGRcwA25IEau3oOnSYMwIu7c=.sha256
Voted Look, if you want your software to include companies, use less restrictive
@mix.exe %qBxeDg1LS7NySawqbLYnghey54kLwt8eqdFJFm0ZO8g=.sha256

we had a really interesting conversation about what levers existed - as in which actions on variables have which effects. We considered things like code, our social fabric / community, ability to scale peers, content (maybe license content! was a very interesting idea).

I am really interested in protecting against appropriation and capitalism being built with tools which are just young. I guess it's that someone could take what we value and care about and then maybe build something nasty, and an opportunity to imagine something other than just another commercial space would be lost. Just more fucking web2/3.

But too little adoption / exposure and you may as well be trying to grow a plant under your house - might grow, but in a sickly sort of way and never get anywhere.

So yeah... comprimise

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