Facebook’s BSD+Patent license combo fails not because of the license itself but because it ignores the deeper nature of open source.
In July 2017, the Apache Software Foundation effectively banned the license combination Facebook has been applying to all the projects it has been releasing as open source. They are using the 3-clause BSD license (BSD-3), a widely-used OSI-approved non-reciprocal license, combined with a broad, non-reciprocal patent grant but with equally broad termination rules to frustrate aggressors.
Simon co-hosted FLOSS Weekly 442, where Brian Behlendorf explained the Hyperledger Project of which he is Executive Director. An excellent show, with many interesting branching-off points.
Hyperledger is a project to maintain a platform for distributed ledger projects and the toolkits and apps that support and use them. It’s intended for building private systems where everyone participating can be identified, so does not have an associated proof-of-work token or the “cryptocurrency” aura that goes with it.
It may be the tool that finally re-decentralises the Internet. By taking away the shiny gold, people can finally see the power of a distributed ledger whose authority is established by consensus rather than heirarchy. The book Simon mentions, “The Mystery of Capital” by Hernando de Soto, is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
The Apache Software Foundation has moved the “Facebook BSD+Patent grant” license combination (FB+PL) to its “Category X” licensing list, effectively banning inclusion of any software under FB+PL from Apache projects. That included RocksDB, which has consequently just dropped FB+PL and added the Apache License v2 on Github, and React.JS which does not look like it will resolve the issue so fast.
Update, 22 September: Facebook has announced it will switch React to the MIT license.
Here’s what we know so far (subject to updates, last day’s in green, latest marked 🆕): Continue reading
Individual judgement about the presence of software freedom in a license is not the same as community consensus expressed through OSI approval.
Does it really matter if a copyright license is OSI Approved or not? Surely if it looks like it meets the benchmark that’s all that matters? I think that’s the wrong answer, and that OSI license approval is the crucial innovation that’s driven the open source revolution. Continue reading
In pursuit of market control now, deployers of DRM are robbing us of our culture in perpetuity by enclosing the future commons.
Ancient dry stone enclosure wall in Cornwall, England
It’s possible that you think that unauthorised use of copyrighted music, films and books is such a serious problem that it’s worth giving away a little of your convenience and freedom in exchange for stopping it. If you do, I’d like to suggest you think again – and time is running out. Continue reading
Maybe if we stopped saying “copy” everywhere we’d find a way to fix copyright?
- Why is a song that I play digitally or a book I read electronically subject to extensive controls that are not considered appropriate to physical records or books? It’s because they are subject to licenses that can’t be applied by the seller to the physical works.
- Why can those licences be imposed on digital works? Because the use of digital works is considered subject to copyright, whereas the use of physical works is not because of a legal doctrine called “copyright exhaustion”.
- Why is that? Because the act of instantiating the work for use has been described as “copying”, allowing the rules surrounding copyright to be used as a threat to back up arbitrary license terms controlling use.