Can PatentLeft Save Us?

Is it possible to hack the patent system to make patents unusable in the tech industry, like copyleft hacked patent law?


The word “copyleft” arises from a clever hack by Richard Stallman who used the laws relating to copyright — a statutory device to incent creativity by granting limited monopolies to creators — to create a world where creators are incented to share instead of monopolise their work.  Continue reading

Compliance Is Not Just For Copyleft

The cost of compliance may not just be a copyleft issue now we understand how to work with the GPL.

Aerial view of a canyon meandering

Even before Christoph Hellwig (backed by the Software Freedom Conservancy) started his suit to enforce his copyright claims against VMWare, there was a great deal of fear of the GPL in particular and copyleft licensing in general among corporate lawyers, and hence among their executive clients.  Continue reading

Permissive and Copyleft Are Not Antonyms

Using the term “permissive” as an antonym to “copyleft” – or “restrictive” as its synonym – are unhelpful framing. Describe license reciprocity instead.

Assorted Empty Frames On A Wall

Some open source licenses implement a clever hack invented by Richard Stallman where, as a condition of the copyright license, anyone creating derived versions has to agree they will license the new version the same way as the original. In a play on words, this concept is called “copyleft” and many open source licenses implement this hack. Continue reading

A Change in License for Berkeley DB

Perhaps you didn’t spot it, but last month in their new Berkeley DB release Oracle changed the license associated with the software. Many will see this as a betrayal of trust, despite the fact that the new license (the AGPL) is also strongly copyleft, published by the FSF and approved by the Open Source Initiative. Of course, Oracle are completely within their rights to change the license as they see fit, but for Web developers using Berkeley DB for local storage, the seemingly small change from one strong copyleft license to another may well be seen as cynical and manipulative.

Why would that be? Continue reading