Steps toward better software and content

The Wikimedia Foundation board has passed a resolution that is a step toward Wikipedia migrating to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. I have an uninteresting interest in this due to working at Creative Commons (I do not represent them on this blog), but as someone who wants to see free knowledge “win” and achieve revolutionary impact, I declare this an important step forward. The current fragmentation of the universe of free content along the lines of legally incompatible but similar in spirit licenses delays and endangers the point at which that universe reaches critical mass — when any given project decides to use a copyleft license merely because then being able to include content from the free copyleft universe makes that decision make sense. This has worked fairly well in the software world with the GPL as the copyleft license.

Copyleft was and is a great hack, and useful in many cases. But practically it is a major barrier to collaboration in some contexts and politically it is still based on censorship. So I’m always extremely pleased by any expansion of the public domain. There could hardly be a more welcome expansion than ‘s release of his code (most notably ) into the public domain. Most of the practical benefit (including his code in free software distributions) could have been achieved by released under any free software license, including the GPL. But politically, check out this two minute video of Bernstein pointing out some of the problems of copyright and announcing that his code is in the public domain.

Bernstein (usually referred to as ‘djb’) also recently doubled the reward for finding a security hole in qmail to US$1,000. I highly recommend his Some thoughts on security after ten years of qmail 1.0, also available as something approximating slides (also see an interesting discussion of the paper on cap-talk).

6 Responses

  1. […] should seriously look into that for our next, revolutionary Midas Oracle open […]

  2. […] except when not restricted by copyright), and incompatible widely used copyleft licenses are kryptonite to the efficacy of copyleft. If this migration happens, it will increase the impact of Wikipedia, Creative Commons, free […]

  3. […] mentioned previously incompatible widely used copyleft licenses are kryptonite to the efficacy of copyleft. […]

  4. […] can be innovation (branding, legal language, community, supporting infrastructure) that would be harmful among more restrictive instruments. That’s not to say public domain instrument proliferation […]

  5. […] anyone thinks I’m still spinning or apologizing for GPLv3, let me state that over the past 5 years I’ve grown increasingly skeptical about copyleft-via-copyright-licenses (but I still think it […]

  6. […] commons projects (essentially all well known free/open source software, except for SQLite and djbware, which use public domain dedications), and it is the actual commons that needs to be favored, not […]

Leave a Reply