What to do if adoption of copyleft licenses declines

Is adoption of copyleft licenses really declining? Blackduck Sotware with its own secret recipe says so, as Matt Aslett reports. Whether or not this is true we can’t tell because BlackDuck doesn’t publish their method to collect and analyze its data. In any case, I think that if you look at this debate from a different angle, these numbers don’t count at all.

Twentyfive years ago there was no free/libre open source business and the GNU L/GPL licenses constituted the main corpus of free software available for use. The FSF used the strong copyleft mainly because of an ethical choice and also for practical reason to defend its code from appropriation by third party. Remember that at the time there was no ‘ecosystem’ and the notion of copyright to software was brand new.

Now free software is developed mainly by companies for business purposes: their choice is not only to defend code from appropriation but also to allow building thriving ecosystem for Open Innovation. The other reason I see for the large popularity of permissive licenses is the quantity of software developed by Apache Foundation. It’s amazing how far their code has gone from the original idea of a web server.

Whether BlackDuck has reliable numbers or somebody else does it’s irrelevant: numbers don’t count. I believe that if FSF wants to see more copyleft code out there, it needs to go back to its origin and get back to developing software that matters. The FSF needs to go beyond the GNU operating system and expand into the new areas of ‘cloud’, ‘social’ and ‘mobile’.  Projects like MediaGoblin and GNU.FM are the first steps in the right direction but more is needed.

451 CAOS Theory » The trend towards permissive licensing.

Apple and software freedom clashing again

Another app has to be removed from the Apple iTunes mobile App Store. This time, after GNU Go, it’s the iOS port of the popular free VLC Player because the terms of the GNU General Public License are incompatible with those of Apple’s store.

Difficult situation and I still think that the best way out is for FSF to sponsor a mobile app repository for free software applications. What would be better?

via How to avoid public GPL floggings on Apple’s App Store | ZDNet.

Nokia and the L of smart freedom

The good news today is that Nokia relicensed the Qt (pr: cute) libraries under the GNU Lesser General Public License, demonstrating that the mobile ecosystem is where things happen. The GNU Lesser GPL is a license that allows non-free and free software to co-exist. Yes, with the LGPL the FSF admits that non-free software exists. Confused/surprised? You shouldn’t be: the FSF and Stallman are much less of a fundamentalist than they are painted by the FUD-drones. The LGPL is a strategic tool to allow free software developers to help each other: when a free library doesn’t offer any particular advantages over alternative non-free libraries, then it makes sense to use the Lesser GPL for it, instead of the GPL. Using the LGPL library will give a cost saving opportunity to proprietary software developers, while free software developers will get code contributions and a wider user base.’  The L stands for “smart freedom”.

Interesting to notice that this is the second license change for the project: from the Q Public License to the GNU GPL. Now they’re under the Lesser GPL, with a more transparent development model, a git repository and, wow, contributors will keep the copyright of their code (no contributors agreement to sign). Nokia seems very aggressive, and they’re right. With Android in town they need to fight with all the weapons they have.

I expect now a tougher competition between the two major toolkits, Qt and GTK+, with a polarization of the battle field. On the Qt side there is Nokia, on the GTK+ side there is Sun, Novell, RedHat, HP and all mobile’  Linux platforms. Nokia is also supporting GTK+ for its Maemo Internet Tablets, but I guess they’ll pull the plug and switch to Qt in a few months.

Does it still make sense to push the development of the somewhat inferior LGPL GTK+ when you can switch to LGPL Qt? We’ll have to wait and see. What is sure is that free software is definitely here to stay and play a major role in the mobile arena (and I’m betting that Capo wins his bet –Microsoft will offer Windows Mobile as free software).

(via ArsTechnica)

Freedom and privacy in hosted applications

I’m not a big believer of hosted applications mainly because they fail to deliver the ‘run everywhere there is a connection to the internet’ promise. Nonetheless, I’m using hosted apps very often, especially for school papers where I have to collaborate with other people on one document. In these cases I would like to have more freedom and more privacy. That’s what I like in Marco ‘Clipperz‘ Barulli’s call for action for a suite of web applications built following the zero-knowledge methodology:

The basic idea was to deliver a no trust needed service, where users had the ability to inspect and verify anything running in their browser. We had to drift the attention away from trusting us and let users focus on trusting the application.

Add the Affero GPLv3 on top of this methodology and you can have a suite of online applications that respect freedom and privacy.’  Not a bad thing to have, not at all.

The long march of Affero GPLv3

It’s good to read on Palamida weekly reports that the GNU Afferto GPLv3 is being adopted at a fast pace, after I asked OSI to approve it. Considering that Google is passively opposing its adoption, I think that 95 projects is a good start. Now Funambol is in company of other high quality projects, like Clipperz and Wavemaker and with SourceForge supporting the Affero license, I think that there will be more. I’ve just updated the Trove category for the Funambol-related projects, where I could, but I advice other maintainers to do the same with their projects (and then move to the new Funambol Forge, which has cooler features than SF 🙂 ).

I have the suspect that this is just the beginning and that AGPL will become as popular as the other two FSF licenses, the GPL and LGPL.