Re-assessing Copyleft vs Cuck Licenses

Submitted by The Good Student on Fri, 02/25/2022 - 18:17

For a long time I have been a proponent Copyleft licenses like the GPLv3 over Cuck Licenses like the BSD and or MIT licenses. However the situation with the Pale Moon web browser has shown how Copyleft licenses can be misused to shut down projects on technicalities, and though they often aren't misused the fact that they can be acts as an incentive not to fork a project and start your own.  

Having said that, the reasons for being against Cuck Licenses still hold. Namely that large corporations and other entities will take your innovative content for free and then sell it back to you at a premium with spyware/telemetry/tracking laced back to it as in the sad case of one "Andrew Tanenbaum, who released MINIX, an operating system, under a BSD license. Intel silently took this software (thanks to its license) and unbeknownst to him, used it for their Intel Management Engine, making it the OS of the spyware microprocessor/backdoor now running in all Intel CPUs. We all have a permanent NSA backdoor because of the Intel Management Engine—all made possibly my Cuck License cuckery."

This is not about the Pale Moon web browser.  For an example outside the software world, I would look at Wizard of the Coast's Open Game License under which the "Open Source" pen and paper Table-Top Basic Fantasy RPG is released. Under this license you are allowed to make derivative works except if they are deemed "obscene" by US law. Now this limitation may not bother you and you may in fact welcome it, as well as the other conditions in the license such as having to include the logo of BFRPG (you could get in trouble if you made some changes in the logo's design to fit your project) and a link to their website on your project. 

But will this be the last condition/limitation which is appended? Will you be fine with the next condition which will be added to the license? Even if none is added, what is considered obscene under US law will change and suddenly your project may be shut down on a technicality. This uncertainty makes it more difficult for small developers to take on the risk of making derivative content and that is more important than the potential of abuse by large developers.

Large developers can afford lawyers to read the fine print of these copyleft licenses but small developers cannot afford to be worried over legalistic bullshit and so it is more of an impediment on small creators than on large creators. Have you seen how long some of those copyleft licenses can be?

So what is the problem if it's harder for smaller developers/creators to fork a project and start anew? As far as I am concerned, the goal of both cuck licenses and copyleft licenses is to maximise the number of derivative works. Why? To increase the number of choices available to people in terms of software and other tools, because when there are more choices people will at least have the chance to choose what is good for them, to choose what can help them have control over their own lives.

Unfortunately when it comes to open source software, especially large projects under copyleft licenses, there is only one or two good choices. People on the outside of open source software will look at it and say "you say that this software makes you more free, gives you more customisability in your workflow, but in reality I have more choices on my proprietary closed source software than I would have if I used loonix."  For example if you want to do image-editing on Linux, people will tell you to go and get GIMP but if you don't like GIMP then you don't have many other choices. Sure you can tell someone that doesn't like GIMP that he is wrong and GIMP is good and he should like it but this won't work for reasons I will explain the next paragraph.

It is useless to scream at people that they are making the wrong choice, or doing something immoral (e.g. using closed-source software) because in the end that will merely come off as presumptuous, masturbatory, condescension because you are telling them that you know what's good for them better than they do. This is the reason why things like anarchism, pacifism, veganism, and often open source freetardism can come off as stultifying, cultish and more overbearing than the opposite of these things. They are telling you that they are they are all about freeing people but won't leave you alone unless you are like them and agree with them on what's good for you.

Given that it is slightly harder to create a derivative project of a copyleft licensed work, this means that copyleft licenses should lead to fewer but "better" derivative works, well "better" according to copyleft software advocates anyways.

One thing that I would like to point out which might anger some people, is that a lot open source software is derivative of closed-source software. GIMP is essentially a free and open source alternative to Photoshop. At any rate that is how people saw GIMP, some even going as far as to call GIMP "a poor man's photoshop" which is not fair at all. The same is true of many other open-source projects. The truth is that many open-source projects simply follow in the steps of closed-source projects and are just a few steps behind because some people use them out of nostalgia for how closed-source software was like when they got into computing or before.

Or in other words, a lot of the innovation is done on the closed-source software side. And cuck-licenses make it easier for people to start derivative projects due to them having less limitations and conditions which could get you in trouble at a later date. More projects, means a higher chance for innovation.

People often criticise Linux/Open-Source for how fragmented it is. They are barking at the wrong tree. Closed-source software is even more fragmented in development than open source software - with developers jealously guarding their source code.

When given the choice, i.e. not tied down by a pay-cheque, open-source developers often prefer to start their own spin-off derivative projects which are often abandoned never to be picked up again by anyone rather than contributing to someone else's project. The reason for this is because these "open source" developers are contributing already to someone else's closed-source project for a pay-cheque of course. Isn't this a tragedy?

I don't think so. True, it is and remains an unmethodical "quantity over quality" approach but often times it is better to create as much content as possible to get better at it rather than to worry if it is up to scratch. The thing is that when contributing to large projects, even if they are open source, there will always be an already established hierarchy and cliques, in fact the only thing keeping many open-source projects going, in the absence of money, is cliques. What's the solution? Form your own project with your own clique.

What's the problem with cliques anyway? The problem with cliques is that most progress comes from heretics. If you are allergic to the word "progress," as I have been, then replace it with "improvement." If you don't like the word heretic, then I can't think of a replacement. 

Many will blame money as an explanation for differences in innovation between closed and open-source. And yet when you look at smaller open source projects there is no lack of creativity. The point of this digression is to double down on that it is important to let small creators start their own derivative projects without having to worry about compliance than it is to word licenses to ward off abuse by large corporations.

Many copyleft licenses are too bothered with the second than the first. Why? Because the strength of open source lies in the innovative spirit of those small jerry-rigged projects which borrow stuff from here and there and everywhere. If not then I fear we'll be acting according to the lies of the advocates of copyright who believe that open-source developers are not developers at all but advocates for legalising theft because we can't create anything original.

Always, without exception, putting up restrictions, any restriction/condition, including copyleft compliance will advantage those who are already in leading positions in the market over those who want to enter the market. The open-source market is no different, the more complicated and longer and thicker the legalistic bullshit is laid, the better it is for those who already have a large market-share but the worse it is for creativity and user choice. Or in other words it advantages already established large open-source projects, at the detriment of the smaller ones which is where the innovation comes from.


In light of the above article I have decided to change the license for all the content released on this site from CC-BY-SA 4.0 to the Do What the Fuck You Want to Public License Version 2.

The content of the license is as follows:

 DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE 
                    Version 2, December 2004 

 Copyright (C) 2004 Sam Hocevar <sam@hocevar.net> 

 Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim or modified 
 copies of this license document, and changing it is allowed as long 
 as the name is changed. 

            DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE 
   TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR COPYING, DISTRIBUTION AND MODIFICATION 

  0. You just DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO.