Just came across this article on Lemmy. A good critique of the free software community and ideals I think.


@dorian Sadly it contains misinformation: “If a court ever got close to taking action, the offender would simply shift gears and do what is asked.” — that’s wrong. When the 30 days lenience period after notification is over and they are still in violation of the license, they are never again allowed to use the software without getting express permission by the authors.

Getting people to use their IP to control what others may do is just the authoritarian way of Trump.

@dorian Also "how to make social networks safer for women or minorities … free software hasn’t improved things" — this is blatantly false. Free Software has enabled communities to devise their own ways. Where Facebook is still giving huge reach to fascists, Free Software enabled communities to develop ways for shutting out the fascists and protect themselves: conf.tube/videos/watch/d8c8ed6

@dorian and "I have suggested a license limited to non-commercial uses" — that is as shortsighted as it gets. Here’s a debunking of that idea: draketo.de/light/english/polit

For this: A non-commercial license would forbid donation sponsored community-sites — the structure that enabled the Fediverse to defend against fascists — and would make them dependent on ad-revenue.

So this article critiques Free Software ideals as not going with the time without even conveying why they are as they are.

@dorian And being dependent on ad-revenue is how big social networks became the cesspool they are, because it forces them to optimize for engagement (outrage, mocking, and filterbubbles) instead of optimizing for the value the users derive of their interactions. See humanetech.com/

@ArneBab @dorian Donations are not regular revenue. Non-commercial licenses do not forbid taking donations.

To simplify drastically, the main criterion for a donation is that the money is not taken in exchange for something, whereas the main criterion for commercial activity is that the money is taken in exchange for something.

Also: it's always possible to use multiple licenses. NC material does not forbid commercial uses, it just requires you to get permission. Asking may help.

@jens @dorian Whether you are allowed to take donation for non-commercial work is a very gray zone — one I would not risk my livelyhood on.

And getting permission to use something means getting permission by all copyright holders. You cannot.

What you could do is creating a ruling body that receives copyright assignment and rules who may make money.

Then we’re firmly back at proprietary software.

@ArneBab @dorian There is no gray zone, it's very clear: it cannot be transactional.

You offer the printed NC work for free. You ask for donations to support this kind of activity (printing free copies). You must make clear that whether a donation is given, or the size of the donation, is unrelated to people receiving the free copy.

That's the entire trick to it. The two cannot be directly linked. If the two aren't linked, there is no transaction, and no commercial activity.


@ArneBab @dorian You do need the permission from the copyright holder for actual commercial activity, that's true, and that may mean from all of them - which may be infeasible. A governing body is a good idea for exactly this reason. But it's still not commercial activity if the governing body acts as above.

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@jens @dorian Let’s assume that you do that and I am a competing platform. I know that you have fixed costs per user, so I create lots of free accounts and drive up your costs.

How do you drive up your income without making that a commercial activity?

This is not a robust way to finance the main communication tool of people.

It is a pretty easy way to drive people who could be actual competition to larger social networks into a dead end.

@ArneBab @dorian Hang on - are we still talking about providing prints of NC material or something else now?

@jens I am talking about the critique at the beginning of this thread: litterae.social/@dorian/107275

— it advertises NC-licensed mastodon.

@ArneBab Right.

I agree with you that an NC-licensed mastodon is not ideal. (A)GPL have reasons to permit them. I do disagree that donations are the wrong model, though.

Consider Wikipedia; by all accounts it's donation-driven. It's certainly possible to make sufficient money with donations to support a large platform for anything. It's just a different "business" model that needs to be approached differently.

@ArneBab So, in the case of fixed costs per user, the commercial model would be to ask of each user an amount that covers their part of the costs (or more).

In a donation-based context, you can do things differently. You can drive donation campaigns with a specific sum for the goal, and explain that this sum allows you to rent more server capacity for a year. You limit your service to N accounts, and upon reaching the goal it's M (>N).

@ArneBab With no link required between the money giver and the beneficiary of a free account, there is no transaction. But you can still manage your per-user costs.

It obviously needs more thought/effort than this; the point is, it's doable. It just doesn't map well to a transactional, commercial mindset.

@jens Yes, I do not argue against financing via donations in general, only against making that the only allowed form of funding.

Patreon and others show that fans fund pretty well — also free material: Those who like it a lot get recognition and sometimes something extra, others get it for free or much cheaper.

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