Free Abandonware Public License

Steve Dekorte suggests that the GNU General Public License indirectly helps giant software houses to maintain their monopolies by failing to enable smalltime software developers to compete in the commercial arena, and the BSD license has the opposite effect.

The FSF considers all proprietary software, whether by bigtime or smalltime developers, equally undesirable, so this wouldn’t faze them. But it did get me thinking about different licensing possibilities.

The most interesting one that hit me (while I was thinking through this stuff in the shower) was the concept of a Free Abandonware Public License.

This would be a license which like the BSD license would allow you to use its code in commercial products, but which like the GPL was viral, and “infected” those products with certain restrictions. To wit, when one “end of lifed” a commercial product containing FAPLed code — ceased selling or supporting it — one would be required to allow people to freely copy and trade that product, as if it were “freeware.”

Perhaps it would just make free trading and copying legal; perhaps it would force it into the public domain, or perhaps there would be some intermediate option like coercing it into the Free Abandonware Public License. Releasing the source might or might not be required.

This would allow people always to have the latest version of their product for sale, but would serve the GPLish goal of creating an ever growing pool of “free” (under some definition of the word) software.

Kill Bill | Kill Bill is the story of a vicious software giant which sends out photocopied, baseless lawsuits to harass and intimidate the wrong college student.

He didn’t have any money… but he had a lot of time on his hands and a willingness to do a little legal research.

Microsoft’s lawyers never knew what hit them.

You know, I’d respect the Bush campaign against frivolous lawsuits by ordinary people against large corporations more, if they’d recognize that a large corporation is much less vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits by ordinary people, than ordinary people are vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits by large corporations. The “sue them till they run out of money defending themselves” technique is pretty powerful. If this had happened to an innocent head of a family with a 40 hour a week job, instead of an innocent smart and courageous college student with little to lose and a lot of spare time, well, it would have been a victory for the bad guys.

Story via Adam Black in instant messages.

Supporting Your Web Page with Ad Revenue Less Tenable Than Ever

Remember when Google had no ads? Want to use Google without ever seeing an ad again? Just use Firefox and Greasemonkey and Customize Google.

In the war between web advertisers and web browsers who want to avoid ads, Greasemonkey is the freaking Manhattan Project. I installed it and saw what it could do and whispered, “I am become Death, the destroyer of ad revenue.”

So how can people ever afford to publish content on the web, if not via ad revenue?

Well… one way is by giving up control of the content. Bandwidth is expensive, if it’s bandwidth on a server you control. Bandwidth is cheap if you give up control and let people share in the task of distributing your stuff. Peer to peer technologies let you publish like crazy. Open source projects are never lacking for a dozen friendly mirror sites for their code. You got creative commons licensed content? No prob. Publish it on OurMedia or They’ll give you the storage. But you have to give up some control. Not all control. Just enough to make things easy on the sharers, to give them a stake, to give them some rights with regards to the stuff they’re helping you distribute.

That’s one way to do it anyway. There may be other ways. But the “Ad Revenue” trick is not seeming like a very viable option anymore, in light of the power of things like Greasemonkey.