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.

2 thoughts on “Free Abandonware Public License”

  1. I like this idea better than the GPL, but I think the whole issue of requiring it is unnecessary. I think it’s all based on Microsoft paranoia. What people don’t get is how irrelevant the big corps would be in a sea of small developers that could compete on the same level. That said, if people are still going to be paranoid, this would be a better option than the GPL.

  2. Well, I didn’t mention in the blog post the other idea I had, which was to modify a BSD license to include a non-binding request that people treat it like a GPL license.

    BSD licenses seem to say “we don’t care if you contribute to the free software community.”

    GPL licenses say “we DEMAND you contribute to the free software community.”

    I would like a license which requests that people contribute to the free software community if they are willing to do so, but which does not bind them to if they are not willing to do so. “We do want you to contribute to the free software community, but we would like you to do so as a free choice rather than as a condition for the use of our software. Here’s the software. Use it however you like. Please contribute if you are willing to do so.”

    I guess that does not technically have to be part of the license. It could be a document accompanying a BSD license.

    But the concept of requesting rather than arguing or demanding or bribing or threatening people into doing things is something I’m currently intereted in.

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