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Re: Hacking License

Giacomo Tesio writes ("Re: Hacking License"):
> On Wed, 12 Dec 2018 at 10:49, Simon McVittie <smcv@debian.org> wrote:
> > When
> > faced with a non-standard license with unclear terms and no community
> > consensus on its consequences, it's quite a rational response to think "I
> > don't have time to think about this" and decide to contribute to something
> > else instead.
> This is not a rational response, just a lazy one.

On the contrary, laziness is often very rational.  We all have a
limited amount of time and energy.  We have to make decisions about
what to spend that on.  Time I spend analysing licence texts is time I
have not spent learning a new programming language.  It is also time I
could have spent improving my own software tools - a big goal of which
is making it eaiser to hack on the software on your computer.

Often we need to make those decisions very quickly because spending
time on researching what to do is also time which can be wasted.

Perhaps you don't care about encouraging, into contributing to your
project, people who are short of time and who are picky about what
they spend time evaluating.

> To give a rational response, you have to consider the alternatives and
> the outcomes of contributing to that specific software under that
> specific license in that specific time and place.

And most people are not licensing experts.  It doesn't make sense for
them to try to decide all this stuff for themselves.  Rather, they
will reasonably defer to the consensus of some other community, that
they trust.

> But such cognitive load is the price of Freedom.

Freedom is also the freedom not to think about things.  Personally I
think true software freedom comes when it is quick and convenient to
use software which, if and when I decide I want to get more stuck in,
makes it possible to modify and share - with a amount of energy
commensurate to the depth of the changes I want to make.

The Free Software community has not always recognised this, but we are
starting to.  That's why we have bigger arguments in Debian now about
defaults that we used to in the past.

And, freedom is also the freedom to engage *collectively* and do
things *together*.  The freedom to trust the judgements of others
(including, sometimes, other communities) - knowing that sometimes
that trust will be misplaced, but knowing also that the benefits from
trusting usually far outweigh the costs.  Trusting relieves us of the
need to constantly re-make others' decisions in areas where we lack
expertise.  It allows us to build on the work of others instead of
redoing it or dismantling it.  It allows us to combine our efforts.

To put it bluntly: I have more trust in the collective wisdom of the
GPL-3 and AGPL-3 drafting processes, and the general Free Software
licence development community, than I do in either your judgement on
these questions or indeed my own personal skill at licence drafting or

And now I will exercise my freedom to direct my energy by not engaging
with the rest of your message...


Ian Jackson <ijackson@chiark.greenend.org.uk>   These opinions are my own.

If I emailed you from an address @fyvzl.net or @evade.org.uk, that is
a private address which bypasses my fierce spamfilter.

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