Copyleft For the Next Decade: A Comprehensive Plan

Short Form


Copyleft, and the GPL in particular, are under threat. The treacherous political climate of for-profit open source cooption has changed the nature of our community. Can copyleft continue to be an effective tool to defend software freedom, and if so, how?


Copyleft, and the GNU General Public License (GPL) in particular, have faced serious challenges in the last five years. It’s not over: many more threats are on the way. Not by coincidence these attacks on copyleft come when “Open Source” seems to reach new heights of success. For example, hordes of software developers are funded full time to churn out wonderful new Free Software, but their employers make one key requirement: develop Free Software only under non-copyleft licenses. Some of this new code is specifically designed to replace existing, widely used, copylefted programs and packages. Meanwhile, those programs that remain under copyleft licenses (most notably the kernel named Linux) face a decades long, ongoing myriad of license violations. Such violations, most frighteningly, include nefarious attempts by major companies to shirk their responsibilities under copyleft. The situation is undoubtedly bleak. Those of us who care about software freedom need a plan. Up until now, copyleft assured an equal playing field, but big companies work daily to tilt the playing field in their favor — directly against the interests of most developers, hobbyists, users, and enthusiasts. This talk will present the political challenges that copyleft continues to face, and offer real actions that individuals can do to assure software freedom for everyone.


gpl license freedom politics

Speaking experience

I have given talks similar to this one before, but for this audience, I expect to merge a few talks I've given in the past into one, as this one is a bit more advanced and I'd prefer to give something more accessible to this conference's attendees.

I have extensive speaking experience. I have spoken regularly at Open Source and Free Software events for the last 20 years, including many keynotes.

Here are a few video links from recent talks:


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