Copyleft For the Next Decade: A Comprehensive Plan*
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?
DescriptionCopyleft, 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
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:
Software Freedom Conservancy
Bradley M. Kuhn is the President and Distinguished Technologist at Software Freedom Conservancy, on the Board of Directors of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), and editor-in-chief of copyleft.org. Kuhn began his work in the software freedom movement as a volunteer in 1992, when he became an early adopter of the GNU/Linux operating system, and began contributing to various Free Software projects. He worked during the 1990s as a system administrator and software developer for various companies, and taught AP Computer Science at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati. Kuhn’s non-profit career began in 2000, when he was hired by the FSF. As FSF’s Executive Director from 2001–2005, Kuhn led FSF’s GPL enforcement, launched its Associate Member program, and invented the Affero GPL. Kuhn was appointed President of Software Freedom Conservancy in April 2006, was Conservancy’s primary volunteer from 2006–2010, and has been a full-time staffer since early 2011. Kuhn holds a summa cum laude B.S. in Computer Science from Loyola University in Maryland, and an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Cincinnati. Kuhn’s Master’s thesis discussed methods for dynamic interoperability of Free Software programming languages. Kuhn received the O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2012, in recognition for his lifelong policy work on copyleft licensing. Kuhn has a blog, is on pump.io and co-hosts the audcast, Free as in Freedom.
- Title: The Politics of Cooption in Open Source and Free Software
- Track: Culture
- Room: B204
- Time: 10:00 – 10:45am
The Open Source and Free Software community is no longer simply a patchwork of hobbyist communities. Our change and growth brought many advantages, but some disadvantages too. We now operate in a microcosm not unlike the larger USA and international political climates. Hear the story of how it operates from an political insider.
- Speakers: Bradley Kuhn