unenforced copyleft is the same as the ISC license
Posted Dec 28, 2012 22:25 UTC (Fri) by bkuhn
In reply to: unenforced copyleft is the same as the ISC license
Parent article: GnuTLS, copyright assignment, and GNU project governance
I was responding to the argument that was done that assignment is a stronger protection of freedom than copyleft
I don't think anyone on this thread argued that. By contrast, I argued that if no one is willing to enforce GPL, the net policy effect is the same as if the code had been under the ISC license. Gerv argued something similar. Companies don't mind infringing copyright at all if they have a strong belief they won't get caught. That much is obvious, given that hundreds infringe copyright and violate GPL every day just based on the fact that the odds are relatively low they'll be enforced against. Imagine how many more would if everyone believed there was no chance at all enforcement would occur.
One reason assignment is useful is that developers can assign their copyrights to an entity you know will act to enforce the GPL, as FSF and Conservancy do. In my experience, it's very rare that developers have the fortitude to put up with how difficult enforcement is. I've never known anyone, except for myself and Erik Andersen, who have been willing to continually work on GPL enforcement for a period of decades.
It's strange you mention resource allocation. I'm in communication with everyone who does community-oriented GPL enforcement. None of them have adequate resources, and some never even check source releases once they come out due to lack of resources. As I said in my interview in The H, checking the CCS is the most important and most time-consuming task.
Indeed, CCS checks can be distributed. The problem is, there are very few volunteers forthcoming to do it. I've asked for volunteers for years, and I've been lucky if a volunteer does one before they get burned out. It's boring work, and requires practice to get efficient and do it correctly.
Therefore, I don't think centralizing copyright holdership causes the centralization of enforcement. The reason that enforcement is centralized in a few places is simply because it's very difficult, time-consuming work that requires a lot of knowledge and experience, and very few people are willing to do that work.
I often wish more CCS checkers would volunteer for Conservancy and FSF. The more people out there talking about how CCS check works, the less FUD would be spread. Yet, folks just don't want to do it. As I said in my interview, in fact, the few folks who have the skills to do often want more money than non-profits can pay!
Anyway, as mentioned multiple times above, there's more about this issue in the interview that I did in The-H.
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