Big Tech, Big Bug

Free, (Libre) and Open Source Software (FLOSS) principles are a means to better technology for everyone, and a better society to boot.

Copyright and patent monopolies are archaic and inadequate. FLOSS advances better tech across all society.

Funny (peculiar) then, how so much powers remote controlled, lightning fast and powerful automated weaponry, mass surveillance apparatus and nefarious personal data collection… you could say, ‘a terrifying amount depends on it’.

We know FLOSS is super-cozy with the massive infrastructure providers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft, through various, pro-business FLOSS institutions. Big Tech (‘Big Bug’ from here) is an embarrassingly massive sponsor of FLOSS. That’s not coincidental, is it? It also funds the control structures (‘standardization’) that limits software license adoption (they call it ‘non-proliferation’) through platforms like SPDX, the Free Software Foundation and Open Source Initiative license approval schemes. Not coincidental either.

Let’s face it, Big Bug had no reason to want to monopolize code in the first place. Bill Gates was (probably) an arse already in the 1980’s, but years later he famously compared FLOSS to communism making it a fact. Now, Gates sells dodgy books on climate change, making him still an arse. Ask Melinda, or maybe twitter. So, sharing code while manipulating standards creates an unimpeachable, ‘soft cartel effect’. Developers are the ones that have to adapt to Big Bug frantically manipulating developer communities into using their own products and services. That’s happened already.

Pinching the ear of the most valuable asset, the developer community is right out of the capitalist playbook. Big Bug doesn’t want to control software producers ingenuity… god no, it wants to manipulate the product of that ingenuity!

FLOSS development powers pretty much everything in what is deceptively called, ‘The Cloud’. Another capitalist play, having proprietary infrastructure seem as though it’s a natural, benign common resource we all depend on. ‘The Airship’ is far more accurate for what is going on up there. ‘Azure’… just get the hell out.

Turning the money taps on and off is effectively turning the producers on and off. The projects we depend on are licensed so the accumulation of private capital can continue, heavily bearing down on the backs of all tech workers and freelance producers.

Big Bug essentially decides which FLOSS projects are deprecated. It is not the competence, motivations or interests of the developers that change society. Unless producers use the ‘right’ licenses, they will end up in the poor house and so many really great projects are abandoned to just fall into ruin.

As a result, we are all victims of the FLOSS ‘success story’. Producers are forced to choose between staying in well-funded projects approved by Big Bug and it’s brothers, or face serious legal, social and economic sanctions.

  • Big Bug has first shout on hired workers’ products and time, and this prevents them from realizing their full potential in life
  • Big Bug interferes and distorts education and skills development through fragmented job training, and the ability to control job specifications.
  • Choosing a pro-worker license leads to a lack of income. Freelance developers feel especially vulnerable and suffer immediately if they choose a license that Big Bug doesn’t like. ‘Pro-worker’ licenses like the Anti-Capitalist license, Cooperative license, Non-commercial and ‘Ethical Source’ all constrain producers from achieving financial self-sufficiency in the markets while Apache, MIT, BSD, Copyleft and almost all FLOSS software licenses only offer credence to this abusive relationship.

That’s why I only work on projects for non-profit/voluntary organizations, small, profitable businesses or civic institutions, and the license has to include commercial use – but for these entities only!

I don’t work on projects if the code is licensed for use by corporates whose business model is mainly based on the financialization of a monopoly position and censorship.

As a general rule of thumb, I look at the difference between sales, value of shipments, or revenue vs. annual payroll costs. If a company is making way more in profits than it pays it’s employees, it’s not going well for humanity in there. Projects for these companies are no good, so I’m out.

Er… I need a license for that. I think?

Have you looked at the PolyForm Small Business License? Permission to use the software is based on annual revenue and total employees plus contractors.

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Yes. It doesn’t seem to let me produce work for large non-profits like universities, or government departments though. I have no objection to working for large organizations, provided they are not privately owned.

You can use more than one public license. Just explain in the README file that the code may be used under the terms of any of the chosen licenses. I’m not sure what the best strategy is for the contents of a file. Perhaps repeat the explanation from the README.

Have a look at PolyForm Noncommercial. If you want to offer potential commercial customers a free trial, there’s PolyForm Free Trial.