Dual Licensing: GPL, Unlicense

The open-source market today:

Competitive secret-keepers continue to cannibalise the efforts of open-collaborators. The open-collaborators incur an out-of-pocket cost for invention and maintenance, which they give away for free. The competitive secret-keepers leverage this into their own competitive solutions be it commercial or closed-core, without reimbursement to the open-collaborator. This turns the market into a bloody ocean, where there is no sustainable rewards in being an open-collaborator, as a competitive secret-keeper will cannibalise your efforts thwarting your ROI into their own pockets.

What are the game mechanics behind this bloody ocean where cannibals win?

  • The software market rewards without any penalty cannibalistic behaviour
  • The competitive secret-keeping game is a super-set of the open-collaboration game, as the competitive secret keepers can play the open-collaboration game when it is profitable (open-core) and reject it when it is not (closed-core)
  • Patents protect innovation ROIs however their costs make them exclusive to big fish, which not the small fish who are cannibalised
  • Consumers fund received value, which a big fish who cannibalised a small fish can provide more value, because they stole the lunch (investment cost) of the smaller fish and can offer the returns back to the consumer at reduced cost while maintaining competitive protection from smaller fish (competitive secret-keeping)
  • As fish get bigger, the more they reduce their open-collaboration portfolio and increase their competitive secret keeping, to defend themselves against a bigger fish cannibalising them
  • As the market gets more bloody and defensive, more time is wasted in the defensive practice of inducing artificial scarcity, which is the process of increasing monopolistic access to a otherwise-competitive resource at the expense of competitors and ultimately consumers
  • As consumers fund the bigger fish, and as bigger fish cut off smaller fish from the market, the funds of the market monopolise into the biggest fish who fund servile medium fish to cannibalise naive small fish
  • This culminates into a manufactured market where the game is controlled by whales, who fund servile sharks, who eat competitors and thwart threats to the whales

This behaviour of the market cannot be adjusted by ideology, as imaginary ideology does not win over tangible survival, which is what the game is about. The only ability to change market behaviour is by tweaking incentives that reward market participants.

Having though more about this, I believe these tweaks could be possible.

  1. Currently, medium cooperative fish defend themselves against cannibalistic fish via GPL because they have the firepower to detect and penalise cannibalism. However small cooperative fish who attempt this just see their work plagiarised by cannibalistic fish of all sizes, as they have no fangs to protect themselves from such exploitation.
  2. Incentives need to work towards giving small cooperative fish fangs to protect themselves, which is to say give small cooperative fish a fighting chance to become medium cooperative fish, as that is the most vital stage in cooperative fish survival (akin to hatched turtles dash to not be eaten by seagulls).
  3. ROI is tight rope for small fish, hence why medium cannibal fish and shark funded cannibal fish have the upper hand over small cooperative fish, as their cannibalisation of the small fish gets the ROI with minimal cost
  4. As such, the biggest area of impact will be inducing penalties of cannibalisation of cooperative small fish, giving them a fighting chance of becoming big cooperative fish, and diminishing the fight of small competitive fish becoming medium competitive fish by having them actually incur the costs that they otherwise pillage

Thinking about this, what is needed is:

  1. Cooperative fish protect cooperative fish, by offering free collaboration with other cooperative fish, this can be done by GPL for free use
  2. Cooperative fish penalise competitive fish, by making cannibalistic practices more costly, this can be done by The Unlicense for paid use

Why this?

  1. Cannibalistic fish must fund the cooperative fish before attempted cannibalisation, giving the cooperative fish a fighting chance via the potential monopolised (collectively aggregated and compounding) funds that otherwise wouldn’t be there to offer ROI on investment costs
  2. Competition over collaboration incurs an ongoing cost of fragmented maintenance, which before the cannibalistic fish were getting for free at the cooperative fish’s expense
  3. Together, this spreads costs from cooperative fish into cannibalistic fish, and spreads revenue into cooperative fish from cannibalistic fish

How this can be implemented?

  1. GPL license for free use, no action needed for consumption
  2. The Unlicense for active sponsorship, download the license into the consuming project’s LICENSE.md, which includes a hyperlink to that verifies the license is active (that the sponsorship is ongoing) - this allows free use with current versions of the consumed software, but requires continued sponsorship for pulling in future versions of the consumer software; it also allows the benefits of collaborative competition, in the form of cannibals spreading the maintenance cost amongst their fragmentation, which forthrightness and opaqueness frees the cooperative fish to work on more successful cooperative projects, rather than continuing unknowingly as a slave for secretive competitors
  3. Uncliense allows any cell (any employee/contributor) of the cannibalistic fish to receive the license via sponsorship without approval, due to the ability of complete freedom - and where dual licensing is an issue for the desire to cannibalise, then the employee could fork, re-copyright under-themselves, and publish their owned fork to their internal system, using that and incurring the competitive and secretive maintenance burden.

I’ll gather feedback for this over the months, and if hopeful, then implement it after the I complete my current project of sponsorship shoutouts, which so far is least objectionable yet still offers no protection for tiny fish to not be cannibalised.

An attempted TLDR of this duality:

If you don’t desire to compete, then collaborate and consolidate, if you desire to compete, then finance consolidation before you compete against the commons.

Didn’t get into the detail much, but it feels like a question of political science/economics. The problem is well known… the current mode of production will always favour large scale because of the diminishing marginals… it’s predicted AFAIK. In the meantime the best we can do as tech workers IMO is prohibit big fish glooming all over our work by fixing it to an appropriate license that explicitly prohibits them? Other things we can do are things like boycotting places like Github, advocacy against monopoly profits and so forth?

Licensing only restricts usage and direct copying, does nothing to prevent reimplementations and reimburse innovation costs. Solution must make it easier to reimburse and copy, than reimplement without reimbursement, as reimbursement disincentivises reimplementing as the reimplementor funds the competitor/originator, and with unlicense the reimplementors have competiton with other copycats, as the public domain gives all copycats a level playing field, while the originator monopolises funds. And if a copycat does succeed, then the originator is relieved from the maintenance burden and received some reimbursement. The reimburse for unlicense model allows a nice dance where the little fish can get bigger while the bigger fishes cannibalise each other.

Reducing our ability to find ways to sustain ourselves in oceans seems to restrict us to only playing in ponds.

That’s not the way I see it. I see licenses that intend to prohibit all kinds of things, ‘usage’ I take to mean ‘purpose’ and ‘users’, and of course almost all licenses contain clauses that intend to restrict field of endeavor or discriminate against users… NC is a good example of the former and copyleft is a good example of the latter.

Both of these licensing regimes obviously do a lot of work in protecting implementations downstream over many iterations… as per copyright.

Because your response seemed to get off on the wrong foot right away I didn’t spend as much time on your other points as I would have liked.

I think we need to be (at least) seeing the same things, objectively and also agree on a decent vocabulary first to have a progressive discussion?

In passing, I don’t feel particularly drawn to licensing schemes that prioritize reimbursement in one way or another, mainly because (at the risk of boring everyone to tears) - the obvious failure with FOSS is the freerider problem… until we adopt licenses that (at a minimum) prohibit large scale freeloading then discussing reimbursement technicalities feels a bit like arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

… oh also this…

The metaphor of oceans vs. ponds is fine… but lets take a look at what happens when we want to swim… the risk of being eaten by big fish I believe is what is salient for this discussion, not the volume of water we have to swim in?

Sorry, @balupton. I’m exhausted.

Penny for a TL;DR?

Not urgent, take your time over the months.