Towards A Cooperative Technology Movement

https://cooperativetechnology.codeberg.page/

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Thanks for sharing, I did not know something like Codeberg existed.

While I like the main message of the piece, parts of it seems undeveloped, likely because the manifesto is just that, and not a fully fleshed-out policy. Especially in the context of this forum, the below cited section looks confusing. The (by me) emphasized sections look to be contradictory, as in the first, the licenses seem to be rejected as a tool, whereas in the second it looks like the authors implicitly endorse some types of licenses.

While we agree with the Ethical Software Movement that we must resist when our efforts are coopted for unjust purposes, we reject putting restrictions on the ways people may use software through copyright licenses as a wise tactic for achieving our goals. The history of the Free and Open Source Software movement has shown that the proliferation of incompatible copyright licenses which prohibit software from being legally combined creates more obstacles than opportunities for our movement. Any new copyright licenses for use with cooperative software must be written with this consideration in mind to intentionally avoid fracturing the software ecosystem. Adopting incompatible copyright licenses for different software would make it easy for our adversaries to divide and suppress the movement.

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There’s a refreshing reflection and revisionism here. For examples:

we believe it is time to reflect on the shortcomings of our advocacy

The free software movement has failed…

Richard Stallman has generally dodged the question of whether free software is opposed to capitalism. In the historical context of the United States in the 1980s, that may have been a wise decision.

Their definition of “cooperative software”—constructed by and for the people whose lives are affected by its use—essentially reaffirms the catechism of Free Software. It implies putting users’ interests ahead of producers’, whether those do or don’t happen to be the same people in any given circumstance.

In that way, it’s akin to the simplifications of the consumer movement or the Chicago School of antitrust (competition) policy, which only see interests to protect in people insofar as fit the role of buyer, user, customer, and so on.

There is also the scope problem. They say “user”, but also, in essence, “everyone affected”. Who isn’t affected? Are they really saying all software has to be in the public interest?

Cooperative technology is developed democratically…

This massively cuts down the number of existing and important projects that meet their definition. Especially if it excludes projects originated by a single developer or small group.

While we agree with the Ethical Source Movement that we must resist when our efforts are coopted for unjust purposes, we reject putting restrictions on the ways people may use software through copyright licenses…

As an opponent, this is the point where I stop worrying. The Free Software people didn’t even follow this rule—they played semantics with “use restriction”—and still failed. “We must resist”, but not with the legal tools available? What’s your plan, complain on Twitter?

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