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Subject: Re: Rockbox joining the Software Freedom Conservancy?

Re: Rockbox joining the Software Freedom Conservancy?

From: Sam Kuper via rockbox-dev <rockbox-dev_at_cool.haxx.se>
Date: Sun, 4 Oct 2020 15:00:50 +0100

On Sun, Oct 04, 2020 at 02:51:01PM +0200, Al Le via rockbox-dev wrote:
>> Out of interest, what don't you like about them?
>
> For me, they are sort of like of snitch.

I guess that this is referring to license enforcement. I'll address
that below.

But note that the SFC (as Solomon mentioned) can perform other
beneficial administrative work on behalf of member projects:[0]

- collecting donations and performing book-keeping;

- other fundraising assistance;

- limited personal liability protection for project leaders;

- legal advice;

etc.

AFAIK, the SFC won't do anything on behalf of a member project without
the member project's consent. The SFC exists to *help* Free Software
projects, not hurt them!

So, even if you aren't sure about license enforcement, maybe you can
appreciate that SFC membership could still be beneficial to Rockbox?


> Observing of licence infringement is needed if a company's business is
> creating an open source software and selling licenses for it. I think,
> such companies do that themselves.
>
> Rockbox is not of this sort.
>
> The best appreciation sign for a piece of software (or anything) is
> if's being stealt. (V. Nabokov, changed by me)

If the Rockbox developers' intentions were for people to be able to
"steal" Rockbox (e.g. incorporate it into their software without
following license terms), then they could have chosen to release it as
"public domain" software (or equivalent: CC-0, WTFPL, etc.).

But that isn't the case; instead, Rockbox is under the GPL. This
provides advantages that "public domain" releases do not offer. It
means that if someone makes improvements to Rockbox and distributes
those improvements in binary form (e.g. as firmware in an MP3 player
device), then they also have to share the source code. This in turn
means that those improvements can be incorporated into the main Rockbox
codebase that we all use. It's fair: just as the third party (e.g. a
hardware manufacturer) benefits from the existing work done by the
Rockbox community, so the Rockbox community benefits from any additional
work done by the third party. Win-win. *That* is "the best
appreciation". It is respectful and ethical. (Rockbox does this with
software that it incorporates, btw.[2])

But if someone takes the Rockbox codebase and uses it without respecting
the license, that is not "the best appreciation"; it is selfish and
unethical. It is exploiting others' work without giving credit. It is
literally disrespectful of the express wishes of the development
community (as stated in the license). It also happens to be unlawful.

Sam

P.S. A good example showing why enforcing Free Software licenses is not
"snitching" but good practice ("win-win", as I said above) is the WRT54G
story.[3] If Linux developers had not enforced the GPL there, then
Linksys would have continued ripping off their customers and the Linux
community, and humanity would have had to wait much longer for powerful
and customisable Linux-based Free Software home/office router firmware
to become available.

Now the benefits have come full circle. After the GPL enforcement
forced Linksys to publish their modifications and associated source
code, Free Software developers incorporated Linksys's work into projects
like OpenWRT and DD-WRT and made further improvements. After *that*
happened, Linksys (and other hardware companies like Buffalo) realised
they could make money and improve their customers' satisfaction by
selling routers with DD-WRT pre-installed or by helping DD-WRT
developers to support their hardware.[4] Win-win! :)


[0] https://sfconservancy.org/projects/services/


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain

https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WTFPL


[2] https://git.rockbox.org/cgit/rockbox.git/tree/docs/LICENSES


[3]
https://web.archive.org/web/20051208105928/http://www.wi-fiplanet.com/tutorials/article.php/3562391

https://lkml.org/lkml/2003/6/7/164

https://hardware.slashdot.org/story/03/07/06/2121234/linksys-releases-gpled-code-for-wrt54g


[4]
https://web.archive.org/web/20090114212329/http://www.dd-wrt.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=121822&highlight=#121822

https://web.archive.org/web/20190317212904/https://www.zdnet.com/article/dd-wrt-linux-firmware-comes-to-linksys-routers/

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Received on 2020-10-04

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