About software and copyright¶
Lino is Free Software and we want it to remain free. The Lino community a living proof of the idea that professional software development is possible with a business model that fosters sharing and refuses to consider its publications as a private property.
The Lino framework is published under the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL), the most protective Free Software license there is. You cannot write proprietary software using Lino. Lino is a proof of the concept that professional development of Free Software is possible, sustainable and leads to better results in the long run.
Note that the AGPL –unlike some urban legends propagate– does not force you to disclose your derived source code. You may write your own Lino application and use it just for yourself, without ever sharing a single line of your code to anybody. The AGPL’s protective character starts only when you ask others to pay for your developer service or hosting service. Only then will you be legally obliged to also share back to our community your source code.
Sustainably Free Software¶
- Sustainably Free Software¶
Software developed using a business model that fosters sharing and refuses to limit the usage rights of its publications.
This belief is not naive. There is a growing list of organizations devoted to free software 1. Many developers feel that free software is fundamentally better than proprietary software 2. Especially public administrations are increasingly aware of the important strategic advantages that only Free Software can give. See Free Software in public administrations below.
A legally free software product cannot be sustainable when one of its components is non-free. Documentation is an important part of a software product. An otherwise free product is not sustainable when documentation and expert knowledge about it is controlled by a single actor.
What seems obvious to many developers is obviously less clear to investors. Many business models in software industry still rely on some proprietary part for generating revenue. Some carriers of free software products gain control over the usage rights on some part of the product like an installer or a front end. Such attempts are quickly disclosed and lead to a free (but weakened) fork in the best case, or to the death of the product in the worst case.
Free Software in public administrations¶
The Public money public code campaign explains why Free Software is important for public administrations: “Software created using taxpayers’ money should be released as Free Software. We want legislation requiring that publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made publicly available under a Free and Open Source Software licence. If it is public money, it should be public code as well. Code paid by the people should be available to the people!”
developed their Guidelines for creating sustainable open source communities. Some excerpts:
Public administrations should not merely reuse OSS (i.e. be consumers) but rather be active members and contributors to the communities that exist around this software.
The sustainability of OSS communities is not a one-off investment. Once you either successfully join or launch an OSS community, it is important for your public administration and your steering committee to keep nurturing and growing the community behind your software.
In the long run, your community’s sustainability will rely on the following key factors: a clear governance structure, the vibrancy and health of the community, continuous commitment of the public administration’s political hierarchy to the project, sustainable funding, and the maturity of your software.
Transparency is at the heart of successful open source communities. For this reason, as your community evolves and grows over time, its governance should remain clear and transparent. This will help you to attract new members, make it easier to promote your software, and ensure the commitment of key community contributors.
- copyright holder¶
The legal or natural person who wrote the source files of a software product and published them. Modified or unmodified copies of the source files may be used only with permission of the copyright holder who usually specifies a license that regulates how his work may be used.
- software product¶
An intellectual work consisting of a set of source files that may, after having been compiled, run on a computer to make it provide a given set of functionalities.
- proprietary software¶
Software that is published under a license that reserves to its copyright holder the right of sharing the software or derivative work.
- Free Software¶
Software that is published by its copyright holder under a license that permits and encourages sharing of the software or derivative work.
Free Software licenses can be grouped into two types: permissive and protective.
- Open-source software¶
Software for which the customer is given permission to consult the source code. This does not necessarily mean Free Software.
- permissive Free Software license¶
A Free Software license that sets minimal requirements about how the software or derivative work may be redistributed.
An example is the BSD License.
- protective Free Software license¶
A Free Software license that requires redistribution of derivative work to be licensed under the same license.
An example is the GNU General Public License..
- proprietary license¶
A license where the copyright holder reserves all usage rights to themselves.
When using a proprietary license, the copyright holder of a software product is automatically the product carrier.
- free software license¶
A licence where the copyright holder explicitly gives away all usage rights under certain conditions.
A software product published under a free license may be used by other software developers as a base for derived work. This is why the product carrier of a free software product is legally not defined. Free software belongs to nobody, because it belongs to everybody.