What is Maidsafe licensing policy?

I was surprised to see MIT/BSD as the license for safe-app-nodejs so took a look around, and searched this forum to see if the policy has changed. This was the latest change I found:

@Maidsafe did I miss something or is everything now licensed under MIT/BSD? Doing a quick check, both browsers the Safe Network App and every library I checked are MIT/BSD. Is this intended?

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Licensing is something I should know more about. Is it possible to describe the differences between MIT/BSD and GPLv3 in a few sentences?
And if so, would you, please?

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I think both MIT/BSD and GPL licenses are designed to facilitate sharing and to mitigate patent trolling; however, the GPL license requires that derivative works open source their code. See here for more info.

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@Sotros25 is spot on, the key being that companies can exploit open source without contributing anything under MIT/BSD whereas with GPL they have to share what they develop using it - and so give back.

There are intermediate variations, such as allowing work to remain closed if the open source is used as is, as a library (I think that’s called the ‘linking exception’ but would have to check. There are very good explainers).

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Yes indeed, thank you @Sotros25, a very clear explanation in that link.

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This is what we are trying to achieve, have upper layers mit/bsd etc. and routing/vault gpl if that makes sense. The feeling is there may be issues with app devs if we force gpl there, although I would love to :wink:

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Your feeling is correct. GPL kills many business models. For example our company created most popular game in the category but is using the worst possible AI play engine for that. We can’t use better engine because all better engines are under GPL and GPL is no way for us. There are thousands of apps similar like our, all using the best possible AI play engine, and none of them care about publishing their source code. So they are breaking the license and do not care. We do not want to break it, so we have huge disadvantage. If original creator created first engine under MIT/BSD 15 years ago then all the successors would not have to be forced to use GPL for upgrades of that engine. Now the whole industry is locked in GPL hell, and serious companies doing serious business are in disadvantage compared to any amateur who does not care about licensing. If it were MIT/BSD from the beginning many games created by professional studios would be of much better quality. So my experience is, forcing people to create free software only is making software worse. MIT/BSD is awesome, it brings freedom and freedom brings more options for situations where open source software development fails.

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Can you elaborate on that? What can’t you do under GPL3 and why is it a problem?

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Not about source code licensing, but YouTube’s Copyright System. Nevertheless very interesting and I’m sure there are similarities:

I can’t create application using GPL3 library without publishing a source code of my app under GPL3. So basically, GPL3 is useless crap for any serious business which does not want to publish his whole app source code under GPL3. GPL3 is like a virus, it infects the whole app. When I am developing and app, I am using tens of various libraries, and if only single one of them is under GPL3, than I have to publish all my source code of whole my app under GPL3 licence. So in practice, if you create free software and licence it under GPL3, you have created software that practically nobody will use legally. I bet huge mayority of GPL3 software is used in apps without publishing their source code and breaking the licence. The situation is even worse, since many libraries are using other libraries and this library dependecny tree can contain GPL licenced library. You think you do not use them, but in fact you most likely are and you are not aware of that. Once you build your app, and include all those libraries into binary, you can’t distribute it without publishing source code of your software.

And all this makes serious business vulnerable to lawsuits, and legal troubles. So serious business is avoiding GPL3 like a plague. And they are forced to use worse alternatives. And those who do not care about breaking law are in an advantage.

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Business is the virus, that GPL is no use to this business models is its virtue. It forces businesses to seek creative alternatives - which some do.

I’m sorry that Maidsafe feel this is necessary. It may be right, but we already have enough of that so I’d rather we try to build something new because what we have is toxic.

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I think maidsafe need to pick their battles. They could develop the best network in the world and poor licensing may still render it useless to many.

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Thanks for the explanation.

What are the downsides of doing that?

My experience is quite an opposite. It just brings huge advantage to scammers and offshore companies which do not care about law and are not afraid about lawsuits. For legal business it is super expensive to develope custom solution where concurency can simply use them for free. This is not free market, because licence is not enforced equally. We have world wide business, where some chinesse company where nobody cares about licences can use GPL3 and I can’t. I am in a huge disadvantage. Enforcing free software is very shorsighted. Enforcing anything is very shortsighted.

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I’m not a specialist, but if I’m not mistaken you can use LGPL (version 2 or 3) in your closed source code. Often used for (shared) libraries. One restriction (compared to MIT) I know of that remains in LGPL: you can’t use it if you change the source code, without making the modifications available (also with LGPL license).

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One thing (among many) I don’t understand about open source licensing is that since there’s no registrar, what’s to stop projects just changing it on the fly?

@Antifragile That’s a different issue, governance, and you have the same problems because of reverse engineering and espionage. Licensing doesn’t solve it.

@Traktion I don’t accept that this is necessary for SAFE Network to succeed. It might be, depending on whether it reaches its goals and on the externalities at the time, but it is by no means clear and it is a project designed to change the rules. So IMO we should not give up on this until we know that it is necessary.

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This whole idea of sharing without requiring reciprocation is a big mistake. I believe it is an atavism from the hunter-gatherers era, when most everything (especially “economic product”) was shared equally. We just have this instinct to share and that results in a situation when FOSS developers and other public goods providers generate an estimated over a trillion USD in value every year, while these same people often have problem with paying rent. GPL IMHO is for this reason a better choice. Not perfect, but better.

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There’s no reason you couldn’t fund the copyright holders to sue to enforce the license. You might even have standing to sue yourself.

People would also hijack completely proprietary code if nobody bothered to enforce the licenses. That’s not a problem with the GPL.

For that matter, a lot of the people out there “violating” the license may simply never have been asked for the code in the first place.

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I agree. Using a BSD license could easily fragment the network and make it useless for many or even most. It might even destroy the network entirely.