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?


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.


@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).


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:


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:

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.


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.


Thanks for the explanation.

What are the downsides of doing that?

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.


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.


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.

Another option

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Doing a lot of reading about licensing, free software, etc these days and was looking through the forum for exactly a thread like this and felt I must chime in to say: GPLs and copyleft licenses all the way from me, as much as practically possible in any case.

I discovered the Unlicense on another licensing related thread on here and while I wish that that or a MIT type license would be enough, I fear it wouldn’t be. Freedom does not mean ‘let anyone do whatever’, and it isn’t even the working definition of freedom for almost everyone, if they’re honest with themselves, I would argue. Freedom is full of constraints and obligations and responsibilities.

On a practical level, if the Safe Network takes off and is mostly or completely GPL’d it would protect against heavily funded and marketed private competitor networks that might pop up, making them an impossibility or forcing them to be open about what they’re offering, a win in both cases.

Plus there seems to me to be a historical opportunity here to ensure that the rules of cyberland are different. Imagine if the people who create things of value were rewarded directly by the people who enjoy their creations instead of all these massive, often utterly soulless, companies standing between us private individuals?

Be it video games, as @Antifragile talks of above, or films, journalism, research, music, hats, educational videos, etc etc. My point is that “serious companies doing serious business” are often in reality “copyright monopolies doing serious exploiting”, and even if it is hard to imagine what the world of, for example, gaming, might be like if it were wildly decentralised, it doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.

The thing about Maidsafe which initially got me excited wasn’t the idea of a decentralised internet, I’d seen that talked of elsewhere, it was decentralised internet plus the fact that the company more or less didn’t give a flying toss what companies want or think, or at most it seemed a secondary consideration, and instead seemed to want to provide a network that is free to access and use privately for everyone. So the idea of licensing to keep companies happy, instead of licensing to keep the network a thing that respects freedom and security and privacy, doesn’t sit right with me at all.

I’d personally be thrilled to see people who want to make cool games getting funded by their friends and families or whoever, and people who already make games getting funded by the fans of their games, and big serious companies can adapt or leave us to play our own games on the Safe Network.

Even though I can’t imagine exactly how our freedom might potentially be usurped, we have the example of the current slimenet going from utopian-seeming place for the free exchange of ideas and goods and all, to what it is today: a slimenet. The more I read and learn about licensing the more convinced I feel that a copyleft license is the best tool we have here, and I’ve seen nothing to convince me otherwise going through these threads so far.

Anyway, just my two cents and all that, apologies for the length, I’m terrible at writing short things!