A Free Technology License

We have free software licenses for already a lot of time. And without them we would be nowhere near the richness and the quality of the wealth of free software we have now. Their role, especially that of the copyleft ones, was crucial for the creation of this wealth.

Since much sooner, we already have free (open) hardware licenses, too. And the free hardware is, well, where the free software was shortly after the first free software licenses were created. However, I hope it will grow in richness and quality like the free software did.

However, these licenses cover just a section of the IT technologies. And IT is by far not only hardware and software. It is also methodologies, industrial technologies etc. What about these? Without them, we cannot have a healthy and self-sustaining free IT ecosystem.

And what of the non-IT technologies? Is the technology freedom in producing life-saving medicines less needed than the IT technology freedom? The freedom of technologies for producing medical consumables? Foods? Clothes? Fresh water? Power generators? Machine tools?… The freedom of the software is but a small part of the technology freedom, because it is dependent on all other technologies, exactly like every small ecosystem is a part of the global Earth ecosystem, and is dependent on it. The only way to truly free your favorite part is to free the whole.

(I know it sounds maniacally, and don’t care. My efforts will surely be insignificant – but Gandhi says it is important that I make them. And I honor him.)

In theory, licenses like GPL may be used for non-software technologies. However, being software-centric, sometimes they may not be completely appropriate:

– they do not always reflect correctly the relations between technology description, technology implementation and technology product, and its effect over the technology freedom.

– they often do not clarify the notion of the technology description understandability and its dependence on the context: in the software it typically goes without saying, but outside of it things may be very different. (What about a software that is under a free license, but is written in language that you don’t understand, and/or don’t have a compiler for it?)

– in most parts of the world the only exclusive right that covers the software is the copyright; for the common technology there are also patents and other exclusive rights. A free technology license must account for these, too.

After considering these problems, I dared to attempt to make a draft for a free technology license. It is a copyleft one, loosely based on GPLv3 and its drafts.

Yes, this will probably be read almost only by free software folks, who have little need for a license for non-software technologies. However, they are also the people who know and value the freedom. So I think they could be the right people to present such a license before.

Yes, I’m not legal, and English is not my native language. But it is better to create something imperfect, and to hope that the others will help to improve it, than to do nothing but whine.

Yes, this draft is maybe good for nothing, and the others may have to wipe away most, or even all of it, in order to create an usable license. I will apologize to them as many times as needed, but will not think that my efforts were in vain. Growing an oak is worth planting an acorn, and it is useless to grieve that the acorn will disappear.

And yes, maybe my work is bad enough to deserve only to be forgotten. However, even in this case it will be an attempt to create some freedom. Maybe others will be prompted by it to create a better one, and will learn from its mistakes.

6 thoughts on “A Free Technology License

  1. Valeria

    Don’t you think that the fredom to modify technologies may turn out to be dangerous in some special spheres as medicine or even food, for example? Probably it makes sense to think about some limitations?

  2. Григор Post author

    @Valeria: There is no sphere that is not dangerous. And the secrecy almost always ensures that those who will defend you from dangerous advances will not have access to the technologies needed, while those whom you must be afraid of will have this access.

    Darkness is not won over with greater darkness. Darkness is won over with light.

  3. Valeria

    Sure. I hate secrecy, too. Of course, speaking about limitations I meant “limitations for everyone”, but nowadays it seems impossible. And criticising is always easier than doing something. Well, at least you made the first step.

  4. Valeria

    Sorry again – I just wanted to ask you advise on where in Sofia I could by some audiobooks, preferably science fiction? Texts I could find in Internet are good, but the system of Bulgarin stress seems rather confusing, and there are no rles about it, as far as I know. Forgive me for off-topic, but I don’t know where to address you alternatively.

  5. John

    Putting forward an improved draft is great – that’s what Linus and the FSF are all about. I disagree with Valeria: anything you can imagine is already being done by governments and corporations in secret, especially the dangerous stuff.

    Information sharing has been part of the scientific method (peer review). Really it’s the opposite, people should be demanding to know what’s going into their food and medicine and how they’re produced (e.g. “End of the Line” about Tuna or the Food Industry or Michael Moore’s wacky stuff)… I think it would be incredible if the major hospitals of the world could sign a “free medical license” on methods, technologies, and procedures to share… for the benefit of humanity.

    Peace out, Keep it Real, etc. etc.


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