Supporting Software Freedom Conservancy

Mon, 7 Dec 2015

Software Freedom Conservancy is trying to change to an individual-supported, instead of corproate-supported, model and is doing a fundraising campaign to that end. I'm a Supporter of them and wanted to say why.

The Software Freedom Conservancy helps member projects avoid non-profit administrative stuff so that they can focus on doing what they do best: Write code and collaborate.

The most important thing that Conservancy does, though, is GPL compliance work.

Free software would probably not be where it is today without copyleft. In an alternate universe where Richard Stallman founded the GNU Project -- and with it, launched the free software movement -- but without copyleft, it likely would have been simply gobbled up by proprietary software companies by now and never amounted to much. If it did somehow survive it'd be much smaller and less relevant and we'd probably not have free software in as many places as we do currently.

As Bradley Kuhn said, the GPL is not magic pixie dust. Merely slapping some text on a program doesn't magically make it stay free: It takes work. First, by talking to people that are not following the license. If, despite the best efforts to resolve things amicably, they remain intransigent you have two choices: Give up and let them continue violating (and in that case why was the program put under the GPL in the first place?), or push the matter with legal action.

I've heard comments from Bradley Kuhn about how long Conservancy's queue of violations is so it seems there are too many out there willing to turn a blind eye to GPL compliance and hope they don't get caught. We need more people doing GPL enforcement under Conservancy's princinples, not less, but for now the question before us seems more dire: Do we even want Conservancy's work to continue at all? I have voted "yes" with my money and I hope you do too.