How to save copyleft

In an article published in the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review (Vol. 9, Issue 1), Professor Eben Moglen describes some significant issues he has with the current state of Free Software and copyleft (the article is an edited version of Professor Moglen’s speech at the SFLC Fall Conference 2016). Some in the Free Software movement have expressed concern that the Free Software philosophy, copyleft, and the GPL may be less relevant in today’s open source software environment.

According to Professor Moglen, in order to address this issue, advocates of Free Software should be less concerned with enforcing compliance with the terms of the GPL and more concerned with making the “great idea” of copyleft more appealable to a younger generation of people who write and share programs. In order to do this, copyleft needs to be made “simpler to use, quicker to understand, and better at doing all the jobs it’s supposed to do.”

Professor Moglen states that “[w]e need to refrain from going unnecessarily to war. … This is not war time. This is diplomacy time.” In other words, enforcing compliance with the GPL is not very important when faced with the larger issue of a current lack of interest in, or understanding of, the idea of copyleft and the real benefits of Free Software.

The article can be found here.