Fri 6 Apr 2018 8:04AM

Commons Management Agreement

DS Danyl Strype Public Seen by 120

A CLA (Contributor License Agreement) is a legal agreement used by some open source projects so that all the copyright over the contents of the project is held by a single stewardship organization, either the project itself or a third party like the Software Freedom Conservancy. CLAs are controversial because although they can make it easier to defend the project's license conditions in court, they can also be used to relicense the project to a license that some contributors may not be happy with.

The Commons Management Agreement is a special form of CLA that can be used by free code software projects like CryptPad who are using a copyleft license (eg GNU AGPL). It specifies that the license of the full version of the project's software will always remain free and copyleft, but that proprietary licenses may be issued for a fee, allowing comanies to use the software in a commercial setting without honouring the copyleft obligation. This is seen as a way of creating sustainable funding for projects developing software for the commons, and as such, has similar underlying goals to the Peer Production License.


Michel Bauwens Fri 6 Apr 2018 8:14AM

dear Stripey,

this is very interesting as it shows that Copyfair principles are being expressed in various without a unique reference license like the PPL,

if you had any energy for more refs and compilations it would be very interesting to add to https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/CopyFair_License#Status


Danyl Strype Sat 28 Apr 2018 4:31PM

For the record, I don't recommend the use of the PPL for software. License proliferation is best avoided, especially a license that makes a somewhat subjective distinction between commons organisations and non-commons organisations. Which is Red Hat Linux, for example?

I think it would make more sense for the P2PF/ CT to push for software projects to use copyleft licenses like GPL, AGPL, LGPL (and particularly version 3 of those licenses that deal with software patents). These tend to either discourage extractive corporations anyway, or allow them to pay for a bespoke license that allows them to opt-out of copyleft (thus achieving the same result as the PPL), as with CryptPad, and MySQL (GPL) also use this revenue model ("proprietary relicensing"). If corporations do use software under GPL (eg Red Hat, Canonical), the code improvements by their paid engineers must be shared with the original project, so reciprocity is satisfied in a non-market exchange. I'm fine with that.


Liam Murphy Fri 6 Apr 2018 8:32AM

This is very interesting.

I am developing something similar for Cultural Commons,.. if anyone knows of anything similar?

Is there a link to examples?

Many thanks



Danyl Strype Fri 6 Apr 2018 11:08AM

Just out of curiosity @liammurphy are you receiving messages from this group via email? If so, do the emails contain the links that I put into the original message? The CLAHub.com site where I found the text of the Commons Management Agreement might be a good place to search.
BTW Is this the Cultural Commons you refer to? https://www.c3s.cc/en/


Liam Murphy Fri 6 Apr 2018 1:10PM

@strypey - I was - am now on site - thanks. C3S are restricting their collections to digital assets I think - but yes, again, very similar intentions. L


Michel Bauwens Fri 6 Apr 2018 9:23AM

i have collated examples at https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/CopyFair_License

Lionel Maurel is the top expert in this space


Liam Murphy Fri 6 Apr 2018 1:16PM

I am using this link to exchange ideas re: license research https://www.loomio.org/invitations/475e91ab6cdd40734c7f - 3 licenses attached. Haven't heard from Lionel yet but hoping to discuss this with him soon - thanks.


Michel Bauwens Fri 6 Apr 2018 1:28PM

Lionel is not on our Loomio and his english is not to good, so I would connect with him individually through the email address I provided in cc earlier on


Michel Bauwens Sun 29 Apr 2018 2:27PM

the PPL is actually restricted to worker owned organizations which is not a subjective criteria at all, but too restrictive in my opinion as well,

if the criteria were commons, that would not be subjective either, since commons can be defined quite precisely, but personally, in the versions of copyfair we support, it is generally 'generative' entities we support, with a concrete reciprocity requirement beyond just providing code, see Majorie Kelly for the equally clear five criteria for generative enterprise,

in general though, lack of clarity is not the problem, since the very aim is to create ethical agreements through dialogue in non-neutral markets

but copyfair is aimed a material production projects, not software,

otherwise, as we know from 'real life', copyleft generally leads to domination by profit-maximising entreprise, which is exactly what some other people, like us, would like to avoid; this is what reciprocity licensing aims to do: guarantee full sharing of knowledge, code and design, while making commercial exploitation dependent on clear reciprocity agreements

it is designed for material production contexts by generative 'entredonneurial' coalitions which are co-dependent on the same commons which they need to construct and defend against extraction,



Danyl Strype Mon 30 Apr 2018 11:12PM

copyleft generally leads to domination by profit-maximising entreprise

It seems to me that people like Dymitri are seeing big corporations involved in certain high profile copyleft licensed projects (eg Linux, MySQL) and non-copyleft licensed projects (eg Apache), and jumping to two conclusions. a) Because corporate participation usually equals domination this is true in these projects too, and b) that this is therefore true in all free code projects, including copyleft projects.

I'm not convinced either of these are true. Is there any reseach that supports such conclusions? AFAICT Linux dev is still dominated by Linus, not IBM or Novell. Loomio is copyleft, has existed for 6 years, and is profitable. Where is the corporate domination in Loomio? OpenOffice was bought by Oracle, but when they tried to dominate the project, the copyleft license (LGPL) allowed the majority of developers (and later distributors and end users) to vote with their feet, and form the Document Foundation and LibreOffice, leaving Oracle with a digital plantation (the trademarks and copyrights associated with OO) but no workers.

it is generally 'generative' entities we support, with a concrete reciprocity requirement beyond just providing code,

Marjorie's work is brilliant, but I think if you look at stewardship entities behind successful copyleft software projects, like the GNU Project, Linux Foundation, Document Foundation, and Loomio Cooperative, you will see all 5 generative principle in practice. Copyleft projects are a complex, organic economy, managed by a collaborative mycelium, not a corporate central nevous system. Corporate actors contributing money or code are just big trees whose roots touch that mycelial network.

but copyfair is aimed a material production projects, not software,

That makes sense. Different dynamics are at work when distributing genuinely scarce resources, or products that cannot be instantly and costlessly copied.

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