FLOSS licenses bridging past and future -- Free Software licenses as connectors between the new and the old

Stefan Merten <smerten AT oekonux DOT de>


Discuss the slides on their Wiki pageRemote link.


For more than seven years Project OekonuxRemote link analyzes and discusses the phenomenons seen in Free Software and similar Free Projects. The project develops a theory which manages to explain what exactly happens during the development of Free Software, why it works at all, and why it is successful.

One key finding is that a central principle of the development of Free Software is Selbstentfaltung of the contributors where Selbstentfaltung means the freedom to do things you want but related to the society as a whole. Another key finding is that Free Software can be seen as a germ form for a new society which leaves many concepts of the current societies behind. An important aspect of this germ form is, that it is unlimited when giving as well as when taking.

An important practical aspect of Free Software and similar Free Projects are the licenses governing the use of the results of such projects. Taking the Oekonux findings into account licenses can be seen as a bridge between the old system and the germ form. As a bridge they connect the old system with the germ form but they have no inherent value for the germ form itself. Instead the germ form itself could do without licenses. However, because licenses use an abstract external point of view they can be dangerous for a Free Project.

A typical situation where licenses can be a problem for a Free Project is when a change of the license would make sense for the project. This is discussed for two examples (Oekonux Wiki, Wikipedia).


Selbstentfaltung and germ form

Selbstentfaltung in Free Projects

Free Software as a germ form

Free Projects are inherently unlimited

Licenses and their effects

Free Software licenses as legal hacks

Effects of licenses outside the project

Effects of licenses inside the project

Effects of licenses in the community

Licenses use an abstract external point of view

Practical examples

Changing licenses

Oekonux Wiki