Learning about the Copyleft movement and understanding its’ reasons for existence was a transformative event for me.
Understanding the legal limitations of public domain works, and how the GNU GPL license fills that void is one of the most powerful things you can do for your career as a technologist.
Here’s a TL/DR bullet point summary version.
- A public domain license has a serious shortcoming – it allows derivative works to be copyrighted.
- This has serious implications for legal abuse. Someone could take a public domain work, like a children’s fairy tale, create a movie or a play out of it, and sue everybody else who comes up with another work that’s based on that fairytale for copyright infringement.
- Copyleft and GPL is on the other end of that legal licensing spectrum.
A derivative work covered by a GNU GPL license cannot become proprietary intellectual property.
- Under the terms of the GNU GPL license, all derivative work continue to carry the freedoms of being modifiable and redistributable by everyone else.
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