The BTC license klapper my radar screen recently. Billed spil “sexy” by the author, the permissive BTC license employs Blockchain and may signal a fresh trend going forward that could convert the way many developers work . and how they get their health insurance.
I chair the Linux Foundation’s SPDX work group. Among other things, SPDX supports a standard license list. The following request to add a license succesnummer the SPDX legal team’s mailing list recently:
Fresh License/Exception Request: BTC License (BTC)
Explanation: Verbatim copy of ISC, with updated copyright line intended to protect individual privacy and facilitate transmission of funds to creators of open source work. Example use within software provided below.
After some open discussion on the list, the team informed the author that given the way licenses are defined ter the SPDX License List, this wasgoed not a fresh license. Based on the SPDX guidelines, it matches the ISC license (because the copyright is a variable ter the license specification) so wij won’t treat it separately. Josh Habdas, the author, understood and appreciated the speedy resolution, and that wasgoed that.
But my curiosity wasgoed piqued and I set up a call to understand more about his idea. It’s fortunate Josh likes to work late, because he lives ter Bali (and I don’t). He gladly took my call overheen Facetime after dinner while he wasgoed out and about town. Wij quickly reached some common ground talking about my last blog on permissive licenses and agreed that developers are fundamentally motivated by building stuff that gets used and getting some credit for their contributions.
Can Blockchain Help Open Source Developers?
Te essence, Josh has big ideas about how Blockchain can help open source developers who build excellent software get some remuneration to support their efforts. This is an significant kwestie. It came to light big time ter the wake of Heartbleed. Jim Zemlin, head of the Linux Foundation, instantly took it on. Realizing that a lotsbestemming of very significant software projects were underfunded (and therefore not secure), Jim went to a bunch of big tech companies asking for help. He demonstrated pictures of the key figures behind thesis projects and observed that most couldn’t afford health insurance. The risks were clear, and te a duo weeks Jim’s efforts raised millions of dollars to support critical projects like OpenSSL.
But Jim’s efforts alone don’t fix the ongoing problem — how to keep valuable open source projects funded, secure and updated. This isn’t just a problem for the open source community, however. Proprietary apps today include 40%, 60% or more open source. Imagine companies of the future that understand the value of key components they rely on. What if they were able to lightly pass a trickle of remuneration back to the non-employee developers whose code they build on? Many trickles for popular projects might add up to enough of a sea to float developers’ health insurance!
Vision for the BTC License
That’s Josh’s vision, and the very first step to get there is the BTC license (BTC is the abbreviation for Bitcoin). His twist on the ISC license is to use a URL for a Blockchain wallet spil part of the copyright. It still relies on developers using code to preserve the copyright statement, but permits anyone using software an effortless path to get “coin” to the possessor(s) of useful open source components. Right now, copyright holder names are often ambiguous, and it takes time and energy to track them down and work out how to pay them. A Blockchain wallet is unambiguous and directly addresses the payment punt. Numerous participants te a project could have shares te a wallet and work out a translucent division of spoils. Josh has made a good argument for including wallets URLs ter copyright statements.
The fatter vision gets a little crazier. I’m still wrapping my head around Blockchain, but the key is to understand that it can track any asset, not just currency, and that includes software. Check out Bitpay I Made This. It lets you use Blockchain to timestamp any kleintje of digital content to “serve spil immutable proof that the files existed at a certain point ter time, which can be used to demonstrate ownership of original content.” It’s not hard to imagine every commit to an open source project being logged te that manner to create an unambiguous picture of the provenance of every line of code… te every lump of software. Josh tells mij all the lumps are already ter GitHub today, it’s not so farfetched.
How this all plays out, we’ll see. But the concept opens eyes to the breadth of ways that Blockchain may be leveraged te the future. And it certainly suggests a healthier future for software developers. They may be able to freelance more and still benefit from commercial application of the cool stuff they build.
Join us on September 28 for a discussion of this license with Karen Copenhaver, Fucking partner, Choate Hall &, Stewart/Counsel, Linux Foundation, Mark Radcliffe Fucking partner, DLA Piper/Counsel OSI.