Leftcopy?

Leftcopy is a social domain licensing scheme for all kinds of work including: books, videos, movies, games, music, animation, art, photographs, plays, maps, blogs, apps, websites and software.

  • IMPORTANT: Please make sure you have read and understand the implications of the license before you fix your work to Leftcopy. Hire your own legal adviser if you are unsure of the suitability of Leftcopy for your own needs. Leftcopy licenses cannot be revoked!

    You can do pretty much what you like with work fixed to a Leftcopy license.

    The only requirement is you must include the license text, or a clickable link to https://socialdomain.net.

    Can Use commercially, modify, adapt, distribute, sublicense1, use privately2, use a patent3, add a warranty4
    Must Include license or clickable link to https://socialdomain.net
    Cannot Hold Workers liable
    1. Modified works may be licensed with additional restrictions. 

    2. Private use includes certain, special ‘free uses’, like quotations, teaching, newspaper reports, fair use, first sale, work for hire and some other proprietary uses like product evaluations, testing, trials and trade secrets

    3. Having a patent grant may be useful with some software because it protects Workers against legal claims. 

    4. A warranty may be added, for example for accompanying products or services. 

  • To keep things simple, Leftcopy only insists on a generic link to the social domain website.

    So, if you anticipate academic or scientific citations, or would prefer to place your own name, or your organizations name as a customary form of attribution you could add a ‘one-liner’ in document headers or footers, something like this:

    Copyright (!c) {CURRENT YEAR}. Except where otherwise noted, {TITLE OF WORK} is <a target="_blank" href="https://socialdomain.net">social domain</a> thanks to {AUTHOR NAME}. Licensed under LTL-2.5.1.

    Specific, authoritative information could also be included in:

    • An AUTHORS, CONTRIBUTORS or CREDITS section
    • A NOTICES or README file
    • A humans.txt file

    The conventional designation for work in the social domain is (!c) or the symbol. The SVG file is available for download here

  • Leftcopy work is intended for use by private citizens, educational and health trusts, municipal agencies, small businesses, government departments and many civil institutions1.

    Combining a Leftcopy licensed work within larger, derivative works under a different license, even for commercial purposes should not be a problem for these entities.

    They can take a work under a Leftcopy license and make something new from it and re-publish under a Creative Commons, copyleft, proprietary or permissive license for use by each other, but they cannot republish it under another license or combine it for use by large, business sector entities.

    In the other direction, a derivative made from a work under another license may or may not be published under Leftcopy, depending on the license. Permissive licenses are the best candidates for this. Other licenses, like copyleft (share-alike) won’t allow it.

    Remember that downstream licensees cannot change the license on the original work, other than adding some additional restrictions. This means large, business sector type entities would not be permitted to use the Leftcopy elements of the larger work2.

    For larger software projects, a Developer Certificate of Origin (DCO) or Contributors License Agreement (CLA) may also be useful to keep a record of technical contributions.

    Other notes:

    1. Civil society institutions, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_society#Institutions&oldid=1056445304 (last visited Nov. 29, 2021). 

    2. The ‘applicable law / competent court’ have been deliberately left open, this is to prevent multinational organizations or companies from evading legal notice. 

    3. SPDX is a concerted initiative by large tech corporations to control and influence work practices in the free and open culture movement in their favor using loaded terms like ‘standardization’ and ‘non-proliferation’. 

  • A disinterested reader will think Leftcopy is an ‘Ethical’ license.

    It is not.

    I think it is beyond question that large, for-profit corporations have features that tend towards large scale, harmful effects when compared with other models of organization, or a similar model operating at a smaller scale.

    This is not so much an ethical issue, but about intervening in the policies enacted concerning observably harmful labor, employment, health, education and resource extraction strategies motivated by one thing, and one thing only: profit for shareholders.

    The employee limits are set in accordance with normative limits in defining small and medium-sized businesses in data collection schemes. The precise limits used are also informed by Karl Marx’s observations on the origins of capitalist production:

    A greater number of labourers working together, at the same time, in one place (or, if you will, in the same field of labour), in order to produce the same sort of commodity under the mastership of one capitalist, constitutes, both historically and logically, the starting-point of capitalist production.

    Karl Marx, 1887. Capital (Volume I). Progress Publishers, Chapter 13 ‘Co-operation’ p218.

    The employee limit is specified as it is included in the labor and employment statistics of most companies public accounting and reporting requirements in most countries.

    I think this metric is a reliable indicator to aid enforcement.

    Also, I avoid including the phrase ‘contractors’ because most countries have regulations on the tax status of workers and are better placed to regulate who is classed as an employee, and who is an independent contractor.

  • Take an example of a very large media distribution company managed offshore through a secretive shell company. Their production affiliates want to include modified versions of various, ‘Leftcopied’ music recordings and artwork to bundle into a new pilot for a new TV mini-series.

    A small studio is contracted to edit the recordings and artwork and another is contracted to complete the new production. The shell company then copyrights the entire collection.

    The media giant needs to distribute the series to realize the investment. Their lawyers will be quick to point out the original material is under a Leftcopy license.

    Although the new production is under the copyright of their tiny offshore subsidiary, the distribution of the original material may not be allowed under the ‘head’ Leftcopy license. The license may not provide permission to include derivatives of the original material by the parent distribution group.

  • Me, Mat K. Witts, unaffiliated programmer and researcher.

    Version 2.0 or later was derived from the Blue Oak Model 1.0.0 license drafted by Blue Oak Council, Inc..

    The website source code also carries a required attribution NOTICE.