Why 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.


Copies, mashups, collections, mods, hacks, adaptions and so forth must retain the license in full, or a clickable link to the URL: https://thesocialdomain.org.

Remember, once your work is in the social domain, it can’t be revoked!

Didn’t read the license?

You can do pretty much what you want with ‘leftcopied’ works, provided the license text, or a clickable link to https://thesocialdomain.org is included.

In all seriousness though, read the license!

  • A copyright © notice is a neat way to provide attribution, but attribution is not a condition of Leftcopy because rights to sue for copyright infringement are unlikely to be outside the scope of the Berne Convention.

    Copyright is usually implied, by default.

    Everyone who uses Leftcopy work gets a copy of license text, or a clickable link to https://thesocialdomain.org, explaining how social domain licensing works.

    If, every time anyone worked on the material, a new copyright notice was added and the year was bumped up, the result would be a legal blob. Leftcopy gives permission for anyone to build on and change work but does not discriminate between specific workers copyrights in their contributions.

    What if I want to add an attribution?!

    Leftcopy does not ban the use of copyright notices, or other forms of attribution.

    If you want you could add a line something like this:

    (_c) 2021 The People. Original by {YOUR NAME}. This work is in the <a href="https://thesocialdomain.org">Social domain</a>, licensed under Leftcopy LTL-1.10

    You can also expect some form of attribution in accordance with your community or other ethical or professional norms and standards, such as academic or scientific citations.

    Attribution can also be placed elsewhere, like in document headers and footers, or in a separate AUTHORS, CONTRIBUTORS or CREDITS section without affecting the license. Workers could use a ‘Developer Certificate of Origin (DCO)’ or ‘Contributors License Agreement (CLA)’for example to create a non-binding paper trail outside the license text.

    Specific attribution is not part of the Leftcopy scheme. The license texts have been formalized so they will not need editing everytime someone works on something.

    This prevents over-duplication in derivative works with each contributor adding specific copyright notices all the way down the line.

    Okay, so Leftcopy won’t do you many favours if you are looking to protect your work from small scale exploitation, but it may be ‘legally significant’ when pleading for judgement against a large, for-profit corporation. For example, to demand an injunction to cease using work. A court finding in favour of The People could lead to an award to cover associated legal costs and expenses.

    Leftcopy licenses have been written with reference to licenses drafted by lawyers, but speak to your own lawyer before considering taking any formal legal action.

    Further reading This section has been adapted from
    ‘The MIT License, Line by Line’ by Kyle E. Mitchell, (2016) under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license.

  • A massive media distributor sets up an offshore shell company to work with ‘leftcopied’ music recordings and artwork. The plan is to adapt the material and bundle it into a new pilot and mini-series.

    They edit the recordings and artwork to make a new collection derived from the original work, and copyright the production.

    When the media giant distributes the series, or if they try to sell it to another massive tech company, they will probably hit some bumps in the road.

    Nervy, corporate lawyers will point out the original material is under a Leftcopy license.

    Even if the derivatives or new collection are under copyright by the tiny offshore subsidiary, distribution of substantial amounts of the original material under the head license does not provide permission to these larger, for-profit corporations.

    The ‘applicable law / competent court’ have been deliberately left open, so any large corporate group headquarters operating in almost any jurisdiction is unlikely to evade legal notice.

  • Can Use commercially, modify, adapt, distribute, sublicense, use privately, use a patent1, add a warranty2
    Cannot Hold liable
    Must Include license or clickable link to https://thesocialdomain.org
    1. Adding a patent grant may be useful for some software. 

    2. Adding a warranty may also be useful, for example when ancillary software products or services are supplied. 

  • Software applied to Leftcopy can use Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX) License Identifier Tags1

    LicenseID: LicenseRef-LTL-1.10


    LicenseID: LicenseRef-LRL-1.10.

    Leftcopy anticipates widespread disapproval from Free Software advocates and folk who think the definition of ‘Open Source’ from the Open Source Initiative (OSI) is still important.

    Leftcopy is not really compatible with the GPL.

    This is to avoid contributing to capitalist infrastructure, like almost all Free and Open Source Software projects do.

    1. SPDX is backed by a consortium of large corporations, influencing pro-business license adoption through ‘standardization’.