Presented by:


John Sullivan

from Free Software Foundation VP and Executive Director

John started working with GNU Press and the Free Software Foundation in 2003 and then became the FSF's first Campaigns Manager, working on outreach efforts like Defective by Design, BadVista, and PlayOgg. In 2011, John became the Executive Director after four years as Manager of Operations.

His background is mainly in the humanities, with an MFA in Writing and Poetics and a BA in Philosophy, but he has been spending too much time with computers and online communities since the days of the Commodore 64. He's become a dedicated GNU Emacs user after first trying it around 1996, and contributes code to several of its extensions.

He has been speaking regularly at free software events since 2004, including keynotes at the Libre Software World Meeting, Open World Forum, and LibrePlanet.

Prior to the FSF, John worked as a college debate team instructor for both Harvard and Michigan State University.

Copyleft is the fuel that launched the current free software boom. Previously, licenses that required sharing of derivative works were the default choice among businesses. However, today there is chatter that companies are afraid of copyleft, with some refusing to even look at copyleft code. Copyleft and business aren't at odds, and choosing these licenses can be beneficial to your work.

The GNU General Public License (GPL) protects the commercial use of software and code: the opportunity to profit from technology is inherent in the idea behind user freedom. Not only are copyleft licenses freedom respecting, they have monetary benefits including:

  • you benefit from someone else fixing bugs and building off of your code;
  • copyleft licenses prevent the "freeriding" we see in more lax permissive licenses;
  • cooperation and community between users, enabled by copyleft, creates greater buy-in from users; and
  • protection against costly patent infringement claims.

While some folks like to go on about how choosing a copyleft license seems complicated (especially concerning business use), this is short-sighted -- copyleft licenses are actually far simpler in the long term. There are also a number of organizations, including the Free Software Foundation, available to help concerning licensing questions and best practices.

While focused on a high level argument, this session will also include case studies of successful business use, and a few tips to making the switch to copyleft.

This session is for people looking to understand the role of copyleft in business, those freeing their source code for the first time, and those trying to be more ethical in their choices as a business, without sacrificing the profitability for which they are accountable. Whether you want to explain to yourself or your boss about why copyleft is the right choice for your business, this is a great opportunity to learn about your options.

2018 April 28 - 06:00
45 min
LinuxFest Northwest 2018

Happening at the same time:

  1. Programmers are Evil
  2. Start Time:
    2018 April 28 06:00


  3. OpenSource: Love what you do everyday!
  4. Start Time:
    2018 April 28 06:00


  5. Successful 2FA is a matter of smooth workflows
  6. Start Time:
    2018 April 28 06:00


  7. Orchestrating Multi-service Applications on Kubernetes
  8. Start Time:
    2018 April 28 06:00


  9. GO generate all the things!
  10. Start Time:
    2018 April 28 06:00


  11. Better Brewing through Data Science and Machine Learning
  12. Start Time:
    2018 April 28 06:00


  13. The Ubuntu Home Server
  14. Start Time:
    2018 April 28 06:00


  15. The business case for copyleft
  16. Start Time:
    2018 April 28 06:00