The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews AJ Jordon of gplenforced.org
In this edition, we interviewed AJ Jordon, the founder of gplenforced.org, a project for hosting easy to use badges for copyleft licenses. By using the badge, a project can share their values and the importance of copyleft enforcement with all their users.
What inspired the creation of the GPL enforced badge?
So basically Bradley Kuhn gave a talk at FOSDEM '17 about GPL enforcement and I was like, wow, it sucks how many companies and people think that enforcing the GPL is a bad idea. I mean, if you disagree with copyleft that's fine (though I personally would argue with that position), but then you should use a suitable license. Like MIT. The very idea that we shouldn't enforce the GPL just doesn't make sense to me because it suggests that the text of the license is watery and unimportant. I don't know about you, but when I say I want my programs to respect users' freedom, I mean it.
So GPL enforcement is important. It seemed to me that there are probably a lot of developers out there who want to support GPL enforcement but don't have a good way to voice that support. gplenforced.org is essentially a quick and dirty hack I wrote to make that dead-simple.
Tell us more about gplenforced.org
gplenforced.org is a small site I made that has exactly two purposes: host a badge suitable for embedding into a README file on GitLab or something, and provide some text with an easy and friendly explanation of GPL enforcement for that badge to link to.
Putting badges in READMEs has been pretty trendy for a while now — people add badges to indicate whether their test suite is passing, their dependencies are up-to-date, and what version is published in language package managers. gplenforced.org capitalizes on that trend to add the maintainer's beliefs about license enforcement, too.
How can projects make use of the GPL enforced badge?
It's super easy! All you have to do is add some Markdown to your README.md file (or some AsciiDoc, etc.). Then it will show up on your code hosting site and link to the website. That's it. Instructions are on gplenforced.orhg.
That's what makes this project work, I think: as I alluded to above, it's such an easy process there aren't really a whole lot of reasons not to do it as long as you support the message. It gives people a way to support GPL enforcement who otherwise wouldn't have time to do something more involved.
Are there plans to create badges for other copyleft licenses?
Absolutely (it's bug #3 in the issue tracker). The current plan is to add badges for the LGPL and AGPL only — this will allow us to keep the site 100% static, which makes it dead-simple to host.
Letting people use arbitrary badges would require making the site dynamic. So I might consider doing that if there's a need for it, but for right now the plan is to add badges on an ad hoc basis, as people want them. Not letting people use arbitrary badges also means that they couldn't make, say, an "MIT enforced" badge which maybe doesn't really make sense.
How can users or developers help out?
Send patches and encourage adoption! There's a small list of TODOs in the issue tracker that people can work on, and of course if anyone has ideas about how to improve the project, they're welcome to add to that list. I take issues and patches via email too.
What's the next big thing for gplenforced.org?
Adoption! In particular when I get around to adding the other licenses I plan to send patches to prominent GPL'd/LGPL'd/AGPL'd projects on GitLab and GitHub suggesting they add it. This project is about raising awareness — and the best way to do that is to spread it as far and wide as possible.
Enjoy this interview? Check out our previous entry in this series, featuring the MegaGlest Project