I was reading Zen Habits and it made me thinking about changing my blog’s license to public domain and I was going to do it. But I thought about it and I thought about it hard and I realized then I might change the license of any code or program I wrote to public domain as well, and it felt wrong.
I’m a free software person. I care about software freedom and that’s why I advocate for GNU GPL family of licenses. GNU GPL license makes sure that you have freedom to do anything with your copy but you have to keep it free. If I truly advocate for freedom, I think I wouldn’t want my piece of software to become proprietary. And I thought the same argument goes for other forms of published work.
I want people to be able to do whatever they want with my published works, and I sometimes don’t even care if they give me credit, but the difference my Creative Commons license makes is that it requires people to keep the work under the same license. They can do whatever they want, even profit from it financially, but they don’t have the right to limit other people from freedoms they were given to.
The GNU GPL family of licenses do the same. If you publish your code or program under the GPL, the users will be entitled to the four essential freedoms but they won’t be able to make the software proprietary. If you license your work under BSDs or Expat, you’ll give the user right to prevent other people from benefiting of the same rights you gave the user.
I care about freedom. Free culture is as important to me as free software but also as much as I advocate for copyleft in software, I advocate for it in other forms of publications. I believe the right to freedom in any matter should not be put in hands of someone else thus someone should not be able to restrict other people from the freedoms they are are benefiting from.
If I was given the freedom to walk in a beach, I shouldn’t be able to build walls and restrict others from enjoying the beach. I was given the freedom to speak, then I shouldn’t be able to restrict other people from speaking. That’s how copyleft works. You’re enjoying your freedoms thus you can’t limit others. You can share what you have if you want only if you spread the freedom you were given.