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The Artisan's License


The Artisan's License is a source-available license, not a Free Software license. It requires a payment from the user, with the unique twist that the payment is relative to the user's ability to pay it. This is difficult to enforce legally, so language is employed that appeals to the user's personal sense of ethics, Karma, and spiritual judgement.


> a license is a tool of the law, but the law is not actually very good at delineating the exact boundaries of ethical behavior (in either direction)... trying to bake the complexity of an ethical system into your license is a fool's errand. — boringcactus


Post-Open Source by boringcactus

Öppen's survey of software licenses


Goals


Simple, the layman can understand it


Brevity is important. Anyone can write hundreds of pages of nonsense; it takes skill to write something concise and meaningful.


The user can modify it


Lack of available source code is one aspect forcing the field of computing into decline. Inability for smart people to solve and fix problems and correct poor design decisions and dark patterns must be responsible for uncountable man-hours lost every day.


There are many interpretations and deep meanings behind the term "open source" out there, but The Artisan's License embodies it in the practical sense: you can read the source, change it, and recompile it. Not freedom to make a ton of money off of someone else's hard work, but freedom to make your tools work for you and get on with your day.


We have to eat, too


We spent valuable time building this software, publishing it, and considering enough design implications to make it useful beyond a rough in-house tool. But putting software out into the abyss doesn't magically put food on the table. This inspired the name "The Artisan's License":


> artisan: a person skilled in a utilitarian art, trade, or craft, especially one requiring manual skill; a craftsperson.


How much free work would you expect from a farrier or mason?


Putting a price on something up front doesn't always feel comfortable, so we're asking for the user to pay what it's worth to them as they are able. [1]


Difficult to exploit


Apparently the JSON license is uncomfortable for mega corporations, so ripping from the FAFOL by using "Good" and "Evil" language should scare off certain legal departments.


The software is explicitly not for sale by anyone but the original author.


Our software often times solves a tangible business problem, so we don't want to exclude certain business structures simply for being "for-profit." Local small farmers, welders, and farriers don't always classify under certain forward-thinking business structures, but are important, hard-working, good people nonetheless: the "profit" many times just goes toward taking care of their families.


Realistic


Laws are only for people who follow them.

Laws are only for people who follow them.

Laws are only for people who follow them.


We can't enforce this stuff and we don't have the resources to fight anyone's legal team. Appealing to the ethics of real human beings seems like a more pragmatic strategy than exerting control over the pay-to-win legal system.


Standard stuff


We don't want to be the victim of "no good deed goes unpunished," so including the standard "don't sue us" and "no warranty" stuff seems appropriate.


The License


Copyright (c) [YEAR] [COPYRIGHT HOLDER]

Permission is hereby granted to any person obtaining a copy of this
software and associated documentation files (the "Software") the rights
to use, copy, modify, publish, distribute, and to permit persons to whom
the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included
in all copies or substantial portions of the Software. The original
author(s) shall not be misrepresented, and all links and information
pertaining to the original author(s) shall remain intact.

Modifications to the Software must be indicated.

The Software may not be sublicensed or licensed under any other terms
without explicit permission from the original author(s).

The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil. The original author of
the Software retains the sole and exclusive right to determine which
uses are Good and which uses are Evil.

The Software may be used for commercial purposes, but the Software
itself may not be sold.

Upon use of the Software for one year, a financial payment proportional
to the utility, convenience, general productivity, and entertainment
value provided by the Software to the person or organization shall be
paid to the original author(s), corresponding to the reasonable ability
of the person or organization to pay it.

Those who violate the terms of this license shall be someday judged in
a higher court.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS
OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF
MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT.
IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY
CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT,
TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE
SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

FAQ


What is it appropriate for?


End-user applications. Potentially libraries.


What is it inappropriate for?


Programming languages, operating systems, large community-driven projects, etc.


Is it effective?


No idea. Haven't tried it yet. Will report any successes or failures here when they become apparent.


We have no idea which parts will hold up in court; we're not lawyers. We trust that the higher powers of the universe will dispense justice in the long term.


This is just an attempt at putting our own flavor on things; we do not present this as any kind of end-all solution.


Footnotes


[1] When I was a kid, my dad suggested that I shovel snow off of driveways to make a little money. I asked him how much I should charge each person, to which he wisely suggested, "just tell them to pay whatever it's worth to them." Certain tasks are worth quite a bit to the right person; they're extremely happy that someone else will do it for them, and I'm extremely happy with the generous compensation. There are cheapskates, but it all evens out, and you don't have to go back to them looking for business. I find that this has become my standard pricing structure for every situation outside of regular business in which a monetary exchange is appropriate. When a friend of a friend's computer needs repair and it takes me a few hours, they are grateful for my help getting it working again (didn't have to go to a repair shop, wait in line, schedule a pick up, pay an inflated price, etc.). When they ask how much it will cost, I tell them just to pay what it's worth to them. They are happy knowing that I feel fairly compensated for my time, and I am happy knowing that a) their problem is solved for a fair price and b) the money that they have handed me is within their budget and comfort level.

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