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Copyleft (also share-alike) is a concept of allowing sharing and modifications of intellectual works (such as pictures, music or computer programs) on the legal condition that others will share it under the same terms (i.e. that they will also allow the work's further free sharing and modification etc.); it was created by the critics of copyright as a "more sane" take on this concept. The symbol of copyleft is a mirrored copyright symbol, i.e. horizontally flipped C in circle (C looking "to the left", Unicode U+1F12F). Copyleft is widely utilized by some proponents of free (as in freedom) software and culture to legally (i.e. with a license) ensure this software/art and its modifications will always remain free (as in freedom), however other camps of freedom proponents argue that copyleft is still too restrictive and share their works under even more relaxed legal conditions. Copyleft kind of hacks copyright to de-facto remove copyright (the monopoly it creates) by its own power. Typical examples of copyleft licenses are the GPL (mostly used for software) and CC BY-SA (mostly used for non-software works).

Copyleft has been by its mechanisms likened to a virus because once it is applied to a certain work, it "infects" it and will force its conditions on any descendants of that work, i.e. it will spread itself -- the word virus here bears less of a negative connotation, at least to some who see it as a "good virus".

For free/open-source software the alternative to copyleft is so called permissive licensing which (same as with copyleft) grants all the necessary freedom rights, but, unlike copyleft, does NOT require further modified versions to grant these rights as well. This allows free software being forked and developed into proprietary software and is what copyleft proponents criticize. However, both copyleft and permissive licensing are free as in freedom.

In the FOSS world there is a huge battle between the copyleft camp and permissive camp (our LRS advocates permissive licenses with a preference for 100% public domain). These debates go beyond mere technology and law for the basic disagreement lies in whether freedom should be forced and if forced freedom really is freedom, thereby getting into questions of politics, ideologies, philosophy, morality and ethics. Some groups opposing copyleft include copyfree, GNG and LRS.

Issues With Copyleft

In the great debate of copyleft vs permissive free licenses we, as technological anarchists who oppose any "intellectual property" laws and their enforcement, stand on the permissive side. Here are some reasons for why we reject copyleft:

See Also

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