What is the Anti-Capitalist Software License?
The Anti-Capitalist Software License (ACSL) is a software license towards a world beyond capitalism. This license exists to release software that empowers individuals, collectives, worker-owned cooperatives, and nonprofits, while denying usage to those that exploit labor for profit.
How is the Anti-Capitalist Software License different from other licenses?
Most existing licenses, including free and open source licenses, consider qualities like source code availability, ease of use, commercialization, and attribution, none of which speak directly to the conditions under which the software is written. Instead, the ACSL considers the organization licensing the software, how they operate in the world, and how the people involved relate to one another.
Why not open source?
The Anti-Capitalist Software License is not an open source software license. It does not allow unrestricted use by any group in any field of endeavor, an allowance that further entrenches established powers. It also does not automatically release your project to the creative commons or public domain, nor does it require derived source code to be made available- although you may chose to release your work in this way.
ACSL recognizes that the copyleft requirement of open source can be a drain on limited resources, can expose sensitive or secure information, and can put software at risk of theft. The ACSL allows integration into closed source projects such as games, security tools, artworks, and personal projects without requiring those tools be made public. The availability of source code is less important than the organization of software labor.
Why commercial use?
Commerce and capitalism are not the same thing, and the commercialization of ACSL software is allowed, provided the organizations that do so are not organized along capitalist lines, as defined in the license. The ACSL is explicitly intended to provide such organizations and individuals with an advantage so that they may survive under capitalism- and outlive it.
Why would I want to use this license?
In general, the ACSL is a good match for software that would have otherwise been permissively licensed under MIT, ISC, or BSD but with restrictions against corporate usage.
The ACSL is right for you if you want your code to empower students, artists, hobbyists, collectives, cooperatives and nonprofits to survive under capitalism while not contributing free labor to corporations.
The ACSL is right for you if you reject the status quo, believe better things are possible, and want to act on your beliefs.
The ACSL is right for you if you carry a new world in your heart, and in your code.
Is this actually enforceable?
Copyright is easier to apply to how a work is used than to who uses it, and this license has not been tested in court. That said, using ACSL software against its terms would open the user to litigation. ACSL may be best considered a strong deterrent, as well as a way to state the politics and moral center of your code.
What if this license doesn’t fit my needs?
The ACSL was built in response to, and out of, other licenses. We fully encourage you to adapt, expand, or edit the language of the ACSL to meet the needs of your project, or to use it as a starting place for something new. There is also a list of licenses with similar directives at the bottom of this page, which might provide exactly what you need.
THE ANTI-CAPITALIST SOFTWARE LICENSE (v 1.4)
To use this license, copy the following statement into a file in your project, and edit the [year] and [copyright holder] fields:
ANTI-CAPITALIST SOFTWARE LICENSE (v 1.4)
Copyright © [year] [copyright holders]
This is anti-capitalist software, released for free use by individuals and organizations that do not operate by capitalist principles.
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person or organization (the "User") obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to use, copy, modify, merge, distribute, and/or sell copies of the Software, subject to the following conditions:
1. The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or modified versions of the Software.
2. The User is one of the following:
a. An individual person, laboring for themselves b. A non-profit organization c. An educational institution d. An organization that seeks shared profit for all of its members, and allows non-members to set the cost of their labor
3. If the User is an organization with owners, then all owners are workers and all workers are owners with equal equity and/or equal vote.
4. If the User is an organization, then the User is not law enforcement or military, or working for or under either.
THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS 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.
Translations:ACSL in French, Translated by Thomas PUJOL