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Microsoft Clarifies Jim Allchin's Statements 590

Posted by Hemos
from the more-logs-to-the-fire dept.
twivel writes "This Yahoo article clarifies their position. It is not "open source" software that "destroys intellectual property", but in fact it's the GNU General Public License that does. I can't wait for RMS' response. " What's interesting is their retroactive clarification that it's about taxpayer-supported software - a silly assurance, IMHO. Why? Because taxpayer software should be kept open - we paid for it, we should be able to use it. Locking it up into companies is not the answer - but Microsoft at least acknowledges other potentials, like the BSD license [?] . Check out Dan Gillmor's take on this - well done.
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Microsoft Clarifies Jim Allchin's Statements

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  • An easy solution to the "dilema" between your view and the pro-government-using-GPL view is for the government to dual license the work. GPL everything, but offer some sort of small fee license for closed-source work. I know this is at odds with your idea of "free for everyone", but remember that Microsoft and Cisco aren't taxpayers (they didn't pay any taxes last year). ;-)

    This would do something to enrich the social fabric, at the expense of rich people getting richer.

    -Paul Komarek
  • I think that people aren't (well the dumb ones are) objecting to companies making lots of money off of tax-payer investment, without giving anything back. For instance, Microsoft and Cisco paid no income tax last year. When was the last time you paid no income tax?

    Microsoft does very little to improve the social fabric of the US. In fact, many "corporate individuals" do very little to improve the social fabric in proportion to what they gain from our society--for instance, a market. And for some reason this doesn't seem to bother Americans. Except me. For an example from Microsoft, IIRC, they didn't let temp workers bring their kids in during one of those "show your kids where you work days" at Microsoft. Can you imagine anything more mean-spirited?

    -Paul Komarek
  • My choice seems to be to steal the sony laptop/iPAQ (so I don't pay Microsoft) or pay microsoft, if I want the sony/iPAQ.

    You choice is hardly limited to those. Try a different manufacturer. Or build your own. The only way Microsoft will get any money off of you is if you voluntarily give it to them. So don't!

    Freedom is not convenient. Nor will it ever. Get over it.
  • From this it seems that M$ is really trying to get the government to invalidate the GPL

    That would be playing a dangerous game -- the result could be a legal precedent that limits or even invalidates the MS EULA, especially if the judge figures out that MS is trying to blow smoke up his robe.
    /.

  • No product can stand against SQL Server -- because it keeps falling over.

    -Paul Komarek
  • In the GNU Manifesto, I found this quote:
    Extracting money from users of a program by restricting their use of it is destructive because the restrictions reduce the amount and the ways that the program can be used. This reduces the amount of wealth that humanity derives from the program. When there is a deliberate choice to restrict, the harmful consequences are deliberate destruction.

    The reason a good citizen does not use such destructive means to become wealthier is that, if everyone did so, we would all become poorer from the mutual destructiveness. This is Kantian ethics; or, the Golden Rule. Since I do not like the consequences that result if everyone hoards information, I am required to consider it wrong for one to do so. Specifically, the desire to be rewarded for one's creativity does not justify depriving the world in general of all or part of that creativity.

    There was also this:
    People who have studied the issue of intellectual property rights carefully (such as lawyers) say that there is no intrinsic right to intellectual property. The kinds of supposed intellectual property rights that the government recognizes were created by specific acts of legislation for specific purposes.

    But that's exactly what I was talking about. A natural copyright is the same as an intrinsic copyright. And both birds are 100% imaginary. No, the FSF does not have a natural right to control distribution with the exception of their right to choose not to distribute the work in the first place (that is if they keep the toothpaste in the tube, that's fine, but they can't put it back once it's come out)

    This is however an entirely different kettle of fish than an artificial (or positive) right to control distribution, which we certainly do labor under. But we have that artificial right for the purpose of promoting progress in the arts and sciences. We do not have it for promoting Bill Gates' bank account, though if that's the best way to accomplish the goal of promotion, fine.

  • Let's assume that Congress has allocated money for some sort of software development. Let's also assume (and this seems likely, considering the way public funds are marshalled) that some private party lobbied for this expenditure. Then, if the software is released under a BSD (or similar) license, then this private party stands to gain significantly from taxpayer funded software development.

    The private party (aka Microsoft) could use this as a preferred form of software investment (god knows it has worked in other industries): spend cash lobbying for publicly funded r&d rather than DIY R&D. Not only would this strategy reduce R&D cost - it would reduce R&D risk: The private party also gets the added benefit that this public works project carries the government's imprimatur, which effectively insures both liquidity and lockin.

    GPL (as applied to public works) prevents Congress from being overtly manipulated by cash rich giants like Microsoft. Any other license would encourage Microsoft to sponsor lobbyists to control public funds. This is simply the way big government and industry work together - when the risk of investment gets too high, they push it onto taxpayers.

    Consider the odd case that a corporate lobbyist didn't instigate the public works project. Without GPL, the fruits of this project benefit the parties with the best sales channels... There is no level playing field here. And once the public works project is started, then the benefactors would lobby to keep the benefit, further marginalizing the benefit to taxpayers...

  • I think RMS will disagree. He lived in a time when AT&T, Sun, et al decided to lock away the Unix they developed, even when they benefitted from the original Unix's free distribution.

    Imagine: you run some important piece of software, and one day in the future, you decide to change it. But nobody would show you the source, even though it was obtained freely once upon a time before (liberal sense, not gratis). It has happened before and it will happen again. The BSD license offers no legal protection to software. Even if you were the original author of Version 1.0. The bloke denying it gto you could use the excuse that Version 2.0 belongs to him, and he does not have Version 1.0 anymore.

  • There's nothing preventing MS embracing and extending a GPL protocol providing they make their revised source code freely available.

    Of course, this defeats the purpose of defacing and upending the standards in the first place, since competing software could easily be updated to be compatible with the new version.
    /.

  • You need to get a clue. You have to pay for Windows9x whether it is installed or not. That's the terms that PC manufacturers have to agree to in order to get a discount from Microsoft. Sounds like a tax to me.
  • When I said "TCP/IP hadn't been available under the BSD license", I meant an implementation of said protocols was available under the BSD license.

    As a result, the various OS makers had two options:

    1) Develop an OSI implementation from scratch.
    2) Use an implementation based on the freely available (and modifiable/redistributable, even under closed source licenses) BSD TCP/IP stack.

    That is why Internet actually works. That's why an array so huge of different operating systems could actually connected with each other without compatibility problems. I mean, we are talking about people who couldn't settle for a common floppy disk format here.

    Anyway, if this people *didn't* have access to a TCP/IP implementation they could do whatever they wanted with, they would end up implementing the bloated and accounting-oriented OSI. Notice that OSI is an actual international standard, while TCP/IP is not (just a de facto one).
  • I'm not sure how you can say that TCP/IP wouldn't have taken off if it had first been made available under the GPL. It's quite possible that we'd not only still be using TCP/IP, but that a whole lot more software would now be available under the GPL instead of being proprietary with fractured standards.

    Well, it would work like this. One day, a meeting is called with Company X top developers to discuss the introduction of a networking stack on their operating system. They have really very few choices. They can develop their own protocol from scratch, but that would be costly and would take them very long, which would put them at a disadvantage against the competition. They could buy the network stack from someone else, but that's playing into competition's hand, and they would always stay at a disadvantage, so that's not really an option. And they can write a network stack for a public protocol. Of course, all being educated people, they know the Big Thing around the corner is ISO/OSI (I MEAN it -- that's what everyone thought until early 90s). At this point, though, one developer makes the following remark:

    "Hey, some researchers in University X created a network protocol and released the source code free of cost. All we would have to do is release the source code for our whole operating system if we were to use their code!"

    At this point the whole room falls into histerical laughter and, having broken the tension, they set forth to write their OSI stack.

  • Do you forbid the author from further development of his software or something?

    If you own a platform, you can make it so that only your modified version will ever work. Because you can keep these trivial and harmful modifications to yourself, the original authors will loose control of their work on your platform. This way, only you will make money selling the original work.

    Failing that, or at the same time, you get a bunch of lawyers to threaten, harass and finaly ruin the original author. After all, his "free" product might interfere with your earnings. Anything is possible in a world with one click shopping.

  • > Doesn't that seem a bit silly? What part of the GPL would they attack? What would they sue for?

    Easy. They get one of their puppet companies (MindCruft) to publish something under the GPL, "steal" the code from their puppet, and pay their puppet to take them to court with a lawyer who will blow the case. Court finds GPL worthless.

    Nothing's hard when you've got billions of dollars to spend on it. (Possibly excepting innovating, which must be hard indeed, since even all MS's $$$ can't seem to acheive it.)

    --
  • Government investments are often justified as adding in some meaningful way to the economy as measured by GDP and other economic statistics. Proprietary software lives up to this expectation - it can be sold, it has value. How can the "product" of GPL software be quantified in such a way as to add to these statistics? If it can't, then spending $1 billion on free software is equivalent in monetary policy terms to burning $1 billion.

    Who ever thinks this can not be more wrong than wrong can be.

    1) The government spending is not going to make or break the economy, unless it is alot. A billion is not that much in the big picture.

    2) Almost all of Government spending can be considered a waste of money and resources, except for services that need to done that the free market can't provide (Feeding the poor, low cost medical care, free education, and other preventive expenses).


    If the government does not spend that billion on software, because they get the same for free, it can provide other services or return the money to the tax payer so they may spend the money as they truely wish.
    A counter agruement can be given that open-source software is nothing but good. If you get something for free, you can spend you money on other things, the cost of living is less, and the amount of work one must do to live is less. Thus the standard of living increases for all.

    Governments care greatly about the economy, and there's no other way to measure it. If GDP falls, we are said to be in recession. When it rises, we're in a boom. So if the people in government believe the conventional wisdom that they can best serve their fellow citizens by continuing GDP (and tax base) growth, then they are forced to accept Allchin's argument on GPL. Allchin could even go farther in this logic by blaming some of the current economic slowdown on the increased "destruction" of property caused by the recent growth of Linux.

    I could also blame Microsoft for the slowdown. With everyone having to spend too much money on MS software, since they take away from other investments that might make the economy really grow. Of course, if you look a 1) I would not believe that.

  • He didn't say it was a right. He said it was a cause. Americans for Widgets have a cause. Americans Against Widgets also have a cause. Causes aren't the same as rights.

    Additionally, what do you mean by 'morally owned'? If you mean, authors of software should be able to claim credit for their authorship, I don't have any immediate problems with it. (it may require closer study though) If you mean, authors have a natural right to control the distribution and use of their works, copies and derivatives therof, you're wrong. There's no such thing, the law (in the states anyhow) has never claimed such a thing, and it really doesn't matter what people thing. A large number of people are opposed to free speech too, depending on how you pose the question, and it doesn't mean that they're right either.

    I can tell you though that copyright is entirely different than freedom of speech. MS does have as much right to release closed source software as newspapers do copyrighting their news. At least, as long as Congress considers either to be copyrightable, which they don't actually have to. (software wasn't for some time)

    And there's nothing that prohibits MS from refusing to release their source.

    But on the other hand, what about this? What if Congress decides that in order to get copyright at all, MS must place their source in the Library of Congress. If they do, the source is copyrighted, but publicly readable. (like any published material) And only if the source is up does MS get to hold a copyright on the binaries. There's nothing that prevents Congress from doing this. And there's nothing that prevents MS from choosing not to accept what the government's big print giveth, even though that means giving up what the small print taketh away. There is after all, no natural entitlement to copyright.

    Also, note that the GPL is kind of like environmentalism for a software 'commons.' If they gave without strings (e.g. BSD, public domain) there's nothing that prevents other people from taking and not continuing to sustain the source from which it comes. The constant lengthening of copyright terms are an excellent example. Disney takes fairy tale stories and makes movies. But they don't let people take the movies and make other movies, which is essential to the whole issue of copyright. The point is to have the most movies, not to protect Disney's pocketbook.

    The GPL is a method of letting people take but requiring that they add to what can be taken. Its a choice; no one has to take at all. And it would be moot if there were no copyright at all. I don't think that it's accurate to call it proprietary though. It's not in the same spirit as that at all.
  • by Chmarr (18662) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:21PM (#415214)
    It makes sense that they're Pro-BSD, considering their entire TCP/IP stack is based on BSD code. Can't go trashing that, can we?
  • by Mnemia (218659) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:22PM (#415216)
    In a loose sense of the word, MS is right that the GPL "destroys" intellectual property. The relevant question is whether or not this is a bad thing (I'm inclined to think it is not!)
  • Heres another link: http://www.templetons.com/brad/copyright.html [templetons.com]

    Bingo! Here's the Library of Congress link: http://www.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ1.html#piu [loc.gov]

  • I'm sorry, this is a common belief..

    You can't remove the BSDL. But you can add additional restrictions for it's distribution. A ton of people get this confused, but it's the truth- yes, that does mean I can take a version of FreeBSD,"embrace and extend" and sell it closed source (or even with source, but restrict redistribution)

    I'm not saying this is a bad thing. All of my work has been released under the BSDL (or in some rare exceptions, public domain). I don't even think it's "stealing" -- I'm one of the biggest BSDL bigots out there, but you have to understand- someone can, under the myopic slashdot definition, "steal" BSDL software.

  • I worked at Microsoft on the Visual C++ team for a couple years

    The only good MS product! When using Linux, this is the software I miss the most. Linux has no development environment that even comes close - and the few that do come even vaguely near have ridiculous learning curves.

  • The right most people who are posting think exists -- the right for any citizen to use IP created in a university in the U.S. via a government-sponsored project -- does not exist. The Baye-Dole Act [harvard.edu] gives non-profits the right to exclusively license this IP to anyone they wish.
  • > It would be like the government one day decided to give every citizen a government-made
    > car. The market for private cars would collapse, and the government would have erected a state-run
    > monopoly over the automotive industry.

    But, if the government could give everyone cars, they'd still have to produce them which means auto workers would be making them. But, assuming that these cars *were* pulled out of thin air, doesn't it make sense to give one to each citizen instead of making them buy something that is no longer a scarce comodity?

    I mean, the government is for the people. Seems to me that giving everyone a car will do more good for more people than keeping the car companies around which helps the owners, a small fraction of the people.

    > Who would hire us and why? My guess is less people would be hired and for less compelling reasons.

    My current job hires one full-time programmer just to work on development tools. He tweaks our CVS, writes testing tools, debugging tools, etc. And in my last job I wrote front-end modules for a DB (Access or Paradox) specifically tailored for the company. Ordering systems designed to fit our needs, DB queries that the accountant wanted, etc. Nothing new, stuff they could have done with a spreadsheet and a DB without forms. But they wanted it made easier enough to hire me for a year and a half as I tweaked, added, etc. (I also did some other things, I'm not that slow. But all custom software that nobody else would get any use from, even if it were released.)

    > The GPL forbids you from selling add-ons, open source or not, for GPL-licensed software. You must
    > give the add-ons away for free under GPL or not distribute at all.

    Not quite. You can sell apps that run in X on Linux. They don't have to be GPLed. That's a way. The other alternative is to release GPLed software for free and sell the documentation and such.
  • That's an incredibly easy thing to argue against.

    Easy to argue against, not easy to argue well. I heard all these arguments 3 years ago when I switched to Linux and /. was just born. We had the same debates, and I debunked these same arguments then. Now there's even more support.

    The GUI in Mac and Windows systems are better than those found in *NIX, which are free.

    I strongly disagree. I vastly prefer my E desktop to anything I've seen from any commercial vendor. It is superior in many ways, not the least of which is functionality. I can _do more_ with E. If you argue ease of use, I'll argue that 1) people think the first thing they learn is easiest and 2) anyone who has used more than 1 GUI will be comfortable with almost any.

    Games are better non-free (Diablo, Unreal Tournament) than they are free (uh, FreeCiv anyone?)

    I would argue that FreeCiv has a superior game engine, and it definitely had multiplayer ability long before commercial Civ did.

    Nethack blows Diablo away in terms of everything that the game engine provides. The only thing it lacks are pretty graphics, and that's not the same thing as code.

    easier-to-use

    Highly subjective, and again I'd argue most people think MS/Apple is easy to use because it's what they learned. If I had a dollar for every person who was one second saying how easy MS is to use and the next minute cursing, and a dollar for everyone who thought mac was easy but windows hard or vice versa... Well, I'd at least be able to buy a few DVD's.

    strong support

    You don't mean that. You mean commercial support, which is different, and not necessarily better. You can get a lot of very good support for free software for free. Not to mention that one of the common models for profiting from free software is to provide support (I used to say 'would be', but there are companies who do just this now).

    polished (think Diablo)

    Diablo is polished because it looks pretty, and that's a function of the graphic artists, not programmers. I'm not suggesting the graphics be made free as well. Again, a commonly proposed model for open-source game development is to make the engine free and sell the graphics/levels that go with it.

    does what it's supposed to

    So Outlook is supposed to spread viruses like wildfire? Win95 is supposed to BSOD? I think you may have had some specific examples in mind, but I can site them as well. The benefits of an open development model are documented elsewhere; refer to them.

    First time. Without any extraneous configuring.

    Right. Meaning "put there for me by an OEM". Well, get your kid to instal Debian for you, and you'll get the same result.

    Also, people and artists tend to produce better products when they are being paid to do so. Think, again, Diablo.

    Again, Diablo was about the artwork, not the code (which is trivial when compared to a free project like Nethack).

    And you're also assuming you can't get paid for writting free software, and I bet there are some guys in RHAD labs that would laugh at you for that on their way to the bank.

    No CEO wants to "tinker", and that's one of the reasons they go after software that has full paid support.

    No, they go for full paid support because they have no choice. They can't tinker (and 'they' would be an engineer, obviously not the CEO, for goodness sake). Yet if they need full support, that means they have a need to make changes to the program because it is broken, or doesn't do what they want or what it's supposed to do. They can't make the changes, so they have to pay the vendor. With free software, if they didn't want to do it themselves, they could pay anyone with the expertise, or just ask the developer. No more lock-in!

    Outside of this, a majority of free software (free of speech, free of beer, free ad nauseum) can be found for a fee with strong support (no obtusively techie man pages), graphical spit and polish and a usable interface.

    Hehe. I love this argument! Last time I had this discussion, I was saying that for nearly any commercial app there was an equivalent free app. Now you're saying "we don't need free software cus we have commercial apps that do the same thing!" Wow. This is great -- it means we're coming full circle, and soon the corporate motto will be "no one ever got fired for using GNU!"

    Thanks. You've made my day.

  • 'The simple deal' is just my belief and goals (and the goals of the GPL), which really are quite simple, even if you don't agree.

    And I think part of freedom is not being able to take it away from others. If you think not being able to take something free and make into something not free reduces your own freedom, then you're right. Yet someone who really loves freedom is willing to give up some of theirs to ensure that everyone has as much as possible.
  • I don't get it. Let's say Microsoft wants to write an Ogg Vorbis player. Rather than pay for the development, they'll get the Department of Energy to write it. DOE releases the player under the BSD license, and Microsoft swallows it into proprietary Windows Media Player and runs around screaming about how innovative they are.
    Meanwhile, everyone in the world is free to start a GPL'd project based on the DOE code, or to incorporate that code into an existing GPL project. So when you say:
    GPL is the only license model that is sufficiently restrictive to guarantee that public works are not purely for the direct benefit of lobbyist.

    I think that even if the DOE code is intended to only benefit Microsoft, it will still, by virtue of its license, benefit all people trying to write audio players.
    Maybe you can postulate a government-funded project that is closely married to the Microsoft platform and could never be useful on Unix. But such a project would be equally problematic if it were GPL'd.
  • Yes, that's one possible scenario. You haven't shown how it is the only possible scenario, nor even why it even the most likely scenario.

    Value-added features. Everyone had an operating system. Features exclusive to one's own OS were (hell, still are) selling points, advantages one had over the competition used to entice customers.

    Opening the source code would negate that advantage, which was considered very important (lately it has been downgraded to just important). It would be unthinkable for them to do that, and if you believe otherwise I have this nice open bridge I'd like to sell you.

    "everyone" didn't think that ISO/OSI was the Next Big Thing, certainly not at the time that TCP/IP was introduced and became popular.

    Oh, no? Perhaps it was just my impression that OSI was in the the plans of every telco in the world, that OSI was the most talked-about networking protocol in the specialized magazines, that the very study of network protocols was centered around OSI, that every big OS company and telco were part of the OSI design committee?

    Or perhaps my memory of that time is not as good as yours. Who knows...

  • No open source product can stand against SQL Server

    PostgreSQL beats SQL server in every way and it's getting better rapidly
    --

  • Harsh words time: if Microsoft is compelling you to do anything, it is your own damn fault. Grow a backbone and start making your own decisions. If you don't want to purchase a copy of Windows, then simply don't purchase one! Of course it won't be convenient. Freedom has never been convenient. You're going to have to excercise your shopping muscles and find one of those manufacturers that don't charge for Windows. Or build your own. So what if it's hard! Who gives a shit! My ancestors fought and died in the Revolutionary war for freedom and here you are blaming Microsoft just because you're too lazy to shop around.

    Think what I might of Microsoft, King George they ain't.

    Believe it or not, it's not always that easy to avoid the Microsoft tax - and in many circumstances, the principle just isn't worth the increased expense and effort.

    When I need dozens of computers the same day, my only hope is to go around cleaning out all the electronics and office supply stores within a reasonable distance. I can't wait around for some dinky garage assembler in Flurjnik, Minnesota to scare up enough neighbor kids to put them together and mail them to me.

    When I'm buying equipment in government or corporate situations, there are often regulations or contracts or purchasing guidelines that limit me to certain vendors. And I can promise you that any vendor who is the beneficiary of such a thing is collecting taxes for Micros~1.

    If I don't pay taxes to the IRS and California Franchise Tax Board, I go to jail! On the other hand, I own a modern x86 computer that has never had any Microsoft software on it, ever. And I have absolutely no fear that Bill Gates can do anything about it.

    Trust me, when I signed the paperwork granting me authorization to make major purchases on the government's tab, jail was definitely a stated consequence for failure to follow the rules.

  • isildur% strings /mnt/dosc/WINDOWS/ftp.exe | grep California @(#) Copyright (c) 1983 The Regents of the University of California.
    Same thing happens if I run strings on ftp in /usr/bin under Linux too, what's your point?
  • They could do this with BSD, but if they did it with Linux there would be hell to pay as Linus, RMS, the Free Software Foundation, and everyone else would be bring law suits left and right. If they released Linux with the source and obeyed the GPL they would be fine.
    Molog

    So Linus, what are we doing tonight?

  • Fine then. Remove Debian from the list.

    Big deal. Doesn't change my point one bit.

    The issue of whether or not GPL code can be sold for profit has already been decided. Many Linux distros out there are already doing it.

  • It is not a tax because the manufacturers "agree" (your word) to buy Windows from Microsoft. In addition, the consumer has to voluntarily "agree" to purchase the hardware. No one is being compelled. On the other hand, the tax I "owe" the IRS is compelled. If I disagree I go to jail.
  • When I'm buying equipment in government or corporate situations, there are often regulations or contracts or purchasing guidelines that limit me to certain vendors

    Then it is the government agency or corporation that is voluntarily choosing to use manufacturers that employ Microsoft products. In your own domain you can do whatever you want. Your employer or client cannot force you to buy Windows for your personal use.

    Trust me, when I signed the paperwork granting me authorization to make major purchases on the government's tab, jail was definitely a stated consequence for failure to follow the rules.

    But you wouldn't be going to jail for "tax avoidance". Microsoft had nothing to do with it. If the rules said you had to purchase Dell+Redhat and you bought a Compaq+Windows instead, you would face the identical consequences.
  • When I need dozens of computers the same day, my only hope is to go around cleaning out all the electronics and office supply stores within a reasonable distance. I can't wait around for some dinky garage assembler in Flurjnik, Minnesota to scare up enough neighbor kids to put them together and mail them to me.

    I had to come back and respond to this point because it's still annoying me.

    First of all, there is absolutely no need to go all the way to Flurjnik to get computers without Windows. Have you ever heard of Penguin Computing? VA Linux? And those are just two names for Linux preinstalls catering to businesses. Many others exist and also for *BSD. And I don't need to mention the hundreds of other alternatives to preinstalled-Windows. Don't excuse your lack of shopping savvy by inventing a fictitous tax.

    You current state of freedom, absent any external coercion, is a product of your previous choices. If you're stuck in a situation where you have to buy 100 computers NOW, then that odds are overwhelming that it was you that got yourself into that situation. What if your situation called for 100 flatbed trucks right NOW, and the only local supplier was Ford, but that Dodge could have them ready for you in a week. Would you then be paying a Ford tax? I don't think so.
  • I don't see why it's a good thing that you can take a public program developed by the government, make a few changes, make it proprietary, and sell it. Sure, it makes people money, but so does slavery. Note that I'm not saying you advocate slavery, I'm just saying that not everything which results in the transfer of cash is really a good thing.

    If someone can't compete against free software, imho, they don't deserve to be in business. Imagine me trying to argue that FAQ maintainers are cutting into my business selling how-to books. If I didn't provide a better product, why would I deserve any money?

    And it's not like there'd be less of a market for programmers, we'd just be hired to customize things.

    I think people would still sell add-ons, but they'd have to sell a modular add-on, or an open source one. There's nothing extraordinary about paying for open source software... The company I work for has spent ~$50k on a realtime OS and they're looking for spend another $25k or so on another. Both of these have source code available and could be implemented for free. We're buying them to get the service package. One of these is also an addition to Linux. We've had great luck in buying open source, we get a superior product (the companies realize we read their code, they don't produce sloppy work) and we know what we're getting because we downloaded and tested it beforehand.
  • You can't compare someone offering a limited resource to someone trying to control an unlimited one.

    And a lot of those 'taxi drivers' in the software field are intentionally putting car manufacturers out of business so that the only transportation choice will be their taxi. In those cases, yes, they are greedy asses.

    As for the programming. I started to learn when I was six, without any idea of programming for money. It was fun and challenging so I worked on it. Even without a profit motive, many people would program.

    I doubt the profit motive would go away. People want things like OpenBSD where Theo and a team have stuck their name on a product. He could charge a lot for it and companies would pay if they wanted support for it from the creator. In the same way, id software could release the code for Doom3 and sell one giant add-on of copyrighted graphics, levels, and sounds.

    But if it did there are people who'd do it to have fun. People who'd do it for research purposes (Programming their new telescope control programs, etc). People who'd program at work to customize existing applications or write new ones.

    The only thing that could harm programming is if it's something you can't do in the future because to see how anything works violates the DMCA and the only way to learn anything is in university classes geared to turn out the next generation of VB scripters to make the assistants for Office 2050.

    GPLing everything and fighting laws like the DMCA (and UCITA) will ensure that the future stays open enough that programmers can continue to make profit in the industry if they desire, or continue to support their other work/hobby/research.
  • First of all, there is absolutely no need to go all the way to Flurjnik to get computers without Windows. Have you ever heard of Penguin Computing? VA Linux?

    I have purchased many fine servers from VAlinux and couldn't be happier. They do not, however, come on a moment's notice.

    You current state of freedom, absent any external coercion, is a product of your previous choices. If you're stuck in a situation where you have to buy 100 computers NOW, then that odds are overwhelming that it was you that got yourself into that situation.

    Sounds like you just haven't had the same sorts of jobs/clients that I have. While it may be my fault for accepting an urgent request to get a lab full of machines up by 8am the next morning, I would strongly dispute that the situation was of my creation. In any case, it doesn't matter. The situation comes up. You claimed the Microsoft tax was avoidable (and sure it is if you're just worrying about the computer in your basement), I phoned in from the real world to point out that's not always the case.

    What if your situation called for 100 flatbed trucks right NOW, and the only local supplier was Ford, but that Dodge could have them ready for you in a week. Would you then be paying a Ford tax? I don't think so.

    No, but the situation is not analogous. I can get computers from any number of manufacturers on a last-minute basis. They equal the set of mass-market PC manufacturers with broad retail distribution.

  • The point isn't whether or not it's BSD or GPL, but whether or not this sort of thing benefits Microsoft (see subject). For all those, I could have named other items like Mozilla or Gnome. The point is that these items, simply because they're free, don't hurt the little guy and benefit Microsoft. If you read posts for the ideas rather than the details, you may learn something.

    "I may not have morals, but I have standards."
  • Then it is the government agency or corporation that is voluntarily choosing to use manufacturers that employ Microsoft products. In your own domain you can do whatever you want. Your employer or client cannot force you to buy Windows for your personal use.

    My own personal use is of trivial interest. I buy a computer every three or four years. Likewise your shrill proclamations of successful avoidance are of little consequence

    The effect of the Microsoft tax on society is measured in the millions of purchases where it is assessed, whether because of channel availability, or purchasing rules, or simple broad ignorance.

    But you wouldn't be going to jail for "tax avoidance". Microsoft had nothing to do with it.

    Now you're just being silly. Nobody argued that Microsoft tax compliance was enforced by the IRS.

  • I don't understand. Suppose you work with IBM. IBM pays you to write GPLed software. So how is that not being paid for one's labor?

    You are taking the argument way too personally.

    In truth, the GPL does give you rights that would be denied to someone who bought ordinary software. It may not be absolutely free, but neither is commercial software.

    In fact, this idea that one cannot make a living unless one hides the source is so ridiculous. Please show me the evidence for this, or elaborate. The interesting thing is this: If this was so, then the BSD license would be a detriment, as opposed to the GPL, which at least gives you the right to look at your competitor's modifications.

  • It also doesn't make Microsoft good or bad.
    True, but I never passed a value judgement on MS.
    I'd rather spend my time working out reasons to lower taxes, increase education spending, get rid of dumb ass George Bush for president and get the economy back on scale
    Well, good for you! I'd love to see these issues get taken care of too, but that's got nothing at all to do with how software is licensed. One can write GPL software and still spew rhetoric about fixing the economy and the presidency. No mutual exclusivism here.
    How can software evolve if 500 people are using this piece of software in a different solution?

    I don't know any two people who use MS word for exactly the same thing, but I can tell you that far more than 500 use it. Same goes for excel and any other MS (or other closed source) product. Software evolves to provide different solutions.

    Is the community not only supposed to use thee software but support it as well?
    It does both. That's how it works. If you don't believe me, file a bug report for your favorite buggy linux program and watch yourself be supported.

    How can a computer be of assistance to people who want a solution rather then a piece of software for free?
    Are free software and solutions mutually exclusive? Not in my experience, and if you've ever used free software you should understand this.

    I've got a 1,200 dollar PC that can play MP3's, Watch DVD's, Surf the net, email friends, chat, do my taxes, play games, trade stocks, and most of all work.
    Funny, so does my linux system. Strange how that works...

    "I may not have morals, but I have standards."
  • You point out a very interesting situation. That the original author can change the license at will in future versions. This seems inevitable, and sounds bad.

    But then, suppose the original author dies, or stops writing software. Everyone else now has to play by the rules of the GPL. No future modifications may be locked away. The license works even when the author dies. Isn't that good?

  • why Corel failed too....


    Have you ever tried to use photopaint? Wordperfect wasn't bad but they bought that. Most corel created software was quite complex. I think Adobe helped in the current state of corel. As for thier linux distro, I don't think they really understood the linux concept.

    This is just my opinion.
  • If I'm a taxpayer, and I Microsoft Windows XP$#&, does Microsoft Software become "taxpayer funded software" then? Oh... wait a minute... ;-)

    "I may not have morals, but I have standards."
  • Why did MSFT choose to make such an Un-American licensed piece of software the standard scripting language for NT?
    Microsoft didn't. The standard scripting language for NT is either .bat/.cmd or VBScript via the Windows Scripting Host. PERL, along with PS, Kill, etc are just included in the Windows NT Resource Kit for all those crazy people out there who hate using the official Microsoft sanctioned GUI interface tools. There are more than a few people out there that refuse to do any type of scripting unless it's done in PERL, and since Microsoft wants to take over all servers, including those running UNIX, they need to at least deliver some tools with somewhat equivelant functionality.
  • Think about it. GPLed software keeps Microsoft's competitors at bay by undercutting them in the marketplace. This is why BeOS is going nowhere; it's caught between Microsoft on the one hand and Linux on the other.

    The GPL also prevents small developers from re-using publicly available code in their own products, again preventing them from competing with Microsoft.

    Microsoft doesn't need to copy or use GPLed code, because it has more money than [insert the name of your favorite deity here]. It can afford to hire endless armies of programmers to implement anything it wants. So, the GPL doesn't keep it from creating software. Not being able to incorporate GPLed code in a closed source product is a non-issue to Microsoft. It's only an issue to companies that might one day rise to compete against Microsoft. So long as those would-be competitors are forced to rewrite things in order to make money (you can't make money from GPLed code), they'll be spinning their wheels instead of going after Gates & Co.

    So, why is Allchin making nasty remarks about the GPL? Because -- as he ably proved when he testified during the Microsoft trial -- he's clueless. (Sigh.)

    --Brett Glass

  • 1) Up until June 12th, 1999 *MANY* people/companies were in violation of the 4 clause BSD licence. These days, the only way you can 'rip off' BSD code is to remove the BSD copyrite.

    2) Microsoft's own attempts at making their own TCP/IP stack blew goats. (and, it can be argued there are goats still being blown) And Linux has had, what, 3 'total re-writes' of the TCP/IP stack? How does the internet and TCP/IP benefit from having poorly written TCP/IP implementations trying to talk to the rest of the net? How do the projects benefit from re-invention, when all they have to do respect the wishes of the copyrite of the TCP/IP stack....and just not remove said copyrite?

    What would Microsoft do with extra resources? Write OS software that one could be proud of?
  • "I'm not a lawyer, but I play one on TV."

    You probably work with computers, so naturally you have a logical view of the law as hard, inflexible rules that are applied with machine-like precision, except corrupt judges or incompetent jurors.

    Your mechanistic predictions support this theory.

    You honestly think a judge is going to say "Okay now, everyone using GPL'd software has to stop immediately." just because that is the simplest interpretation of copyright law? Judges are charged with coming up with practical interpretations of the law. They don't like to cause chaos if they can find a way to weasel out of it (and I mean "weasel" in the nicest way possible :) ). They are entirely free to come to the conclusion that the intent of the GPL is to release something into the public domain, except for an attack on commercial software developers.

    Let me put it this way: if you went to court over what you thought was an unfair and illegal term in your apartment rental contract, would you expect the judge to simply say the contract was broken and therefore you must move out immediately or face trespassing charges (since the landlord owns the apartment)? Of course not, you'd expect him to change the contract, possibly nullifying odious restrictions, without asking for your landlord's permission. Judges can do that when presented with an illegal contract.

    If they decide that the GPL isn't entirely kosher, they might very well decide that the permissions of the GPL stand without the restrictions.
    ---
  • by powerlord (28156) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @09:15PM (#415298) Journal
    MS is definately telling the truth (well, sort of).

    The GPL is definately a borg-ish license (funny considering the picture of good old Bill that slashdot uses). This isn't a bad thing, but it is accurate.

    The half-truth is the nonsense about it constraining "taxpayer funded software developement". Obviously he must mean the Microsoft-Tax, since otherwise I would expect that anything developed with money from the public, should be owned by the public.

    There are several reasons that Microsoft could be doing this:

    1) They are trying to cut down Open Source in the eyes of the uneducated (gee... there's a shocker)
    2) They would prefer people use the BSD license so they can just take code and use it internally without worrying about things like having to extend their own code.
    3) There is GPL code in an MS product and they are testing the waters to fight the GPL in court.

    This last item is uncertain. Without a code review how can you really know when any closed source project uses open source code? Since an independent code review will never happen, this is a moot point (although I doubt even they would do this deliberately since their lawyers would eat them alive).

    The amusing bit was the articles comment that Sun is embrasing the GPL. It makes sense. All Sun cares about (for the most part) is selling hardware (and more and more Java). If MS came out and supported Sparc over Intel for WindowsXP Sun would back off (maybe). Right now they are trying to hit MS where it hurts, in the Office Suite.
  • by dcs (42578) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @09:18PM (#415304)
    Perhaps there is some confusion here. If I release a software under BSDL, for example, that software will *STAY* under that license, period. I can release it under other licenses, as the copyright-owner, but that does not "remove" that source code with BSD license on it from existence.

    The question is whether we derivative works of that software to be kept open, or if we want that software to be taken maximum advantage off.

    Since we would all be using OSI if TCP/IP hadn't been available under the BSD license, I know to which camp I belong.
  • What exactly is Microsoft trying to say? I really don't understand. Do they think that the GPL should be illegal or what? Aside from being blatantly unconstitutional, that would be just, well, stupid. I hope that no one, especially not in the government, is falling for this blatant BS. Its obvious that Microsoft is worried that the government might use open source softwate instead of Microsoft. So they are making these retardo statements so that the government buys more of their products. Mod this down, I don't care...I'm too angry to be coherent.
    ---


    ---
  • MS is a very large and powerful company that feels threatened by a small but up and coming group of people.

    People, groups, etc playing a I win You lose type of game are very frightened by people who choose to not play that game, who are not intmidated by that game, and who play a game where everyone wins, since that means that they gotta loose because their opponents win.

    utter lunacy, of course. In other words, they loose power if you do not play their game.

    just find a better game.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @09:20PM (#415308)
    of public funded software development.
    they are worried if more and more of software
    developed at Govt/university centres they won't be
    able to help themseves to it, & make a pile of $
    off it as they are accustomed to.
    Oh, & they are also more than happy to take most
    of the Credit.
    The it industry invented the Internet.
    No. The internet came out of govt funded institutions. What private industry did was to build,capitalize and some would say, exploit it.
    Getting them to admit that is hard to admit.
    Must be against Libertarian dogma.
    Same thing with the human genome.
    Turns out that the Celera relied on data from
    their publicly funded rivals to finish the job.
    The key thing is that the Public will get a better
    return on their investment thru the GPL.
    Bcs the discoveries and knowledge won't be
    borged and will be free to grow in an environment
    that allows growth thru both "real" competition and co-operation.
    GPL doesn't destroy IP.
    The community still has control over the IP.
    It's just that they it used in a way that is not
    exclusively about money.
  • Apple proves my point. They're using BSD-licensed code and it's probably going to be what keeps them alive.
    I doubt the validity of this statement. Fancy marketing (iMacs contain no BSD-licensed code in their cute plastic shells yet) and a hard-core true-believer fanbase who loves well integrated easy to use software is what keeps Apple alive. BSD is making it a competitor again, true, but it didn't make them a competitor when they were way ahead of MS with all proprietary stuff, and it didn't help NeXT much either.
    You cannot make money writing or publishing GPLed code. That's why all of the Linux companies are, one by one, failing. This was (and is) Richard Stallman's stated intent! (Read his "GNU Manifesto" for his most strident statement of that intent.)
    For every small company that can't make money writing GPL software, there are 500 that can make money by using it. It saves a lot of money at my work that I can use perl for my scripting, apache for my webserver, and php for additional web stuff. I can get these items at no cost and I don't have to worry about them ever disappearing off the face of the earth, while MS can do what they please. So tell me again how this benefits MS and how this is killing companies?

    whatever other opponent arises, the two (the GPL and Microsoft) will take him on together and win
    You're assuming that the GPL is a single entity. The GPL is just a license, MS is a corporation. As such, a thousand OS's can rise and compete under the GPL while MS gets to play just how MS wants. GPL allows for competition, MS does not. And I'm sure we can agree that competition allows for better software, right? So what if someone wants to found a company based on their flashy OS idea and they want to take code from the Linux kernel to do it? So they can't make money. Big deal. Found a company based on something else and use your resources better.

    The purpose of the GPL, to quote from the manifesto you so obviously enjoy referring to, is:
    Once GNU is written, everyone will be able to obtain good system software free, just like air.
    Would you like to tell me what is wrong with this? There is nothing that I've ever seen that guarantees anyone the right to make money off OS or webserver sales, why shouldn't this sort of thing be guaranteed to everyone rather than just those who can afford it, so long as there are those who are perfectly happy to give them away?

    In the end, I don't really care whether or not some tiny company can rise up and be our savior to fight MS. It's never worked before and it'll never work now. The only way to do it is by inverting the MS model, by totally removing the majority of the value from Microsoft's products, which is what the GPL does, for the good of the individual rather than the good of the corporation. If your sympathy is with the tiny OS or database company that could, mine is with the tiny webhosting company that does. Try to think about where the money (and other benefits for that matter) could go rather than where they would normally go.

    "I may not have morals, but I have standards."
  • more than stealing GPLed code for inclusion in Windows.

    Microsoft is big enough that it can develop or reimplement almost any feature. They want to stop the GPL mostly because the increasing amount of GPLed software is liberating people from the dominance of Microsoft software. The GPL is a serious threat to Microsoft's business model.

  • In other words, Microsoft representatives warned, "anyone who adds or innovates under the GPL agrees to make the resulting code, in its entirety, available for all to use ... [which] might constrain innovating stemming from taxpayer-funded software development."

    Quite the contrary, it is closed source software that contrains innovation. Microsoft would have us believe that everyone having access, and the ability to make changes to GPLed code is in some way limiting? Strange. I thought is was the other way around.

    The ability to benefit from others work can only make things happen more quickly. It's a way of thinking that MS uses quite often in it's marketing. They say, "Let us create software so good you can just do what you have to!". And this is what the GPL is all about. You get the code, so when you want to write software, you don't have to waste time writing it all again (because the code is locked up under licenses), you can get on with writing additions to the software, making it better, instead of just making is the same.

    GPL enhances innovation, because software developers can do new things, instead of having to reproduce current software to get around licensing issues. It can't be much simpler than that.

    More importantly, (and I should stress that I don't live in the US, so I don't benefit from saying this), if the software is tax payer funded, then it should be made available to the tax payers without limitation. Tax payers should be able to get their hands on the source code and use it. The tax payer owns this software, it's theirs. And as something they own, they should have total access to it.

    Given total access, innovation can only be magnified, because the less replication of software people need to do, the more they can be refining and extending software to meet more of their needs.

  • If a judge rules the GPL as "unfair" to proprietary companies, which indeed might happen (anything can, especially stupidity!). Then the FSF should bring to court proprietary software providers and get all their proprietary IP marked as unfair too.

    Basically, the GPL is nut'n bolted onto the existing IP laws. The license has been reviewed by many lawyers and has been worked on alot. Throw away the GPL, and you throw away IP too.

    Also keep in mind that the GPL _grants_ you rights to distribute and use the code. You don't have to pay for GPLed code, unless you want to support the author(s)/distributors. While for shrink-wrapped license software you actually have to pay for the product and open it _before_ you can read the agreement.

    Additionally, the other poster comparing IP laws with housing laws are completely misguided. These are two different set of laws. There's a good reason lawyers specialize.

    - Steeltoe
  • by powerlord (28156) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @09:30PM (#415333) Journal
    This is going to sound like a Troll but think about it for a minute before answering. Its really not ment as one.
    You said:

    "Anyone who is paid by the government to produce software, should be obliged to make the software available, for free, to everyone, with no strings attached." (emphesis mine)

    Okay, I will agree with this statement but add that the GPL adds a 'string'. It requires that I am not allowed to use that code in an unrestricted manner (ie. a Closed Source project). A BSD style license would allow people to use the code in Open Source projects or in Closed Source ones.

    Now, I also agree that if it was produced by taxpayer dollars, then if you want to do use it for Commercial gain, tough, you should re-impliment the code yourself. On the other hand, I can see that perhaps the LGPL might be more apropriate if the work is involved in producing a standard (ie. a referance implimentation) and it can be encapsulated into a library. This would allow it to be used by both closed and open source projects, and would hasten the adoption of the standard, while requiring that any change the closed source project attempts to make to the library (embrace & extend perhaps), is propogated back out to the community (if the use of the code can be monitored in some way).

    Perhaps the reference library covered under the LGPL and the actual code itself covered under the GPL, might provide the msot flexability, but maintain the ability for closed source projects to still utilize the work while not surpassing the rights of the individuals.

    Just a few thouhts.
  • I'm sorry, If you think that the GPL is the reason for BeOS going nowhere, I strongly suggest you take a look over at Apple. They have been a strong competitor with Microsoft for years, creating (for a while at least, and maybe again) a far superior product that just couldn't beat what was already in place. BeOS can't beat MS, no way no how, not the way they're going.

    And if you think that the GPL isn't hurting MS, you have to consider the fact that a lot of coders like the GPL and will code for it. This means a lot of software is being released that is very good and can compete with Microsoft on a variety of levels. The gcc, the linux kernel, apache(I know, the apache license, whatever)... these products all compete with Microsoft and are freely available. No matter how much money MS throws at their stuff, these products will still compete because people like to code for them. If you don't think apache and linux is cutting in to NT and IIS sales, you'd better go check Netcraft.

    And as for small developers, they're not going to be competing with MS any time soon either. Look at Netscape, the biggest little software developer there ever was. With all their resources, they couldn't beat MS, and now it's up to the Mozilla team to pick up the fight. Small developers can still make money using GPL'ed (and LGPL'ed) software. They just can't follow the Gates business plan. They'll just have to innovate and come up with a new one.

    "I may not have morals, but I have standards."
  • Yeah, they donated $100-$499... big bikkies in the scheme of things... :)

    rr

  • by nathanh (1214) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @09:34PM (#415345) Homepage
    ...that courts will rule that GPL'd software is in the public domain,

    Nonsense. If the GPL is found to have no legal grounding then the software license reverts to the standard copyright, which means NOBODY except the author can distribute the code. The author is then free to pick a license other than the GPL (presumably the GPLv3 which corrects whatever is found lacking).

    For a court to rule that GPL'd code is public domain is to steal intellectual property from the author and give it to the public. No court has ever done this. It would create such a dangerous precedent that even GPL hating companies like Microsoft would oppose such a ruling. It would be the destruction of ALL intellectual property.

  • Hey there moderators... get this post up there! It's poorly formatted, but it definitely doesn't deserve a 0 value just because it's AC!

    "I may not have morals, but I have standards."
  • Why don't you go out and test this theory yourself. The Disney company no longer distributes Song of the South, and they intend to keep it that way. By their own admission, they will never again make a profit off that movie. By your reasoning, you should now be free under copyright law to take your old videotape of the show and start running off your own copies for sale. Go ahead and try it and see how far Disney makes it in court before the case is thrown out.

    Disney has giant lawyers with sharp pointy teeth and a hundred arms each. They would come charging across the courtroom hurling boulders and screaming their terrifying battlecry, which no man can abide with soul intact.

    What matter law to such titans?
    ---


  • Microsoft's point is, the Government should act to prevent the use of the GPL, and similar licences, both for software used in, and developed by, Federal/State/etc authorities.

    Microsoft don't care what the point of the GPL is, they care that the Government doesn't mandate use of it.

    ~Cederic
  • by Sanity (1431) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @09:39PM (#415360) Homepage Journal
    This is little more than Microsoft taking a side in the BSD vs GPL debate, namely the BSD side. Moreover they are indicating that the government should take the BSD side too. While I personally prefer the GPL, there are very good arguments in favour of BSD, and so I don't think it is so easy to dismiss his argument.

    --

  • More than likely Microsoft is playing the bigger strategy of trying to win the legal battle on the home court with regard to GPL software on the innovation argument as an initial step towards winning the whole kitty. After all, we now know they understand what is at stake here.

    Once they have the big bad US government on their side then they can begin lining the pockets of the world trade organization or key members of the EU in order to leverage US policy decisions in the world markets. After all, the United States has a long history of being sure that their view of intellectual property is the correct one and should be used as the standard in international trade.

  • to diss open source... then just the GPL.. then they release Gatesnix, a a BSD-based *nix which runs both Linux and MS apps, which is free (as in beer.... none of that commie GPL crap).

    And heck.... multi-million dollar loby with rich crooks in office and the next thing you know Free Software is illegal

    I'm only half-kidding. I hope rms writes a fantastic response, and someone else talks to legislators.

  • There's many good reasons, here's one of them:

    Microsoft wants ideas, implementations from smaller companies and innovative people to be available to them. But it doesn't want to share all that it has receieved. In the end making it a one-way black hole system.

    When a person is unable to share with others what he or she receives. That person becomes isolated and lonely. It seems this might apply to companies too.

    - Steeltoe
  • Actually, you misunderstood my post. The second paragraph was intended to qualify the first by saying that I don't think they could throw away the whole thing because there are too many companies and projects and individuals that depend on GPLed code they've been using from other projects. As the CTO of a software company I get to deal with patent and copyright law all the time. I recognize that there is a lot of leeway in interpretation. I intended to first set up a strict interpretation and then illustrate the couterpoint - that there is a large body of GPL software in use and that a legal decision that rendered all that code unusable would be extremely unlikely.

    I actually think this is a MAJOR strategic flaw on the part of the FSF. It basically sets them up for failure, in that as you point out, a judge may throw away the restrictions without throwing away the permissions due to unenforceability of the restrictions (they are somehow contrary to established law or precedent) and the inability to revoke all code licensed under the GPL.

    Strategically, somebody (the FSF really) should have forced a legal test of the GPL a long time ago. Although it could also be argued that common adherence to the GPL has resulted in a large body of code being issued under the GPL with the presumption that the terms would be enforced as they are generally respected. That's why it would seem _unlikely_ that a judge would want to make a ruling either way on this topic, since they would just set themselves up for failure - the legality of it may be questionable, but it affects a huge body of work and a lot of common interest. Revoking existing rights and common presumptions about usage is a grave, grave move to make and would seem _unlikely_. Nothing is impossible of course, but that's why we have appeals.

    And again, like I said, if you were to rule that the licensing restriction of the GPL is unenforceable, you could probably expect people to use that precedent to argue that many of the restrictions imposed by shrinkwrap agreements for commercial software are equally unenforceable, when those are strongly entrenched as well. That's why you haven't really ever seen any clear ruling on them, there's no legal interest in making one because it would only piss somebody off and disturb a very delicate balance in one way or the other.

  • My gist is that "innovation" doesn't die at the implementation level. To say you can't use an innovative idea without using the original implementation is the point Microsoft is trying to make. It's the difference between them saying "Let's take all of the source from the Linux kernel and make it ours" and "Lets take a look at what made Linux good and model our new kernel after those same ideas." Microsoft wants to sell you on the notion that you can't do one the latter without the former. It is simply a patented attempt to spin a complete lie into FUD.
  • by jemfinch (94833) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:15AM (#415371) Homepage
    I've seen this too many times to be silent.

    There is no proof that the Microsoft Windows TCP/IP stack is based on BSD code.

    There. I said it. Now I dare anyone reading this to prove me wrong. I use FreeBSD myself; I'd love to hear that the most popular operating system on the planet used code from my operating system of choice. I know, however, that no one's going to prove me wrong. I know that at least 4 people will post "Look, dork, if you do 'strings' on the windoze ftp client, it says it's bsd!!". And I'll say, "You do know that an ftp client isn't a tcp/ip stack?" I know this will happen because I've already said this, here. (link missing because slashdot's search function doesn't work well)

    As much as I'd like to believe that Windows uses the BSD tcp/ip stack, there's simply not proof of it, and plenty of opposing evidence (see the various deficiencies in the implementation in Windows).

    Jeremy
    --

  • (submitted to Microsoft Corporate Services)

    Hi,

    My name is Jason Thane, and I'm C and C++ developer living and working in Seattle, WA. Many of my colleagues have previously been employed at Microsoft in the past and have liberally extolled the virtues of employment there.

    I have often considered the possibility of applying for a position within Microsoft but unfortunately will do so no further after today reading an article on dailynews.yahoo.com concerning executive Jim Allchin's comments regarding Open Source software and the GNU General Public License. Allchin's comments seemed to indicate that Microsoft believes our nation's lawmakers should consider Open Source software "a threat" to innovation and the development of the computer industry.

    This statement is SO inflammatory to myself and many of my colleagues in the industry that it is suddenly little wonder to me why the brightest people I know have no interest in working for Microsoft.

    If Microsoft continues to spew blatant propaganda and ignorant nonsense such as Allchin's comments, I have a feeling Microsoft's "best and brightest" might not be as good or as bright as many engineers who have chosen to avoid the company. Such as myself.

    One more thing - Open Source software should be considered one of the most positive phenomena in the history of the world: a community freely sharing ideas and effort in order to create utility for all of its members. With hope our lawmakers will understand how much more important to their constituents (THE PEOPLE) that phenomenon is than the interests of Microsoft, Inc. I don't consider myself a political activist, but in this case the propaganda is so outrageous that it demands I write my elected legislators and urge them to work to protect Open Source and the future of the software industry from this company.

    Sincerely,

    Jason C. Thane
    jasoncthane@REMOVECAPSNOSPAMbeirdo.com

    If you're going to post, post something intelligent. PLEEEEEEAAAAASSSSEEE!!!
  • by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @10:01PM (#415403) Homepage

    Blech. The GPL is neither particularly restrictive nor nearly as complicated as most people seem to think. For practical purposes, the GPL means three things to most users:

    1. You are perfectly free to run the software any way you damn well choose
    2. If you redistribute the software you may not change the terms of the license and must let other people know their rights by including a copy of the license
    3. If you redistribute the software as binaries you must make source available to everyone to whom you made the binaries available.

    That neither restrictive nor difficult, particularly if you tend to distribute the software as source. The GPL just looks big and intimidating because it's written in legalese to make it harder to dodge in court.

  • by Get Behind the Mule (61986) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @12:52AM (#415417)
    A naive reader of M$'s "correction" could be fooled into a rather negative view of GPL'd software, especially if it's used by the government. They make it sound as if you are obliged to GPL any software you developed if you used any GPL'd software to develop it. Say, for example, I work for the government and used emacs to edit a C program, and gcc to compile it. A naive reader of the M$ blurb might conclude that you have to release the C program that you developed under the GPL.

    This spin might succeed at getting a lot of people turned off on open source software. Why, they ask, should programmers in business or government be required to share all of their work, no matter what it is? It might be nice to do so, but shouldn't they have the choice not to?

    Of course that's not what the GPL requires -- you only have to share any changes you make on the GPL'd products themselves, not on anything you create using them; and the government is unlikely to get involved in projects like emacs, gcc or the Linux kernel, so the issue probably won't come up at all.

    It's a clever bit of FUD on M$'s part, because this impression will have to be answered by open source advocates with another "correction", and the distinction is complex enough that the broad public may never get it.
  • by Outlyer (1767) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:27PM (#415427) Homepage
    Well, at least in regards to it being an "intellectual property" destroyer. Intellectual property, for Stallman, is the commoditizing of information, which the GPL exists to prevent. So, I don't think he'll object to the statement, what he (and I) object to, is the rather flawed conclusion that this clarification makes.

    Why should our governments contribute to closed-source development? It doesn't benefit their citizens, on the other hand, Expect is great tool that came from Government open source (it's public domain, mind you)

    Also, it's convenient for Microsoft to support the BSD license, as it's a frequent source of Microsoft applications. (Run 'strings' on ftp in Windows NT/2k and you'll see)

    The GPL prevents this, hence, Microsoft cannot easily 'embrace and extend' GPL software.

    In no way am I against the BSD license, but it does facilitate the opposite of what the GPL represents.
  • by 1010011010 (53039) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:27PM (#415430) Homepage
    They can steal stuff from BSD-licensed software without any problems, thus enhancing their "Intellectual Property". GPL makes them give it back, along with any enhancements, thus devaluing their "intellectual property". I believe Exchange includes BSD-licensed software -- parts of sendmail, maybe? THe copyright includes "the regents of the university of california."

    I wonder if they will mount a legal challenge to the GPL now? And how will they do it? Release a closed-source version of some GPL program, perhaps, and then litigate it? They wouldn't lose much -- the 'penalty' would be for them to release the source for their modified program, which I doubt they would care about anyway. I also wonder if another company would defend the GPL -- IBM perhaps? Sun, now they they're including Gnome with Slowlaris (yeah, we'll see)?

    - - - - -
  • by xueexueg (224483) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:28PM (#415436)

    In other words, Microsoft representatives warned, "anyone who adds or innovates under the GPL agrees to make the resulting code, in its entirety, available for all to use ... [which] might constrain innovating stemming from taxpayer-funded software development."

    "...Because if you are taxpaying, you are not deserving of the innovating stemming from your tax-paying-paid developing, which, because, uh, if everyone can be using and adding to the source coding, this innovating will be belonging to the tax-paying, and not to whomever the tax-paying are paying to be developing.
    "And then maybe your base will not be belong to us," he added.

  • by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @10:11PM (#415444) Homepage
    If the government is going to be paying people to produce software, the software should be open for all taxpayers to use. Including closed-source software companies.

    But GPLed software is available for anyone to use. Right of unrestricted use is part of the license. Closed-source software companies can even distribute GPLed software. Microsoft could release its own distribution of Linux if it particularly felt like it. They just aren't allowed to slap on a different license. In fact, IIRC, Microsoft already does distribute some Open Source software (under its original license) as parts of some of its multi-part software packages.

    Actually, I agree that government originated projects shouldn't be licensed under the GPL. I think that it's probably better for them to be released under something like the BSD license or public domain that allows the broadest possible use. But that shouldn't stop the government from contributing to GPLed projects already in progress (i.e. NSA high security Linux) if doing so is a good way of achieving government aims.

  • by cperciva (102828) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:30PM (#415466) Homepage
    If the government is going to be paying people to produce software, the software should be open for all taxpayers to use. Including closed-source software companies.

    Remember how anyone who did government-funded research in the US had to put in place provisions allowing the US government to use their research for free? The same should apply, only more broadly, for government-funded software projects: Anyone who is paid by the government to produce software, should be obliged to make the software available, for free, to everyone, with no strings attached.

    Oh, and WTF is a retroactive clarification? Is it supposed to be in contrast to a proactive clarification of the form "I am about to say something confusing, but what I will really mean is..."?
  • by Znork (31774) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @11:24PM (#415473)
    It doesnt so much "destroy" it as make it very difficult for Microsoft to buy, assimilate or steal. Which makes it rather difficult for Microsoft to maintain their primary forms of "innovation".
  • by cpeterso (19082) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @11:26PM (#415484) Homepage

    c:\winnt\system32>strings ftp.exe

    !This program cannot be run in DOS mode.
    Rich[:
    .text
    `.data
    .rsrc
    WSOCK32.dll
    ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US
    GetConsoleMode
    CreateFileA
    KERNEL32.dll
    @(#) SOMEONE SET US UP THE BOMB
    exe\ftp.dbg
    !SEINEEW ERA SREENIGNE EPACSTEN
    .exe
  • by 1010011010 (53039) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:35PM (#415496) Homepage
    e:\winnt\system32>strings ftp.exe

    !This program cannot be run in DOS mode.
    Rich[:
    .text
    `.data
    .rsrc
    WSOCK32.dll
    [...]
    GetConsoleMode
    CreateFileA
    KERNEL32.dll
    @(#) Copyright (c) 1983 The Regents of the University of California.
    All rights reserved.

    exe\ftp.dbg
    .exe


    - - - - -
  • by phaze3000 (204500) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @11:33PM (#415503) Homepage
    If Microsoft are getting genuinely worried about the GPL, as this article would suggest, then it would seem that it's working.
    I personally cannot wait for the day when we don't need to worry about software licenses because there is no such thing as non-free software. Until that day, I believe we need to release (almost) all our code under the GPL, or we have the potential to unwittingly help those who are against freedom (witness the large chunks of BSD code within the various MS operating systems). Microsoft speaking out so strongly against the GPL proves that this is obviously the correct tactic to be taking.

    --
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @02:56AM (#415518) Homepage
    If software can be morally owned (and most people think it can be),

    Is this supposed to be an argument? Most people think Britney Spears is "all that".

    then you have no rights to compell the author to license it the way you want. ... Before you can outlaw closed source you're going to have to eliminate free speech and free press, and get rid of the entirety of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

    *backs away slowly* Okaaay...

    Where exactly did this comment come from? I mean, it's true, but in the context you said it in, it makes no sense. And frankly, that worries me.

    Nobody - not even RMS - is trying to compell you to use the GPL. If you ask him, he'll tell you that you should use the GPL, and he'll tell you why. But he won't try to force you.

    Unless you think I'm "forcing" you to GPL your software because you want to use my GPL'd software in yours, in which case you'd be complaining that you can't do something which you couldn't do anyway if my software was closed.

    Look, here's the simple deal. Free software benefits the populace more than closed software. Free software is better. No one wants to outlaw non-free software. We just want to get rid of the system in which people are rewarded for making their software non-free. Which is not the same as being rewarded for making sofware, so don't try that.

    And according to my dictionary, that means it's proprietary.

    So in your dictionary something is proprietary if the author wishes to keep others from taking it and making it proprietary. I guess that means that in your dictionary I think I own the air I'm breathing because I wouldn't want someone else to take it all and then sell it back to me.
  • by SEAL (88488) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @11:45PM (#415539)
    I worked at Microsoft on the Visual C++ team for a couple years. When Netscape finally threw in the towel and made its browser free, we were specifically instructed not to look at, touch, or go anywhere near Mozilla's code or website.

    This was a fairly big deal for me and I wasn't even on the Internet Explorer team. Imagine the grilling those guys got.

    Other companies may covertly use GPL'd code, but Microsoft is very, very anal about avoiding it. They understand that they are a target; they are always under the spotlight and cannot afford the PR disaster that would happen if they were caught using GPL'd code in a non-compliant fashion.

    They may implement something from scratch, or find an alternative, but it certainly won't be done by the same people involved in an audit of GPL code.

    Best regards,

    SEAL

  • by f5426 (144654) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @03:23AM (#415541)
    A single thing is clear in the article. Microsoft is scared to death.

    Finding why is quite easy. RMS wanted to kill IP, or at least to guarantee that you can use a computer without selling your soul. He deserve credit for starting the fight.

    But MS didn't care about RMS.

    Then linux came. A toy operating system. MS was a bit scared by linux, because it attacked its bottom line. They used FUD tactics against it, and failed miserabily, because it only gave linux more momentum. MS could have destroyed linux a few years ago (hiring key developers, releasing a MS linux, playing strong-arm with early adopters and media, dealing with EOM to close hardware, obfuscating protocols, actively detroying linux paritions at install, challenging the GPL, pushing BSD ahead), but the anti-trust trial probably prevented this to be done at full force (they did a bit of everything, but no real move). All in all they were not really scared.

    Then, in a couple of years, IBM embraced linux, Sun embraced GPL, several office clones where released, desktop environments were becoming standard. This is scary.

    What are the key applications of MS ?
    * The OS. Free OS exists
    * Internet Explorer. A key app to get people hooked to windows. Mozilla exists, and can't be destroyed.
    * Office. Office clones exists.
    * Backoffice. This is ta big advantage remaining. No open source product can stand against SQL Server or Analysis Services. But joe random user don't care.
    * Visual Basic. Another advantage, cause it is the de-facto development standard on windows. They integrate it in every app, to make it ubiquitous.
    * Third party apps. Mostly DirectX games (see around yourself people that use computers. What are the apps they use that have absolutely no free counterparts ? Recent games. Most lusers I know that run windows at home uses IE/OutlookExpress/Word and 5 or 6 games). Be sure that the x-box strategy is the to re-inforce that.

    Anyway, FUD have been showed not to work.
    GPL prevents embrace and extend.

    Note that the sole protection (beside its huge amount of users) of 'open source' is the GPL. This is what prevent MS to "compete" (ie: getting inter-operability by using the code, modifying code, then preventing open-source to play catch-up).

    Anti-trust trial is over (anyone that think that US govt will do anything is dumb beyond belief).

    Microsoft is flexing its muscle and will probably try many simultaneous tactics.

    Getting govt to refuse GPL would be a huge point to them. What they really want is probably to get universities to ban GPL (something like : you can't get govt fund if you produce GPLed code, or better, if you use GPLed code). It is a war for developer mindshare. It'll take years to get that. They need to pervert public perception of the GPL. They need to dramatically decrease the amount of GPL developpers.

    Another attack angle that is obvious is the divide tactic. MS will play BSD against GPL. Unfortunately for them, the issues of GPL vs BSD are well known, and most intelligent people understand that both licenses have their use (and LGPL have its use too).

    An interesting attack angle is the court challenge of the GPL. You can bet that millions of dollars are currently spent to find how, and to bribe key people. But will MS have the balls to challenge the GPL ? This would be a disastrous PR, in an order that have never been done before. They may loose big time.

    Most promising angle of attack, is to totally change the rules of the game. Getting content protection into the hardware, promoting the use of 'trusted' system software and 'trusted' media applications, is a way to prevent *any* digital media to be delivered to open-source platform. OTOH, it is also a way to push people into a 'free' media system. After all, it is the proprietary software mess that started the free software movment. Making media distribution proprietary is perhaps the best path to a free-media system...

    Anyway, the free software camp is getting stronger everyday. It will definitely be an interesting fight.

    Cheers,

    --fred
  • Spot on. Moderators, up the parent of this thread!

    Allchin is a thug. An intelligent thug, but a thug nonetheless. He plays the heavy in negotiations where M$ are trying to bully a smaller company into giving away their only asset for a pittance. Are there any /. readers with first hand experience with Allchin? (most people who survive a double-barreled "negotiation" with an experienced M$ hit-team tend to take the cash and move to a tropical beach or teach kindergarten and never touch a computer again).

    Allchin is a top-level M$ exec, and as such he must sit in high-level strategy meetings. Certainly the topic of these meetings is how to ensure their glorious leader can sleep better at night. So when a strategy committee punted around ideas on what is causing the holy emporer to lose sleep, the GPL came out as a major cause. The solution, obviously, is to attack the GPL by changing the laws it is based upon. If Disney can change copyright laws through the Bono act, M$ can tweak laws to eliminate the viral effects of the GPL.

    So there is quite clearly a cleverly hidden M$ agenda to influence lawmakers in the US, and probably in the EU as well. Allchin just shot his mouth off to make himself seem smarter to some reporter, and tipped M$'s hand. Now they are in spin control.

    If M$ follows their usual course of manipulation, there is already a "Political Interest Campaign" underway in Washington DC to "educate" senators on the evils of free software to the american way of life. There is a group of M$ lawyers creating some new laws which can be given to a senator's aides, and subsequently passed off as an original work by the "All-American Hero" senator. Those laws will change copyright slightly so the GPL loses its protections, and will cause the whole body of work to become public domain, or the copyright will be handed over to a "controlling IP body" similar to the MPAA/RIAA.

    Others (TheDullBlade [slashdot.org]) are touching on these ideas in various threads, but missing the point on how the courts will be given new laws in which to invalidate the GPL.

    Expect this to be a long and drawn out fight. I'll be keeping an eye on DG-13 activities for signs of changes to copyright law in the EU. Whatever influence M$ attempts in the US, they also tend to attempt in the EU.

    the AC
  • by sharkey (16670) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:40PM (#415566)
    It's not IP that the GPL destroys, but instead the ability for others use that IP to exploit customers and competitors.

    In other words, it doesn't destroy Intellectual Property, but Intellectual Profiteering.

    --
  • This is one of those posts that will generate a lot of noise with only one signal: "Yeah, big surprise. They can and do rip off BSD so of course that kind of OSS is OK."

    I think the real important thing to remember, and this may throw some logs on the GPL vs. BSD debate (although I hope we can avoid that) is that the GPL is working as intended. It's scaring the crap out of the guys who aren't willing to support the kind of freedoms that the GPL is engineered towards. Meanwhile, the BSD license falls in to an area that's total freedom in which everyone can do what they like, which is perfect for the juggernaut from Redmond.

    I think at this point it should be painfully clear that the distinctions between Linux and BSD on a technical level are becoming slimmer and slimmer as they grow towards each other in terms of implementation, while the ideological gap caused by their licenses grows wider and wider.

    In the end, I suppose it comes down to how much you value the freedoms of your rulers (i.e. Microsoft). Because rulers get special powers (such as the force of a monopoly) do they get to retain the same rights that you have that are in place largely to protect the little guy? Your answer to that question pretty much determines the license you should release your code under and vice versa, so choose wisely.

    "I may not have morals, but I have standards."
  • by 1010011010 (53039) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:42PM (#415581) Homepage
    Flamebait? There were three ideas contained in that message-
    1. Microsoft likes using BSD-licensed software in their products
    2. Microsoft may be making a prelude to a legal challenge to the GPL
    3. If Microsoft plans to litigate the GPL, who might defend it? IBM? Redhat? Andover?


    - - - - -
  • by MrBogus (173033) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @06:12AM (#415584)
    Proof?

    The Windows For Workgroups TCP/IP help file proudly proclaimed that the stack was of BSD orgin. That stack made it into Windows 95 without much modification.

    Well, you'll have to install WfW and find out.
  • by WNight (23683) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @06:17AM (#415591) Homepage
    Here's what you missed.

    People who GPL code don't care about greedy assholes like yourself. They care about everyone else. The programmers in the next generation who need access to existing code if they're going to learn.

    As for you, take the code and quit whining, or leave it, and quit whining. You can make the choice to use it or not, but accept the price.

    I myself license the stuff I write (not much) under the GPL because if I've invented anything and given it away for people to use, I don't want them hiding it and declaring it their own, depriving other people of seeing how it worked. This is all choice based, nothing is forcing anyone to use it.

    The great thing about copyright is that unlike patents, copyrights cover a specific implementation only instead of the fundamental ideas. If you see something I wrote, write your own. If you can't, you don't have the right to steal what I wrote.

  • by bhurt (1081) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @06:18AM (#415595) Homepage
    First some assumptions:

    1) You have the right to expect payment for software you have written.

    2) You have the right to set whatever payment you want for the software you have written- if you don't like it (or think I'm asking too much), *don't use my software*.

    3) Using someone's software without paying for it is *piracy*.

    So far, I don't think I've said anything so radical that Alchin would disagree with me. But here comes the twist. I define the GPL as payment in kind. The cost of using my software is that I get to use *yours*. The cost of being able to modify my code is that I get to modify yours. Quid pro quo.

    If you don't like this deal, DON'T USE GPL'D CODE.

    Here's the punchline. By advocating that you should be able to use GPL'd source code without paying for it in kind, that is *piracy*.
  • by TheDullBlade (28998) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:42PM (#415596)
    ...that courts will rule that GPL'd software is in the public domain, especially GPL'd software that doesn't properly specify contact information to negociate other terms or even who actually owns the copyright.

    I mean, shrink-wrap licenses are weak enough when they explicitly state who you're forming a contract with.

    I think the viral licensing clause puts it on very shakey legal ground.

    I also think that it could well be argued that the license is prejudicial against commercial software developers with malicious intent. The FSF propaganda supports this ("It's exhilarating standing up to an evil empire." anyone?). This might be enough to break the GPL legally.

    I just don't think the GPL will stand up in court against a serious attack by a large commercial interest. It really stretches the bounds of contract law, and was, after all, designed to attack proprietary software developers.

    Then there's the question of whether a lawsuit against a GPL violator could actually be awarded damages. The copyright holder is not using his copyright to secure a profit for himself, and it's damage to just such a profit that's supposed to be reimbursed in a copyright suit; you're not supposed to be awarded damages just because you don't like the way the violator makes his living. The courts might very well toss out all cases as frivolous.
    ---
  • by 7-Vodka (195504) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:46PM (#415610) Journal

    With this statement Microsoft is trying to obfuscate alchin's comment so it doesn't sound so stupid. That's where the taxpayer-funded part came in. It's just there to confuse, since it makes no sense and they don't elaborate.

    They also pointed out very clearly their next target. It's the GPL and they have it firmly in their sights. Believe me when I say that, even as we speak, there are many lawyer man-hours preparing for a full blown attack of the GPL being paid for in Redmond. They are most likely preparing to come down on the GPL with all their might as soon as their antitrust case is resolved (or settles down, depending on Bush).

    I will be anxiously awaiting Microsoft's big move as it is sure to be impressive.

    "just connect this to..."
    BZZT.

  • by nathanh (1214) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:52PM (#415652) Homepage
    In other words, Microsoft representatives warned, "anyone who adds or innovates under the GPL agrees to make the resulting code, in its entirety, available for all to use "

    It only took them more than a decade to figure this out. What a crack legal team.

    ... [which] might constrain innovating stemming from taxpayer-funded software development."

    This is particularly amusing. Apparently the word "innovation" now means "take existing code someone else wrote, and sell it as your own after making possibly trivial changes". The BSD comments preceding this quote seem to support that conclusion as well.

    It also shows a complete lack of understanding of the nature of open source. It's a GLOBAL effort, not an effort funded solely by the USA taxpayers. If it was possible to measure value to the Open Source community as contributed by country, I'm sure Australia and Finland would be at or very near the top.

    So perhaps Australia should send a great big invoice to the USA government, demanding payment for all the code the USA has been using for free? No, because that's not the point of open source. The point of open source is to increase the value of software to SOCIETY AS A WHOLE, not to the select few individuals that happen to be in the right place at the right time when IBM decides to throw money around looking for a cheap OS for a rushed personal computer project.

  • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:53PM (#415678)
    Unless the contract specifically states that the contract can be partially enforced, than an invalidation of the contract will invalidate the whole of the contract. In other words, if the contract (the GPL license) is unenforceable, there is no contract unless the contract is explicit about piecewise enforceability. The lack of any contract is not public domain. Rather the rights would properly revert to the copyright holder, presumably, since the license was ruled invalid. It's of course rather complicated, because what about instances of GPLed code where it had been integrated into another GPLed product? On the one hand the license was by definition irrevocable, and you can't take away the derivative work that contains, say 50% of the licensor's work. On the other hand, you can't just invalidate the clause of that stipulates the "payment" terms of the GPL, i.e. that in exchange for using the code in your own derivative work, you must distribute your derivative work under the terms of the GPL.

    The body of work out there under the GPL is quite humongous and therefore I cannot believe that a court would just throw away the GPL since throwing away the GPL and ruling all GPLed code is public domain would basically say intellectual property has no meaning at all and you have no say over the use of your IP. It would pretty much by definition have to invalidate most of those shrink wrap licenses that companies live and die by since their terms are often more restrictive on what you can and cannot do with the products than the GPL terms are. Again, you use it, you should know what you're getting into. QED, fuck Microsoft and their whiny, code-stealing shit. They just want to pirate from GPLed code and disrespect the wishes of the copyright holders when they have no inherent rights to use that code anyway. They sure as fuck don't let anybody use their code. Fucking pot and the kettle.

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:53PM (#415684) Homepage
    Read some FSF philosophy ;)

    The entire point of the GPL is to make the concept of "IP" obselete. To, litterally, squash the idea from the public mind.

    The GPL depends on copyright, its is, at its very heart, an attempt to hack the copyright system to serve the ends of those who wish to eliminate "IP".

    Don't take my word for it! Get it right from the fsf website. http://www.fsf.org/philosophy [fsf.org]

    For once, Microsoft was right. The GPL *IS* indeed designed to eliminate IP. That is its stated goal. I, for one, certainly am hopeful that it will be achieved.

    -Steve
  • by chrylis (262281) on Tuesday February 20, 2001 @08:58PM (#415716)
    "I am sure to use not only a BSD style license but my own language which specifies what I consider fair use."

    While that does allow you to specify exactly what other people can do with your code, it has the unhealthy side-effect of confusing the community at large. I know what the GPL says, I know what the LGPL says, I know what the BSD license says. I'd rather not have to wade through others' home-brewed licenses to figure out what's going on.

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