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Sun's Schwartz Attacks GPL 625

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the release-the-claws dept.
jskelly writes "Sun Micro President Jonathan Schwartz attacked the GPL at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco yesterday.Other than the same old arguments (you can't make it proprietary later) he adds that it imposes on developing nations "a rather predatory obligation to disgorge all their IP back to the wealthiest nation in the world" -- but fails to mention that the converse is also true: the wealthiest nation in the world is similarly, under the GPL, forced to "disgorge all its IP back to the developing nations" as well. Duh!"
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Sun's Schwartz Attacks GPL

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  • ahh.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:52AM (#12154805)
    ..i see your swartz is less open than mine..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:54AM (#12154835)
    Just don't use GPL'd code and write it all yourself.
    • by Thud457 (234763) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:18PM (#12155163) Homepage Journal
      I think Van Gogh should have stipulated that all his unsold paintings be burnt after his death. I mean, if he didn't profit from them, why the hell should he share them with an ungrateful world? Why on Earth would anybody do anything unless they stand to gain from it? You'd have to be a really stupid fucking schmuck to give anything to the world for free.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:59PM (#12156630)
        I agree totally, and I will say more. I believe a major cause of the lack of respect for Intellectual Property in the US (at least) are public libraries, and to a lesser extent public museums and parks. While these institutions are certainly legal under current law, what impression is one to gain from them? Why, none other than the idea that we all have the right to enjoy other peoples' property, any time we feel like it, for FREE! How can we allow children to be brought up with such an un-American belief? We need a call to action, and I propose that laws aren't enough. We must have a Constitutional Amendment, banning public libraries, public museums, and abolishing the national and state park systems, with the land to be sold for $1 an acre to companies equipped to develop that resource. There can be no genuine argument against this, as it is for the public good; just as the civic-minded citizens of Kansas (where I reside) have just enacted an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage, also for the public good. This decision is now being celebrated by church ministers across the state, also as it should be. I realize some readers of Slashdot are not Christians, but to those among you who do not follow the Lord and live in immorality I say only, make no mistake -- you are a tiny, tiny minority of the general population. To the rest of us I say, be vigilant! We may all sometimes feel an impulse toward tolerance or sharing, but we must be strong. These deviant urges are not part of the American Way, and worse, certainly not part of the Christian Life.
    • by ospirata (565063) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:18PM (#12155167)
      A Developing Country like Brazil had two choices: - Buy proprietary software and do not get knowledge to develop its own technoligy later, thus always buy techonology or... - Get free open source software, develop its own techonology and be "forced" to return its enhancements to Developed countries. First choise make you a slave forever. Second makes you a partner.
      • But to the point of this article, the GPL is NOT the only Open Source license out there. This is the point that many people miss. BSD, Apache, Mozilla/Firefox...are the GPL zealots ignoring these hugely important pieces of software when they rant?

        Just because JS is poking at various points of the GPL, doesn't me he is poking at Open Source.

        • Of course GPL is not the only open source license... But all this is a metter of trust. I may use a BSD-licensed library to build my own proprietary app, but would you collaborate to a guy that used your costless software, and than asks you money for the part of the software it had developed? It's a two-way line. I help you, you help me. Partners, as I have mentioned.
        • The GPL is the one license that always demands that the property stay fully open sourced. Maybe its just me, but thats WAY more open source than the BSD license. The GPL curbs greed whereas BSD has a tendency to reinforce it (how much BSD licensed software in in MS Windows 95? 98? 2000? XP?).

          Cheers.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      ATTENTION

      GPL allows one to keep everything private one does for self/company/corporation. It's spelled out in the license. You need only release any source you have done IF you publically release the binary. We use lots of heavily modified GPL in house, but of course we could never give out our hard work for free, to anyone. It would be corporate suicide if we did that. I know we aren't the only large software company doing that. We don't, of course, ever use source code in publically released softwa

      • by GigsVT (208848) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:19PM (#12156084) Journal
        but we do when for nearly all private, multi-$000 sales.

        Then you are violating the GPL. You can't sell it without distributing it, unless you have them using it on your servers somehow and never sent them any binaries. (i.e. the whole dot-bomb application service provider business model)
        • From his post, he is distributing the source... but only to those clients/customers that are buying it, not to the general public.

          It was my impression that you could sell modified GPL made binaries to customers (with the source) without distributing the source or binary to the general public, or even contributing your modified source back to the original GPL'ed project that you started your project from.

          So, from how I understand it, I don;t think that he is violating the GPL.
  • Spaceballs? (Score:4, Funny)

    by sterno (16320) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:55AM (#12154851) Homepage
    Did anybody look at the headline for this and immediately think that Sun was being run by Dark Helmet?
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:11PM (#12155064)
      MCNEALY: Yes. I am the keeper of a greater magic. A power known throughout the universe, known as....
      ESR: Open Source?
      MCNEALY: No. The Schwartz.
      RMS: The Schwartz?
      MCNEALY: Yes. The Schwartz. [He holds his Schwartz ring. His is different than the ring BILL GATES has.]
      ESR: But, McNealy, what is this place? What is that you do here?
      MCNEALY: Licensing.
      ESR: Licensing? What's that? (Keep out of this, RMS!)
      MCNEALY: Licensing. Come. I'll show. Walk this way. Take a look. We put the company's copyright on everything. Licensing. Licensing. Where the real money from the software is made. Sun-the-Server, Solaris-the Operating System, UltraSPARC-the Pizza box, Sun-the-dot-in-dot-com. (The analysts loved that one.) Last, but not least, Sun-the-Doll. Me!
      [pulls on the string]
      DOLL: "May the Schwartz be with you!"
      MCNEALY: It ain't the Steve Ballmer Monkeyboy Dancebot, but it sells. May the Schwartz be with you!
  • by Striikerr (798526) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:55AM (#12154852)
    "he adds that it imposes on developing nations "a rather predatory obligation to disgorge all their IP back to the wealthiest nation in the world""

    I suppose he would prefer to see the developing nations disgorging their money back to the wealthiest nation in the world's private companies (via licensing costs), thus ensuring this status remains in effect.
    • by gormanly (134067) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:00PM (#12154922)
      Exactly. Which nations have most to lose if knowledge is shared freely - those with lots of "IP" or those with less?

      "IP" is simply ideas with a price tag, which ultimately slows down the speed of human development in return for providing shiny things for those of us with too much already.

      But I think Jonanthan Schwartz knows that...
    • Ha! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This from one of the biggest advocates for the non-immigrant guest worker programs !!!

      His motto was "All your cheap labor belong to us". Not it's, "All your property belong to us".

      What a clown.

      Developing nations don't give a fuck about "intellectual property". Just look at the US when it was a young country.

    • This is just the latest in a long line of what I like to call "The Jingo-izing of IT"

      Its a not so clever ploy to try and reframe the topic into one of 'nationalism'. Previously we have seen people tell us that Open Source could be used by terrorists. [slashdot.org] and that OS is bad for national security [ohio-state.edu]

      As it is obvious to the choir I am preaching to, this is BS. Its an attempt to get people scared. Because the IP that Sun has donest belong to 'the wealthiest nation' or 'a nation' or even the the state or city Sun has
    • by stealth.c (724419) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:05PM (#12155900)
      Yup. It seems to me that whenever people have a beef with the GPL, it's because it keeps the playing field from being tilted in whichever way they feel it should be tilted.

      The GPL is an equalizer, and puts software back into the realm where it began and where I think it always belonged: cooperative science.
  • Poor baby. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pants75 (708191) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:55AM (#12154854)
    Notice how the big IP companies always bitch and moan about the GPL? Love it!

    Does anyone see some light at the end of the tunnel for Sun?

    It seems to me that they are in several type of trouble with no idea of how to get straight again.

    Just my 2 pen'eth Pete

    • by Shadow Wrought (586631) <shadow.wrought@gmai l . com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:56AM (#12154875) Homepage Journal
      Does anyone see some light at the end of the tunnel for Sun?

      Netcraft just confirmed it. It's a train.

    • Re:Poor baby. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by qbzzt (11136) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:17PM (#12155148)
      Hi,

      Notice how the big IP companies always bitch and moan about the GPL? Love it!

      I'd say IBM is a pretty big IP company, and it seems to be OK with the GPL. Sure, some IBM products may not use GPLed code because of legal restrictions, but that's different from bitching about it.

      CEOs who bitch about external factors are not doing their real job, which is adapting to those factors and/or changing them. CEOs who bitch about not being able to use the fruits of a volunteer effort for their company's gain should be working on finding a way to MAKE money instead.

      Bye,
      Ori
    • Re:Poor baby. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pegr (46683) *
      Oh it's better than that... He's flat wrong and he knows it.

      You can certainly make proprietary software out of GPL code. Your code. If it's your code, you can release it under any license you want! You just can't make proprietary code out of someone else's GPL code. Now why would you think you have any rights to code you didn't write?

      • Re:Poor baby. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nologin (256407)
        Now why would you think you have any rights to code you didn't write?

        If you look at that situation through RIAA-colored glasses, it would be called "theft".

        So Mr. Schwartz, if you want complain that you can't "steal" anything from Open Source because of the GPL, remember this well. Even thieves have to eventually pay when they get caught.

    • After reading what he has to say, it appears to me that he's got two trains of thought running in his head. The "open source yay" train of thought that the marketing people tell him to espouse, and what he really thinks. Just an impression based on the way he seems to frequently conflict with himself, like someone who's putting on a front but knee-jerks out their real opinion when they're put on the spot, then tries to recover from it.
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:56AM (#12154858) Journal
    Economies and nations need intellectual property (IP) to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

    Interesting. The world's hottest economy right now is China, which has a poor record when it comes to IP. Other emerging nations, such as India, Indonesia and Brazil also have poor IP records.

    No, IP is not needed to pull nations up. It would be nice, but it's clearly not a requirement.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800)
      Interesting. The world's hottest economy right now is China, which has a poor record when it comes to IP. Other emerging nations, such as India, Indonesia and Brazil also have poor IP records.

      Sure, but with the exception of India (which enforces copyright; their issues were with pharmaceutical patents) none of those countries generate significant innovative art or technology. Hong Kong's entertainment industry and Taiwan's tech sector are far more influential than all of mainland China's.

      No one's claiming

    • IP to pull you up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DickBreath (207180) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:30PM (#12155340) Homepage
      Economies and nations need intellectual property (IP) to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

      I think Schwartz misunderstands. IP isn't used to pull you up. It is used to push others down. Although I can see how he could confuse one with the other.

      When you are one of the ones being pushed down, the distinction becomes more obvious.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bigpat (158134) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:01PM (#12155838)
      Economies and nations need intellectual property (IP) to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

      The GPL is an exercise of intelectual property rights, not a subversion of those rights.
  • "We're Sun" (Score:5, Funny)

    by geomon (78680) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:56AM (#12154859) Homepage Journal
    And we are working *hard* to drive ourselves into obscurity.

    Sun has lead the field for so many years that they really believe the crap they publish in the trade press.

    It is sad to see a technology giant succumbing to what could qualify as a form of corporate Parkinson's disease.
    • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:31PM (#12155357) Homepage Journal
      I don't know if it is by design or not, but it seems that over the past few months Sun has been trying to get itself back in the news primarily through commentary about the state of computing, the relevance of Open Source, etc.. Now that they've reached detente with Microsoft, in order to re-establish their relevance, they feel they have to attack the very parties that they should be bolstering. The impramatur they built up during their glory years means nothing to younger people in the IT crowd, and by bashing on the GPL, they're simply telling people that they just don't grok the big picture.

  • A titan in the world of proprietary sales-only code does not like the idea of competition from useful programs being "purchased" for free.
    • Well, the point is that its not being purchased "for free" its being purchased "for freedom".

      If nothing else, Schwartz's ineffective ranting will serve to educate those who would try to be the CherryOSes of this world: If you want to write proprietary programs, don't take your code from GPL'd products.

      Personally I don't see why this seems to end up being a surprise to all these companies, like one day they woke up and "Oh my God! The people that wrote that code I downloaded off the web and put on my wire
  • by Camel Pilot (78781) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:58AM (#12154902) Homepage Journal
    Quote I've talked to developing nations, representatives from academia and manufacturing companies that had begun to incorporate GPL software into their products, then...found they had an obligation to deliver their IP back into the world

    Why do these supposedly smart people Balmer, Gates, Lyons, McBride, Schwartz, etc. of the world always sound so stupid when they attept to attack the GPL? They always make it sould like the GPL stipulation to give back your improvements as a nasty surprise at the bottom of the cracker jack box.

    Could I not also say:

    academia and manufacturing companies that had begun to incorporate propriety software into their products, then...found they had an obligation to pay royalities back to the companies that licences their IP

    evil propriety software evil evil...
    • Bitching about having to contribute your improvements back to the public that provided you with the GPL'd code in the first place is kind of like bitching about having to pay taxes on your company's profits.
    • Why do these supposedly smart people Balmer, Gates, Lyons, McBride, Schwartz, etc. of the world always sound so stupid when they attept to attack the GPL?

      Well, I don't think they do sound stupid at all. I think, very frequently, they sound pretty smart.

      I've seen so many comments on Slashdot and in other places which seem to indicate by their content that the commenter believes greed is limited to only the United States. I mean, I've seen several comments here which point out that the flow of IP under

  • by killmenow (184444) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:59AM (#12154905)
    You know this guy understands the GPL. You just KNOW it. The problem is exactly as the submitter says, the GPL levels the playing field. That's Schwartz' real problem with it. It's the same thing that scares the bejesus out of most proprietary software vendors. Not that they'll ever come right out and just admit the real problem: but, your honor, it's devastating to my business model!

    It always amazes me when they bitch and moan about the way things should be when commercial software manufacturers make up only a small fraction of the software development world. Most people developing software are doing so for internal I.T. departments for internal projects. They benefit the most from Open Source.

    But vendors like Sun and Microsoft want us to remain in the dark ages suckling on their poisoned teat when the world can now ween itself of that sour milk and move on to the glory of free beer.

    Oh, wait...I'm mixing metaphors...mmm, beer...what was I on about?
    • "But vendors like Sun and Microsoft want us to remain in the dark ages suckling on their poisoned teat when the world can now ween itself of that sour milk and move on to the glory of free beer."

      I think you shot the gift horse in the mouth after you closed the barn door.

    • It always amazes me when they bitch and moan about the way things should be when commercial software manufacturers make up only a small fraction of the software development world.

      That small fraction of the business world controls 90% of the money. That's why it doesn't surprise me.
    • It's the same thing that scares the bejesus out of most proprietary software vendors.

      Before the end of 2005, Sun will very largely _not_ be a proprietary software vendor. OpenSolaris in Q2, OpenOffice.org is already here, and they're already dropping hints about an OSS database and open sourcing their entire JES stack.

      People try so very hard to paint Sun in an evil light, but it just doesn't work.
  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalkerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:59AM (#12154907) Journal
    Wow, in one breath he talks about how GPL is bad because it doesn't allow you to keep your changes secret. He also talks about how he will not open source java for fear of forking. Then he says that companies like IBM who help Linux but don't open up all their products are "hypocrits".
    Wow this guy really needs help from the cluestick.
  • No worries. (Score:5, Funny)

    by michael path (94586) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @11:59AM (#12154917) Homepage Journal
    Our Schwartz is bigger than the Sun's.
  • That they are actually pro-open source to save face for developers when in reality open source has virtually destroyed them (Linux).
    • in reality open source has virtually destroyed them (Linux).

      No, they have destroyed themselves. Sun was always highly overpriced and overrated. During the boom they got away with it - everyone HAD to have Sun machines. Since times have become leaner, they still have this expensive big business image that they can't shake. Their hardware is way cool, but still way to expensive for normal mortals to afford. Their market share has died, but it's not ONLY the adoption of open source products. They hav
  • The countries don't have any obligation, except to the extent that they're extending GPL code. Even then it's the developer that only needs to allow the IP that they're adding to GPL code that they then wilfully distribute to be contributed to the world at large.
  • by Jim_Maryland (718224) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:01PM (#12154945)
    I realize I'll get a bit of hate on this, but the GPL license does scare away companies that rely on intellectual property (IP). My employer has stepped up it's free open source software awareness lately to avoid inadvertantly losing IP that it doesn't wish to give away under a GPL like license. The GPL has been labelled as a "viral license" in some company policies I've seen because it really does open everything up in most cases. The GPL does exactly what it should though in promoting free open source software and it's usage just needs to be carefully evaluated before using in a project where you wish to keep all/portions of code closed. The license itself shouldn't be attacked but education of it's requirements (which the FAQ does pretty well) must be understood if thinking of using GPL source.
    • DUH!

      It's due diligence. Do the same with any license before you integrate code under it. The "contribute code back" isn't limited to GPL. IIRC, some of the MS shared source licenses have the same restrictions (except it's only back to MS, not the public)
    • by maxpublic (450413) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:28PM (#12155323) Homepage
      This is a "no shit" comment. You use somebody else's code, you have to labor under the copyright restrictions they've placed on it. That's *always* true and any company that rips off somebody else's code without complying with the copyright is just another thief in the night, whether it's done purposefully or because the management is too fucking incompetent to do its job.

      The GPL is no different from any other copyright restriction in this regard.

      Max
    • but the GPL license does scare away companies that rely on intellectual property (IP). My employer has stepped up it's free open source software awareness lately to avoid inadvertantly losing IP that it doesn't wish to give away under a GPL like license. The GPL has been labelled as a "viral license" in some company policies

      So your employer thinks that they need to take more care to avoid accidentially incorporating GPL licensed code than code with any other type of license?

      Manager1: it is especially
    • The GPL has been labelled as a "viral license" in some company policies I've seen because it really does open everything up in most cases.

      It's important to understand the implications of ANY licence. They're all viral. A proprietary library will also cause problems if it infects your application. It might limit your licencing options, or it might drive the price of your software too high for it to be viable.

      I worked with a company once that had a real business need to give out driver source. The drive

  • Why would anyone take Sun's proclamations seriously? These guys have to make a good show for their shareholders.
  • I would say that the GPL, and free software help the poorer nations. No monies leaving their shores, and in turn, they put money back into the local economy.
    Contrast that with Microsoft, raking in dollars from all over the world, back to their little stash in the North West US.
  • Relevance? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mr.mighty (162506)
    Why do we keep reading this stuff? Who thinks Sun is relevant anymore? In a couple of years, after they've managed to choke the life out of Java, what's left?
  • Asymmetry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tfb (49770) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:03PM (#12154962)
    He's quite probably right about the developing world.

    The owner of the copyright is free to license it however they like. In particular they can do the standard dual-licensing trick that is done by people like sleepycat, with a GPLd version which is free as well as a more liberal one, which you pay for. Other people are not free to do this.

    Most code will (initially, anyway) originate in the developed world. People in the developing world are poor, and will therefore very likely use it under the GPL, and therefore contribute changes back to the developed world (and to the developing world of course). Users in the developed world, who are generally richer, can avoid doing this by paying for a liberal version.

    This would not happen with a BSD-style license, for instance.
  • Obrigado (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:03PM (#12154964) Homepage Journal
    You don't have to GPL apps you distribute, just because they run on a GPL'd OS, or interop with GPL'd apps. Opening one's source is an opportunity, not an obligation, to get communities of coders to use and improve your code. The GPL obligations are perfectly balanced with their benefits, even though some benefits are unencumbered by any obligations.
    • I agree with you on the GPL OS, but if you write code that can essentially lead to an aggregated work, you probably should read GPL FAQ Aggregation [gnu.org]. One just needs to review license requirements if they intend to keep their code under a non GPL license.

      Opening one's source is an opportunity, not an obligation

      While this is an "opportunity", it's also an obligation if you create an aggregated work.
  • Disingenuous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redelm (54142) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:05PM (#12154986) Homepage
    Anytime people invoke objects of sympathy (third world nations, various underclasses), I get immediately suspicious. If the arguement is good, it is good without sympathy support.

    In this case, SUN is seriously misquoting the GPL. Deliberately, I fear. Nothing in the GPL requires general publication -- giving away IP. The only thing required is that you give users source. If there are many users, it amounts to general publication. But a lot of code is _not_ general, but just for one firm. They get source (as they should, having paid for the work), but are very unlikely to publish it generally. The only thing the GPL really attacks is per-seat licencing. Co-incidentally, this is a big part of Sun's revenue stream.

  • by TheSync (5291) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:05PM (#12154988) Journal
    This is yet another in a long line of non-economists saying stupid and ignorant things about development economics.

    People in developing countries who use GPL have priced-in the potential costs of loss of their IP rights versus the potential savings from using GPL products or advantages to using GPL products.

    Of course, in many developing countries, the concept of IP rights may not even exist...which can be part of the reason they are still "developing".
  • The GPL says... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:07PM (#12155025) Homepage Journal
    One of the most important things people forget about the GPL is that Section 5 reads thusly:

    You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works.

    Nobody is forcing Mr. Schwartz to make use of GPL software. We in the open source community like the GPL because it's fair. You want to use all that code out there, for free? Share and enjoy. But you have to play by our rules. You don't get to enjoy the benefits of the GPL without also taking on its responsibilities.

    That's why Sun (and Microsoft) love the BSD license so much ... you can take, take, take and not have to give back anything. Sun, unfortunately, is not currently in a position where they can begin dictating the rules. If they want "Open" Solaris to be a successful open source OS then they're going to have to start playing by conventional open source rules. Sun is in no position to change the rules.
  • as Open Source spreads. The classic battle that people think of is M$ versus Linux but Sun is WAY easier to replace.

    Hell I just did it with 2 boxes here in the military establishment I work for. Sun is so schizo about Open Source. The love it one day and hate it the next....
  • Typical (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sabat (23293)
    It's typical of the wood-headed baby boom generationazis, who invented the myth of "IP" to begin with, to grandstand about their entitlements: We have the right to make up arbitrary rules and force you to live by them! Blah blah.

    "IP" does not exist. It's not allowed by the US Constitution, and is bizarre in concept anyway: what, you own the part of my brain that knows your ideas? You cannot actually own something that only exists in people's heads, fella. Hand me a song and then we can talk.

    The problem is
  • huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deego (587575) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:10PM (#12155051)
    On the contrary, Mr. Schwarz, it is the developing nations that suffer most from the IP menace.

    First, they and their companies don't have enough infrastructure to take out patents on every ancient recipe or herb they have used. That is why you see US companies patenting ancient herbs from India (with minor mods) -- that came across a ridiculous joke when it first happened, but now it is so much more common that it is not even funny.

    Second, AIDS and other drugs would be much cheaper and more easily available for the dying in Africa.

    Isn't it true that developed nations like US consider IP to be among their primary products?

    Isn't it true that most patents are taken out by companies in the developed world?

    Considering all this, how can anyone sincerely believe that "IP" helps developing nations more? And that a copyleft would therefore, harm them more?
  • by Pac (9516)
    I'd rather disgorge all our software to the the world than have my government digorging large sums of money from my taxes to pay Microsoft, IBM, Sun etc.

    It is rather clear that most developing nations won't ever even the field in terms of production capacity - we will never have as many programmmers as well-trainned as the US, for instance. So Free Software makes all sense, as it allows us to divide the efforts among all interested parties. For poor nations the situation is even more dramatic, as they neit
  • So if the GPL.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by erikkemperman (252014)
    ..is such as a disaster to developing countries, how come only the rich white guys in Redmond and SiValley are complaining about it?

    What are they doing to help these countries, with their proprietary models? Import employees? Lots of good that'll do their economy. Outsource? Only means more profit (lower wages) flows back to the USofA.

    "Use the Schwarz" is getting a whole new meaning. Seriously, go ask the folks in Brazil and Chile where they can stick it.
  • If you take a developing country that hasn't had generations of technology infrastructure, how much new IP is produced there? The big guys produce more IP than the little guys because they have been doing it for years. Most IP produced by the developing nations is going to be wasted time recreating what has already been done elsewhere.

    On the other hand, would you rather see this developing country with low budget try spending money to buy enough tech infrastructure to start to compete with the big guys? Ho

  • than those same developing nations having to disgorge all their cash to the US to buy software from Microsoft and Sun.
  • he adds that it imposes on developing nations "a rather predatory obligation to disgorge all their IP back to the wealthiest nation in the world"

    Weren't they arguing that Java would be the great equalizer of the classes back in the mid 90s?

    This is just more of the same. They're using BS arguments to pretend that they care about the less fortunate, while obviously advancing their own interests.

    Do they honestly believe that anyone falls for this?

  • No surprise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rewt66 (738525) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:17PM (#12155153)
    We live in a world where truth is a stranger. Spin is king. "Seeing both sides of an issue" is dead, and "saying whatever will get people to do what you want" is running out of control, like Godzilla in Tokyo.

    Hello, truth? Are you out there? Come back... we miss you.
  • duh! (Score:2, Redundant)

    "But Schwartz said that some people he's spoken to dislike it because it precludes them from using open-source software as a foundation for proprietary projects."

    That's the primary intent of the GPL. That's like complaining that water gets you wet. The intent of the GPL is that companies like SUN can't take my code, make minor changes, and claim proprietary ownership of the result (by only distributing the object code, and deckarubg the source code a trade secret)

    Sun's CDL contains some wilfull holes

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:22PM (#12155224) Journal
    They're not obliged to use GPL code.

    They're not obliged to release the software if they do use it (e.g. for internal projects).

    Since they can get it for free, the amount they receive is probably greater than the cost to them.

    They have choice in the matter. As much choice as whether or not to use Solaris. And personally, I think a lot of developing nations are going to be alot happier about giving "IP" away to the richest nations in the world than giving money to the richest nations in the world.
  • It's on purpose !! (Score:3, Informative)

    by lazy_arabica (750133) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:23PM (#12155241) Homepage
    But Schwartz said that some people he's spoken to dislike [the GPL] because it precludes them from using open-source software as a foundation for proprietary projects.
    Guess what ? It's exactly its goal. For people who don't care about freedom, of course, it's a strong diasdvantage ; but they're missing the whole point of Free Software.
  • by Vicegrip (82853) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:24PM (#12155263) Journal
    Without any obligation to give anything back. Yep, and you're all damned communists for not wanting to support a free ride for Sun.

    His crying for the third-world is doubly laughable hogwash since it ignores completely that the GPL works in two directions and in the same way for each. Then it ignores that it is the insanely expensive nature of western software that makes much of our vaunted technology inaccessible to them to begin with.

    Finally, as we've done at my company, if you really want to use GPLed code why don't you try purchasing a different license from its developer. They might not be interested, of course, or it might not be possible due to multiple copyright owners, but a number of interesting open source projects do dual-license. It's a nice arrangement: developer gets a nice wad of cash and continues to own their code and work on it and the company gets its product done faster and consequently they get to the market faster.
  • by devphaeton (695736) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:27PM (#12155301)
    .... but are they *really* in a position to be critical of anyone else? I kind of view them as an old empire, or a crumbling castle slowly sinking into the ground.

    It's still not too late for them to get with the program. Superior hardware and OS? Maybe, but due to marketing, business model, shifted tech sector needs or whatever you want to call it.... It's almost a weekly occurence where I'm hearing about a couple of $400 Debian boxes replacing tens of thousands of dollars of old Sun hardware, not the other way around...
  • by TheLinuxWarrior (240496) <aaron@carr.aaroncarr@com> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @12:38PM (#12155499)
    Really I do...

    But DAMMMIT!!! They have got to start keeping these people on mahogany row quiet.

    That seems to be Sun's biggest problem at the moment. Allowing these people to just shoot from the hip in public.

    It really turns a lot of people in the open source community away from what is actually a very open source friendly vendor.
  • Bad summary! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by standards (461431) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:20PM (#12156099)
    Other than the same old arguments (you can't make it proprietary later)

    This is incorrect. Of course you can make your GPL'd code proprietary if you decide to retain copyright ownership of your IP. You may and can release your code as GPL, and later release it as closed-source, proprietary work.

    Of course, you can't license someone else's IP. That's a different ball of wax. Exactly like I can't license Michael Jackson's Thriller album to EMI.

    GPL imposes on developing nations "a rather predatory obligation to disgorge all their IP back to the wealthiest nation in the world"

    Again, this is incorrect to the point where it's either a gross misquote, or complete lack of understanding of IP.

    The GPL does not in any way coerce any non-GPL license into the GPL. There may be financial benefits to licensing a product under the GPL license. On the flip side, there may be financial benefits to not license a product under the GPL. There is absolutely no obligation, preditorially or otherwise, to license your own IP under the GPL. The only exception is if you've agreed to a contract which stipulates that you must release your work under the GPL - and clearly agreeing to such a contract implies that there is some advantage to you to do so.

    So in a nutshell, this is not an issue. And the fact that no cases were described suggests that this is just can't happen.
    • Re:Bad summary! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dirtside (91468)
      This is incorrect. Of course you can make your GPL'd code proprietary if you decide to retain copyright ownership of your IP. You may and can release your code as GPL, and later release it as closed-source, proprietary work.
      Yes, but you can't cause a version already released under the GPL to become retroactively proprietary. That's probably what the poster meant.
  • Dear Mr. Schwartz, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sirReal.83. (671912) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @01:29PM (#12156213) Homepage
    So you'll be dropping GNOME from JDS and Solaris then? Oh, and all the rest of the GPL software you use too. You don't want to be a hypocrite now, do you Johnny?

    Zack
  • by rewinn (647614) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @02:52PM (#12157217) Homepage

    The Free Market is all about people freely setting whatever price they want, and taking their chances on the outcome.

    No-one is forced to use the GPL. Under the GPL, contributors voluntarily set the price of their contribution (at "free") and take their chance freely on somehow making a living. So what's the problem?

    If Third-World nations, or individuals decide to take their chance, it's probably because they figure the alternatives don't work to their advantage. They may be right, they may be wrong, but it's really up to them to make the call.

    Some you win, some you lose .... so why does Sun sing the blues?

  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @03:13PM (#12157527) Homepage

    The ZDNet article headline reads "Sun criticizes popular open-source license". Calling the GNU General Public License an "open-source" license is ahistorical and gives credit to the wrong movement, hiding the name of the real author of the license and the name of the movement for which the license was written.

    By calling the GPL an "open source" license, the open source movement is allowed to grab credit for a trivial bit of work: constructing a set of rules which allow the GPL to be given the Open Source Initiative's imprimateur. This is nothing compared to writing the GPL and starting the free software movement.

    The GPL was written many years before the OSI started. Nobody who would form the OSI wrote the GPL. The GPL was written by the FSF (most notably, RMS, who gets far too little credit for his work here on Slashdot). The OSI has dismissed software freedom [gnu.org] for a message which does not preserve user's software freedoms (for instance, the open source definition does not guarantee a user's privacy--the OSI approved the early revisions of the Apple Public Source License which required publication and notification of a central authority upon changing APSL-covered software in most instances. The FSF did not give its imprimateur to the APSL v1.x revisions, holding out until Apple changed the license in what would become the v2.x revisions.).

    Let's give credit where credit is due. I think just as RMS tells us (repeatedly [gnu.org]) that GCC is a free software program, not an open source program [com.com] because it misstates the authorship and reason why the program was written (RMS was the initial author of GCC which he wrote to provide software freedom for GNU), we ought to give the author and intentions of the GPL proper mention by calling it a free software license. That cannot be done by calling it an open source license.

  • by krappie (172561) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @04:16PM (#12158326)
    Wow. If he thinks GPL software is unfair to developping nations and redirecting their resources to the wealthiest nations in the world, I wonder what he thinks about commercial software.
  • Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Wednesday April 06, 2005 @06:09PM (#12159551)
    "But Schwartz said that some people he's spoken to dislike it because it precludes them from using open-source software as a foundation for proprietary projects."

    Thats the whole *POINT*. People who license their work under GPL specifically intend for this, and if they refuse to permit their work to be used in a proprietary work, they have every right to make the restriction. Its called share and share alike.

    Why should any corp have a right to take someone else work, that they obtained for free, and use it in their proprietary for-profit product, against that persons will? You dont have that right for code developed by anyone else thats *NOT* open source, you (usually) dont even get to *see* the source, let alone even get to consider including it in your own project. GPL isnt taking anything away, its granting lots of rights that you wouldnt otherwise have, but its specifically *not* granting the right to use GPL'd code in a project, and then not give the same rights to others that the GPL gave you. Its 100% fair, which I suppose I can understand how software corps dont like that - they like it when they can have an unfair advantage.

Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth

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