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BSD vs GPL 207

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-think-about dept.
Ken Litko wrote in to send us an article that appears over at Daemon News that compares the GPL [?] with the BSD [?] license. It tries to cover some of the differences and shed light on the different intents of the two. Some criticism of the GPL, and a good article.
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BSD vs GPL

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The GPL is a dang good liscence. And I say this because (and to argue against one of the writer's main points) no one cares if a piece of trash is GPL'd no one is going to use it no one is going to derive works from it. But in the case of software that has had considerable prior effort put into by others, the GPL guarantees that some corporate hack can't take it, put a bunch of coders on it and release a closed version. They are forced to give back to the originators.

    It also prevents people from taking the code and doing a more restrictive, but open version--think of a BSDi except using something like the earliest draft of the APL.

    JB
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So people say the Gnu GPL is communist. . . . SO WHAT?!?! Is that really all that bad? Is it so bad to desire equality of results for all, and a community where people only take what they need and give what they can? I don't think that's really a bad thing, and if you really think communism is all that bad (I talking about political theory here), then you've been brainwashed by the capitalist world we live in. Capitalism isn't the greatest, in practice capitalism has been exploitive (just look at the behavior of multinational corporations in the third world), while communism in practice has been oppressive (thanks in large part to capitalist nations trying to undermine communist ones). So, what's wrong w/ the GPL being communist? NOTHING I say, it strives for an ideal software world, and I don't think there is anything wrong w/ that. The BSD license, however, I see as a more practical rather than idealistic license: it allows companies to spend more time write NEW code to implement NEW ideas, rather "reinventing" a code base that has already be written and released under GPL that they want to use for a proprietary product.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    One big thing that he forgot to mention is that the original author can change licenses or distribute outside GPL any time they want. The original author owns the copyright, so they DO have rights outside of GPL, with which they can do whatever they want. The GPL cannot impose a restriction on this. Now, if somebody modified this code, than it would change that, they would both have to agree to it. It WOULD be extremely difficult to change the Linux kernel license, for example.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Several people have been making fun of the fact that the article writer compared GPL to a virus. But, that is in fact what it is. If I, as a programmer, take 15% of my code from a GPLed project, and make the other 85% myself, than my code, as a whole, still falls under the GPL.

    For me, the solution has been simple. Avoid using GPLed code at all cost. Its a pity it has to be that way, since I open my source code in a similar matter. I, on the other hand, don't care if someone else takes my code, repackages it, and sells it, as long as they give me some credit. I'm confident that I can do whatever they did, and do it better.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    >It's not like Linux where there's a new distribution 'fork' every time someone gets
    inspired to produce one.

    Damn straight.
    This whole 'forking' argument is full of bogons.

    If its ALL important for all of us to grab ONE rope and pull in ONE direction, why not advocate for ONE world governement to then mandate ALL code produced to be sent to ONE code intergration facility and produce ONE library.

    (gumbles about the stupidity of the forking argument)

    And, if GNU/Linux is so forking fork proof, why in forking hell does some forking software list as only forking work with certain forking versions of forking GNU-forking-Linux you forkers?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 1999 @05:35AM (#1894599)
    I agree entirely. The article expects us to accept the view that "Communism is wrong" as a universal truth without any debate.

    It also contains a lot of text that on the surface looks like neutral commentary but actually carries a critical undertone:

    Here, we see that the GPL places restrictions on any derivative work, whether in whole or in part, verbatim or with modification. This essentially means that the GPL infects, like a hereditary condition, derivative works permanently.

    True, but why is this bad (words like infect and condition make it sound negative)? IMO this is good.

    ... the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program)

    I believe the intention of this clause is not to place the output of compilers, parser generators etc under the GPL. But, to use a noddy example, if I write a program that lists itself, the fact that it is the output of a program does not mean that it's suddenly not under the GPL any more.

    If the GPL and non-GPL code are distributed together (as is most often logically the case), then the non-GPL code's license, if any, is automatically null and void (may in some cases be illegal) and the entire work is now GPL-infected

    It's exactly this clause that stops Microsoft wrapping up a GPL'd program inside a proprietary one and not allowing end users to get at the GPL'd program or its source.

    When a program or work is released under a license, this means that you are in effect licensed to use the program. If this is the case, then you are not the real owner of your code, the Free Software Foundation is!

    Hmm. Not sure about this. I think if you're the copyright holder, you may re-release it later under a different licence if you want.

    In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under the scope of this License. [ This just states that the FSF couldn't find a way to take control of programs that just happen to be stored on the same media as a GPL'ed program! ]

    Now this I object to - most unfair. The intention is to clarify: you can distribute GPL and proprietary s/w on the same medium, but proprietary code can't call GPL code.

    More political extremism: if you cannot distribute the program in FULL compliance with the GPL, then you cannot distribute it at all. This is nothing more than anti-competitive, anti-capitalism restrictions.

    Political extremism my foot - what it says if you can't get away with saying "it wasn't possible for me to respect the licence, so I just ignored it". The author seems to be suggesting that it would be desirable for people to be able to ignore sections of the licence that they didn't feel like respecting. Anti-competitive, anti-capitalist is what Microsoft is. And I wouldn't call taking a free program, adding a feature and then making it proprietary particularly "competitive".

    If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other circumstances. [ A rather interesting twist: if part of the license doesn't hold up in the law, the rest of the license still applies. Not sure of the legality of this, and could be up for debate... ]

    This is a standard get-out clause in any contract and is necessary. If one part of the GPL was found to be unenforceable in one particlar jurisdiction, you don't want people to be able to ignore the rest of it.

    The article is interesting and certainly provokes a reaction, but the author needs to clarify exactly why he objects to the things he does.

    Chris

  • The BSD was designed to maximize the usage of a program, and make sure that the author's name gets everywhere. It hopes that people are nice enough to include the author's code.

    The GPL was designed to maximize the Freedom of a program, and make sure that the author's code gets everywhere. It hopes that people are nice enough to include the author's name.

    Which you use when writing a new program depends on what your priorities are. Which you use when you modify someone's code depends on what the code is. The BSD advertising clause is just as infectious as the GPL's terms.
  • There's plenty of software that uses the advertising clause, even on my machine. FreeBSD doesn't use the advertising clause for their core stuff, and my understanding is they got special permission from UCB to do so. There is still lots of software that still has the advertising clause in it. You can't legally remove the clause without explicit permission of the copyright holder, any more than you can remove GPL terms you find objectionable.
  • by vertigo (341)
    This isn't a good article at all.

    To me it appears more like flamebait from a heavily biased bsd advocate. Ofcourse i'm biased too since i personally think the bsd license has its place, but it's way too vulnarable for exploitation. If you look at it realistically, placing the Linux kernel under the BSD license would have disasterous consequences. I wouldn't be surprised if in an instant several incompatible versions would pop-up, creating the same crap proprietary Unices once suffered from: incompatibilities and vendor-lockin. Lets not be so naive to think that if people have the opportunity to screw another person for profit they won't, or will give stuff back to the community from their own incentive. I have heard this argument from some bsd advocates in the past. The BSD license encourages this exploitation and the vendor-lockin tactics all too familiar to many of us who have been forced to work with proprietary software. The GPL may give some (sometimes serious) problems when mixing with other licenses which makes it sometimes very frustrating to work with, but its still the most effective license when it comes to protecting freedom in the long term.

    The author of this article also calls Rms a communist extremist. That, and various other less than objective cheap comments make me believe that this is an article written by a person disgruntled bsd advocate rather than somebody honestly comparing the drawbacks and purposes of the various licenses.
  • >>If you look at it realistically, placing the
    >>Linux kernel under the BSD license would have >>disasterous consequences. I wouldn't be >>surprised if in an instant several incompatible >>versions would pop-up, creating the same crap >>proprietary Unices once suffered from: >>incompatibilities and vendor-lockin.

    >So why hasn't this happened with *BSD?
    It has, look at BSDi and all the chunks of BSD code tucked away in all sorts of operating systems like the various win flavours.

    >Seriously, people here worry about Microsoft >using Linux to create their own proprietary >Unix. So why haven't they done this with BSD?
    Because BSD has never had the mindshare and popularity that Linux is getting at the moment. And BSD is used in all sorts of ways by companies - without giving back their modifications. So it has allready happened.

    >For my stuff, which I haven't had time to work >on so it isn't out there, I will use the X >license. I don't worry about people making money >off of extending my code any more than I worry >about people making money using my code, as my >code will still remain free. Someone else's >extension of my stuff won't, but I will be no >worse off as a result.
    I wouldn't be bothered by releasing the stuff that i code too since they are not essential for a lot of people and there isn't much money to be made with it anyway, but when you get to things like the Linux kernel, where standards are important, the risk becomes too big to give third parties the chance to lock people into proprietary extentions. While the programmers effectively gain nothing from such a move, it opens a huge security risk. And while there's only proprietary clone of BSD, BSDI, there are lots of places where bsd pieces are used (like the network stack for example) where modifications are made without giving them back to the original coders.

    ps: quoting in this itty bitty box sucks :)
  • Ug, that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I for one would not want to be forced to make my program entirely from patches simply because I reused some bit of code from a previous open-source work. I also don't think it is outright stealing when you grab a piece of code from some other project and use it in your current project, in fact I call that code reuse. Of course I'll give credit where it is due, but I don't want to be forced to adopt a license I may not agree with because I reused some code. It's almost as bad a being proprietary. Besides, some of the best software projects around are primarily the works of "forkers" and "theives". Apache for instace.

    On a final note, I think trying to create a software licence by a committiee with parties from the FSF and BSD advocates is doomed to a long slow death from conflicting viewpoints.
  • Well, your terms are inadequate to make software truly free. Getting the source code on request and documenting modifications is not the same as the ability to distribute modifications to your friends or to charge money for them.

    Unfortunately, software licensing is an almost inherently complex process if you intend to protect freedom for all of your users. I think you'd be surprised how long a license that did everything you wanted would be.
  • It's very ironic that Stallman is often accused of being a communist and anti-commerical, yet is also often bashed for refusing to call software that cannot be sold free. (The Qt Free Edition comes to mind). He goes to bat for business a lot more than people give him credit for.
  • I hope you were joking about agreeing with every point made. That article has several factual inaccuracies. I point a couple of them out in my main thread post below.

  • Well, I won't go so far to question Rob's integrity, but to call that a "good article" is a bit unbelievable. He must've been in a real hurry or short on sleep when he reviewed it. Even some BSD users have repudiated it. At least one of them did so on slashdot not too long ago.

  • by Aaron M. Renn (539) <arenn@urbanophile.com> on Thursday May 13, 1999 @05:48AM (#1894609) Homepage
    Gordon Matzigkeit is working on something he calls the FIG license [fig.org] which is an attempt to strike a different balance between the author and the user than the GPL while still maintaining freedom. You might want to check it out.
  • by Aaron M. Renn (539) <arenn@urbanophile.com> on Thursday May 13, 1999 @05:28AM (#1894610) Homepage
    Some people in the BSD camp must have a serious chip on their shoulder. There was a great deconstruction of this article by someone on gnu.misc.discuss a few days ago, but unfortunately I cannot locate it on the new and "improved" DejaNews. Some of what I am going to say is taken from that.

    First, the article is wrong in some basic facts. Flex is not under the GPL, so it's output is not GPL. The output of Bison was only covered by the GPL because the "output" of bison included a very large chunk of Bison parser code written by Stallman into the output, not just because the the Bison parser spits out code. Additionally, it has been quite some time since this code was GPL'd. It is now under a license that allows proprietary use. These are just a couple of examples.

    Second, his explanation of the "meat" of the BSD license leaves out the advertising clause. Whoops. I wonder how he could have overlooked such a wonderful feature .....

    Third, this guy's legal analysis of the GPL is pretty flawed. If you have concerns about the license, I suggest hiring a real lawyer to look it over.

    But most importantly, this article is simply an anti-GPL screed full of abuse for the GPL, the FSF, etc. I wonder if Michael Maxwell is a pseudonym for John Dyson? Listen to a few of these things:

    -- "the GPL is more concerned with political extremism rather promoting free software"

    -- "This clause reeks of political extremism"

    -- "If this is the case, then you are not the real owner of your code, the Free Software Foundation is!"

    -- "This just states that the FSF couldn't find a way to take control of programs that just happen to be stored on the same media as a GPL'ed program!"

    -- "This sounds much like a Microsoft-style license"

    -- "Not sure of the legality of this, and could be up for debate"

    -- "the General Public License is not so much about ``keeping free software free'' as it is about forcing us to accept the extreme Communistic political philosophy of Richard Stallman"

    -- "The GPL is not about freedom."

    As you can see, lots of FUD and anger. And aside from its obvious biases, it is full of so many inaccuracies that I urge everyone to completely discount anything it says. I suggest contacting Jordan Hubbard of the FreeBSD project for more clear, accurate, and reasoned information on the BSD community's thoughts on this issue if this article caused you any major concerns.
  • Posted by Raditz:

    IF the author of this article is correct about all deriviative software having to GPL'd, which i think he is becuase the GPL states this very clearly, how can there be any comercial software for linux, the libc (glibc) is GPL, kernel is GPL and so is most of the rest of the operating system..... so, based on this license anything that uses glibc (which by the way would include Lokisoft's Civilization: Call To Power), how can there ever be commercial software for linux?
  • Posted by The Masked Miscreant >:):

    In the manner in which the term 'respect' was used, yes. At least to the best of my knowledge, there is no non-free source used in GPL products. I can respect YOUR LICENSE without respecting YOU.
  • Posted by The Masked Miscreant >:):

    Hmm, lost some text without realizing it. That last sentance was supposed to read.
    "I can respect the TERMS of YOUR LICENSE without respecting YOU.
  • Posted by The Masked Miscreant >:):

    "Surely that's no worse than Microsoft taking BSD code and putting it in their product. How can you complain about the GPL when an expressed aim of the BSD license is to make it available for the use of those who might keep derivatives closed? I think you missed the context of that quote, I was responding to someone who suggested if you don't like the license then don't use the code, I'm pointing out that GPL advocates don't necessarily live by that."

    Quite the contrary, GPL advocates LOVE the terms of the BSD license, because they can use the code in their project(s) and still release it under the terms of the GPL. They just don't think the BSD license offers enough protection of their code to prevent a corp. from hi-jacking the code and re-releasing it as proprietary, thereby screwing the original writier out of the potential benefits of his work.

  • Posted by The Masked Miscreant >:):

    The GPL doesn't prevent someone repackaging your code and selling it. It prevents them from creating a closed-system out of your GPL'd code and selling it to lock you out of the market.

    If I understand it correctly, the gist of the BSD license is, 'Give the original author(s) credit for the work they did. Feel free to re-license this however you like.' That means if I want to, I could take a BSD'd project, steal it, re-release it under a different license, and then say, 'Golly, gee! This new license doesn't require me to give you poor suckers credit anymore, so I'm going to claim this was all MY work!'

  • Posted by The Masked Miscreant >:):

    You can "infect" your code tree with the GPL iff (that's 'If and Only If') you borrow some previously GPL'd code and use it in said code tree.
  • I think it is important that you (and others) learn to differentiate between communism as a political theory (or society's final stage in Marxist theory), where property is owned "in common" and available when you need it, and Communism as a doctrine where a single party controls a totalitarian government and production is government-controlled.

    I think you're over-interpreting the GPL, and listening too much to Dr. Who (the writer of the article involving this).

    The the only thing that the GPL implies, is that the source code is a "gift" to other developers. This is no different than BSD or PD, except for the requirement that if other developers contribute to that "gift", then they must release the fruits of their labor also.

    But people seem to forget the fact that the developer chooses to put their code under this license. Any developer who spends a significant amount of time, and then puts his/her code under a license that doesn't reflect the intentions of the author is proverbially shooting themselves in the foot. IIRC Marx either implied or stated that ALL people would give the "gift" willingly, which, if that were the case, there would be no reason for a GPL.

    Quick general commentary: The point is, GPL'd code is a small fragment of the codebase that's out there (if you count in house copyrighted code), so, if it bothers you, please, use other free licensed code, or stick with your binaries. No one cares what you run on your own system, FSF developers and GPL'd code developers are still going to write their code whether or not you like the political influence of a 40-someodd year old man.

    As for Dr. Who's comment, I found it funny how he almost seemed violated by the fact that someone came up with an idea that lets authors protect their code and keep it free at the same time. I wrote him a rather large (polite) letter pointing out TONS of holes in his interpretation of the GPL, and pointed out the fact in the paragraph above. I have yet to recieve a reply... I figure either he couldn't come up with a reply of factual merit or he couldn't come up with a reply that didn't look like it came from a 12 year old's mouth.

    In other words, GET OVER IT, IT'S NOT GOING AWAY.

    (mmm.. sleep)

    -Erik-
  • This argument is not, that is it doesn't exist.

    The fact is, if you write code and want someone else's code, you have to get permission from the author. This has nothing to do with the GPL - if this were proprietary code that you stumbled on would you be facing the same dilemma? I'd bet you would.

    The fact is, the only time that you wouldn't have to make this choice is under a Public Domain or BSD-style license. No other license in the world would let you use code without the author's permission for any purpose other than released source. (I believe MPL, APSL, and even the jikes license all have these provisions as well)

    And remember, if you've ever gotten angry with a policeman, one of the first things they'll tell you when you start calling them names is that you have the right to free speech, but not without it's consequences. eg: Free speech entitles you to call your boss an asshole but doesn't protect you from getting fired.

    -Erik-
  • If I am unwilling or unable to change my license to GPL, then I can't use your code, and your so-called "free" GPL code is not so "free", is it?

    You could always pay for it or write it yourself. Heaven forbid you respect the terms that the author of the code releases it under.

    -Erik-
  • You are seriously missing the point - in fact, you miss the point so far you contradict yourself in your own post:

    Not all "proprietary" software is *evil*, horrible, deadly to innovation. In fact, I'd hate to trust the defibrillator above or an aircraft tower control system to an OpenSource community. "Oh yeah, I just whipped up a patch for that bug.. works on my machine fine!" (oops, how many lives depend on your machine?). Would you be glad if your bank was keeping all of its account information on MSQL?

    If your bank, airport, or hospital uses unchecked code written by a back-alley hacker, I pity your poor choice in service.

    You won't find many (smart) professional outfits running Oracle modified by the backalley hacker either. The whole reason a person uses a brand name program is because of the confidence they have in the authors and the source that they generate.

    Now, if the code to that air traffic controller software or defibrilator was open, the hospital or airport could hire knowledged, professional programmers to scour the code for possible bugs. This is something that I think both you and I would *WANT*... Do I need to cite the Navy and NT? I imagine if NT was Open Source, the navy would probably be recruiting more programmer to debug and solidify the code, heaven forbid actually modifying the code to specifically fit their needs.

    And if oracle were to release the source of their database suite, don't you think the next time they had a job opening they could require prior knowledge of the Oracle source for employment? Great boon for oracle if you ask me, after all, they're still going to get people to pay for their software.

    All in all, a situation that you describe would more than not create more jobs, or at least, require that people looking for programming jobs have prior experience in the software they're going to be working on.

    Heaven forbid, we wouldn't want that.

    -Erik-
  • by Eccles (932)
    > If you look at it realistically, placing the Linux kernel under the BSD license would have disasterous consequences. I wouldn't be surprised if in an instant several incompatible versions would pop-up, creating the same crap proprietary Unices once suffered from: incompatibilities and vendor-lockin.

    So why hasn't this happened with *BSD?

    Seriously, people here worry about Microsoft using Linux to create their own proprietary Unix. So why haven't they done this with BSD?

    For my stuff, which I haven't had time to work on so it isn't out there, I will use the X license. I don't worry about people making money off of extending my code any more than I worry about people making money using my code, as my code will still remain free. Someone else's extension of my stuff won't, but I will be no worse off as a result.
  • Which part of "if you don't like my license, don't use my code" don't people understand?
  • In your example, Red Hat Linux gets violated, and, as you said, the copyright holders can sue. Fortunately, besides the many private contributors, there are a few large, funded organizations that own pieces of that code. The FSF, for example, owns most (all?) of the GNU tools. Red Hat owns chunks of the installation stuff (RPM?), and companies like SendMail and Netscape might have something to say about it as well.

    I have no basis to disagree with your analysis of 'problematic' parts of the GPL, but at least this one point is not quite as weak, I think, as you portray it.

    --Chouser
  • While it's stretching the analogy, tit-for-tat/cooperate is not quite right for GPL/BSD comparison. The GPL strategy is a bit more complicated: if the other player is the same type, play tit-for-tat, but if the other player is a different type, defect.
  • The COPYING file in the kernel source tree has a short sentence by Linus, explicitly freeing software that calls kernel services in the normal way from falling under the GPL.
  • Maxwell says "Stating, once again, the GPL's habit of infecting derived works." Maxwell views this as a bad thing. I think most of us would tend to view this as a good thing. It keeps the software we've worked on free. The BSD license, on the other hand, allows someone to make modifications and redistribute binary only copies and not make the source available, provided they show the original copyright phrase. I don't want GPL'ed code I write to be used in that way. This has nothing to do with communism or Richard Stallman or the RMS beard. All it has to do with is my code's eternal freedom. I don't want anyone ever making changes and keeping them secret. One could argue that this takes away the freedom of others, but I argue that it keeps the freedom of the code. When I give code away, I think it's perfectly acceptable to ask others to do the same if they use my code. All in all, the article does nothing but affirm the GPL. Maxwell just restates what the GPL already restates. And I think the GPL is a good license and does just what RMS and the FSF intend it to do.
  • You write:

    As an example, consider GPL'd libraries. Linking your proprietary program with one is certainly considered fair usage, and legally the GPL would fail in this instance.

    I don't know that a claim that linking to a library was "fair use" of that library has ever been tested in court. However, the use of entire works for copyright purposes -- particularly when such works are not fictional -- is almost never considered to be "fair use".

    If it were fair use, I could ship the majority of almost any Microsoft product as part of my software (by using it as a library -- most of them are libraries already) and pay no licensing fees.

    Of course, perhaps you simply mean running a program linked against a library -- not distributing binaries linked against that library. In this case, the GPL places no restrictions on what you may do; you can use GPLed software however you want. (And in this case you might have a defense under copyright law, too.)

    The biggest problem with the GPL is that it places restrictions that it doesn't have the legal grounds under copyright law to do. . . .

    The lawyers who have reviewed the GPL don't think so. :)

  • Here's the email I wrote a week ago when I first read this article. It says mostly things other people have said in these comments, but not entirely.

    RMS responded to the email and said, "It is clear that the article you're commenting on was completely confused."

    It is my opinion that this article is not, in any sense, a good article. It consists almost entirely of acrimonious accusations and misstatements of fact that can generously be described as gross misunderstandings.

    I am willing to have this comment posted as a Slashdot article if the Slashdot gods see fit to do so.

    (This is with regard to http://www.daemonnews.org/199905/gpl.html [daemonnews.org].)

    It appears that much of your article was based on misunderstandings of the GPL. I hope you are willing to post a retraction of those parts of your article.

    [ Rob: You are welcome to post this on Slashdot if you like. ]

    You write:

    The clause about "output from the Program" is confusing and rather open-ended. It says that if a GPL'ed program generates output that may be used as a program, then the output is also GPL'ed. This would apply, for example, if using a parser generator such as ``flex'' or ``bison'' (the GNU equivalents of ``lex'' and ``yacc''). However, this curiously does not seem to apply to binary or object code generated by the GNU compilers, such as ``gcc''. Overall, I'm not sure about this clause of the license, and if I'm missing something here, please enlighten me. At any rate, the last sentence causes the most confusion, as it is completely non-specific.

    This clause confused me for a while, too. What it says is the opposite of what you think it says: it says that the output is not GPLed simply because it came out of a GPLed program.

    So flex and bison output, along with gcc output, is not necessarily GPLed. However, sometimes it is, specifically when the output is part of the program itself. For example, bison output with the default bison parser skeleton is a work based on the bison parser skeleton, which is part of bison. (Recently an exception was made so that bison output with the default parser skeleton was not GPLed, but this was the case for a long time.)

    So you see -- it depends on what the program does. ;)

    You could have written to the FSF for clarification before writing the article.

    This says that if you include non-GPL code in your program, you do not have to release that part of the code as GPL, provided that you distribute that part of code separate from the rest of the program! If the GPL and non-GPL code are distributed together (as is most often logically the case), then the non-GPL code's license, if any, is automatically null and void (may in some cases be illegal) and the entire work is now GPL-infected.

    No, the GPL cannot magically null some other software license. What it can do is permit you to distribute code licensed under the GPL. What this clause says is that you cannot distribute code licensed under the GPL as part of another program unless the whole program is distributed under the GPL.

    So if I link Emacs's buffer-handling functions into a proprietary text editor, I am not permitted to distribute that text editor unless I license that text editor under the GPL. This seems like a reasonable restriction to me; RMS wrote those buffer-handling functions so people could use free software, not so proprietary-software makers could make money off of him.

    What the "distribute them as separate works" thing means is this.

    The XML parser Expat is licensed under the GNU GPL so that it can be linked into GPLed programs. However, if James Clark (Expat's author) wanted to incorporate Expat into Mozilla, he can license Expat under the GPL-conflicting Mozilla Public License as well. Indeed, if he wants to link Expat into some proprietary XML editor, he doesn't have to GPL that XML editor, either. That's because Mozilla and the hypothetical proprietary XML editor would not be "part of a whole which is a work based on the program" -- where the program in question is not Expat, but some other GPLed program that uses Expat.

    Make sense?

    This clause reeks of political extremism, and is not entirely true. When a program or work is released under a license, this means that you are in effect licensed to use the program. If this is the case, then you are not the real owner of your code, the Free Software Foundation is! Particularly when it comes to controlling the ``distribution of derivative or collective works based on the Program''. After all is said and done, the only part of this work that you actually own is the Copyright itself. And that copyright is subject to the terms of this license. Essentially this is the rudimentary philosophy of Communism, in which you can create something, but you only own it as much as everyone else owns it.

    As explained above, this is not correct. You are always free to license your code however you see fit, but if you want to link your code with GPLed code, you need to license your code under the GPL. That doesn't keep you from also, say, licensing your code under the BSD license, or the MPL.

    Also, I think you are mistaken about communism; copyright law is not a child of capitalism, but of feudalism.

    And yet again, stating that you cannot change the license of a GPL'ed program once it has been released under GPL.

    You'd be amazed how often people have tried to do this (with software they didn't write!)

    Remember, though, the GPL provides rights only to users of the software; the author can do whatever they want with it, as explained in section 2.

    It also states that you cannot further license the program or modify the GPL in any way.

    Right. That is, if I have a big juicy piece of code released under the GPL (say, GNU Emacs) and I want to make a KDE version, I can't add a clause to the beginning of the GPL that says, "As a special exception, this code may be freely linked with the Qt library."

    Of course, if I wrote the code, I can license it however I want.

    This sounds much like a Microsoft-style license, in which your actions determine your acceptance of the license. In other words, you don't need to sign anything to be under the control of this license, all you need to do is modify or distribute the program (in the case of Microsoft, merely use the program).

    Actually, you don't even need to modify or distribute the program to be under the control of the GPL. You just need to exist.

    In copyright law, certain rights are reserved for the author of a work, including the rights of first sale and copying. The author is allowed to license other people to do these things in restricted ways or in unrestricted ways.

    When an author decides to use the GPL, that means they are granting everyone in the world a license to use their software under certain conditions -- whether everyone wants to use it or not.

    Microsoft's shrink-wrap licenses are probably not valid because you already bought the software from Microsoft or a Microsoft retailer, which implicitly grants you some rights, before agreeing to the license.

    More political extremism: if you cannot distribute the program in FULL compliance with the GPL, then you cannot distribute it at all. This is nothing more than anti-competitive, anti-capitalism restrictions.

    Anti-competitive? Anti-capitalist? How?

    If I license you the right to print my poem, but only in a magazine, not in a book, then you are not allowed to print it in a book. I don't think that's "anti-competitive" or "anti-capitalist" at all. It's just copyright law. If I license the general public the right to reproduce my software documentation in electronic form, but not in paper form, then you are not allowed to distribute it in paper form -- even if it's about cryptography and the courts say you can only distribute it in paper form, not in electronic form. This provision of the GPL is no different from these examples; indeed (as it says at the top of section 7) it is redundant.

    A rather interesting twist: if part of the license doesn't hold up in the law, the rest of the license still applies. Not sure of the legality of this, and could be up for debate...

    This "severability" term is standard in agreements written by one party. Your credit-card agreement, the airlines' terms of passage, and your bank agreements all contain essentially identical terms.

    Also note that there is a separate, but similar license known as the LGPL or ``Library General Public License'' which covers software libraries. It places the same general terms and conditions on library code as the GPL places on program code. It seems the LGPL was intended to clear confusion in whether a program must be GPL'ed if linked with GPL'ed libraries. Surprisingly, this does not appear to be the case.

    The LGPL was intended to provide more liberal licensing terms than the GPL for certain libraries, so that proprietary programs could be linked against free libraries rather than proprietary libraries.

    There are also libraries released under the GPL; for example, readline. You are not allowed to distribute code linked against these libraries unless that code is also licensed under the GPL.

    The LGPL is not a clarification of the GPL for libraries; it is a separate license. You're not the only person to make this mistake; to clear it up, the FSF recently renamed it the "Lesser General Public License".

    It also places the same restriction on any software that is derived in any way from a GPL'ed program, thereby infecting the derived work with the GPL.

    No. In particular, it doesn't restrict software that is output from a GPLed program (unless that software is itself a GPLed program for other reasons; for example, GNU cc includes some GPLed .y files that can be given as input to bison, producing some software as output. The output software is GPLed in this case.) or software that doesn't contain parts of a GPLed program.

    Once GPL'ed, the code, or any derived work, can never be released under any other license from that point on, no matter how many cycles of modification it has undergone.

    The author can release it under as many other licenses as their little heart desires. You just can't release copies of someone else's code -- or a program incorporating someone else's code -- under a non-GPL license.

    It is my opinion that the General Public License is not so much about ``keeping free software free'' as it is about forcing us to accept the extreme Communistic political philosophy of Richard Stallman and others at the Free Software Foundation.

    This is grossly inaccurate; RMS is not a communist. As far as I know, the other folks who work for the FSF aren't, either.

    But how does the GPL force you to accept anything? It doesn't even force you to accept the GPL. You are welcome to freely choose to violate the GPL and get sued, or follow the GPL and receive its benefits.

    The very spirit of the GPL is to attack the very concept of Capitalism and individualism. There is no concept of intellectual property under the terms of the GPL.

    Intellectual property is contrary to the spirit of capitalism and individualism. (Unless you're a socialist who thinks the spirit of capitalism consists in the exploitation of the weak by the strong; intellectual-property law does that quite well!) Thomas Jefferson was opposed to intellectual property. You can't get much more individualist than that. ;)

    [under the GPL] Your hard work is no more your property than everyone else's.

    This appears to stem from a misconception that the GPL restricts the rights of software authors. I mean, in a sense, it does; to use the GPL is to grant to everyone in the world the right to use your code under certain terms. You no longer have the freedom to prohibit people from using your code unless they pay you a license fee. But you still own the copyright, and you can license the code to people under more liberal licenses if you want. (You can even license it under more restrictive licenses, but people might just go download the GPLed version instead.)

    Indeed, Richard Stallman himself would prefer that we recognize the Linux operating system as ``GNU/Linux'' instead, because of the fact that almost all of the code is GPL'ed.

    This is a misconception. RMS wants people to call it GNU Slash Linux because the OS consists largely of code written by the GNU project. IMHO, he is mistaken; I don't think Linux should be called that, because it consists mostly of code written not by the GNU project, or for Linux either, for that matter.

    [RMS wrote to correct me about this: "Actually, neither of those is the reason. The reason is that the system in question is largely the GNU system."]

    In fact, it should be contested over its shaky sense of legality in these matters. I'm not aware of any court cases involving the GPL so far, so we have yet to see what will happen when such an issue arises.

    The lawyers who have read the GPL seem to think it will hold up. We'll have to see it tested in court; I suspect that will happen this year or next year.

    In summary, despite the disadvantages in certain instances, most open source software licenses contribute to the growth and technological and artistic development of software and computer science in general. Both licenses that have been considered here fall under this category, and as such should be considered a valuable resource and a great achievement for the intellectual development of the scientific and technological communities as a whole. Open source software is all about the sharing of ideas and concepts.

    Hmm, I mostly agree. But I thought open source software was about reducing the cost of software development by having your customers fix all the bugs for you ;)

  • I think most of us understand why a company would want to avoid GPL'd code.
    But that's just their tough luck. This "company X" can take BSD code, for NOTHING, make their proprietary changes, then treat the result as a proprietary whole. Now, maybe the BSD guys are happy to have other people profiting from their hard work, but if it was *my* code, I'd want something in return.
    With GPL code, if company X wants to distribute their derivative work, they have to give their modifications back to the community - and that's where the original authors get their "something in return".
    I personally think the world is a better place for all the free software floating around. GPL's virality promotes more free software, which can only be a good think, as far as I'm concerned.
    --
  • This clause doesn't expand the realm of things that get GPLed at all, contrary to the insinuation of that BSD guy. In fact, as far as I can tell it's there to make explicit the fact that just because, eg, I use gcc to compile something, the resulting program *isn't* necessarily GPLed. Notice the word only. They define 'work based on the Program' elsewhere and such things must be GPLed anyway--I believe that it means anything containing code from the program.

    Oh, and I don't even have delusions of lawyerhood. :-P

    Daniel
  • Specifically, if the original author placed it under the GPL, he did it because it is HIS right. He didn't want people writing commercial software with it, and that's his perogative.
  • The FSF did not take them to court.

    The FSF has never *ever* taken anyone to court over the GPL.

    The GPL has never been tested in a court of law, in any place of the world.

    The exact interpretation of the language in the GPL is open to argument until a pertinent court decides on it.
  • Actually I believe that glibc is LGPL'ed. There is a distinct difference. Basically the difference is that you can link closed programs to LGPL libraries.
  • Actually, a lot of the extentions made to GPL code by a commercial entity might not be in the are of code that they consider a strategic asset.

    I work for a company that produces automated test equipment. One of our big "intellectual" assets is how we make electrical measurements. Still, our systems need an RTOS, networking, code, etc., and porting a GPL OS would require the writing of device drivers, among other things.

    Such code would NOT be a strategic asset for us, and cost little to give away: it would be of no value to a competitor unless we both used the same (commodity) hardware (in which case it would be a strategic asset). Typically, we design our own hardware, and the drivers are useless to competitors unless they steal the design for that hardware. They would however, be useful to our customers, who might find and fix bugs, improve performance, etc. (which benetits us, as well).


  • I happen to agree with Stephen's assessment that this is very biased. Worse, the author appears to be flaming. Any unbiased comparision of the licenses would have to stick to the points of the licences itself and show that the conclusions drawn from the clauses are good or bad. The author definitely goes beyond this by resorting to name calling in an effort to sling mud at the GPL (Communistic philosophies?).

    Rhetoric, is useful for swaying the illiterate masses. As far as determining the truth, it is absolutely useless. At best, things can be stated more simply without resorting to rhetoric. At worst, rhetoric can be used to dress up falsehood in the garb of truth. So when the author started slinging rhetorical barbs at the opposing camp, he exposed his own intellectual dishonesty.

  • The FSF might resort to rhetoric, and so could the people responsible for the BSD licenses. The point that I was trying to make was that rhetoric has no place in what claims to be an independant assessment of the two licenses to determine which one is better.

    Whatever the philosophies and motivation of Stallman et al, they are totally irrelevant to determining the efficacy of the license. Karl Marx himself could have written the BSD license, but it wouldnt matter a damn as to how it could be used. And the same is true for the GPL. The uses a license can be put to depend soley upon the clauses of the license. So why resort to this mudslinging unless one wanted to obscure the truth?

  • Here we go again. What is so wrong with "if you use my code you can't change my license" !

    Now just to be childish they call it a VIRUS.

  • Well if 90% of the code is mine, and 10% is yours, then I have to adopt your license? That's what's wrong with it.

    So I should be forced to adopt your license? If you want to use my code deal with it! If you don't like it, what the hell is stoping you from coding the other 10%. Don't talk about being forced to change your license when your not being forced. Code it yourself.
  • Simply, the GPL requires that any code that links in GPLed code also be GPL.

    Here are some examples:

    - I write mycode.c on Solaris using vi. I then compile it and copy it over to Linux, where I run it via a Solaris emulator system of some kind. The mycode.c code does not have to be GPLed.

    - I write mycode.c on Solaris using vi. I then copy that code to my Linux system and recompile it with gcc. Since I only link to LGPLed code (GPL plus an exception for linking to libraries), mycode.c does not have to be GPL.

    - I write mycode.c on Linux using GNU Emacs, and I don't use any GPLed libraries (such as readline). Same deal; mycode.c does not have to be GPLed.

    - I write mycode.c (using any text editor or OS), and I use functions from GNU Readline, a GPLed library. Now mycode.c must be GPLed.

    - I write mycode.c (again, any text editor or OS), and I copy some code from GNU Emacs and link with it. Again, mycode.c must be GPLed.

    So, you can tell your PHBs that merely writing or compiling code on Linux doesn't force you to GPL it. You have to look at the licenses for all the individual components. In most cases, the licenses will be LGPL or BSD/X, which is OK.
  • I want to see a simple, publicly accepted licence that does this:

    1) this licence applies to this work and any derivative or modification of this work

    2) source code must be made available upon request.

    3) the original author and licence must be made clear in the source code and resulting program.

    4) modifications to this work must be documented to give proper credit

    5) a program which uses this work as a "library" is not bound by this licence.

    Essentially the spirit of GPL without much of the excess baggage and other strange clauses.
  • But I am afraid I must disagree. In reality, though, I think it's only a difference in perception. The way the author of the article sees it, the GPL forces people to accept the Open-Source model. He states that this isn't the spirit of Open-Source.

    I, on the other hand, see BSD's nonrestrictiveness as a loophole. Yes, people can use my code fairly. Most do that. Hell, even Apple, the supposed "kind of closed" is doing it. However, it also means that MS could rip off my code just by making minor changes to it (note that I define "use" and "rip off" differently, the main difference being that "ripped-off" code is closed up, and the one who rips it off attempts to profit from it without even acknowledging of the original author).

    In the end I think I'm probably being too cynical while the author of this article is being overly naive. The truth is likely somewhere between the two.
  • Don't copy code from GPLd programs, don't link against any GPL'd libraries (I can only think of two: GNU readline and libgtop; any others out there) and dynamically link against any LGPL'd libraries you use.

    There you go; proprietary Linux software.

    And get it through your skull: Open-Source and commercial are not opposites by any means. You're confusing "commercial" with "proprietary." There's plenty of proprietary software that's available for free (anything the author calls "freeware" counts as this), and there's some Open-Source software which is sold.
  • Socialism: It's all of ours, and we rule it all ourselves.
    Communism: It's all of ours, the people's, with the government controlling the disbursment.


    You've got socialism and communism mixed up. Marx and Engels predicted that in order for a real communist society to form the people would first need a government to create order and make sure everyone gets their equal share - a Socialist state.

    When the state had become able to support itself the government would fade away and the people would rule themselves - a Communist state.

    It seems that most people on this thread are thinking of the Soviet Union and China when they talk about Communism. Both however, were/are socialist dictatorships, not true Marxist Communisms.
  • Communism == evil?
    Are you referring to the Soviet Union's/China's socialist dictatorships, or real Marxist Communism? The entire basis of communism is to have an economic system in which the people share in the profits of their labor. Sharing is evil?
    Notice how I said economic system. Communism is not a form of government. The premise behind it is that the people are capable of governing themselves, therefore a true communism cannot really exist without being democratic.

    Communism is just a nice dream that never works; it is bad, but a nice thought.

    Communism has never been implemented on a large scale. The only real communist societies that ever been implemented are small "Utopian" societies, many of which failed because the people became greedy.
    The socialist society created in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution helped it immensely, though. The literacy rate soared and the country quickly changed from one of the word's most backwards nations to one the world's most industrialized. Then Stalin came to power and suddenly communism was considered evil because of one man's ruthlessness.

    Communistic system murdered incredible amounts of humans in russia and china and are totally bloated and corrupted.

    The communist (socialist, really) system in China and the Soviet Union didn't murder millions of people, it was the dictatorship.

    Sorry if it seems like I'm nitpicking, but I greatly respect the communist ideals and hate it when people misinterpret them. I'm sure everyone on Slashdot hates the fact that the word "Hacker" has gotten a bad name because it became associated with something that doesn't at all relate to the original defintion. Same thing here.
  • 1) RMS is not a communist. he claims to be a libertarian, though i'm sure that you've noticed in life that the farthest right and farthest left ppl aren't all that different from each other. :)

    2) the GPL has a different understanding of "freedom" than BSD licensing does. the intent of GPL as virus is to ensure that every person who comes across the software has the same rights to modify and pass on the code as every other preceding person. BSD allows an author anywhere in the code-chain the power to restrict access to the code to the next ppl down the chain. so, BSD is mostly concerned with giving the creator and derivative creator more control over her software whereas GPL is more concerned with allowing every person equal access at every level.
    at this point the argument is whether a creator should or should not have such control over her output. and given that software is a) not a tangible thing and b) is easily replicated and modified, can software be treated the same way as say a painting or a chair? see: http://old.law.columbia.edu/my_pubs/anarchism.html (ya, i got this off slashdot).


    just some thoughts for you to digest if you're thinking of a follow-up article.

    stephen waters
    internal systems admin
    amicus networks
  • BSD license more successful in business? Well maybe, but from the user and developer point of view GPL is much more successful.

    As a developer I would very much like to see my software contributions still to be free, and not used in a proprietary product by some company.

    I prefer RedHat before Sun, and companies like RedHat are quickly winning ground against proprietary providers.


  • For example, bison outputs code from which a lot is verbatim from the bison.simple or bison.hairy files. That's part of the program, so running it would produce output which was based on the Program.

    This meant that you could only use bison parsers in free software. (The FSF have since changed the bison license to allow use of bison parsers in non-free parsers.)

    The bison info file (under copying) has a better explanation.
  • by Alan Shutko (5101) on Thursday May 13, 1999 @05:18AM (#1894650) Homepage
    The only reason you could find one or the other "markedly inferior" is to judge them according to some set of needs and desires.

    What is needed is a discussion of the two licenses that does not assume some set of needs and desires, and discusses how the licenses serve two different ends, discusses those ends, and discusses how it could affect use of your code.
    In other words, we need something to give "objective" information about the two licenses so that the _reader and developer_ can make an informed decision.
  • SVR4 was a merging of BSD and SVR3 so any SVR4 based system can be considered a BSD-derivative.
  • Ever notice the GNU Objective C compiler?
    The NeXT folks took gcc and adapted it for their
    Objective C compiler. Only problem is, they
    tried to make the resulting compiler proprietary.
    The FSF took them to court. The FSF won, and
    now GCC compiles Objective C too.
    There have been a handfull of other cases too.
  • I should have persisted in trying to find
    actual documentation before posting.
    JOOC, I seem to remember there being some
    controversy with NeXT, though -- was that just
    a matter of caving-under-bad-pr, or further
    misinformation on my part?
  • This article reeks of the same political extremism that he claims the FSF exhibits.

    Both the FSF and BSD camps feel strongly about their philosophies. Both have good points. I guess it depends on your perspective.

    Daniel
  • With the BSD license, some big wealthy corporation could hijack some code I spent hours and hours and sweat and
    blood writing, make some utterly trivial change to it, then distribute it under a proprietary license and make a huge
    profit and I never see a penny. In addition, if they made VALUABLE changes, they would be closed, not keeping with
    the "open source" spirit under which the original code was written. Licensing under GPL prevents this.


    The GPL only partially protects against this. It does not protect against cases where:

    - you write an amazing program
    - some big corporations takes it, and makea a few insignificant tweaks
    - big corporation sells "distributions" of your code, while you get nothing

    This, to me, seems to be the big problem with both BSD and GPL. They both allow people to gain equal profit regardless of how little work they've done. Because we live in a capitalist society, the end result is that those who do more work get less.
    That's why open source developers have to get real jobs, and can only work on free projects in our spare time. That "Commercial Open Source" idea is looking better all the time.
  • http://linuxtoday.com/stories/5542_fla t.html [linuxtoday.com]

    I really hope this article is not representative of the opinions of the BSD community as a whole.

  • "If I don't like your license, I'll use your code anyway and change it to GPL,..."

    Surely that's no worse than Microsoft taking BSD code and putting it in their product. How can you complain about the GPL when an expressed aim of the BSD license is to make it available for the use of those who might keep derivatives closed?


    "if your license doesn't allow me to do that that, then you are a facist."

    I am a GPL advocate, and I wouldn't say something like that. That's an ad hominem attack, plain and simple. I assumed that you were originally talking about the BSD license. For the reason given in response to the first quote, BSDers have nothing to complain about if someone decides to re-release under the GPL.

    If we are talking about licenses in general, then it is not even legal to re-release the code under GPL if the original license doesn't permit. If it could be demonstrated that the GPLed work was derived from the original, then the GPL would be void with respect to that work.

    At the worst, I would be regretful that the work was not available for reuse under the GPL, but this is no different from the BSDer who regrets that they cannot release a piece of GPLed code under a BSD license.

    Josh
  • "I think you missed the context of that quote, I was responding to someone who suggested if you don't like the license then don't use the code, I'm pointing out that GPL advocates don't necessarily live by that."

    You're right, many don't. I was just a bit confused because your reply was to militant GPLers in general rather than the person who made the original post.


    "Although you seem reasonable,..."

    Thanks :-)


    "I'm sure you'll admit that many GPL advocates are quite militant about their license, just look at any QT or APSL discussion, even this discussion, there seems to be a large number of pro-GPL people who won't even consider alternative viewpoints, they simply dismiss any criticism as FUD or flame-baiting, those are the people I am refering to there."

    True, although most of them are no worse than Mike Maxwell (author of "Restrictively Unrestricted"). I'll give you BSDers the benefit of the doubt, and assume that most of y'all are better than him.


    My apologies for the misunderstanding,
    Josh
  • Well if 90% of the code is mine, and 10% is yours, then I have to adopt your license? That's what's wrong with it.

    If I am unwilling or unable to change my license to GPL, then I can't use your code, and your so-called "free" GPL code is not so "free", is it?
  • For me, the best of both world license is one that allows code to become proprietary only under the author(s) terms.

    The GPL is totally against proprietary software, BSD allows anyone to make it proprietary.

    Some people have told me that the GPL works this way, if you want to allow your code to be used in a proprietary project, then you simply relicense it. This is true, but it goes against the spirit of the GPL

  • Stallman and the FSF are above criticism, and any attempt to do so is mearly flamebait?

    What's wrong with taking exception to parts of the GPL? He raises some good points, I see few good answers, only flames.
  • To a GPL advocate, it's "If I don't like your license, I'll use your code anyway and change it to GPL, if your license doesn't allow me to do that that, then you are a facist."
  • Like the GPL people are so good at respecting non-GPL copyright holders... Troll Tech, APSL, BSD et al.
  • I'm sorry,
    The GPL and FSF are "differently politically persuaded"

    I don't see hate in the article, but you seem to think like the politically correct people where "hate" seems to be defined as any viewpoint that doesn't agree with your own.

    What kind of world is it where you can't point out the obvious similarities between the writings of Stallman and Marx without being accused of name calling?

    Worse you restate the article, where does the author suggest banning the GPL, for instance? He is merely suggesting that the BSD is superior. The FSF does the exact same thing on their web site.
  • Surely that's no worse than Microsoft taking BSD code and putting it in their product. How can you complain about the GPL when an expressed aim of the BSD license is to make it available for the use of those who might keep derivatives closed?

    I think you missed the context of that quote, I was responding to someone who suggested if you don't like the license then don't use the code, I'm pointing out that GPL advocates don't necessarily live by that.




    I am a GPL advocate, and I wouldn't say something like that. That's an ad hominem attack, plain and simple. I assumed that you were originally talking about the BSD license. For the reason given in response to the first quote, BSDers have nothing to complain about if someone decides to re-release under the GPL.

    Although you seem reasonable, I'm sure you'll admit that many GPL advocates are quite militant about their license, just look at any QT or APSL discussion, even this discussion, there seems to be a large number of pro-GPL people who won't even consider alternative viewpoints, they simply dismiss any criticism as FUD or flame-baiting, those are the people I am refering to there.

  • Not to nitpick but capitalism works more like this:

    It's mine, but if you invest in it, it'll grow, and you will get a bigger one for yourself, or you can buy the rights to it for a greater sum of money.

    What you stated was more the concept of private property.

    Also, I believe that pure Marxist Communism is supposed to exist on its own, without the government, although the government was supposed to provide the catalyst to get to pure communism.

    But still, I agree with you that the GPL is Communistic in nature
  • Are you suggesting a license with every instance of "GPL" deleted, and "GPL Killer" inserted, so that you have a new license that's identical to the GPL?

    You wouldn't be allowed to use it with GPL code since it would then be incompatable with the GPL.

    That's one problem with GPL, it's incompatible with equivalent free software licenses.
  • If you want to see rhetoric, then go to www.gnu.org. (An example quote, slightly paraphrased: "Control over your own ideas is really control over other people's lives".)

    You should expect at least as much rhetoric from the other side.

    "Communistic philosophies" is appropriate, Stallman's views on software have many parallels to Marx's views on socio-economics, he even went so far as to call his mission statement the "GNU manifesto", which by name association will make people think of the Communist Manifesto.
  • GPL is communistic in the realm of information itself. It's true that the FSF doesn't advocate Communism everywhere.

    Marx was against private property, Stallman is against private Intellectual property.

    Marx believed in the principle of "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs", Stallman believes that software should work that way, that coders should code and share with everybody.

  • no kidding it's very biased! it's full of plain wrong claims all long. whoever wrote this seems to believe that if a GPL program incorporates code from MIT-X-licenced one, then the original suddently disappears from the servers, so only the GPL'd copy remains! and it seems he's never heard of the BSDL's obnoxious advertising clause.

    I wish people would take licensing issues a bit more coldly. the MIT-X and the GPL are just not made for teh same purposes; one is a "do what you want", the other is a "copyleft". there's more than enough room for both, and they're not best for the same things. it's really simple: you write an app that you don't want proprietary forked versions of, you use the GPL. if you don't mind, you use the MIT-X-l. one case where I'd definitely use the MIT-X license would be for the implementation of some protocol that I wanted to push, and that I wanted many programs to be interoprable with. in other cases, like programs made just to "make a point", public domain can be the most appropriate.

  • Does having a UNIX core constitute "competing in the UNIX market"?

    If micros~1 were to build on top of UNIX like Apple did with OS/X, would that not be competing in the desktop arena?

    It is a legal technicality that they could probably get around.

    But if they owned Xenix and gave it up instead of building the nice GUI on it and making UNIX invisible to the user, then why do it now?

    Maybe they won't. I just don't like that risk.


    Romans 10:9-10 [gospelcom.net]
  • I'd like to see a clause that says Microsoft may not make a splitt :)
    I don't care about everyone else. But what if FreeBSD had all the Open
    Source community support. Then after it took over the market as the
    dominate OS, Microsoft comes along, takes it and adds hundreds of
    developers to it to make a WindowsOS/X. Suddenly, everyone says, "Wow,
    Unix with Microsoft backing it!" and we are back to square one.
    Granted, tech people like us would not pay for it when we have the
    normal BSD version, but it'd still bother me. On the bright side, we
    would have the same API so all the apps would be compatible for a
    while. That is until they add their new API and suddenly the orginal
    OS can't run the new games that use this new API. I'd love to hear a
    counter arguement but I think that's how it would turn out. If corel
    or someone had it, they'd make an OS that would continue to have open
    standards. The first thing micros~1 will do is turn it into a
    propritary OS
    so that you have to have it to run the apps.


    Romans 10:9-10 [gospelcom.net]
  • Because there can be comercial GPLed code.

    Free does not mean gratis. It comes from freedom.

    There is commercial software for Linux. And it is GPLed. Look at what Corel is doing. Look at RedHat.

    Alejo.

  • Well, that was an interesting article, but its conclusion that the Gs will win makes a few assumptions that don't appear to be valid.

    1. Ts never contribute back to the Os. In fact, they often do contribute back.
    2. The primary source of contributions is through taking them from other programs. This doesn't appear to be the case, perhaps because it's not always easy to take good features out of one program and add them to another, due to design changes and the like.

    cjs

  • by cjs (12969)

    It has, look at BSDi and all the chunks of BSD code tucked away in all sorts of operating systems like the various win flavours.
    And you are aware that this is a key thing responsible for the growth and popularity of Linux, right?

    If you want widely to promulgate a particular piece of software, the GPL is a reasonable means of doing that. On the other hand, if you're trying to promulgate an open standard, the BSD licence is a much better strategy. When a company is making a network device, they need a network stack. The most expensive option is usually writing it yourself. A less expensive option is to go to a company that already has one (say, Microsoft or Novell) and license that. However, if there is an even less expensive option yet, that being taking a free implementation of TCP/IP and putting it in your proprietary product, it makes sense to go for that instead.

    It's these commercial users `stealing' (in fact, taking what's freely given) the BSD networking code that widely deployed TCP/IP, and thus created the conditions necessary for a non-proprietary Internet. The Internet has (IMHO) done more to increase free software development than anything else out there. (I personally can't imagine how more than a hundred geographically separated developers could work on a system like NetBSD without the easy CVS access we all have via the Internet.)

    cjs

  • If the person refuses, then I suspect that either you approached the person or was a bully to him/her in another lifetime.=)
    Ha ha! Not quite. NetBSD has a completely re-written version of the gnu readline library because Richard Stallman won't license it under the LGPL, just the GPL. He explicitly does this to try and force people to bring their entire program under the GPL if they want to use readline. (And this has worked; at least one program has converted from a non-GPL licence with BSD-like freedoms to the GPL just to be able to use readline.)

    cjs

  • RMS's ideas about a "software tax" are definitely socialistic; they certainly aren't libertarian/classic liberalism.

    Also, libertarianism is hardly a far-right (or far-left) philosophy. Indeed it was probably the predominant philosophy in America before New Deal-Great Society socialism took over.
  • Communism, as a political philosophy, only has to do with restricting your freedom to make money (the whole "ownership of the means of production" thing). Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism isn't communism, it's "democratic centralism," a philosophy (if you can call it that) that says that those at the center (the centralism part) chosen in some way to reflect the will of the people (the democratic part) can pretty much eliminate freedom at their own discretion.

    It's much closer to the philosophy of Singapore than pure Marxism; the only difference is that they have diametrically opposed positions on the value of capitalism. Needless to say, the former was qualitatively more right (they're here, the Soviets aren't, and the Chinese are doing what Singapore does, just more oppresively).
  • If people are considering releasing a program under a BSD licence, but don't want other people/corporations to make closed improvements to the program, then you have chosen the wrong licence.

    There is no point getting pissed off about this kind of thing happening after the fact. If you didn't want your program closed off, then you should have released it under a licence that matches your intentions.

    I use GPL for most of my packages, since it reflects my intention for future use/expansion of it.
  • This article was posted on linux today over a week ago. It was flamed then for its inaccuracies, and it will get flamed then.

    I could point out the many problems with the article, but that has already been done. Take a look at the comments at Linux Today [linuxtoday.com]. There are a lot of interesting comments there.

    No one can claim that GPL is communistic, when we have both commercial entities and cooperative groups using the licence for their produces. And a lot of the uncertainty about the clauses in the GPL, where there is uncertainty, you usually find a clarification as an exception/addition to the licence.

  • by JamesHenstridge (14875) <james.jamesh@id@au> on Thursday May 13, 1999 @05:28AM (#1894682) Homepage
    An example would be the cat program. After compiling it, depending on how we run it, the output may be considered a derived work.

    Running it as "cat --help" would probably count as a work derived from the program. The output of "cat ~/my-text-file" would not. The reason for the wording is to stop people claiming the output of "cat cat.c" (printing out the program's own source code) is not covered by any licence.

    In cases like gcc and bison, where the output contains some output that is the same for reguardless of input file (gcc's crt1.o, or bison's standard code for all parsers) and this output would reasonably be considered derived from the program, there are usually special exceptions to clear up any confusion.
  • by sethg (15187) on Thursday May 13, 1999 @05:14AM (#1894683) Homepage
    A while ago, someone on /. posted a pointer to a Web page by David Rysdam -- I unfortunately didn't save the link, but the title was "Open Source as ESS". For those of you who are familiar with the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma (see Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation if you're not), I can summarize the article as follows:
    • Computer programs competing with each other are like players in an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma game.
    • Letting another program copy your code is like playing "Cooperate" in the game.
    • Refusing to let another program copy your code is like playing "Defect".
    • Closed-source programs are playing the "Always defect" strategy.
    • Programs with a BSD license are playing the "Always cooperate" strategy.
    • Programs with a GPL license are playing the "Tit for tat" strategy.
    • In simulations of the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, tit-for-tat players usually do better in the long run than players who always cooperate or those who always defect; therefore, GPL programs are likely to displace BSD programs in the long run.
    I have some reservations about Rysdam's model, but I would love to see more analyses of this type.
  • GPL is a bug-work-around for capitalism (IP laws are the bugs). Several other such bwa:s, such as Greenpeace, laws against monopolism, exists. If these are seen as communistic, and communism is seen as bad, then the observer may not be a humanist! To let everybody gain from what everybody create can not be bad; the gain must then be larger than if everybody only gained from there own work!
  • Code forking, when you think of it, is really a Good Thing(tm). It's what keeps OSS projects honest-- if anyone doesn't like what the original authors are doing (e.g. making it too complex, making the license non-free, etc.) then they can do something about it.

    Take Mozilla, for example. Ever since they went under dual NPL/GPL licensing, they've opened themselves up to the danger of forking. But it hasn't happened, and probably won't. There is already much goodwill in the OSS community toward Mozilla.org because they are doing things correctly, and even more, RMS himself has asked that people work with (and not against) them.

    Malicious forking? I would imagine this to be "hey, I'll fork the code tree for program X, add a feature or two, and put it out so that I can slap my name all over it." If X is already under GPL, then this is going to be a lot of trouble (maintaining an entire code tree) for comparatively little return (whee! see my kewl splash screen!) I doubt this would ever happen.

    (The whole NeoPlanet/ActiveX control flap comes close... but that was module ownership, not code forking)
  • by Fish Man (20098) on Thursday May 13, 1999 @04:58AM (#1894696) Homepage
    All in all, an excellent article.

    I tend to agree with every point made.

    However, I tend to favor the GPL over the BSD license myself for code I write and release to the public, in spite of the GPL's problems, for one big reason, which the author did explore:

    With the BSD license, some big wealthy corporation could hijack some code I spent hours and hours and sweat and blood writing, make some utterly trivial change to it, then distribute it under a proprietary license and make a huge profit and I never see a penny. In addition, if they made VALUABLE changes, they would be closed, not keeping with the "open source" spirit under which the original code was written. Licensing under GPL prevents this.

    Of course, I would still have one defense in such a case. I could do my best to get the word out that BiGreedy Corp.'s XYZ datadiddler (that I actually wrote) was available for free at ftp://gotohell.BiGreedy.jerks.com thus undermining their profitability. If they had made valuable addititions, I could attempt to add them to the still open version (or encourage others to do it and keep the code open). However, such an "education campaign" itself would be a really big effort.

    In any case, neither license is perfect, and I often find myself wishing for a hybrid of the two.

    However, I REALLY don't want to advocate yet-another-open-source-license! So, I don't have a good answer as to how to address the issues raised.
  • by Fish Man (20098) on Thursday May 13, 1999 @06:23AM (#1894697) Homepage
    I see nothing in the faqs or descriptions of /. that say that /. will only post articles that are scrictly totally non-biased news fact and will never post links to editorials.

    This editorial, even though it may contain factual inacuracies and opinions we don't agree with, as an editorial still falls under the catigory "News for nerds, Stuff that matters", IMHO.

    Heck, /. often posts links to MicroSoft utter BS FUD attempting to pass itself off as news! This stuff is still often worthy of our attention.

    I don't expect /. to only reference articles and editorials that I 100% agree with!
  • by Fish Man (20098) on Thursday May 13, 1999 @06:58AM (#1894698) Homepage
    Finally, I think the LAST thing that GPL and *BSD users should be doing is fighting each other. I'm sure there are people growing interested in *BSD as a result of "Linux hype". I'm sure there are people who use both. I'm sure there are people who switched to *BSD after using Linux. I saw yesterday's news about AOL's interest in a *BSD-powered set-top as proof that the attention is benefitting everyone.

    Those who favor GPL and those who favor *BSD have more in common than not. They also have bigger opponents than each other.


    Hear hear!!

    PLEASE let's not have any BSD vs. GPL flamewars! Both are imperfect but noble attempts to accomplish essentially the SAME THING.

    We are friends here, not rivals!
  • by Stephen Williams (23750) on Thursday May 13, 1999 @04:31AM (#1894700) Journal

    I think we need to see an objective comparison between the two licenses. Free Software Foundation texts which compare the GPL to other licenses are always written from the FSF's point of view, and their hardline politics comes through in their articles. This article suffers from the same problem, just from the opposite angle. For example, here is a quote from the final section of the article, in which the author expresses his opinions on various licensing issues:

    It is my opinion that the General Public License is not so much about ``keeping free software free'' as it is about forcing us to accept the extreme Communistic political philosophy of Richard Stallman and others at the Free Software Foundation. The very spirit of the GPL is to attack the very concept of Capitalism and individualism.

    This quote seems to me as loaded as the pro-GPL, anti-everthing-else texts published by the FSF.

    It seems to me that any article on licensing is going to have some political, ideological aspect to it. We're all human, we all have opinions, and our opinions are guaranteed to show in what we write, to a greater or lesser extent. However, I think it is possible to write a reasonably objective article which doesn't descend into attacking another's ideology.

  • >Some criticism of the GPL, and a good article.

    Some? it's a pure flame against GPL:

    "the General Public License is not so much about ``keeping free software free'' as it is about forcing us to accept the extreme
    Communistic political philosophy of Richard Stallman and others at the Free Software Foundation. The very spirit of the GPL is to attack the very
    concept of Capitalism and individualism"

    Eh, not a good article IMHO

    "Indeed,
    Richard Stallman himself would prefer that we recognize the Linux operating system as ``GNU/Linux'' instead, because of the fact that almost all
    of the code is GPL'ed. The Linux kernel itself is not a GNU/FSF product, however."

    No It's not the kernel that should be called GNU/Linux It is the entire operating system; kernel + the rest of which much indeed are made by FSF

    "since most of the body of code in the ``GNU/Linux''
    system is GPL'ed, there is no hope of ever changing the licensing - they've gone too far to turn back now. "

    Linux != BSD, and never will be. Is that so scary?

    "The GPL is not about freedom"

    Yes it is

    "But the fact that the GPL can infect code derived from other GPL'ed programs, as well as the fact that the output of some GPL'ed
    programs must also be GPL'ed, is unacceptable. In fact, it should be contested over its shaky sense of legality in these matters. I'm not aware of
    any court cases involving the GPL so far, so we have yet to see what will happen when such an issue arises. I can only hope that the courts will
    decide against the GPL's habit of infecting other code."

    He wishes the GPL to lose in court!!!, I could understan if a Microsoft troll wanted GNU/Linux to be destroyed but a UNIX brother? ;)


    /sorry for the bad textformatting...
  • by DonkPunch (30957) on Thursday May 13, 1999 @05:54AM (#1894711) Homepage Journal
    (Putting flamethrower away) Let's talk.

    First of all, my personal opinion is that a person (or entity) who writes code has the right to determine the terms of how that code is distributed. When I write a program, I can release it under public domain, BSD-style license, GPL, or whatever. Heck, I can create a license that forces people to "subscribe" to my program and send me money every year or it shuts down. Nobody is obligated to use my software if they don't like my license.

    In fact, I believe that terms of use are a feature of software -- just like speed, ease-of-use, and reliablility. I only wish we had software consumers who were more educated about EULAs and what clicking that "Next" button during the install really means.

    I'm very leery of an interpretation of the GPL from someone whom I don't believe is a lawyer. The use of terms like "communist" and "viral" is simply inflammatory.

    I do understand why people who favor a BSD-style license are concerned about developers using GPL without considering a BSD license. Thanks to the attention focused on Linux, there's a certain "trendiness" to releasing code under the GPL today. In some cases, a BSD license may be more appropriate and beneficial.

    Developing Free Software is often a labor of love. For some, it's their art. I sympathize with a developer who worries that their work will be "embraced and extended" by a corporate entity and they'll never see what happens to it. The GPL prevents this (even for developers who might find the license's introduction a little heavy-handed).

    Finally, I think the LAST thing that GPL and *BSD users should be doing is fighting each other. I'm sure there are people growing interested in *BSD as a result of "Linux hype". I'm sure there are people who use both. I'm sure there are people who switched to *BSD after using Linux. I saw yesterday's news about AOL's interest in a *BSD-powered set-top as proof that the attention is benefitting everyone.

    Those who favor GPL and those who favor *BSD have more in common than not. They also have bigger opponents than each other.
  • When Microsoft sold off Xenix to what became SCO (which was originally a Microsoft entity) they agreed to never compete directly in the Unix market as part of the agreement. The way the story I heard goes was that Bill Gates had grown tired of paying AT&T a hefty royalty for each copy of Xenix sold, so they divested and the result was SCO. For this reason, it's been legally impossible for Microsoft to directly compete in the Unix market. Also for this reason, there's little chance they will enter the Unix-clone market, at least not as an OS vendor.

    I don't have really hard-and-firm sources on this info, it just comes from a few years back when I had an Altos 586 machine with Microsoft Xenix on it and was researching the history of the OS my machine. So if somebody can correct me on this, I'd be glad to learn more.
  • ...why not contact the author and see if he will allow a LGPL library of that 15%?

    It seems so damn simple to me.

    Yes, but its still up to that person, and beyond that... what happens if its a GPL'd library, and each routine is GPL'd by a different person? Should I then contact 30 different people to try and get them to LGPL their code for me? And if one says no, I have to rewrite his code anyways...
    or if its all part of one library, does that mean that even though 29 of 30 people said they'd LGPL their code, its all still GPL'd because of *one* person who won't LGPL??

    Personally, I don't care if company X takes my code and makes a profit on it... I'm not writing it to make money, I'm writing it because:
    a) I like programming, its interesting & fun.
    b) Its probably something I need or is useful to me.
    c) After A & B, maybe someone else can use it.

    The point of the BSD license is that if company X is building a new high-performance router engine and wants to use BSD code as a base, they can. They don't have to publish/provide their proprietary algorithms to the world just because they put some new drivers and kernel code into the system (which would give their competitors all their performance secrets and hurt their business). All they have to do is acknowledge that it uses BSD code.

    In contrast, under GPL they would *have* to publish their mods, which their competition could then take for themselves, build a competing unit and sell at a cut-rate cost (gee... look ma, *no* software development costs for *our* unit!) and put the company and the programmers that wrote the code (worst case) out of business!

    So you wonder why a company would rather use BSD code rather than GPL?
  • I've read a lot of good arguments, and a lot of plainly pig-headed inflamatory arguments in this thread so far...

    But, hey, like has been said before... it up to *me* to decide how I want *my* code to be used... so don't preach to me about how *your* license is best if it doesn't fit my idea about the future of *my* code.

    I posted in a different spot, but the basic difference between BSD and GPL for company "X" that wants to use the code is as follows:

    Company "X" is making a new high-performance router engine and wants to avoid re-inventing an OS or purchasing a commercial RTOS for big $$$ (and the obvious effect on the bottom line, always a big concern for the "shirts")...

    Using BSD code, they take the OS and have some of their programmers spend a few hundred man-hours writing proprietary driver code and tweaking the kernel to get optimum performance for their product. They can sell the resulting product and not publish any of their proprietary code. They have a top-selling/top-performing product for a year before the competition catches up...

    Using GPL code, they take the OS and have some of their programmers spend a few hundred man-hours writing proprietary driver code and tweaking the kernel to get optimum performance for their product. Again, they can sell the resulting product, but in keeping with GPL they have to publish their code (thus making it non-proprietary I guess)... Their competition can look at all the code, whip out a new product in a few months with little or *NO* software development costs (after all, company "X" paid *their* programmers to write it, but company's "Y" and "Z" get their work for free)... sell it for less money (less startup costs w/ no man-hours on programming) and steal business away from company "X". Worst case, company "X" goes out of business because they were *forced* to give away trade secrets by the GPL.

    And you would wonder why a company would want to avoid GPL'd code?

    Now, of course, the license you choose for your work depends on your own idealogical point of view. If you are a anti-"shirt" anti-business zealot, of course you choose GPL. If you don't like the idea of anybody using your code for profit, for whatever reason, you'd choose GPL. If you don't care that someone may profit from your code later, as long as they acknowledge your contribution, you'd probably choose BSD.

    My personal choice is BSD... if its not yours, great! Personally, I write code because I like writing code, its fun and interesting and usually its something that is useful to me at the time... and if it can be useful to someone else, great! If you take my code, put some of your own novel ideas into it and sell it... hey, go for it! I'm not in it for the money, I have a job for that. If I was a good BS-artist "shirt" type I could probably sell some of the stuff myself for good money... but, then again, money isn't my prime motivator.

    Maybe that isn't for you... great for you! You are entitled to whatever choice you make. I can choose to be Buddhist and you can choose to be Christian... great!! We could have some fun idealogical discussions, but don't get in my face about how your religion is "the only one for the world".

    Now, I would like to add that GPL'd code doesn't prevent someone from profiting... obviously RedHat and Caldera make money providing support and documentation and their own "userland". Yes, they have to give the code away, but they can still profit. And we have some Xerox printer/copier units here at work that the service guy says have embedded Linux/PC's in them as controllers. Obviously Xerox makes money selling the units... now, are they following the GPL and publishing the code? Got me... I'm not the GPL police and really don't care to be. And if they are breaking the GPL, who exactly is going to sue them to stop it? FSF? The authors (how many are there now??)??

    Hmm... if I take your code, GPL'd or BSD'd, and stip off your license statement, and compile it into my product and put a licensing statement into it that its "illegal to disassemble/reverse-engineer this product" (as I've seen many times before)... how would anybody know anyways??? And if they did find out, what an interesting legal battle that would be... "you broke my license agreement in order to discover that I broke yours". I'd love to get a transcript of that case... :-)

    At any rate... you make the choice for *your* code. GPL? Fine. BSD? Fine. Write your own? Fine. Doesn't matter to me... thats what freedom of choice is all about. Lots of Free Software, lots of licensing choices, and its all up to you to choose which you use... isn't freedom great?
  • by Kymermosst (33885) on Thursday May 13, 1999 @11:04AM (#1894725) Journal

    I'll start off by putting on my asbestos underwear.

    I support intellectual property that is truly new and unique. I DO NOT support ideas that are not new or just spinoffs, or really stupid patents.

    If I write some damn awesome software, or invent something really unique and new, why should I not profit from it? Without intellectual propery laws, it would be an interesting world, where secret societies and guilds of tradesmen kept their secrets quiet to protect their intellectual property. Where they would kill to keep it safe. Sound familiar? Just remember, those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it. We need intellectual property laws. We also need a responisble patent office, too. We don't have one yet.

    So, on to the infective aspect of the GPL:

    Say I am writing SuperProgram2000, and I need a blinkenLights() function for it. I want my software to be propriety, because I want to make money off of it.

    I notice that someone else has a GPLed program out there with a damn nice blinkenLights() that is perfect for my application. I have a few choices here:

    1. I can write my own blinkenLights(), but it's big and complex, and could add months to my development time, and it's already been done anyway.
    2. I can steal the other guy's blinkenLights() and face possible legal issues were it discovered.
    3. I can use the other guy's blinkenLights() and give him credit, and be forced to place my entire program under the GPL, and lose my profit. THIS IS INFECTIVE.
    4. I can ask him to license blinkenLights() to me under a different license, either for free, for royalty, or for flat-fee. But what could happen?

    Suppose someone notices that the blinkenLights() in my code look a lot like the blinkenLights() in a nifty GPL program. He tells the FSF. The FSF sues me. Suppose they don't accept the fact that I licensed blinkenLights() from the original author, because the code exists as GPL in the rest of the world. I'd have to fight a legal battle and it would cost me time. I'd probably win, but it would still cost me time.

    So, I am not sure if the GPL and the FSF can be trusted. And the GPL is definitely against intellectual property, which is a big part of capitalism nowadays.

    For the record, RMS is probably anti capitalist for that reason, and maybe leans socialist, but he's no communist like the article said. RMS is doing good work, but is the motivation out of altruism, or is it to further a political view?

    He may say it's altruism, and makes software free in a "free speech" sense, but I could also say the Sun is blue, and you would really have no way of knowing what color I see the sun as.

    Guess that's all my $.02.

  • I'd like to see someone come up with come sort of concoction, taking the best bits from both. I like the free style of the BSD licence; I don't like the way the source can be 'forked' into a closed software solution. I like the GPL in that it disallows closed forking, but I don't like the idea that someone could take some piece of software an author has been working on, fork it, and make it more or less their own.

    I would like to see an 'Author's Licence', where the freedoms of both the author and user of software are taken into account. People must be able to have access to source code to be able to make changes, etc., but people shouldn't be allowed to fork code maliciously. I think the distribution of software should be absolutely free (both senses of the word), but redistribution should be limited to patches/etc., which extends the original program. The author of the software must be supported primarily. Now, this also causes problems (software no longer under development, for example), but I myself would much rather release software under an 'author' system. I believe the most important people are the authors and the users of their software - clingers, forkers and thieves need not apply ;)

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