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GNU is Not Unix

NewsForge 'Previews' GPL3 195

Meltr writes: "NewsForge has an interesting sneak preview of the 3rd version of the GNU Public License. Among other things, RMS will make V3 more business friendly and will close the ASP loophole in V2. Check it out here." Now, take things with a grain of salt - RMS [?] doesn't feel comfortable calling this even a "draft" so there's much work still to be done. But's a good article, and interesting to see what's happening.
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NewsForge "Previews" GPL3

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  • If GPL software becomes so popular that it becomes difficult not to use it
    If GPLed s/w becomes this prevalent, then I think the need for the restrictive licence will cease to exist. However, we are a still a long way from that particular Utopia.

    -- flossie
    http [2130706433] telnet [017700000001]

  • Is public domain free?


    Public domain software quickly can be (and is) changed to proprietary licenses, which are most certainly not free.

    The public domain version is still free.
    The proprietary version is not. BTW, a GPL license counts as proprietary in the group sense.

    You are creating a notion of free that is impossible to attain, and then saying that GPL software doesn't live up to it.

    Incorrect. I am trying to define what free speech means. By placing restrictions (akin to censorship), GNU licensed software are not free as in speech. Therefore, they should not be considered free as in speech. Calling them anti-copyright licenses (copyleft) are quite exceptable. That is what they were written for.

    Those of us arguing against "free" software are arguing against GNU's notion of the word "free". I admit that I do not like GNU licenses; they are unfriendly to other open source licenses. I really detest the misuse of the word free just for appearances.

    Sorry, but people who actually care about Free Software aren't willing to render themselves impotent and their actions meaningless to satisfy a few people who can't understand that freedom is something you have to fight for.

    Whose freedom? The people or the software? If it is the people, then they should be able to "say" (write) any code they want. If it is the software, it should be able to be whatever it wants. This might be as a binary or an Artistic license if it so chooses. If you restrict its choice, you have restricted its freedom.
  • I was talking about the "old" Qt license. The QPL version 1.
  • I'm printing and framing this. Convergence, with your permission as well, I'd like to republish this post of yours every time someone starts chirping about 'Communism' and what not.

    What say you?
  • Good point, but it is also a good idea to close up the loopholes in the GPL as they become known. The ASP business model is a real potential problem.
  • So if you don't want your software to change with each new release, specify a version number!

    Don't do this unless you have to. The version clause makes your software more useful.

    Compare it to the clause of the LGPL that allows relicensing under the GPL. True, it lets someone make a more restrictive fork. Its intent is to allow linking with GPLed code.

    If you prefer GPL 2 to 2.1 (or 3, etc.), continue to release your own code under version 2, with the version clause. Include a note in the README explaining your wishes.

    If the BSD projects can avoid license forks, versioning the GPL shouldn't be a big deal.

  • Are you trolling me? You should know very well that when one downloads GPL software, they are bound only by copyright conditions, which allow them to make modifications so long as they aren't distributed, and that you can do so while specifically not agreeing to the GPL.

    Your scheme would require legal agreement up front, before the the software is downloaded, executed, or even before the source can be examined. Sounds like a click-through to me. (Not to mention a political nightmare and a removal of one of the supposed advantages of OSS(tm).)
  • Actually, I would prefer fuck you posts to your style of posts. An accurate "GPL is bad, because... example 1...example 2..." would contribute to the discussions.

    Those two examples are reality.
    Here's Apple's statement to Number 1 [].
    And the GPL prevented me to program an ICQ client for MacOS X, this one you have to believe me.

  • Even if GPL-3 is released sometime soon, what about the current open source software distributed under GPL-2? I suspect some people may rely upon section 1 of the GPL since the ASP model "copies" software upon each use. GPL: 1. You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program.
  • Remember, the purpose of the GPL is to turn copyright law on its head through the use of copyright law. Now, technology has allowed people to circumvent the GPL and diminish freedom again. I want to see that fixed.

    I don't think you are one of the people who says I'm not free unless I have the freedom to make someone else a slave, but that's my analogy for what people are doing with GPL loopholes - just using them to make their improvements to a GPL program proprietary software again.



  • The only reason I can see for restricting a DTD or any other interface is pure spite. Using the bad but common analogy of free speech, why do you want to regulate the *manner* in which I speak? Public interfaces, especially those created in the Free Software Movement(tm) need to be completely unrestricted.

    Are you willing to let other people do the same? What would you think if you came across a Java interface or XML DTD that was placed under a GPL-incompatible copyleft? But it doesn't really matter, because I'll just ignore your restrictions and have the full protection of the law to do so, since you cannot copyright an interface to begin with.
  • The goal here is to get source code distributed in cases where the program would have been distributed, except that it's being offered as a service instead, circumventing the GPL requirement for source code distribution. IMO, there are two ways to do this:

    Require source-code distribution as a consequence of public performance. Public performance is a right in copyright law that is distinct from use or distribution. Unfortunately, copyright law (in the U.S.) gives this right in connection with only some works, like moves, plays, and music, but not computer programs. That's just because copyright law lags behind the evolution of computer software. So, were we to assert a requirement for source distribution with public performance, it could be problematical simply because we'd have to prove that the public performance right is covered by copyright law for computer software.

    A more conventional way to do this would be to require source code distribution for a certain class of use, where the use is equivalent to public performance. People don't like use restrictions because of the way licenses have discriminated about types of use, typically licenses say things like "for educational and non-commercial use only". Of course that's not OSD-compliant. However, this particular restriction would be OSD-compliant because its purpose is to achieve a goal of the OSD: source-code distribution.



  • I am a board member of Telkel, Inc., which develops JBoss, a J2EE product currently under the GPL. So, I am dealing with exactly what you are talking about right now. I want to give people the right to put their proprietary programs in the container provided by JBoss, but I would prefer to see Telkel get improvements to JBoss back, and I'd like to see them able to run the program in a proprietary JVM. I don't see that the GPL makes such fine distinctions.

    I don't have a good answer for this yet - I think it will take a new license.



  • The rationale is that ASP's are public performance, and copyright law grants no rights to the user for public performance.

    As it now stands, all free software licenses allow 100% public performance. The GPL currently grants this permission on the basis that it does not restrict *usage*. So the GPLv3 will indeed restrict usage (and the FSF will have to alter their free software definition).

    Restricting public performance while still calling the software "free" is bizarre. The words on the FSF pages look less and less like English, and more and more like orwellian gnuspeak.
  • by Pflipp ( 130638 ) on Sunday November 05, 2000 @06:28AM (#648460)
    I don't understand why people feel uncomfortable with this. Indeed, as is said in another reply already, even Linus Torvalds doesn't like the idea that the GPL can be dynamically altered.

    The current GPL clearly states that any newer versions will be in the same spirit, but that it may simply solve some problems with the current version, or make some vague sections more clear. Now, that's what we need! If someone detects a Great Big Hole in the GPL, the statement "or any newer version" is the only way how this can be plugged: by issuing a better version!

    Even if Microsoft buys the Free Software Foundation (why hasn't this happened yet, anyway), then they're still obliged to keep the GPL in the same spirit as it is as of today.

    I don't know how legally clear a line like "in the same spirit" is, however. But hey, maybe GPL v3 will be a little more clear about this ;-)

    It's... It's...
  • In a time when we should start having modularized interchangable components instead of monolithic black boxes, the FSF has instead downplayed the use of the LGPL.

    I think there's something wrong with your paradigm.

    The object-oriented revolution has mostly not happened. Part of the problem is that black boxes don't work for software as well as they work in electronics. One can have interoperable components that are entirely proprietary, anyway, if black box interfaces are all you want. Where Free Software excels is the ability to snip code elsewhere than at the object boundaries. This is not the object-oriented model - we're getting behind the interfaces and messing with actual code :-) . Perhaps that's one reason for our success. And IMO, that's a good reason to do something that encourages people to make more software free, so that you can have more reuse, which is what the GPL does.

    By the way, yes, I'm an O-O programmer by choice.



  • I'm starting to doubt that this is the "real" Bruce at all! Of course you can own your own copy of the software! It is only a license that can take that away!

    When you buy a book, you own that copy. When you buy a CD, you own that copy. And when you buy software, you also own that copy. Only when you don't buy the software, but instead buy a license to it, is the copy not yours. This is one of the reasons that one-click licenses are starting to become more prevalent: because the US Commercial Code says that when one buys a shrink wrapped box, one also buy the complete contents, so manufacturers need to make their "agreements" more explicit, instead of unilaterally declaring that you are under contract.
  • RMS says that the GPL is a straight copyright permission. I know of one other attorney who disagrees, and points to language in the GPL that says "you indicate your acceptance" to make his point. What are you accepting if it's not a contract?

    Most other Free Software licenses do not shy from use of contract law. It may be necessary for the GPL to incorporate more contract law than it does today.


  • If anyone wants to leave questions about it here, I'll answer them later today, and pass them on to RMS.

    Actually, I have a couple questions, although they're more philosophical than legal or technical. I'm running a project to create an online roleplaying game system, with source code under the GPL and all of the art, music, and game content released under the GPL and GFDL. The ideal we've chartered for ourself is the promotion and facilitation of Free Game Development, in the same spirit as the FSF promotes Free Software Development.

    Yet it has come to our attention that guaranteeing the freedom of our source code will be difficult. On several occasions we have been approached by individuals wishing to make use of our code and media for commercial purposes, and have stated emphatically that they "cannot" release the contributions they would make (for the usual reason given - because they feel they couldn't make money otherwise). Now, the uncomfortable fact is that either through dynamic linking or through the "ASP loophole", they can run our server code with their additions and charge for access without ever releasing a line of their added code, as nothing legally or technically exists to prevent that.

    But in discussing this with the other WorldForge developers I'm not so certain that there *should* be technical or legal preventions against this, for various reasons including one I'll outline in more detail below. The question I have been wondering and that I would like to get yours' and RMS' viewpoint on is whether or not we *should* be concerned about this? Since the GPL appears to allow keeping code secret either by not distributing the binaries, or by dynamically linking it, does this mean that it is morally okay to do so?

    What I worry is that if it is possible for individuals to take advantage of our code and not have to share their own contributions back, it may stifle the free environment we are attempting to establish. I suspect that if sharing was required, then assuming all commercial participants follow this rule the competition would be fair. However if it is possible to hold parts of the game system proprietary, then it will be seen (rightly or wrongly) as a competitive advantage to do so, and thus in spite of all the problems we all KNOW are intrinsic in hiding source code, they will take this route instead.

    Without the use of legal or technical means of ensuring the freedom, it would appear that we would need to fall back to reliance on "peer pressure" and tradition to ensure sharing of code. E.g., "blacklisting" companies that choose to use one of the loopholes.

    Now, there is a side issue and a second question which is, I suppose, one of the issues peculiar to games. While with "normal" software there is usually little or no reason to prevent ALL of the code, documentation, and content from being released openly, with entertainment software it is sometimes desired to keep parts secret not for commercial reasons but instead to preserve some degree of mystery. One might argue that with a book, one is expected to read the pages in order and not cheat by reading the last page, however book reading is a solitary endeavor; this would be more akin to browsing through the poker deck when your partner is off buying beers. Now, there are many arguments and counterarguments on both sides that can be made. But here is the question: Does the need for hiding source code for purposes of ensuring mystery pose a legitimate exception to the free software / open source principles?

    The approach we at WorldForge have been toying with is providing for "softcode" additions to the game, which are stored in a database and kept segregated from the primary game code, rather than encouraging use of the "ASP loophole" or dynamic linking loophole as workarounds. There are of course performance issues implied in using scripting rather than hard code, but we like this because it discourages hiding "too much" code.

    Now, I hope our concerns are not dimissed because "it's just a frivolous game". Game software can and has been used for many purposes outside of entertainment, including education, visualization, and communication, and the issues outlined above will be of critical importance in assuring that these non-game applications of the software can enjoy the same freedom that the original code is being given.

  • No, it isn't called stealing. Go get a dictionary. It is impossible to steal what is free.

    If you share something with someone but demand something back, that is NOT sharing, it is loaning. And with the GPLv3, the FSF is getting more usurious every day.
  • I think you have it backwards. But you don't have to take my word on that. Ask the folks who make Qt at Troll Tech, who have applied the GPL to their library and continue to charge a royalty for use of the library in proprietary programs. They won't tell you that the GPL is spite against people who try to earn a living from software. They'll tell you it protects their profits!


  • We want to be careful about this, because we have cloned a lot of people's proprietary APIs claiming that it was fair use on our part. A DTD is a work, and is digital data, and you can restrict derivative works, but if someone creates a work-alike DTD using none of your bytes, you would probably not be able to restrict it.

    Probably the best effort in this direction so far is Sun's Industry Standards Software License, otherwise known as the SISSL, pronounced "sizzle" and not to be confused with the non-Open-Source SCSL. It allows proprietary derivative works as long as you publish an open reference platform that implements your changes. You might consider applying that to your DTDs, but I doubt it will protect you in all cases.



  • Hypothetical situation: RMS has a stroke, religious revelation, whatever, and decides to make a version of the GPL that changes its entire meaning. since most software these days "can be distributed under or any later version" or the license, that could present a problem.
  • There is indeed a notion of "public performance" in copyright law. When you buy a video tape you can perform is privately for yourself and a few guests. You may not, however, perform it publicly in a movie theater.

    Once a licence starts to restrict a users runtime rights, it's no longer a "copyleft" and instead is more of a EULA.

    There is one small point in the GPL that does indeed take away a right already granted by copyright. And that is the right to use the work for the purpose of creating a non-derivative work. When I buy a hammer I receive no restrictions on what I build with it. But when I receive a GPLd library, like readline, I am under all sorts of restrictions regarding my end product. And the end product is most certainly NOT a derivative of readline! I am only referencing the library, and that is allowed under copyright.
  • Do you only need a few lines of GPL code? Then write it yourself, it shouldn't take long and you don't have to deal with the GPL at all.

    And thus the stallmanistas fall into a trap of their own making... By that logic *all* software is free! Don't like the Window's EULA? No problem! Just rewrite the sucker! I have just as much *real* freedom to use or not to use Windows as I do to use or not to use Linux. The only difference is that one is "open".
  • What if libc is Free Software? I think this might have been the case on the NeXT, but I have no evidence at hand. Certainly we could make GNU LIBC run on Solaris, at which point probably the boundary between free and proprietary would be at the system-call interface.

    I think it's a moot point because Sun is perfectly capable of distributing the desktop on its own CD that is a separate package but is generally added to an order.



  • Yes, it is about 9PM here and I am still answering :-) I spent most of my time today being a daddy.



  • The "Free" in Free Software refers to the software itself

    Does software have free speech? Of course not! But free speech is what RMS says the "free" in "free software" is like. The software may be free in the sense that it is free from attached restrictions, in the same way that my carpet is free from dirt after I vacumn it. But it hardly has the freedom of speech.

    free 1. Not under the control or power of another; having liberty; independant

    This definition is obviously intended for *people*. Software cannot have liberty. It does not have any will. Applying that definition is just plain silly.
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Sunday November 05, 2000 @05:23AM (#648479) Homepage Journal
    The FSF actually has a board and an administrative director. People like Miguel of GNOME fame are on the board. This issue is covered.



  • We are going on a hike with the baby now. I'll get back to this later :-)


  • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Sunday November 05, 2000 @05:23AM (#648481)
    Does this mean that RMS plans to make it illegal to communicate with a GPLd program over a socket? SysV IPC? Files? That's essentially what restricting GPLd daemons from communicating with non-GPLd programs without the non-GPLd programs opening up their source code would be.

    Oops, now it's illegal to put a Linux box on the internet, to use XFree86 (ooo, X, socket), etc.
  • We need a Slashdot Interview with RMS with regards to GPL v3. This would be a good chance to get some of these questions answered!
  • Where do you guys get your twisted and corrupt definitions of freedom? Freedom means the absence of restriction. But killing someone is restricting them! Can't you get that through your head?

    In a truly free society, I can do *anything* I want within my own domain. I have no rights to you or your domain. There is no need to place any restrictions on me in order for you to be free.
  • I'm not RMS, and not even an FSF official, but I've been working on this issue on my own for a year or more. If anyone wants to leave questions about it here, I'll answer them later today, and pass them on to RMS.



  • The GPLV2 says:

    This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
    it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
    the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
    (at your option) any later version.

    When this license is finished it will apply to all software that bears the above notice.
  • by twisty ( 179219 ) on Sunday November 05, 2000 @06:42AM (#648487) Homepage Journal
    I've often noticed similarities (of a good nature) between programmers and lawyers:
    • They have hair-splitting discernment for logic, whether seeking an implicit flowchart of programming or an unbroken chain of evidence.
    • They have the ability to focus greatly on attention-to-detail.
    • Their skills are (usually) in better demand/pay on the market than most jobs.
    Thomas Jefferson was a Lawyer with a lot to say about freedom... but could he have been a programmer in our day and age? The 'Program' of the U.S. Constitution seem to say so... it shows enough discernment and fault-tollerence 'exception handling' to avoid overregulating the freedom it protects. I believe he once said 'Those who would trade a little freedom for a little order will lose both and deserve neither.'

    RMS still often comes across as a totalitarian with a focus on hisown Emacs... but this latest news is encouraging. Harmony is all about finding ways the differing parties can cohabit the planet, and my confidence in his abilities has gone up a notch today.

  • While GPL may not be completely communist, communism is to socialism as GPL is to BSD. The difference between communism and socialism is that in communism, people are forced to give everything away--EVERYTHING is "community property" and the concept of ownership is forbidden, while in socialism, people still own property, but the government gives some things away and people choose to give things away, and work in co-operatives--but they're not forced to.

    The BSD license is a perfectly socialist license--it says "Here, we're going to give this away, indiscriminately, do with it as you will". The GPL, on the other hand, attempts to control people by forcing them to give stuff away. Anyone who does not see the parallel between the GPL and communism is ignorant. I'm not drawing this parallel because communism is a dirty word--I don't think it should be a dirty word and I don't think it's as terrible as people make it out to be. I'm drawing this parallel because people keep denying this simple fact. GPL is clearly very, very communist--the notions of no property, community ownership, and being forced to give it away all say "Marx".

    The ONLY reason Stallman denies it's communist is that he knows communism is a dirty word and he will be harangued in the US for saying it. He doesn't want to be associated with a group that, in the eyes of the American populous, is on the same level as the Nazis. Of course they are not on the same level of the Nazis, but US propaganda says they are. If Stallman were honest and really willing to stand up for his beliefs he would not make this stupid denial and he would admit the obvious truth. All you have to do is look at the license, forget all else--it's communist.

  • DMCA attempts to create a class of programs that can not legally be free software. This seems to be succeeding so far and is incredibly bad news for us.

    UCITA does not allow all warranties to be waived when software is sold. Sometimes, free software is sold, and the seller has a right of recourse back to the author if he is sued for damages. This could make it economicaly unfeasable for authors to distribute free software.

    These problems are a lot bigger than linking and the ASP problem. I don't have much to say about how those two laws effect those specific problems, sorry.



  • I'll conceed the point that modified GPL software requires that the author agrees to the contract. However, the requirements for modifications only under GPL2 are pretty minimal: some dated source code comments and that you won't remove any interactive notice.

    On the political face of it, it seems to me like a seriously foolish move to require source disclosure on all modifications because it basically destroys the OSS advocate point that you have total control over your own software in favor of the communalist Free Software idea. Don't destroy your coalition because you can.

    My take on ASPs is that they are just another garter group flash-in-the-pan nitch with the same 'innovative' business model that EDS had in the 1960s. Meanwhile, I see Java developers crying tears of blood over the GPL situation on this thread, and with my limited experience with Java, it's already become a issue. Meanwhile Microsoft, IBM, and everyone else is getting ready to roll out network aware platforms. I hope the GPL3 is ready for this coming network-distributed situation, and isn't hung up fighting some old battle against the timeshare/dumbterm systems, if only because of the practical reason that I might want to run GNU grep on MS.NET.
  • Actually, people who apply the GPL to their code are not giving it away. They are sharing. And when people share, both of them have to consider the responsibility that is a consequence of sharing.

    In contrast, code under the MIT license (which is the BSD license without the advertising clause) is a gift. There is no expectation that the recepient will reciprocate.



  • On second reading, perhaps I have mis-understood your argument?

    What do you think the difference is between reusable modularized components and objects that are themselves black boxes? Do you say "monolithic" because the internal objects are all stuck together, or because the objects do not expose their own internals?



  • If you share something and demand that the other party share as well, that is not sharing?

    I'd like to see logical argument on this point.



  • Well, computer software copyright law has the concept that running a program (i.e. copying it into RAM and executing it) is "fair use" and is not covered by copyright restrictions. As far as I know, there's no distinction between running software "publically" or privately in software copyright law.

    Currently the GPL does not infringe on any "fair use" rights of the user. In fact, it grants more rights than normal copyright would. Once a licence starts to restrict a users runtime rights, it's no longer a "copyleft" and instead is more of a EULA.
  • Well, I decided to post these dictionary definitions and walk away for a couple hours to see what reactions came. None came... oh well.

    Here's my take on it. Because Stallman only advocates collectivisation of one particular industry (software development) his system fails to meet the formal definition of communism. The key word is *all* property.

    Don't get me wrong. I still disagree with most of what RMS stands for, but he fails to meet the formal definition of communist. Also, as far as I know, he is not a formal member of the Communist party (another definition offered by the dictionary).

    If anyone can site an example of Stallman stating that he believed *all* property, (both intellectual and physical) should be collectivized, then we could unequivicobly categorize him as a communist.

  • I think of it this way:

    Here is my code, which I offer to share with you and everyone. If you would like to share code with me, share with me and everyone any derivatives that you make of my code. That is sharing like-for-like, and only fair. If you can not share your derivative of my work, I'm sorry, but I am only interested in sharing and do not wish to give you my code with no strings attached. Do not make derivative works of it, but you may still run it, and redistribute it, as it is.



  • The GPL, similarly, says that certain programs can be used freely, but only by those willing to GPL their work in turn.

    This is simply wrong. Anyone can use a GPL program without agreeing to any terms at all. It's only if you distribute it do you have to agree...non-withstanding any legal changes in the GPL3.

    I think, however, that the GPL is really the first useful example of communism, or 'Marxism' as some people strangely call it, which proves it works not only in theory, but in practice, assuming you have unlimited resources, exactly as Marx said. I think Marx would love this vindication of his theories.

    We have unlimited resources of copies of programs, all restrictions on copying are purely legal. RMS came up with a way to pass around unlimited copies, and yet legally keep other people from adding a few features and keeping people from copying it.

    The BSD is, BTW, as much an example of communism, but it allows companies to compete with a free product by using that product itself as a base. This is why communism can't compete if capitalism exists. The capitalist taxi service will just wander over and grab all the communist cars from the free car lot, if you don't make it illegal to 'unfree' a car. But, if you have a car replicator, you can just make more cars, even if the capitalists keep making off with your admittedly free cars. Eventually, everyone will realize they can just phone up the communists and get a free car, even if only BSD exists, and capitalist taxi services are finished.

    Basically, I don't think the GPL is needed, but it's a very good way to make sure that the capitalist software and the communist software start off on even ground. :)

    -David T. C.

  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Sunday November 05, 2000 @11:46AM (#648502) Homepage Journal
    Any proprietary company can grab all the server source code to run their own game, thus taking advantage of free software, without having to contribute any code back to the community.

    Under what rational should company be required to "contribute" their private modifications to the community?

    Let's say I'm a graphic artist, and I design cheesy web pages for a living. I go grab GIMP, modifiy it, then go create a bunch a web art with it. I am the only one using this modfied GIMP, and the only thing I am distributing is its output. Should I also be required to release my modifications? After all, I am "exploiting" you by profiting off of your work...
  • The TCP/IP in BSD is derived from one written by BBN under an ARPA contract. Of course this was long before MS got involved, and was explicitly written as part of the creation of the Internet.

    Many proprietary TCP/IP implementations come from the BSD one, I don't know the provenance of the Microsoft one.



  • Anyway, you only have to distribute the source if somebody asks for it. This is no great hardship.



  • This seems quite complicated. Clearly we cannot say that if a GPLed service is required for your program to run you must release the source...after all we want to allow people to make closed source releases on open source operating systems otherwise we won't have any games to play.

    The problem becomes what is a reasonable service to provide? Someone above mentioned the case where gcc is modified to output their internal representation of the parsing structure. What if I just saved this representation to disk and then loaded it from my program? The only way this could be illegal (as my program is in no way covered under the GPL) is if the original modification is not allowed.

    Public performance might be stretched to cover services offered via the web or some such but surely could not cover the private use of a save file. If all we get out of this process is that companies who want to pull these kind of stunts resort to using save files rather than sockets (and claiming that IPC on your personal machine is a public performance is kinda sketchy) we haven't gotten anyware.

    The other option is that certain modifications to a GPLed program won't be allowed if the FSF doesn't find them usefull. Maybe I teach a class in cpmilers and I find dumping gcc's internal state to be useful for educational uses. Or maybe I just think its a cool thing to do. Whatever the case free software is about hacking and I should be free to commit this hacking even if the FSF doesn't find it usefull! But if I can make this defense in my modifications of gcc big company X can just stand up in court and claim they thought it would be nifty to release such a tool...moreover I am not clear if the law allows one to distinguish between the motivations for releasing a product...if it is legal for one person it might be legal for another regardless of differing motivations.

    Once they have released the GPLed product users may use it and do whatever they wish with the non-copyrighted output...including running it through a non-GPLed program.
  • At the users option.

    Much like the mozilla dual license, you obey the one you choose. So any GPLv2 software could still be used by abiding only to the terms of GPLv2, while you couldn't do that with GPLv3 software. Which means the changes such as the ASP protection will only apply to new releases or if the people who make the software change the license (or the ASP provider chooses to apply GPLv3).


    Nonsensical uninformed (most likely) rantings of noone in particular. Please put on you Peril Sensitive Sunglasses now.
  • No, don't refrain from using it. If that sort of licensing bothers you, just refrain from putting your own work under the same license. I generally would do BSD-license work if paid to do so, GPL and LGPL otherwise.

    Do you really think that the X11 authors, who put that "anything goes" license on their software, would want you not to use it if you don't like "anything goes" on your own code? No, sorry. It happens that Jim Gettys, one of the two creators of X, works on GNOME now.



  • I think there are some problems with GPL Java work, although in practice you get the same thing that happened with KDE - the problems belong to the copyright holders, who aren't about to sue themselves. They could, however, sue you for distributing their own software, which is what used to sour Debian on KDE.

    I think we will see Java under GPL eventually.



  • If he did that nobody would actually use the new license. He can't do something that heavy-handed, it would not work to maximize freedom.



  • IANAL, but here goes (from .chapt1b.html):

    Sect. 117. Limitations on exclusive rights: Computer programs
    Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106 [17 USCS Sect. 106], it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:

    (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner

    So lets look at "17 USCS Sect. 106" --

    Subject to sections 107 through 120 [17 USCS Sects. 107-120], the owner of copyright under this title [17 USCS Sects. 101 et seq.] has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
    (4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly
    (5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly.

    You'll notice that computer programs are excluded from "17 USCS Sect. 106", so there is no special law covering public "performance" (or "utilization") of software. (I think the GPL is perfectly clear on the library issue, but that is more of a programmatic issue than a runtime restriction.)
  • Wow! That's a pretty big loophole!

    So apparently, copyright law grants the user the right to make public performances. Thus, a GPL v 3 may possibly be taking away a right of the user! Richard, think this one over carefully...

    I think the GPL is perfectly clear on the library issue, but that is more of a programmatic issue than a runtime restriction.

    There are very good arguments on both sides. But they both can't be right :-)
  • "I don't know how legally clear a line like "in the same spirit" is, however."

    Not clear at all. Very diffuse. Ever heard the phrase "the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law"?

  • by Convergence ( 64135 ) on Sunday November 05, 2000 @01:09PM (#648526) Homepage Journal
    Under current law, my code is my property. Thus, you have no right to distribute it without me allowing it. In order to let you distribute MY code, I exact a price on you. You must distribute your changes to my code. Instead, I could have required you to pay me $10 per copy and required that you give nobody else redistribution rights.

    Both of these are capitalistic. Each option exacts a price on you. One is measured in dollars, another is measured in requirements. You aren't obligated to do either of them, but then again, if you don't, you're not allowed to distribute MY code.

    This isn't communist. I'm not forcing you to give anything away. You have no right to force ME to give MY things away to you to do whatever you wish, just as I have no right to force Oracle to give me their source code.

    Just because GPL software is distributed with full source code doesn't mean it's public domain. If you want source code that has no restrictions on it, write it yourself, or use public domain. Otherwise, live with the restrictions other people put on their source code. Whether they be monetary renumeration (Oracle/Windows/Office/Kai C++/Mathematica/Matlab), or requirements that you must allow your changes to be redistributable under the terms of the GPL (emacs/gcc/linux kernel/tinyfugue).

    There's no coercion going on. Your code and your changes are your own. You can distribute them however you wish. What you CANNOT do is distribute MY source code.
  • No, it isn't called stealing. Go get a dictionary. It is impossible to steal what is free.
    You are confusing free beer with free speach -- though in a manner more subtle than usual. The "Free" in Free Software refers to the software itself -- that it is freed from proprietary restrictions. The GPL makes the software free not just in the original form, but in all derivative forms. It doesn't mean you are free to use it how you want. You are not allowed to make the software unfree -- if you were, the software would not be as free as possible.

    The GPL tries as best it can to ensure the freedom of software. Part of protecting this freedom is to counteract the selfish hoarding of software. Anything less wouldn't ensure freedom.

    And maybe you should read a dictionary (Webster's 2nd edition): free 1. Not under the control or power of another; having liberty; independant

    If the GPL claimed to create "Software For Free Use", then yes, that would be incorrect. Or "Software That Is Free From Restrictions". But Free Software is neither of those and has never claimed to be.

  • by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Sunday November 05, 2000 @07:25AM (#648531) Homepage
    You overlook that you CHOOSE the GPL.
    All licenses force everyone but the owner to follow certain conditions.
    If you don't like the GPL, don't use it.
    I don't like the MS EULA, I don't use it.
  • The current GPL makes it very hard to distribute GPL and non-GPL programs together

    There is no restriction in the GPL against shipping works not derived from GPL code aggregated with works licensed under the GPL, unless the GPL'd work depends upon the non-GPL'd work. Simple aggregation of independent works covered under different licenses is perfectly legal.

    Can you clarify what you think is the problem?
  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Sunday November 05, 2000 @08:09AM (#648534)
    I think linking is fundamentally unclear in GPL v2. I've heard people extol the lack of clarity, but I think it makes some people nervous to have code out there under a license that requires interpretation by everybody who uses it.

    This is my own personal bias, but as an author of a lot of Java programs and a professional Java developer who writes and has released GPLed code and writes a lot of non-Free code for money, I worry whether or not I am linking to code by using it in certain ways. And there is an increasing amount of GPLed Java code out there, so I think this is relevant to a lot of people.

    You mention dynamic linking, CORBA and daemons in your quote. In the Java world, we have RMI (am I linking if I call a method or use an object redirected through socket services and not located locally on a machine?) What about interfaces in Java? I can have GPLed code that implements a Sun-specified (and thus non GPLed) interface (for examples you need only look at a GPLed implementation of JMS, of which there were some although they may have switched to BSD-style licensing for exactly these reasons). And what about deeper decoupling mechanisms like MOM-style messaging? If I pass an XML message to a remote, decoupled module and get a reply back, all I've done is thrown XML out there and gotten XML back. Is that linking? And what about JINI and other service oriented tools. Is using a remote service considered linking (this sort of bridges the ASP and linking issues... I certainly think people should have to release changes they make that they are using in a service-style offering, but I think it would be unwise and limiting to ban non-GPLed clients to request things from GPLed services. Hell, HTTP is request-reply over the network and nobody would say a GPLed client can't connect to a non-GPLed server or vice versa. The only change here with messaging systems or other networked service offerings is that the data is structured and machine readable (i.e. XML) and that can even be pushed over HTTP.

    Hope I didn't get carried away, but you see the new world of networked programming presents a LOT of challenges to the GPL. There is a blurry line there that needs to be clarified. I see some Java projects (especially J2EE related) that have given up on the GPL and moved to licenses like MPL and BSD-style for exactly these reasons. There are a lot of Java developers who would love to GPL code if this stuff was clarified. Thanks, Bruce, and I hope this is useful.
  • by AdamHaun ( 43173 ) on Sunday November 05, 2000 @07:36AM (#648536) Journal
    Many people have expressed concerns that changes to the GPL could affect the distribution of current software. This is incorrect.

    From the GPL, version 2:

    "9. The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of the General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns.

    Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any
    later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free
    Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation."

    and from the example copyright notice:

    "This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version."

    According to the License, only software that explicitly states that later licenses may apply are vulnerable to changes in the GPL. So if you don't want your software to change with each new release, specify a version number!
  • Once you tell anybody your idea or show anybody your work, you've already given it away, and can't prevent them from giving it to anyone else. That's just the way it is. No matter how many attempts you make to erect societal walls to keep it from happening, it will, and short of totalitarianism, you can't do anything at all about it.

    I would prefer that this fundamental truth be realized, and people start basing their actions on it. It's much more healthy and sane than continually trying to make everybody conform to a set of rules that just aren't the way things are.

    Likening GPL to communism and BSD to socialism is quite flawed. Communism and socialism are both about physical property. Neither a copyright, nor a patent are physical property. Both are mere societal conventions we follow in the hopes of achieving certain ends.

    The fact that these conventions have largely come at no cost to society from ignoring what the real laws are is an accident of history. Those costs now loom large, and it's time to revisit our conventions and decide what would better further our goals.

  • In current programming, there are many ways that two (or more) program elements (networks, computers, processes, threads, components, libraries, etc.) can communicate or interact with one another. Probably more will be invented. Communication protocols currently do not reveal the underlying licenses. So if two program elements communicate with another, and if one is GPLed and the other is GPL-incompatible, will GPL, version 3, prohibit this?

    This seems unrealistic, at the very least. As long as some types of communication between license-incompatible program elements are allowed, there will be a GPL loophole. And the GPL cannot disallow all such communication because that would make everybody on the internet a GPL violator.

  • But the GPL license gives you the ability to use it the software under the distributed license, or any later version.

    Here's the relevant line:

    Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation.

    So it could be an issue if the license was changed.

  • by Eric Sharkey ( 1717 ) <> on Sunday November 05, 2000 @07:40AM (#648556)
    The ASP loophole exists because the ASP provider never distributes a copy of the application to the user. In general, copyright law covers the creation and distribution of copies of works, but for certain kinds of works, there is also a restriction on perfomance of the work.

    Take for example the play "Cats". Cats as literary work is copyrighted. You can't make copies of the script and sell them unless you're licensed to do so by the copyright holder. However, you also can't put on an independent production of the play and charge admission, even though the audience would not be actually receiving a copy of Cats, they would be perceiving a performance of it. That's controlled by copyright law.

    What RMS is trying to do is to equate ASP to a performance of the software. It's a good analogy. The consumer never gets a true copy of the work, but they perceive all that is important about it. If ASP can be equated with a performance, then it can be controlled within the existing framework of U.S. copyright law.
  • No. It means if you write a program that runs over the Internet (like a Java or WebObjects program or something) and you license it under the GPL, and someone else modifies it and hosts it, then they have to provide their modifications. It has nothing to do with running server software. As the Internet matures, more applications will be written to run only as distributed systems. The problem with this is that if people no longer download and run software on their own system, this blurs the issue of the "binary only" limitation in the GPL.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 05, 2000 @08:26AM (#648560)
    Here's an example of the GPL being ineffective with respect to MMORPGs and other online games.

    Assume WorldForge creates a good GPLed MMORPG. Any proprietary company can grab all the server source code to run their own game, thus taking advantage of free software, without having to contribute any code back to the community.

    The GPL version 2 only applies when you are distributing software. Unlike most other types of programs, ASP-style server-side software can be used and exploited without having to give everyone a copy of it. If someone makes a Linux derivative, they can't both make it proprietary AND exploit it commercially, since that requires distribution. On the other hand, they CAN do that with any server-side programs, and get around the GPL by simply not releasing their code!

    Game engine licenses typically run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. MMORPG-type games take years of effort and run into the millions of dollars. It would be very tempting for a proprietary company to use GPLed code. As it stands, they can do this, and grab all your updates, bugfixes, new features, etc., etc. from your CVS repository. By simply refraining from giving anyone a copy of their server source/binaries, they are not distributing, and therefore any improvements/updates/features/fixes they create are unavailable to the community. This undermines the code-sharing intent of the GPL and most programmers who use it. Proprietary companies thus avoid having to contribute either dollars _or_ code!

    Additionally, proprietary game companies generally have draconian IP agreements that essentially give them ownership of their employees' brains. All their work and ideas (for starters) are exclusively owned by the company, so one pointy-hair at the top can just decide not to distribute server code and toss the GPL out the window. There's no way an individual employee can decide he wants his work added to the public GPLed project.

    On the client end, they can write their own proprietary software and wrap it up with EULAs that have all sorts of rules and restrictions. And it's okay for these client programs, totally proprietary, to talk to _your_ GPLed server code -- it's not "linking".

    Part of the reason programmers contribute to GPLed projects is that they feel they won't be exploited; they will be compensated with improvements from people who use it.

    Companies also feel secure that with the GPL, they don't have to worry about a competitor snapping up their work and releasing a special binary-only version. This one of the big reasons why we are seeing so much corporate participation in Linux. It keeps the playing field level.

    Unfortunately, the usefulness of the GPL version 2 is severely limited with respect to ASP-type applications. For these, the GPL can be gotten around and becomes effectively like the BSD/X licenses. If you are working on an online game, and want the GPL to work as intended for your project, changes need to be made.

  • Likening GPL to communism and BSD to socialism is quite flawed. Communism and socialism are both about physical property. Neither a copyright, nor a patent are physical property. Both are mere societal conventions we follow in the hopes of achieving certain ends.

    Private property is just as much a social convention as intellectual property, unless you count the land or goods you can physically grab and protect with your fists and teeth. Your house may be different because you live there, but things like eg the cash in your bank account or the shares in the Linux startup you "own" or a bit of land the other side of the country left to you in her will be aunt Muriel are only yours because the government says they are.
  • Do you think it is possible to GPL an XML DTD, XSchema, or RELAX (really all the same thing, a way to define the structure of your XML) document?

    I ask because I'd like to be able to GPL a DTD (or equivilent) and make sure that no dervitive structural definitions were created without being passed back.

    This is especially vital because in many areas XML is starting to replace other technologies like CORBA and RMI as a way to call into other programs (see SOAP). It would be good if a Free program/service I had written could not have a non-Free version developed with a slightly modified DTD.

    Another take on this question I have: is it possible to keep what is essentially an API Free, even if underlying applications or services based on that API were not Free. Would use of a GPL'ed DTD (or interface in Java, come to think of it) mean the program using the API had to be GPL'ed as well?
  • Since the output of a GPLd program is not forced to be under the GPL (e.g., gcc), and the GPL covers distribution, not use, then restricting ASPs would be impossible, since they merely use the output of a GPLd program.

    One of these two things must go to restrict ASPs. Which one?
  • by g_mcbay ( 201099 ) on Sunday November 05, 2000 @05:30AM (#648573)
    I'd like to see how they attempt to close the ASP loophole without invalidating the entire GPLv3 license... I mean, the GPL's legality is already still untested in court...

    I think any attempt to close the ASP loophole (while it may be unfortunate) is just going to put the GPL on shakier legs.

    Its one of those slippery slope problems, really...At what point do you determine that the ASP has to comply with the GPL and release modifications? When the web server they are using is GPLed? That one seems clear...When the backend database they are using is GPLed? Less clear. When the filesystem that the database stores its data files on is GPLed? pretty muddled. When the OS its all running on is GPLed? who knows?

  • Licenses are contracts and can restrict rights you would otherwise have. In this case, you would accept certain restrictions on either public performance or use for the right to posess a copy of the program.



  • But you don't have a right to posess a copy of the program at all without a license. In order to get that right you accept a license that is a contract that can restrict rights you would otherwise have had.



  • It would be a mistake for FSF to get into judging the usefulness of your modifications. You won't see that happen.

    Someone above mentioned the case where gcc is modified to output their internal representation of the parsing structure.

    The GPL covers this:

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



  • AC wrote
    Because a company, such as Microsoft can take your work, modify it, not contribute anything back. That's called stealing.

    No, that's called the consequences of giving your work away. Accepting the consequence of one's actions is what adults do. In actual fact, however, that situation is highly unlikely to occur in practice. Consider this:

    Suppose there's some software that accomplshes some useful purpose and is under active development. For the sake of argument, assume that said software is available under the BSD license which doesn't have a redistribution provision, like the GPL does. Now, suppose that a company modifies the software and then releases it as its own proprietary software. What happens?

    Well, since the software is under active development, the company didn't get the source. Instead, it got a snapshot of the source. Presumably, future versions of the freely-available software have various defects fixed and useful features added. In order to stay competitive with newer versions of the free software, the company has to choose between continuously porting the free software, releasing their changes back to the maintainers, or giving up on using the free software.

    The cheapest route is to release their changes back to the guys who maintain the free software so that those changes can be automatically included with all new versions. In the case of an ASP, where most of what the company does to add value for its customers has to do with business practices rather than the software itself, you don't even lose revenue by releasing your changes.

    To a company that picked either of the other two approaches, I would be tempted to say that if you're going to be doing all the work needed to keep up with the free development, you can have the credit, too, as you'll likely have to work at least as hard as the maintainers of the free version.

    For what it's worth, (which is, I admit, not much,) I oppose the proposed new GPL because it tries to solve a problem through a legal document that market forces would solve just as well. Messrs Perens and Stallman are all upset about what should be a non issue.

  • License conflict occur when you mix two different, incompatible licenses in the same program. Not all licenses are incompatible.

    The GPL requires that all works derived from works distributed under the GPL also be distributed under the terms of the GPL.

    If I'm writing an application, and I want to include some code in it which I received under the terms of the GPL, I can do that as long as I license my work under the GPL. If I want to include some code which I received under the QPL, I can do that, but then I have to use the QPL or some other compatible license. I cannot satisfy both of these requirements at the same time, so I cannot distribute a work which is simulateously derived from code I received under the GPL and code I received under the QPL.

    However, if I write two different programs, and one used GPL'd code and one uses QPL'd code, I can GPL the first, QPL the second, and distribute them both on the same CD if I like. That's allowed.
  • One of the more interesting points I thought from the article is how the ASP closure is really a lot more business friendly - basically before if a company relesed source and a competitor used an altered version in a web based application, the original company (or OS project) could do nothing about it.

    Under the new license, they stated that businesses should be lot more willing to release source knowing that any changes made externally would have to be made availiable to them, which they could of course sue to get if a violation was suspected.

    Hard to enforce? Sure! How easy would it be in most cases to be sure the service on the other end was really yours? Pretty rough (though you could probably tell quite a bit from output in a lot of cases, but I digress).

    All of those things are true, but do not really matter (at least for the case of companies releasing source - of course it matters a lot more for real OS projects) - the important thing is that it makes it a lot easier for me as an employee to ask for permission to release source.

    If the company feels like it CAN sue violators, then I think it would be comfortable enough to release source even if the practical matter of tracking down eventual violators and suing them never came up.
  • I said the exact opposite. The OS isn't GPL and Apple can't ship GPL software with it.

    That's not true. Aggregation does not trigger the GPL. Please read section 2 of the GPL.

    You need libraries to develop for an OS effectively. But nearly all libraries for Linux are GPL, and I don't have the time nor the money to develop everything myself (readline for example, icqlib for example).

    Readline is an enhanced facility that's not a standard part of POSIX. Everything you need to develop for any other POSIX-compatible operating system (libc and the like) is LGPL. So if you can develop for any other POSIX-compatible system, you can develop for Linux just as well.

    The thing that really gets me about most of the anti-GPL rants is that the basic attitude is "I really want to use all this good stuff, but since I want to make money, I should be entitled to use this without giving anything back," as though making money is somehow the highest calling in life and other people should respect that desire and allow you to use their sweat for your proprietary program. That's precisely what the GPL is all about; if you want to use GPL'ed code, you have to play by the same rules.

    I would be willing to give up the GPL and copyleft if it also meant losing copyright altogether. In that case, I couldn't copyleft my code, but someone else also couldn't forbid me from using their code, they could only make it harder.

  • > I've often noticed similarities (of a good nature) between programmers and lawyers:
    Yes, the think-path is similiar.

    > Thomas Jefferson was a Lawyer ...
    ... who interestingly enough, NEVER went to law school ! As did neither of the founding fathers.

    > with a lot to say about freedom...
    "The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite." - Thomas Jefferson

    > I believe he once said 'Those who would trade a little freedom for a little order will lose both and deserve neither.'

    Actually, the quote is:

    "Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Ben Franklin, 1759


    "When they stopped beating him, I could see the bones of his rib cage. I turned to someone and asked what the man had done to deserve such a beating with whips laced with metal?" Someone replied " He is a minister who refused to take a license." -
    Patrick Henry, 1775

  • >License conflict occur when you mix two different, incompatible
    >licenses in the same program.

    Yes, but keep in mind what "incompatible" means when speaking of the GPL:

    "X is incompatible with the GPL" means that "the license of X cannot be replaced with the GPL"

    It's not so much that licenses are incompatible with the GPL, but that the GPL is incompatible with just about everything except itself.

  • by _|()|\| ( 159991 ) on Sunday November 05, 2000 @05:37AM (#648602)
    The only change I support is amending the requirement to offer source code by mail order. Even that is trivial: it costs nothing to include a second CD with source code.

    Bruce, I find your comment on linking puzzling: "The GPL[2] concept of 'linking' has aged." The GPL derives its force from copyright law. Its "viral" nature comes from the legal concept of a derived work. RMS's opinion of DLLs, plugins, or daemons is irrelevant.

    The GPL is an instance of copyleft--an attempt to diminish, not extend, the scope of copyright.

  • Does software have free speech? Of course not!
    Does speech have free speech? Of course not! Do these petty semantics mean anything? Of course not!

    Software can have liberty, by not be tied down (now or ever) in a system of false scarcity, obscurity, and selfishness.

  • The Qt license is the GPL now. The QPL 2.0 license, which I think is what you are talking about, is also available if you don't like the GPL.

    To take improvements back - means something along the lines of Qt license.

    I wasn't able to make any sense of that. Can you restate it, please?



  • This is a really good point. You don't want this to be used to abuse, as in "this 20,000 line script is a config file and I don't have to disclose it", but you don't want to force people to disclose their /etc/shadow file, either. I've not dealt with this issue before.



  • Licenses have severability clauses to deal with this. If one part is declared invalid, the rest of the license remains valid. It's very unlikely that an entire license would be declared invalid and that such a thing would not be appealed and overturned in appeal.



  • If the program is yours, it's generally obvious. If you have a good idea that it's yours, you start by writing letters asking for your license to be honored. If that doesn't work, you can bring suit and see the source code in the discovery process.



  • Obviously, we need to close the ASP loophole without making the usual client-server paradigm invalid. Otherwise, nobody will use the license.



  • Yes, I told the Telkel folks that the LGPL would be a better idea for now.

    The lack of vision was clear during the "One Click " patent war. This doesn't prevent any software from doing this, only from other businesses from doing this. No one from free/open software groups said anything about this. at all. very disturbing.

    You may have a misconception about patents. If it's a business-system patent, you have to license it even if you are a non-profit organization or an individual using the principle. I can't think of anyone else who would run a program :-)

    2) There are alternatives for many GPL'd software, and I hope that GPL doesn't become more of an affront to businesses using them. Take gtk+ for example. Do you think that sun/hp would consider taking gtk+/gnome on, if all the libraries were GPL'd?

    GTK+ was explictly made LGPL so that proprietary programs could use it. Qt is GPL but a commercial license is available. Both seem to be acceptable to business. In the case of Qt, GPL actually makes it possible for Troll Tech to make money from proprietary software. This is hardly anti-business.

    Does anyone besides RMS see more LGPL software as a threat?

    It's a threat in the case of software patents, as are most licenses other than the GPL. LGPL code can be linked to code that you would not have a right to use without a patent license, and the patent can be used to keep the patented principle from being implemented in LGPL code. In general, software patents are bad for Free Software. Other than that, it's not a threat, but one should consider when to use it. In general, I put my work under the GPL because I want modifications back.

    3) "linking" - yes. This needs to be cleared up, but so does distribution. If ASP are considered distributing, then wouldn't intra-organization? More attacks on business

    It was an ASP business that asked me to work on adding ASP-model source distribution to a Free Software license. That would allow them to make their software Free while staying in business. If they can't get the modifications back from their competitors, they won't make it Free at all. This is just one way in which the GPL is pro business.

    4) Legality of GPL. No one mentions that GPL doesn't make my changes GPL, it just allows me to continue using the GPL software (ie: the "viral" nature is in the LICENSE, not in the copyright). You cannot copyright someone elses works, only refuse usage of the GPL software unless certain conditions are met (ie: patches under GPL/LGPL too).

    I think people do make that point. And it's why I think the GPL doesn't force anyone to free their software. They have to choose to derive from your work, knowing that free software is one of the concequences of that choice.

    Is it not possible to write a GPL program with non GPL software (ie: motif, MFC, etc)?

    Yes, you can include non-free components that are normaly distributed with the OS or compiler, as long as the resulting work is not distributed together with the OS and compiler.

    I cannot risk using GPL software that I might have to disclose our changes.

    OK. But under those terms, I don't want you as the developer of a derived work of my GPL-ed software. And the license lets me enforce that. You do have other choices, and of course I have the right to say "no".



  • Right. The current GPL (unlike a EULA) doesn't restrict one's actions in any way when running a program. One also is not required to agree to it to recieve a copy of the software.

    Your proposal would restrict runtime rights and would only be enforacble if the terms were agreed to before the distribution happened. (Meaning that it would require a click-through EULA. That is a correct reading of your post, no?)

    I know ASPs can be a sore point, especially considering that people are predicting that they will become very popular. But really, there's not much difference between an ASP and the timeshare services which existed long before GPL2 was written. The GPL survived timesharing, and it should be able to survive ASPs without fundementally changing it by turning into a EULA. I would perfer that you focused your considerable efforts into clarifying the CORBA/RMI/DCOM/SOAP/RPC distributed computing situation.
  • From Webster's New World Dictionary, 2nd College Edition:

    communism 1. any economic theory or system based on the ownership of all property by the community as a whole

    communist 1. an advocate or supporter of communism.

  • What I worry is that if it is possible for individuals to take advantage of our code and not have to share their own contributions back, it may stifle the free environment we are attempting to establish. I suspect that if sharing was required, then assuming all commercial participants follow this rule the competition would be fair. However if it is possible to hold parts of the game system proprietary, then it will be seen (rightly or wrongly) as a competitive advantage to do so, and thus in spite of all the problems we all KNOW are intrinsic in hiding source code, they will take this route instead.

    You have elucidated the reason that I support the GPL. It provides a fair quid-pro-quo for all developers, commercial or volunteer. That's why it's the most popular Free Software license - the people who actually write the code want the quid-pro-quo.

    Does the need for hiding source code for purposes of ensuring mystery pose a legitimate exception to the free software / open source principles?

    I don't think so. If I understand you correctly, the same people who would look at it are those who cheat at solitare. Is it then important to keep these secrets? Or is it "spoilers" you are worried about. We seem to be able to handle spoilers with nettiquette rather than licensing.

    Since the GPL appears to allow keeping code secret either by not distributing the binaries, or by dynamically linking it, does this mean that it is morally okay to do so?

    Is it OK with every developer of the program? If so, then yes. Otherwise, no. They created the work, they should collectively get to say how it's used.

    The approach we at WorldForge have been toying with is providing for "softcode" additions to the game, which are stored in a database and kept segregated from the primary game code, rather than encouraging use of the "ASP loophole" or dynamic linking loophole as workarounds.

    I'm still not clear why you'd have to encourage any loopholes. I think, however, that an ASP taking advantage of your code and not returning anything could destroy that quid-pro-quo and thus demotivate your developers.



  • I don't think it would require a click-through license. Most of the Open Source licenses are contracts, not copyright permissions, and do not require a click-through. I think that the act of modifying the program is enough to indicate your acceptance. If you haven't modified it, we wouldn't get much from your distributing it anyway.



  • Now you see why this is being done very slowly and carefully. RMS wants to close out the loophole to provide freedom. Thus, look to him to find a solution that yields the maximal freedom.



  • The problem is that interpretation happens in court. We'd rather not go there.



  • Actually, most countries are signatory to a copyright treaty called the Berne Copyright Convention. The ones that aren't, are indeed more difficult as far as enforcement is concerned.



  • Yes. The reporter was stretching a bit. I was hard pressed to generate a good quote for him.


  • by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) <eric-slash@o m n i f a r i> on Sunday November 05, 2000 @05:53AM (#648631) Homepage Journal

    While I very much support the ideals of the FSF, I have a problem with the current GPL.

    The current GPL makes it very hard to distribute GPL and non-GPL programs together, even if the non-GPL programs have a liscense I would generally find perfectly acceptable.

    This tends to have the 'rolling GPL' effect, which I'm sure Stallman is very happy about, but I find mildly worrisome. I think this makes it harder for a business to decide to release software under terms that are non-GPL, but still free. In the long run, this undermines the goals of the FSF.

    Is there anything being done in GPL v3 to address this?

  • I don't mind that people use the GPL, but the code I am writing I would prefer to release under the LGPL (the largest thing I wrote is the FLTK toolkit,

    This is because I believe the existence of these free toolkits encourages software developers to write portable code that runs on Linux and other free systems. I very much disagree with Stallman's opinion that LGPL is bad. In my experience proprietery software developers will give up and use MFC or other MicroSoft solutions when the alternative is GPL. This hurts much worse than not having their source code.

    I hope that despite Stallman's lack of support, the LGPL will continue to exist and be enhanced.

    My specific question is that the current wording of the LGPL makes use of my software or any other small LGPL library very difficult. This is because it effectively requires dynamic linking. Dynamic linking is very bad, as it requires that the resulting program be "installed" before the user can run it. It also strongly discourages modifications to the library (to avoid version incompatabilities) which imho defeats the whole reason for free software! In my opinion dynamic linking causes my software to be so nearly useless that nobody would want it.

    I have explicitly stated on my web pages that static linking with fltk is allowed and even encouraged, no matter what the LGPL says. But is there any legal way to do this, or any way to fix the LGPL, or make a LLGPL (lesser lesser gpl?) that explicitly allows this? I would prefer to reuse the careful legal work done for the LGPL rather than risk writing my own.

Save the whales. Collect the whole set.