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GNU is Not Unix

Leaving the GPL Behind 543

Posted by kdawson
from the one-license-to-rule-them-all dept.
olddotter points out a story up at Yahoo Tech on companies' decisions to distance themselves from the GPL. "Before deciding to pull away from GPL, Haynie says Appcelerator surveyed some two dozen software vendors working within the same general market space. To his surprise, Haynie saw that only one was using a GPL variant. 'Everybody else, hands down, was MIT, Apache, or New BSD,' he says. 'The proponents of GPL like to tell people that the world only needs one open source license, and I think that's actually, frankly, just a flat-out dumb position,' says Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, one of the many organizations now offering an open source license with more generous commercial terms than GPL."
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Leaving the GPL Behind

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  • by Ojuice (638639) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:07AM (#29033403)
    Hmm, okay? Seems kind of sensationalist to me.
    • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:31AM (#29033541)

      There is a small but vocal group of Free Software zealots who make life miserable for anyone who thinks that the GPL isn't the end-all and be-all of Open Source licenses. They frequently point out problems they perceive with other licenses like BSD without conceding that their perspective may not be applicable/correct/logical/reasonable. These are what I call the Free Software Fascists. They claim to work for the greater good of the OSS movement, but their actions are only self-serving.

      This is not to say that everyone who chooses the GPL is one of these. There are many reasons to use the GPL, the greatest among them is how the GPL guarantees software freedom for all users, not just the developers. This is a respectable choice, though it does tend towards indian-giving.

      It's difficult to say that the GPL fails to be useful to business because 1) there are businesses which quite efficiently use GPL software and tools and 2) it was not written with commercialization in mind (in fact, commercialization of GPL software is completely tangential to the GPL). But in its own way, the GPL makes itself hostile to developers basing their products on the base GPL libraries/software. In a very real sense, by demanding software freedom, the GPL makes any software it covers poison to a software product company.

      So the article is right. There are many software/hardware product companies who are shunning Linux and the GPL. The lack of IP protection (nee, the deliberate elimination of IP protection) is not something companies who innovate are likely to embrace. On the other hand, the article is wrong in that GPL software usage has never been higher. The existence of GPL software helps many companies be able to compete due to lower implementation and licensing costs.

      Which side you believe is the side you already believe.

      • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:08AM (#29033743)

        Which side you believe is the side you already believe.

        Just to be clear, our choices are fascists, people who share Indians, or businesses, right?

        It's difficult to say that the GPL fails to be useful to business because ... it was not written with commercialization in mind

        That actually sounds like it's directly contradictory to "business", however you want to define that. If you define business as the pursuit of commercializing a product, then the fact that the GPL wasn't written with commercialization in mind certainly seems like it fails to be useful to a business. At least, no business that is actually writing their own code instead of packaging other peoples' code. If your business involves packaging other peoples' code for distribution then, yeah, I'm sure the GPL is very useful to you. I'm not sure how many businesses need to exist that just distribute other peoples' code though.

        If you're talking about developing your own product and then choosing a license, from a business standpoint it does make sense that you would release it under a license that doesn't give everyone else free reign with it. At least not in the short term, once your competitive advantage has worn off with time then it makes perfect sense to give it away for free. See id software for an example on that one.

        • by Darinbob (1142669) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @02:50AM (#29034303)

          I'm not sure how many businesses need to exist that just distribute other peoples' code though.

          This misses much of the problem though. You can create a full application of original code, then be forbidden to statically link with a tiny GPL library or borrow a couple of routines without making your whole product fall under GPL. This isn't a commercializing GPL code or rebundling it.

          And yes, many applications must statically link and are unable to use dynamic libraries or plugins.

          The result really is that a GPL license is poison to many companies, not matter how trivial the library or routines are you want to use. Even if you find a way to use GPL code properly a lot of companies still won't touch it just out of its reputation and legal headaches. (What's cheaper, buying a third party commercial library, getting the lawyers involved to figure out if the license really isn't a problem, or just going with BSD?)

          • by Mystra_x64 (1108487) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:21AM (#29034451)

            then be forbidden to statically link with a tiny GPL library or borrow a couple of routines without making your whole product fall under GPL

            You have an option to write your own tiny library you know.

            • by Darinbob (1142669) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @04:20AM (#29034761)
              Which is exactly what most companies do. Which completely eliminates the "let's not reinvent the wheel" aspect of open source.

              Writing these tiny libraries is not so simple, and can be a huge waste of time. The experts in the fields necessary for the application or product are not necessarily experts everywhere. They may not know how to write an efficient compression algorithm and have it debugged by the deadline, or have any familiarity with writing string internationalization routines.

              Which is why these companies go to software with BSD or other licenses.
              • by Ciggy (692030) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @06:14AM (#29035441)
                Take a GPL'd piece of code and remove the GPL - what do you have left? All you are left with is plain old Copyright which means you can't use the code (which was GPL'd) at all without the holder's permission; you could contact them for a licence (so that argument of having to re-invent the wheel is bogus), or get your own code written any way. The only reason GPL is viral or poison is the underlying Copyright - GPL takes Copyright and adds rights you would not normally have; without GPL you lose those right and would be in [danger of] copyright infringement if you were to use it commercially.

                As a commercial company your aim is to generate profits which means as low as possible with the costs and as high as possible with the income from sales (whether that be sales of goods, services, etc). Which means that if you need a code library you try to get it as cheaply as possible - ie something like BSD licensed code where you don't have to pay the authors a single cent.

                However, some authors object to you piggy backing them and making money off their effort with no reward to themselves; so they insist that the payment to them is that you release any modification to their code like they originally released their code so that others can also benefit from the code (ie GPL). Now if a company doesn't like this way of doing things, they are free to contact the original author(s) to license the code under different terms, one where money would more than likely have to change hands from the company to the author(s), thus putting up the costs, especially if a piece of GPL code has had a few modifications in which case EVERY one of those authors would have to be contacted and a licence agreed between each and every one of them (not needing to re-invent the wheel).

                Also, how much can you trust closed source software? Can you be sure it isn't infringing someones copyright?

                The only conclusion I can come to is that all those who moan about the GPL are those who would rather not pay the author(s) for their work - get something for nothing. Aaaaarrrrrrrrr, Jim Lad...
                • by raehl (609729) <(raehl311) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @07:55AM (#29036121) Homepage

                  Your analogy assumes the only options are GPL and Copyright - for sake of analogy, let's call them mushrooms and dirt. If you are hungry, and your options are mushrooms or dirt, mushrooms will look pretty good. But what if your options are mushrooms, dirt, chicken nuggets, BBQ ribs, or steak? Sure, if you're a fascist vegetarian, you might still go for the mushrooms, but no one is going to take you seriously if you just run around screaming about how all anyone should eat are mushrooms, because they're much better than dirt.

                  If copyright is the least free, then licenses like BSD are *MORE* free than GPL, because they grant an even WIDER license to use the software than the GPL does.

              • by Vanders (110092) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @06:14AM (#29035443) Homepage

                Writing these tiny libraries is not so simple, and can be a huge waste of time.

                It sounds like some of those tiny GPL licensed libraries are actually pretty valuable. In which case, you as a software developer will have to pay to use them. The price is compliance with the GPL.

                Which is why these companies go to software with BSD or other licenses.

                If a non-GPL licensed equivalent exists then your previous argument doesn't apply and the company is welcome to use the non-GPL library at no cost to themselves. That also has no impact on their own choice of license.

                • by ardor (673957) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @07:46AM (#29036053)

                  The price is compliance with the GPL.

                  This price is often too high, since it demands that the parts you link the library to become GPL, which in turn often encompasses the entire project.

          • by maxwell demon (590494) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:30AM (#29034497) Journal

            This misses much of the problem though. You can create a full application of original code, then be forbidden to statically link with a tiny GPL library or borrow a couple of routines without making your whole product fall under GPL. This isn't a commercializing GPL code or rebundling it.

            Guess what: If you intend to make your application proprietary, the GPL developers want you to stay clear from their code. So I'd say the GPL works as intended.

          • by someone1234 (830754) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @04:31AM (#29034833)

            When you say, you are 'going with BSD', do you mean, your whole application is going under BSD, or just you ninja'd a BSD library?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by AlecC (512609)

            Which is what the LGPL is invented for. The licence for Apps is the GPL, the license for libraries is the LGPL. If you link with LGPL code, you just have to make the source of the library available - in the for you used it. So if you bugfix or enhance the library, you must offer forward the bugfixes - and it makes sense to submit them back, so the community gains. But the LGPL does not require you make public the whole source of your app.

            As someone working in in the commercial environment, the LGPL is fine,

      • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:08AM (#29033745) Homepage Journal

        It's amazing that after so many years people are *still* confusing commercial with proprietary [gnu.org]. 99.9% of the use of Apache is commercial.. and it aint proprietary. However there are proprietary ripoffs of Apache and that is the problem that the GPL tries to defeat.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

          For companies that would otherwise create IP based on GPL-licensed software, there is almost no distinction between commercialization and proprietary. They cannot commercialize their IP because to do so would force them to make the IP non-proprietary. For companies that create products, the two typically go hand in hand.

          However, you're completely correct in pointing out that GPL-licensed software can be commercialized. Linux itself would not exists as it is today if it weren't for the commercialization of i

        • by Desler (1608317) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:27AM (#29033869)

          However there are proprietary ripoffs of Apache and that is the problem that the GPL tries to defeat.

          How can you ripoff something that is freely given to all to use as they see fit as long they follow it's simple terms? Ripping off implies that you are taking something without someone's consent which is clearly not the case for proprietary software that is based on Apache/MIT/BSD/etc licensed software.

          • by Serious Simon (701084) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:36AM (#29034539)

            How can you ripoff something that is freely given to all to use as they see fit as long they follow it's simple terms?

            By refusing to follow those terms?

      • Fascism come from the opposite direction from where you would think...

        True freedom will leave me alone, and it will leave it to me to do what is right. If you tell me what is right, it is not. When you cram-down-my-throat, what you think is right, well, that, prima facie is, just wrong.

        If you invent the knife and then tell me I can only use it if I don't draw blood, why give it to me? I can decide if I am fighting off a wild beast to save my children or carving art with it.
        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:31AM (#29033903) Journal
          I fail to see how being offered the option of using GPL code, subject to certain conditions, impinges on your freedom(much less represents "fascism"). If you don't like the conditions, use something else. Nobody is going to put you in the GNU/Death Camps.

          Unless you start from the position that other people owe you use of their work, without conditions, being offered that use, with conditions, can only benefit you. If you don't like the option, don't use it, if you do, do. Easy.
          • by rohan972 (880586) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @04:12AM (#29034715)

            Nobody is going to put you in the GNU/Death Camps.

            So you admit they exist then.

            You are correct, nobody will put you in them. Indeed, you must assemble the GNU/Death Camp yourself. The chain-link fence, razor wire, etc. are available for you to use under the terms of the GNU/DCL. If you are having trouble with assembly or use of GNU/Death Camps, don't even think about posting questions here unless you've RTFM, googled it and searched the mailing list archives.

      • by the_womble (580291) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:51AM (#29034049) Homepage Journal

        The lack of IP protection (nee, the deliberate elimination of IP protection) is not something companies who innovate are likely to embrace.

        There is no actual evidence for that - in fact the evidence (academic studies) point the other way. Most of the studies are on patents, not copyright, but it is all the evidence there is.

        The GPL protects any actual innovator better than BSD style licenses because it stops free riders. See Zed Shaw's explanation of why he uses the GPL: http://zedshaw.com/blog/2009-07-13.html [zedshaw.com] .

        The article gives one actual real life example, and they prefer the Apache license because they prefer the patent clause, not because they want to allow proprietary forks.

        BSD style licenses can be better for those who want to accept outside patches and sell a proprietary version (e.g. Django). It is more appealing to the outside contributors than a copyright assignment (like MySQL and ZImbra). In many cases they could also use the LGPL (provided they can cleanly separate the proprietary and open components), and I have no idea why they do not.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ash Vince (602485)

          In many cases they could also use the LGPL (provided they can cleanly separate the proprietary and open components), and I have no idea why they do not.

          Because the LGPL means you have to constant work within a legal framework that it sets down, whereas BSD licences give developers the freedom to ignore the legal implications of what they are doing and just get on with their job. Laywers are expensive and to constantly have to consult specialist legal consul just to ensure you are on the right side of the LGPL quickly pushes a projects costs up. In the commercial world the BSD licence gives the most freedom to the original creator of the project, yet still

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Darinbob (1142669)
          BSD license is also good for people who just don't care about "free riders" or not. They've got a good product, if some leech comes along and sells their own versions and mods, then so what?
          • by smash (1351) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @04:48AM (#29034911) Homepage Journal
            Exactly. There's a clear difference between GPL zealots and BSD zealots (of which, I am one).
            • GPL people want code to be publicly available no matter what.
            • BSD people just want the code to be used for the good of society; if you make money off it, so what.

            If TCP/IP was originally GPLed, the protocol would probably not have taken off. BSD licensing (or public domain) promotes standards propogation. GPL encourages reinvention of the wheel, when someone decides that (heaven forbid) they want to be paid for their work (be it huge code additions, or just packaging up free code in a nicer package, or whatever).

            Me? I'd much rather there was freely available BSD code for whatever problems have already been solved. Commercial products would be free to implement this well tested, standards compliant code and provide additional features that others may or may not be interested in. Those not interested in paying could take the base, well tested code and write their own pretty interface (or whatever) for it.

  • ORLY? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:07AM (#29033413)

    'The proponents of GPL like to tell people that the world only needs one open source license, and I think that's actually, frankly, just a flat-out dumb position,'

    Yeah, well I think that's actually, frankly, just a flat-out fabrication. Could we have a source for this assertion please?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, RMS for example quibbles over what we call things all the time (open source vs. free software and Linux vs. GNU LInux) and does so with a religious fervor. If you don't think there are GPL zealots just a fanatical you're deluding yourself. I've been personally told before that the "GPL is the only REAL free license" by a fellow developer I once worked with. This sort of attitude is less about giving a company or individual what they want or need and more about making a philosophical/religious point

    • 'The proponents of GPL like to tell people that the world only needs one open source license, and I think that's actually, frankly, just a flat-out dumb position,'

      Yeah, well I think that's actually, frankly, just a flat-out fabrication. Could we have a source for this assertion please?

      I think it's actually the (a?) purpose of the "additional permissions" language, to make GPLv3 flexible enough for anyone to use.

      Anything beyong one simple license that we can clearly explain the use and restrictions around open source software fails the future use and growth of the adoption of such software. [blogspot.com]

      I've also seen calls to have only 4 licenses [lwn.net] (BSD, LGPL, GPL, AGPL).

    • Doesn't a "proponent" of anything sort of think that the world only needs one of those, and that's the one? I mean, what definition are you using for "proponent"? If you don't believe a certain thing is the best tool for the job then you're not really a "proponent", are you?

    • Re:ORLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @02:38AM (#29034245)

      "fabrication" is a nice word. Lie is better. The Free software foundation, the main proponent of the GPL, actively recommends many other licenses than the GPL [gnu.org] and for them and most users there is little difference. It's when you see a lie like this in the headline that you know that someone has an anti FOSS agenda (admittedly, it's in the middle of the Yahoo article, but the person writing it knew which sentence would go at the top in Slashdot). I wonder if yahoo really isn't joining the dark side.

      What I've found, however, is that in a commercial environment the GPL is a very important tool. It's the one of the few licenses which can be trusted to build a completely fair sharing system where many companies can come together and produce one set of code without the likelihood of the other companies cheating on them. It's definitely true that commercial entities make more software based on BSD/MIT licenses. However, the fact that you see more contributions to the base software on GPL systems is not an accident. It happens because the commercial entities can be happy that if their contribution is used against them, they will at least have the come back of being able to use changes.

      I've seen (and posted about before) many examples where the use of a non copyleft license or a less effective copyleft license has lead to abandoned projects. The most classic being the failure of the ipsilon routing contributions to be pushed back into FreeBSD which died with the operating system. This happens because licenses such as Apache and BSD don't demand contributions, which means that when the lawyers are asked, they often recommend against contributing "for now" and the contributions actually never happen.

      For this usage, the AGPLv3 is also a big advance and should IMHO probably be the license of choice for all projects which want to have efficient long term cooperation with commercial software producers going forward. Having said that, the most important thing is to work together with other people who have similar interestes. The F vs OSS debate is all very fine in theory, but in real life everybody has very much to cooperate over. That's seems to be the main reason why Free software foundation generally recommends that people contribute using the projects own license.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bluesman (104513)

        It's a bit disingenuous to say that the FSF doesn't care what license you use, when clearly, they care very much. [gnu.org]

        Your link isn't a page of recommended licenses, by the way, it's a list of licenses with comments on their compatibility with the GPL.

        The FSF has an agenda, and are willing to use threat of legal force to advance it. You may like their goals and there's nothing illegal about what they do, but any attempt to frame them as something different is not quite accurate.

  • Lost the point (Score:5, Informative)

    by MukiMuki (692124) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:16AM (#29033459)

    Keep in mind, the basis behind GPL isn't it just have code that's open, it's to have code that STAYS open.

    It's essentially self-perpetuating open source. I don't get all the people who discuss GPL work-arounds. It's really simple. If the GPL isn't for you, look for something with an MIT license, or even something in the public domain, or fucking code your own. The GPL borders on being an ecosystem, and if you wanna plunder it and move on, go somewhere else.

    Every GNU zealout shouts this out at the top of their lungs, it should be pretty easy to understand by now: If you don't like the GPL license, don't fucking link to a GPL'd library. End of discussion.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Every GNU zealout shouts this out at the top of their lungs, it should be pretty easy to understand by now: If you don't like the GPL license, don't fucking link to a GPL'd library. End of discussion.

      Some of us find it a bit improper/offensive when these people claim copyright over something that doesn't actually contain any of their work. It's kind of like if a cookbook publisher tried to stop me from telling people that the ribs recipe on page 104 and the second beans recipe on page 286 go really well together, especially if you also have the cornbread from page 42.

      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        Some of us find the copyright system offensive.

        It's impossible to make a moral argument about which license is more "free". You're both using the copyright system to get what you want.. and in the case of the 3 clause BSD license you're mostly just being vain. How about a dedication to the public domain? It works just fine for Wei Dai, although even he has put together some wacky "compilation copyright" nonsense to cover his ass.. paranoia is contagious it seems.
           

      • Re:Lost the point (Score:4, Interesting)

        by countach (534280) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:00AM (#29033705)

        They don't claim copyright, the just want something in return. You use my code, I get to use your code. A simple barter system. You don't like the deal, don't use the code.

      • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

        As I understand it, nobody claims that contributing to a GPL project means forfeiting your copyright (now, some projects request that you do so before they accept your patches, a practice which I disagree with but is rather unrelated to licensing I think). In fact, it should be perfectly legitimate to make patches for a GPL project that are licensed entirely differently.e

        The issue of licensing comes up when you begin to distribute your code with their code, in which case you need to abide by the distributi

      • Some of us find it a bit improper/offensive when these people claim copyright over something that doesn't actually contain any of their work.

        This is commonplace in the commercial world. Sun, for example, was making such claims for years for anybody who downloaded the Java source code. The GPL's claims are quite mild in comparison.

        And why is it that people whine so much about GPL'ed software, something you get for free and with the best of intentions, but you don't bat an eye when companies do this for th

    • by greenguy (162630)

      I'm not much of a programmer, and I'm even less of a lawyer, but the GPL seems pretty straightforward to me: I get read, write, and execute permissions, and I give others read, write, and execute permissions (on their own copy).

      Really... what's so complicated or controversial about that?

      • Re:Lost the point (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:59AM (#29033695) Journal

        Some folks want to take code they had no part in writing, do a few mods, call it their own, and give nothing back to originating source of the code. Some like to call them "commercial developers", but a more common and accurate name is "greedy leaches".

      • I'm not much of a programmer, and I'm even less of a lawyer, but the GPL seems pretty straightforward to me: I get read, write, and execute permissions, and I give others read, write, and execute permissions (on their own copy).

        Really... what's so complicated or controversial about that?

        There's nothing complicated or controversial about that statement. And if that were all the GPL were about, you would only need 119 bytes to store the whole thing uncompressed. But, it turns out that there's actually more to it than read, write, and execute permissions.

    • This is why a lot of libraries use something else. GPL requires anyone who uses their code to open their own code. BSD style licenses don't. Hence companies that don't want to open their code use libraries using BSD style licenses. Hence projects that use BSD licenses tend to be more popular. (This is also why anyone more concerned with widespread adoption than open source, like a language author or a format proponent, chooses a BSD style license.)

  • misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:19AM (#29033479) Journal

    The GPL makes the user a distributor and if your business model depends on restricting what the user can do it is no surprise that you wouldn't base your creations on the license, GPL is a license that protects those who use and modify the software from their predecessors, BSD is open code with the ability to conceal the source. The two among others are for different purposes and saying that there is one license to do the work of all is just as absurd as saying the GPL is dead. Until we see alternative OSes based on alternative licenses take a bigger spot than LInux, the GPL is in no danger. Furthermore, the goal of FOSS is more than just the GPL, it is the expansion of freedom to share and modify code and as long as FOSS as a whole is growing GPL or not it's a good thing.

    • The GPL makes the user a distributor and if your business model depends on restricting what the user can do it is no surprise that you wouldn't base your creations on the license

      A business' motivation is not about restricting the user's freedom, it's about making sure that they get paid for the work they do. That's the difference between a business and a volunteer agency, and that's the reason most businesses don't see a good use for putting their work under the GPL. If you want to see the need to turn a profit and keep the business open as the desire to control the customer, that's your thing. If you have a better way to make money using the GPL, go ahead and start your own bus

  • Control freak (Score:5, Interesting)

    by synthespian (563437) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:19AM (#29033481)

    Editor's note: InfoWorld tried to interview Richard Stallman, who runs the Free Software Foundation that created and manages the GPL, on this issue, but he demanded control of what we published, so we declined.

    I LOLed.

    • by MukiMuki (692124)

      It's funny, 'cause I think the basis of that was probably, "I don't want to be quote-mined", which ended up happening anyway.

      • It's funny, 'cause I think the basis of that was probably, "I don't want to be quote-mined", which ended up happening anyway.

        It's generally things like "Open Source" vs "Free Software" and "Linux" vs "GNU/Linux" [stevehargadon.com] (or even "GNU (plus Linux)" as he presented it in an audio interview I happened to hear, as if the GNU part is all that matters). For audio/video interviews, I think I also remember hearing a requirement about (only?) posting them in ogg (vorbis/theora) or other non-patented formats.

    • Re:Control freak (Score:4, Insightful)

      by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:37AM (#29033563) Homepage

      You just know that he would have demanded that Linux be called 'GNU/Linux' and so on. He's known for turning down speaking engagements from people who refuse to do that, too.

      I beginning to think Richard Stallman is techdom's Michael Jackson. Once brilliant, his past work is appreciated by all... but he currently exists in a vacuum where he lives off his dwindling reputation and fawning attention of a few creepy adoring fans while everyone else just scratches their heads and wonder what the hell happened to him.

      • RMS holds fast to a number of principles, about software freedom and nomenclature. He is not frequently known to compromise a whole lot (actually it does happen, but most often in pursuit of a more important goal). These aspects of RMS's personality - and the fact that he is apparently not motivated by many of the things other people are motivated by - for example, money - make other people uncomfortable. They don't know how to deal with him, and they don't know what tools to use when negotiating with

      • I think he just wanted Infoworld to license their article under the Cc-by-nd license. Even the BBC agreed to grant him his wish.
        See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7487060.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    • Re:Control freak (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Squiggle (8721) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:07AM (#29033741)

      RMS actually makes a distinction between different types of information and how free it needs to be. At one of his talks he discussed 3 categories:

      1) works of practical use (educational materials, software tools, etc):
              - should be free (GPL)

      2) works of testimony (what people experienced or believe):
              - republishing with modification is misrepresentation,
              - commercial use covered by existing copyright

      3) works of art and entertainment:
              - commercial use requires permission, personal use is fine

      His position is nuanced, not stupid. I actually think the distinction is too difficult to make and it is best to error on the side of freedom, but there are certainly some tricky "moral rights" or artistic integrity issues for categories 2 and 3 with GPL-style freedom.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Squiggle (8721)

        Hmm, I suppose according to RMS the parent post is messing with his work of testimony. I'm gunna claim fair use while I still have some rights left. :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The problem with his worldview is that it ignores one very important thing: artists have to eat, too. Take computer games, for example (and as a game developer who wants to bring more than bland oatmeal to the table, I very much do consider it art, but if you don't, entertainment works too). The GPL causes a cost-zero situation because anyone can, and if your product is good enough will, undercut anything you can do to generate revenue.

        Sell copies of the game? Well, "personal use" includes giving copies awa

    • He was doing it for the users ... and the children.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PCM2 (4486)

      I am curious as to where this is coming from. I've interviewed Richard Stallman for interviews before, and while he set me straight on "open source vs. Free Software" terminology issues, he never expressed displeasure with the result. It wouldn't surprise me if he's been burned by interviewers many, many times in the past ... but refusing to answer any questions seems counterproductive. Then again, the assertion that he "demanded control of what we published" could just be B.S. and a misinterpretation of wh

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:21AM (#29033493)

    InfoWorld tried to interview Richard Stallman, who runs the Free Software Foundation that created and manages the GPL, on this issue, but he demanded control of what we published, so we declined.

    Pity RMS couldn't have released his source words under some kind of open license so others could use it.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:40AM (#29033581)

    Folks at KDE [kde.org] have a comparison table for various software licenses. The table might throw some light on the reason why the GPL is where it is today.

  • Erroneous article (Score:5, Informative)

    by pnot (96038) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:46AM (#29033625)

    From TFA:

    To force the free distribution of source code, the GPL requires publishers to place the source code on the disk they distribute their applications on

    False; they simply have to make it available.

    Under GPL, "you've got to give it away for free, and you've got to give the source code away for free as well," says analyst Kiewe.

    False; RMS himself used to charge $150 for tapes of the GNU system. The GPL FAQ specifically states that you may charge for software under the terms of the GPL. Here's [nmon.net] a current example of GPL software being sold for money.

    So in short: either they didn't do their homework, or they're deliberately spreading FUD.

  • "Adam King said... matthews, Make a post on one of those accounts right now and I will believe it is you. "
  • by True Grit (739797) * <edwcogburn@noSPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:09AM (#29033755)

    Lesse, midnight on a boring middle-of-the-week Wednesday, just got through watching an old rerun of Clint Eastwood in A Fistful Of Dollars on the WGN Late-Nite-At-The-Westerns, but there's nothing good on now, and nothing else to watch on DVD, so what is kdawson's answer to this dilemma?

    "Eureka! A flame-fest between the BSD Zealots and the GPL Fanatics, that ought to keep me entertained for the next 4 or 5 hours!"

    [rummages through the inbox looking for good dry kindling, a match, some dynamite, and ...]

    Come on, Guys and Gals, this is a setup piece for a flame-war, if I've *ever* seen one, you've *all* been had...

  • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @01:36AM (#29033933)

    Fer crissakes.

    This is a big whiny piece about how poor poor kleptocrats can't use GPLed code without giving back. Well, don't use it. Duh. There's no shortage of proprietary code.

    And then it ends the article with the old fragmentation canard.

    I expected to see Dan "Lyin'" Lyons in the byline.

    Yellow journalism, anyone?

    "Fair and Balanced"

    --
    BMO

  • GPL is good for anybody not making money directly off software products. I don't buy all the ideology around it, but as Linus says it's a cool license because it enforces tit-for-tat.

    However, GPL is the kiss of death for anybody trying to make money selling software products. If you have a software product and publish any of its libraries as GPL, then your product must effectively become GPL'ed. And you put hard work into it and want to charge money for that, but anybody can take that product and sell it cheaper or give it away for free.

    You can then play games to work around it (spawn the GPL product from a commercial one and talk to it through a pipe or something) but whatever you do is just a kludge in order to dance around the license.

    Personally, I gave away the few small, well-rounded libraries I made under the BSD license. I don't really mind if somebody takes them and uses them to build a product they'll be making money off. The knee-jerk reaction here is that when somebody says "commercial software" people imagine big dominant companies like Apple or Microsoft, but the number of programmers working there is dwarfed by the number of small 1-5 programmer shops trying to make a living.

    In fact, I don't even mind if a programmer at Microsoft takes my source code and uses it in a product. I met a few of them and they are mostly nice folks trying to make the best software they can. If Microsoft shareholders profit to an infinitesimal amount from something I gave away for free, I don't really give a fuck.

    Dejan

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