hypothetical(?) GPL problem

John Tapsell tapselj0 at cs.man.ac.uk
Thu Jun 21 09:10:34 UTC 2001

On Thu, 21 Jun 2001, you wrote:
> Hi Alessandro!
> On Wed, Jun 20, 2001 at 04:04:04PM +0200, Alessandro Rubini wrote:
> > The idea has always been more in the lines of "do ut des": I give my
> > software if you give me back yours (that uses mine, otherwise I have
> > no say in your licensing policies). And it seems a fair game to me.
> I think, that's also the idea behind BSD. The difference is, if you want to
> enforce this or not. Does anybody have any statistics or experiences which
> approach was more effective in the long run? I could imagine, that it is
> more tempting for a company to use a library, if it is BSD-free. And that
> they might consider sending their modifications to the original developers,
> for whatever reason. While on the other hand, they might be scared off by
> the (L)GPL and thus not touch the library at all. Which results in no return
> at all. What will be of more benefit on a large time scale? Even if only one
> company in one thousand sends patches, this is still more then none at all.

in reply to this, and comments below..

You raise very valid points.. however... ;)   [Starts flaming cas its morning
and i'm at work and bored and...]

This is FSF - founded by RMS.
Its not about market penetration - thats what 'Open Source' is.
FSF was/is supposed to be about doing the .. most 'pure' form of freedom.
excuse the quotes ;)

Lets suppose BSD license is better all round as in larger market pentration,
causes users to feedback more, etc etc.

No matter how much 'better' it is, FSF is about supporting GPL and not BSD,
since FSF is about the freedom of the actual software.  Its those rough
'opensource' ppl that argue the commercial benefits for commerical sake.

[feels a bit better now after some good roasting]

> > Company P can use my free library inside their web server to deliver
> > .png barcode images to the end user. The end user will never know that
> > it's produced by a modified free package. Still worse, a company can
> I wonder, why a company would want to hide the origin of a lib, if it would
> have been perfectly legal to do so. In case of the GPL it is clear. If they
> would reveal, that they use your lib, you could sue them. Thus they can only
> use your lib, if they hide, who has written it. On the other hand, if
> linking your lib into their program would be legal, why would they want to
> hide this fact from the end user? It could be even a plus for them to tell
> their users, that they use a known good lib for their program. So maybe one
> should only enforce to _acknowledge_ the usage of a free lib by closed
> source software companies, instead of restricting the usage itself. Just
> putting some text on the box like: "This software uses the excellent free
> lib xyz". 
> The issue, that someone can use your source code to make money has been
> discussed here widely and I think, we agreed, that we are aware of this and
> that we accept this. So if you write a web server and someone uses it to
> earn a living through web hosting, that's considered as being OK. Same for
> compilers or bar codes from web pages.
> > I think *this* is an issue. Hope the GPLv3 will address it, but I
> > really can't think how it can (very-restrictive licenses are not
> > unilateral: the user must agree to the license. Do you remember
> > about http://www.freeworldlicence.org/ , (passed here in December).
> No, but it doesn't make to much sense to me either. You don't want separate
> worlds. You want free software to penetrate the closed source software field
> too and replace some of these existing solutions with free software. But you
> can only achieve this, if you allow both worlds to mix.
> > And yes, the more I think about the original question, the more I'm
> > convinced it can be done. Well, companies are already distributing
> > binary stuff that the user must link with the Linux kernel (like the
> > disk-on-chip driver: I used it, no thanks).
> And it brings me back to my original comment: Why should we want to do
> anything against it? There are quite a few examples of companies, that
> started with closed source "contributions" to free programs, but later
> decided to release the source code, often under the GPL. Give them the
> chance to get step by step closer to free software. That's definitely making
> it easier for them.
> Bye,
> Marc
> _______________________________________________________________________________
> email: marc at greenie.net
> email: m.a.eberhard at aston.ac.uk, web: http://www.aston.ac.uk/~eberhama/
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