hypothetical(?) GPL problem

Marc Eberhard m.a.eberhard at aston.ac.uk
Fri Jun 22 08:43:02 UTC 2001

Hi Frank!

On Thu, Jun 21, 2001 at 07:43:27PM +0200, Frank Heckenbach wrote:
> Marc Eberhard wrote:
> > On Thu, Jun 21, 2001 at 10:10:34AM +0100, John Tapsell wrote:
> > > 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 ;)
> > 
> > Exactly, that's why it seems unlogic to restrict libraries from being linked
> > against commercial programs.
> It is not restricted. Even assuming you wrote "commercial" when you
> meant "proprietary" (again),

Yes, sorry... I'll have to try harder to erase this synonym from my brain. :-)

> the GPL allows you to link with
> proprietary code, so you have all the freedoms.

Well, yes, but only if you use the final product in house. I agree, that
this gives all the companies, that develop their own software, the
possibility to use free libraries with their own closed source code. As
Alessandro pointed out, this also includes the danger of remote service
providers, that try to circumvent the GPL by running the service in house
for customers outside.

> What it does not allow is to *distribute* the resulting binary
> because that would deprive the recpient from the freedoms.

And this applies to all software companies, right? They live on selling
software. They spread new ideas into the market. They produce the products,
most users see and use. Having no free libraries in these products, makes it
impossible to reach people through this main path of software delivery to
end users. As you pointed out, they can only include a LGPL'd library, if
they acknowledge its usage in a proper way.

I see here again your more pessimistic view. Companies will take, but never
give back. I can argue against it, that putting up this barrier, does cause
some kind of confrontation. So it is just logic to me, that the companies in
question, will not be very willing to cooperate with free software authors.
On the other hand, if you choose to be more open and allow them to use your
free library, its more of a collaboration and this can open a lot of doors
for your free library too. I think, that diplomacy is a better approach here
instead of a restrictive licence.

But this is of course based on my opinion, that the "classic" software house
has no chance to survive the next 20 years anyway. I see a movement towards
service providers, that earn their money with specific customisation of
products for individual companies.


email: marc at greenie.net
email: m.a.eberhard at aston.ac.uk, web: http://www.aston.ac.uk/~eberhama/

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