hypothetical(?) GPL problem

Xavi Drudis Ferran xdrudis at tinet.org
Mon Jun 25 22:32:16 UTC 2001

El Fri, Jun 22, 2001 at 09:59:45AM +0100, Marc Eberhard deia:
> Hi Frank!
> On Thu, Jun 21, 2001 at 07:47:19PM +0200, Frank Heckenbach wrote:
> > If it's that easy, why don't you just tell them about M$'s practices
> > (attempts to lock them in, i.e. make them dependent, using
> > interfaces, file formats, net protocols, patents, etc.), and windoze
> > will be gone in no time ... :-(
> I do! And I'm doing quite well at the moment in raising people's concerns
> about sending around winword or powerpoint files (I'm still new to my
> current work place). Most have stopped to send these formats and started to
> think about alternatives. The same is true for some special software used
> here. Making it known, does help a lot. It seems to me, that most people
> were just simply unaware of this and if you mention it to them, they are
> very interested in getting this sorted. And it appears to me, that they are
> also very willing to try new ideas out. Of course not on an over night base,
> but ask me again in one year and I'm sure to be able to report more
> success(es).
Hey!. I want you in my company (or should I look for a job in yours?). 
Pity it must be too far away to commute. When I try to convince people 
in my workplace to send stuff in free formats or at least PDF I am not 
too successful. And when I joined I thought they knew their stuff... 
If you have a web page somewhere with your usual arguments, it might help...
In any case I think it is not my arguments, it must be my lack of tact 
or something...

Back to the original thread. I think in many cases we don't want 
too much freedom, just the optimum. One's freedom ends where their 
neighbour's begins. I defend freedom of speach, but not shouting 
out loud at 3 am when I want to sleep (well, it is justified sometimes, 
but not just for a party). Or I don't want people to be free to carry 
and use guns. I don't want people to be free to take another person's 
property. I don't like free thieves.

So I don't want people to make a piece of free software non-free. 
The free version could be easily lost once a heavily embraced and extended 
non free version exists. 

I think one of the benefits of the GPL is that (except for weird 
circumventions that I wouldn't think are so serious as Alessandro
fears, but I haven't thought about it at all) the set of GPL software
can only grow, never diminish. BSD software can either grow or shrink 
because the license may be changed and the original BSD licensed version 
become obsolete. GPL does not allow for this, and 
when it comes to defending freedoms, monotonicity is a very wellcome 
property, because you can be sure that somebody will try to steal 
your freedom some time or other if they can. Every program that adopts 
the GPL will be GPLed forever, any BSD licensed program may disappear 
behind closed doors.  

So I don't care if a company is scared off by the GPL and does not 
contribute free software. With the GPL we can wait an infinite time 
until one does. With BSD we have to make sure that  
total net contributions outweight the loses in every period. 

You can't defend unlimited freedom because it is unsustainable, 
but you can defend a fair balance of freedoms that sustains itself 
and tends to bigger freedom.

Xavi Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at tinet.org

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