RFC: New business modell for free software development

Marcus Brinkmann Marcus.Brinkmann at ruhr-uni-bochum.de
Fri Sep 13 00:49:26 UTC 2002

On Thu, Sep 12, 2002 at 08:35:46PM +0200, service at metamodul.com wrote:
> Hi folks,
> under http://www.metamodul.com/gpsa.html you will find a new business modell
> for the free software development.
> Sorry , but right now only in german.
> Things todo:
> * Translation into english and other languages.
> * Create a workable contract text.
> last but not least:
> * Discussion about the GPSA - General Public Support Agreement

:    ->Die GPSA Lizenz ist ähnlich der GPL, mit der Ausnahme, das Nutzer
:    von Programmen, welche unter der GPSA Lizenz steht, mindestens ein
:    GPSA Projekt unterstützen müssen. Somit hat man eine Art Viruseffekt
:        analog der GPL. SPONSOR

There doesn't seem to be a draft of this GPSA license.  But let me point out
that it _can not_ fulfill the description that is given for it on the web

Let me be more precise:  The GPSA can not be like the GPL and make a
requirement about when you are allowed to use the software.  The GPL
explicitely does not restrict using the program.  Any license that makes
restrictions about using the program is unlike the GPL.

More generally, there are several fundamental flaws with any requirement like the
one you are describing.  It is difficult to describe this by critizing the
GPSA (because the GPSA is not written), but I can point out some important
aspects of the GPL which are not "by accident", they are a desired and
explicit feature of it.  Disallowing any of these features makes a license

* The privacy of the user is respected.  The licenser does not request
  disclosure of private modifications, usage, or whatever.  The licenser
  does not require registration or notification by the users of the program.

* Copying and distributing the program is bound to certain conditions.  If
  you read the conditions carefully, you will note that there is _no_
  requirement at all to notify, register with, or otherwise contact the
  original licenser.  The requirements on copying and distributing GPL'ed
  software can be fulfilled solely by one licensor (user) of the program who
  has a copy of the program and the other person who receives a copy of the
  program to become another licensor.

  This feature is very, very important, because it sets the software free
  even beyond the time where the original licenser or author of the software
  is available.  One reason Abandonware seeks for legitimization is that the
  software is not available legally when it is not sold anymore.  This can
  also happen to software that aims to be free software but requires
  registration or notification to some third party (like another GPSA
  project) in some way.  For example, if a license requires you to send
  email to the author, the requirement can not be fulfilled once the
  author is dead or off-the-net, or email is not an existing communication
  medium anymore.  A software that requires a 5$ donation to the red cross
  would become unlicensable if the red cross would go away (unlikely,
  but you get the idea.  It could also be renamed or merged with some
  other organization).

I am being so verbose because I want to point out how carefully the GPL is
to not impose any restrictions that could lead to a situation where the
software becomes unavailable.  This ensures that free software stays free,
for all eternity.


`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' GNU      http://www.gnu.org    marcus at gnu.org
Marcus Brinkmann              The Hurd http://www.gnu.org/software/hurd/
Marcus.Brinkmann at ruhr-uni-bochum.de

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