"viral" clause (was: Re: does a free license make software free?)

chrysn chrysn at fsfe.org
Fri Aug 31 12:12:40 UTC 2007

Michael wrote:

> > Well, "viral" is another expression for "spreading illness". This term
> > only fits proprietary licenses which really infect the whole system built
> > upon, making it non-free. The GPL (and other copleft licenses) can be
> > described much better as "immunizing" against the illness of proprietary
> > licenses. These terms were found by Bernhard Reiter, as far as I know.
from a programmers point of view, i'd call that inedible rather than
viral  :-) 

i think we as the free software community could prove a good sense of
humor by not completely smashing down the term with viruses like the one
graham mentioned in mind or with respect to the importance of viruses to

of course, all with a due sense of audience; talking to proprietary
software people accusing (!) the gpl of being viral, i will probably
find myself using other words to describe the benefits of copyleft

(sent that 2007-08-29, forgot to change email address; sorry michael for sending this twice)

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