The argument against copyleft, or for BSD

Ben Finney ben+freesoftware at
Mon Jul 13 09:01:49 UTC 2015

Daniel Pocock <daniel at> writes:

> On 13/07/15 00:39, Darryl Plank wrote:
> > The first [argument from the article] is that if a group of
> > developers think they might later wish to make a proprietary version
> > of their software, the BSD license will allow them to do so without
> > facing legal obstacles while the GPL license can sometimes impose
> > such obstacles. (The main problem with making a proprietary for
> > theGPL license is when one or more contributors disagrees to such a
> > move.)
> However, choosing the BSD license is not the only way out of this
> problem.  An alternative is to set up some entity to own the
> intellectual property and all the developers then sign a CLA giving
> the entity the right to decide on licensing changes in the future.

Yes. An argument against CLAs is precisely that it sends a strong signal
to potential contributors: this organisation exerts significant effort
to, at some unknown future time, take your contributions and make them

That makes it another reason for the GPL, in my view. Choosing the GPL
(or some other strong copyleft) sends a clear signal that the
organisation actively intends to *always* have the software freely
licensed to all recipients. That signal will encourage contributors who
want to promote software freedom.

> GPL also allows proprietary software companies to take on a project
> that has been abandoned. The vendor just has to make sure they observe
> the terms of the GPL.

Thanks for clarifying that.

 \     “Creativity can be a social contribution, but only in so far as |
  `\         society is free to use the results.” —Richard M. Stallman |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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