Linked by Eugenia Loli on Fri 30th Jan 2004 10:41 UTC, submitted by theuserbl
X11, Window Managers The XFree86 Project modified their license (fully effective as of the upcoming 4.4.0 release). The updated license change applies to the base XFree86 license, and to source files that explicitly carry a copyright notice in the name of The XFree86 Project, Inc. Copyrights and licenses in the names of others will not be affected by this change, however some fear that these changes might be GPL-incompatible.
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v This ist the end...
by sophokles on Fri 30th Jan 2004 10:49 UTC
For you native English speakers
by Rudo on Fri 30th Jan 2004 10:53 UTC

The German article that is linked to explains that there might or will be problems with the new license because it has an advertisement clause like the "classic" BSD-license. It might be incompatible with the GPL because of that, just like the "classic" BSD-license was.

Whoops
by Rudo on Fri 30th Jan 2004 10:59 UTC

Sorry, didn't want to discriminate the people that don't speak neither English natively nor German at all.

Advertising Clause
by Inglorion on Fri 30th Jan 2004 11:09 UTC

GPL-incompatibility is not a valid argument against this license, in this case. If this were a library or kernel module, then GPL-based operating systems could have a problem with it.

What _is_ problematic about this license is the advertising clause. As has been said many times in discussions about the original BSD license: lots of contributors include copyright notices, each requiring that different names be mentioned in advertising the product. This means that advertising the product becomes really awkward up to virtually impossible, which is a great pity, and ultimately harms the project itself.

This is exactly the reason why the University of California decided to drop the advertising clause. Unfortunately, many individual copyright holders of BSD-licensed software have not. It is sad to see that XFree86 is repeating the same mistakes...

---
> Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it

Yes, and those who do study history are doomed to watch in frustration as it is unwittingly repeated by those who do not :-)

-- jonadab on Slashdot

GPL incompatibility IS a problem
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 11:17 UTC

You want to include Xfree86 code in your GPL'd program? You can't anymore. That is because this licence is placing these advertising restrictions on the use of the code.

RE: Advertising Clause
by Michael on Fri 30th Jan 2004 11:22 UTC

huh

both the original version and the new version have the same advertising clause what are you people going on about?

RE: RE: Advertising Clause
by Devon on Fri 30th Jan 2004 11:42 UTC

If you compare them though, the old one only prohibited use of their name in advertising without their permission. The new one actually requires that this acknowledgement be included with every single redistrobution of their code: "This product includes software developed by The XFree86 Project, Inc (http://www.xfree86.org/) and its contributors".

Ah yes, the holy grail...
by Solar on Fri 30th Jan 2004 11:44 UTC

Excuse me for trolling, but... if the people behing XFree86 decide to change the license of their product in a way that collides with the (oh-so-holy) GPL, it's their decision, isn't it?

That's what's bugging me big time with the GPL: It's stepping up to the plate and desires to be the one-and-only license around, and everybody who's not complying is "a social problem" (quoting Mr. Stallman, and several people flaming me for not placing my projects under the one true license).

I can see where this change in license results in pains for other developers. But neither Linux, POSIX, Unix, Open Source, or XFree86 is equivalent to the GPL. Cope, it's their damn right to change the license.

And I might add, are you aware that the GPL *explicitly* reserves the right for the FSF to change it, and having all your GPL'ed software fall under a license you had no saying in?

Not much different...
by Matthew McGuire on Fri 30th Jan 2004 11:51 UTC

Both licenses are on the same page. If you review them carefully you will notice that the new license is nothing more than detailed clarification of the original. The only addition is clause 3;

<snip>
The end-user documentation included with the redistribution, if any, must include the following acknowledgment: "This product includes software developed by The XFree86 Project, Inc (http://www.xfree86.org/) and its contributors", in the same place and form as other third-party acknowledgments. Alternately, this acknowledgment may appear in the software itself, in the same form and location as other such third-party acknowledgments.
</snip>

Which requests that the distributer of the binary or source provide reference to the origin of the code. This is a documentation requirement, but unlike the 'invariant' problems with the GFDL the user is allowed to place the reference in whatever location is appropriate. AFAICT the license is simply more clear from a legal standpoint. This makes the license more defensible in a court.

It's their decision..
by w_Tarchalski on Fri 30th Jan 2004 12:01 UTC

..ang honeymoon for Packard's project

re: Solar
by Syntaxis on Fri 30th Jan 2004 12:02 UTC

"Cope, it's their damn right to change the license."

I don't think anyone claimed otherwise.

"are you aware that the GPL *explicitly* reserves the right for the FSF to change it, and having all your GPL'ed software fall under a license you had no saying in?"

Why do people keep dredging this point up? Anyone who is *not* aware of this simply hasn't read the license carefully enough. This is nobody's fault but their own.

Thankfully, though, there's a simple solution for those developers that actually bother to read a license before releasing their source code under it.

Simply snip the appropriate clause from the license before applying it to your code. The Linux kernel, for example, is explicitly licensed under only the GPL version 2, with the "or any later version" clause removed. Problem solved.

v Who Cares
by Nick on Fri 30th Jan 2004 12:04 UTC

well, that was the first thought when I read this comment. hehe, next time I want to upgrade, it will say "removed xfree86*" packages ;)

....
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 12:27 UTC

XFree86 is closed because there is no information about it. It's a closed project even under the GPL.

Re: Ah yes, the holy grail...
by Kick The Donkey on Fri 30th Jan 2004 12:30 UTC

And I might add, are you aware that the GPL *explicitly* reserves the right for the FSF to change it, and having all your GPL'ed software fall under a license you had no saying in?

Yes... And its might right to change to another licence at that point. At least, for future versions.

...
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 12:44 UTC

The GPL has been somewhat exposed as the controlling entity in the open source world, but it only goes to show that the GPL provides the mechanism to understand the system through the source code. If we do not take advantage of the source code to differentiate and create choices, than the GPL does not protect the community, it only slows down the loss of knowledge.

GPL friendly or not
by CaptainPinko on Fri 30th Jan 2004 12:59 UTC

Its not that bbe a pain in the ass really. Even if 50 different organizations contriubte to it thatks 50 more lines so thats what an extra 1k when you download the isos or require one extra roll of the mouse-wheel to get to the bottom of the webpage? Really I'm a fan of the GPL and all but I --unlike others--- don't feel the need to lit incense and give burnt offerings to it. Theres more to OSS than the GPL, and we should be greatful for xfree86 despite this hassle.

RE: Inglorion (IP: ---.cs.utwente.nl) - Posted on 2004-01-30 11:09:53
by ChocolateCheeseCake on Fri 30th Jan 2004 13:04 UTC

What _is_ problematic about this license is the advertising clause. As has been said many times in discussions about the original BSD license: lots of contributors include copyright notices, each requiring that different names be mentioned in advertising the product. This means that advertising the product becomes really awkward up to virtually impossible, which is a great pity, and ultimately harms the project itself.

Not necessarily problematic. SunOS was based on early BSD implementation and they're more than happy to acknowledge their BSD roots. Most companies are quite happy to include a little bit in their about box or version information. So for most people, it will be a none issue.

that's not true, Debian will have 2 choices:
- Xouvert from http://www.xouvert.org
and
- XServer from fd.o

Re: The holy grail
by Solar on Fri 30th Jan 2004 13:09 UTC

> "are you aware that the GPL *explicitly* reserves the
> right for the FSF to change it, and having all your
> GPL'ed software fall under a license you had no saying
> in?"
>
> Why do people keep dredging this point up? Anyone who
> is *not* aware of this simply hasn't read the license
> carefully enough. This is nobody's fault but their own.

Judging from my experience over the last couple of years, far to few people realize the real impact of the GPL. More than once I had some really excited GPL evangelist hopping up and down in front of me (virtually speaking) telling me that nothing would keep me from earning money with GPL'ed code, how forking a project is always beneficial because it offers the user a choice, how the GPL gives you total freedom and other unreflected stuff like that.

Sorry for the venting off steam.

That being said, about 90% of the developers I know place their stuff under GPL because they don't want to think about licenses... I remember a time when that "default license" was the Public Domain, which actually made it much easier to learn from code because you could actually use the code for learning.

Today, I'm writing a Public Domain C library, and I don't dare looking into the glibc for tutoring, in fear that my code could turn out to be too closely resembling it.

Brave new world. The GPL scares me just as much as TCPA does. :-(

Like the license
by John Drake on Fri 30th Jan 2004 13:14 UTC

Unless someone can convince me otherwise, I have no problem with the new XFree86 license.

It simply asks for recognition of the fact that XFree86 is being used (in whole or in part). If somebody uses software, in whole or in part, that I wrote, I want recognition of the fact.

GPL on the other hand does not require recognition, but it does require you to open your source - which is much more problematic for me. I don't mind someone creating copycat version of my code, but I am not necessarily keen on releasing my IP.

For me, the ideal license would be summarized as follows:

(1) you have free use of the code, in whole or in part, but you must credit the original and you must make the original source available
(2) if you have modified, extended, or used my code, you may not restrict me from modifying or extending my code or creating new code that duplicates your code.

Personally, it is not important for me to be able to see other peoples source code. It is only important to me that I can develop wihtout you trying to impede me.

I guess you could say I prefer a black box open source model (interfaces and functionality) rather than a white box open source model (actual source code).

John



...
by Solar on Fri 30th Jan 2004 13:23 UTC

...not even mentioning the real point: It's 2004, damnit, and I have to write up a damned C library because all the existing ones plaster me with legalese about what I am allowed to do with it or not.

The first C standard was published 1989, that's fifteen years for crying out loud! And still basic stuff like that is kept under licensing - by Microsoft et al. in fear for losing their "competitive advantage", and by the GNU people in fear for losing their competitive advantage - or their chance at liberating the world of the evils of non-GPL licenses.

Pshaw. As if it would hurt anyone - or benefit Microsoft - if all of GNU/Linux suddenly went Public Domain over night. I doubt Microsoft could use much of the stuff, locked into their own platform as they are. The only ones who would benefit are the small struggling projects and companies, let's say OpenBeOS, Amiga Inc. or AtheOS.

But all this FSF/GPL speak it's not really about choice for the user, now is it? I realized that when reading http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/udi.html. Note how "free software" is set equivalent to "GNU/Linux" in there... never a word about other competitors in the OS marketplace that might benefit.

Control freaks on both sides. Nah, thank you.

Re: Re: The holy grail
by XBe on Fri 30th Jan 2004 13:26 UTC

Maybe you and some others should start "Free Sourcecode Foundation" which expresses what the word Free is truly about as it has been misused by the Free Software Foundation for so long.

I wish schools could explain the word better as so many in the world of coding have misinterpreted it badly...

I also agree that GPL and TCPA = The worst 2 with none worse than the other...

...
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 13:26 UTC

The source code of free(dom) systems should be open and accessible because the direction of progress is through building differentation and choice and a competition to improve the technology, rather than to sell a product.

RE: Solar (IP: 212.149.48.---) - Posted on 2004-01-30 13:23:52
by ChocolateCheeseCake on Fri 30th Jan 2004 13:38 UTC

If you hate the license so much then don't use it. Its as simple as that. I've found no license I like so instead I've developed my own one, comically called, "I Don't Give A Shit License", in a nutshell, I don't care what you use it for, I don't care if you copy it, clone it, extend it.

The problem I have with LGPL and other opensource projects is what happens if someone makes a compatible implementation using the GPL version as a reference? its not a line by line copy, yet, it is based on the same concept. How does one ensure that another does steal their concepts? thats the iffy part of opensource hence I've always tended to lean towards the liberal licenses like BSD for the sake of practicality.

Also, the problem I have with alot of GNU people is that they spend more time debating the license than actually coding. How many out there have honestly seen projects move no more than "planning stage" because there is a split between the coders over which license to use.

Re: Ah yes, the holy grail...
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 13:46 UTC

"And I might add, are you aware that the GPL *explicitly* reserves the right for the FSF to change it, and having all your GPL'ed software fall under a license you had no saying in?"

This is just ridiculous. "*explicitely*"??? It's a license! Everything it says is supposed to be explicit. You write this like it makes it worse or something. In any case, for clarification, the FSF site notes this as an option wherever it is mentioned (that I could find). They also take time to explain exactly what it means:

"Each version [of the GPL] is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation."

An important note is that even if you do decide to include the allowance, your program is still perpetually under the license under which it was received. It's just that users also have an option to follow the provisions of the new GPL as well. And why wouldn't we want that? We trust the FSF, just like I trust Debian and several other open source entities. If there is a new GPL (and there are improvements to be made, I won't argue!) this clause will be a godsend during the transition period.

GPL
by peragrin on Fri 30th Jan 2004 13:59 UTC

Some people here need to Fscking read the GPL. Understand something. YOU DO NOT LOSE YOUR IP UNDER THE GPL. It stays your under your copyright for etirnity. You are encouraged to transfer your copyrights to the FSF but are nto required to. DO you think IBM gave up their copyright to JFS when they made an open source GPL verison of it. NO they didn't.
Why can't you use the GPL of Glibc for learning. The only thing that the GPL states is that if you DISTRBUTE a new version based off the GPL version you MUST supply the source. If you are using it for learning then you are going to DISTRUBUTE the SOURCE anyway.

I hope you idiots actually learned something today. I know you stopped learning how to think in college, but lets see if we can try something new.

I acknowledged this problem...
by Maynard on Fri 30th Jan 2004 13:59 UTC

...When I wrote to a message board the other time when people were talking about the GNOME Foundation elections. I agree that most people use the GPL because they don't really care for the consequences, and its partly selfish, so that people may not copy my code and PROFIT. While the GPL is a good license for things like the kernel, and other central bits, I think there are certain things that Linus anticipated when he made modifications to the GPL and specifically limited the kernel to one version of the GPL.

The terms of the GPL make the FSF a de facto owner of your code, because they can change their rights, and your, to the code and its derivatives. Whilst we all beleive they have godo intentions, what is to stop them from saying they alone (the FSF) have the right to take code and rerelease it under some other license in a future license. I know there are tradeoffs involved in this, there might be a need for smeone to be able to change the license conditions for GPL'd software, but its worrying nonetheless.

However, this could be the proverbial final straw that breaks the camel's back, because there oculd be a backlash at XFree86. People could just decide its not worth it, those who fund it just drop the funding. I think its fd.o's chance to shine. Just get us an XServer right now, and XFree86 will be history.

Solar:
by Hagbard Celine on Fri 30th Jan 2004 14:12 UTC

Couldn't you use the libc from a BSD? I'd hardly call the BSD license a burden - all you have to include is the license itself and a copyright notice.

Poor linking style!
by Felix on Fri 30th Jan 2004 14:23 UTC

It is very poor linking style not to mention if the link is in a different language. Please do so in future.

Solar is right.
by RonG on Fri 30th Jan 2004 14:24 UTC

When it comes down to it GPL is almost as restrictive as a private license when it comes to technology transfer.

XFree86
by Ismail on Fri 30th Jan 2004 14:28 UTC

Since when was XFree86 GPL ? So why fear to not be GPL conform if they never had a GPL like license before ?

....
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 14:29 UTC

The GPL only slows down the loss of knowledge and the loss of control of the technology. A knowledge base is a more permanent foundation because without one, it is difficult to learn just from the code, without any context and background knowledge about the system and it's requirements. It should be easy to design your own library, not a severe burden. In addition there should be tools that help you to ensure quality and security, and even do most of the work. These tools are largely unknown to this day.

There is nothing stopping you today from thowing yourself to the complete mercy of a vendor solution and product line strategy. However, in a world were everyone has the same code base, there will be security problems or else severe punishments and restrictions to freedom. The technology will not be based on quality or competition through differentation, but the goal of vendor software is too keep developers under their control by taking research out of their hands, to focus on and give imporatance to trivial issues and to force upon the developers a subscription of forced upgrades.

Solar is wrong.
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 14:31 UTC

So let me get this right.

He is angry that the GPL is "too strict" in that it does not allow other people to take the code and re-license it under their own extremely restrictive license, that would in turn, not allow anyone else to re-license that code..

Nice logic there bud.

Re: GPL
by Felix on Fri 30th Jan 2004 14:42 UTC

It stays your under your copyright for etirnity.

Eternity is the spelling. Or if you're excentric like me and a few people I know, æternity/aeternity. However, either way, Eternity isn't right. Copyright is typically for a limited time; the US constiution explicitly says that, even if there's a popular interpretation under which it can effectively be permanent (I'm sure in 10 years time, Congre$$ will have no problems with extending copyright for a further 20 years)...

Oh, and as for freedom and stuff, the FSF is after free software. In an ideal world, sure, they could release the source code and be guaranteed it'd never be hidden against their wishes, but this isn't the case. They feel that free software is more important than the freedom of people to do whatever they want with the software, and this is their call. They just want the source code to always be accessible to everyone, and have no limits on the redistribution beyond ensuring the source code is always accessible to everyone. When you criticise them, criticise their goals, not their implimentation, if you disagree with their goals.

....
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 14:58 UTC

The source code will not always be open and accessible even under the GPL. In a world of software differentation, quality software has been realized, and a new genre of personal software development is organically brought to life through artificial means.

RE: Solar is wrong
by manuel on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:02 UTC

> that would in turn, not allow anyone else
> to re-license that code..

With a BSD license, anyone can re-license the original code. Solar is right. The GPL is indeed "too strict".

I write code "A" under GPL, so A is "free". You can't make what you want with my code.

I write code "B" under GPL, so B is "free". You can make what you want with my code.

Nice logic, imho.

Typo
by manuel on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:04 UTC

I write code "B" under BSD, so B is "free". You can make what you want with my code.

:-)

@Solar
by Eu on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:06 UTC

Solar,

You are sadly, seriously and deliriously mistaken. If you release your software as GPL 2.0, that is the license under which the software is released, unless *you* the author decide to release it subsequently under a new license.

Stop spreading disinformation about the GPL to promote your own personal agenda.

@manuel
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:09 UTC

Thats not the only thing wrong w/ your arguments... You forgot to mention what you consider the term "Make what you want" means. Literally, you can make whatever you want from GPL'd source code. The licence does not cover the use of the software.

Here we go again
by Eu on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:14 UTC

Maynard,

Stop inventing monsters that only live in your head. There is not one shred of truth in anything you have said. The FSF cannot claim copyright over your work if you did not assign it ot them and they cannot change the license of your software if you specify that you want GPL v.1.0. Period. End of Story.

RE: Solar, Maynard
by Zab Ert on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:23 UTC

You are wrong, sorry.
You have the *option* to license *your* code under, e.g., "GPL 2.0 or later version", giving the FSF *some* control over *one* of the actual licenses your code is available under.

My Code -> GPL2.0 -> FSF gives GPL 2.1 --> no effect
My Code -> GPL2.0orLater -> FSF gives GPL 2.1 --> someone DERIVING FROM MY CODE can license the DERIVED code under GPL 2.0, 2.0orLater, 2.1, 2.1orLater. MY CODE is still available under GPL2.0 if someone who doesn't like 2.1 needs it.

Got it?

RE: Make you want
by manuel on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:25 UTC

If I read "Make what you want", I understand "Make what you want".

If you choose the GPL for your code, I can't make a derivative work and license it under the BSD. Point.

Solar is Correct
by XGodX on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:29 UTC

I think everyone should take a look at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html . Not to mention under the Heading Terms and Conditions look at number 9 and you will see that Solar is correct.

....
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:35 UTC

The FSF doesn't appear to paint the 'big picture'. It is the impression of some parties that read the GPL that code licensed under it is contrained in certain ways, especially the rule that you have to give away your IP under this license.

This extreme measure has an effect on software development strategy as well as the general software industry. It is likely to change the way that developers percieve software development and how to make profit, however this change is tempered by a gradual rather than rapid uptake of open source development.

The approach to open source development is system implementation. The systems are the most important pieces of software and for the first time ever, they are open and accessible. The systems software is substantial and they bear upon the underlying hardware mechanisms. New system design can even demand that those hardware mechanisms change. That demand can be met by hardware vendors.

The systems come first, before any of the libraries, before any programming languages, or any tools, in fact all of these things are reinvented to serve system implmentation. New and different systems in the hands of individual creators are powerful because the creator has all of the control and all of the knowledge. Nobody else in the world has that knowledge and control.

Re: Here we go again.
by Maynard on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:35 UTC

Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever ublished by the Free Software Foundation.

The point is it defaults to applying to any new version of t he GPL unless otherwise explicitly stated Which is what Linus had to do with the kernel.

Re: Felix
by XBe on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:44 UTC

Oh, and as for freedom and stuff, the FSF is after free software.

Can you please please please stop misusing the word "free"???

FSF is after sourcecode which is FORCED to remain open, which therefor has nothing to do with the word Free. They use their name for branding but their name should be "Open Software Foundation" because they definitely have nothing to do with Free as in any free...

@Maynard
by Zab Ert on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:44 UTC

Again, again, again:

if you specify GPL 2.0 or later, it's ... GPL 2.0 or later
if you specify GPL 2.0 it's GPL 2.0 AND ONLY 2.0
if you specify GPL, it's *any* version of the GPL.

YOU CHOOSE. You choose when you write and GPL code, and you choose when you write GPL-derived code; only, in the latter case, you have to choose between the possible options **respecting the upstream copyrights**.

what is the problem? if I specify "old BSD", advertising clause is there; if I specify "new BSD", it isn't.

BSD licenses works the same way. only they say oh, and you can even make this code part of your proprietary and closed product, **as long as you keep the attribution of copyrights in your source code**.

@XBe
by Rayiner Hashem on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:51 UTC

We've been over this before. FSF is using the word "free" in the same sense the Constitution uses the word "free." The GPL is about individuals giving up certain rights to ensure the freedom of everyone else. Both BSD and GPL are free licenses, but in different senses of the word.

Re: Re: Felix
by Ryan Abrams on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:56 UTC

XBe: Can you please please please stop misusing the word "free"???

FSF is after sourcecode which is FORCED to remain open, which therefor has nothing to do with the word Free.


Stop with the FUD. the sourcecode is not forced to remain open. YOU are forced not to take away it's freedom. Thats the bargain. Think of it like a public park with no rules. You are free to use the park, modify it, add to it, etc. But you are not free to put a big fence around it and say no one else can use it. And if you add a house to the park, it doesnt mean that you own the land under the house... it just means the house is now part of the park.

You are the one misunderstanding the word free. You seem to think free = "something i can pick up and then own for no cost" and thus think you own the code and can do as you like. The real usage of "Free" in this situation is "something you can use anyway you like for no charge - but you do not own it, much like air."

So get a better grip on language, and the need to route around its weaker areas, and stop spouting your ignorance.

@Manual
by Rayiner Hashem on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:57 UTC

To expand on your comparison:

- You license A under GPL, I can't do whatever I want with the code.

- You license B under BSD, I can do almost whatever I want with the code.

However:

A company comes along and improves A and B:

- They license A under GPL, I can still do lots of things with the code.

- They don't release code for B at all, I can't do anything with the code.

BSD is about freedom for developers. GPL is about freedom of the code itself, and freedom for users. If you like the ideals of the former, than license your code under BSD. If you like the ideals of the latter, license your code under the GPL.

Another comparison on the freedom'
by Felix on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:58 UTC

I write four programs: MyPropriatryProgram, MyOldBSDProgram, MyGPLProgram and MyPublicDomainProgram. Each gets licenced under the licence you would expect by the names (in the case of the MyPropProgram, you're forbidden from redistributing it, etc. etc. as you'd expect with Microsoft software). Each program deals with files in their own obfuscated and poorly documented file formats. I release the source code to none of them (as I wrote the code in the first place, this is perfectly ligitimate, even in the case of the GPL, but please don't do this; it's against the spirit!).

Similarities: In no case will you be able to easily write another program to deal with files, nor will the programs be able to continue development if I decide to stop.

Differences:
In MyPropProgram, if you send a document in the file format to your friend, and they don't have MyPropProgram, they're stuffed or they have to break the law if you're willing to. In the other three cases, you can freely distribute the programs.

Say you choose to create a software package that includes (the binaries of) one of the above programs. You also would like to have some small advertisements, but you don't have much money, so you'd be having small ads you pay for per word or per line. You wish to say it can open files from one of the programs. In the case of MyOldBSDProgram, you have to include a dozen or so words, which could amount to two or three lines. In the case of the MyGPLProgram or MyPublicDomainProgram, no such limitation exists. You're obviously proscribed from including MyPropProgram.

If you decompile MyGPLProgram, modify it, and release it, you're required to distribute the source code upon request. No such requirement exists for MyOldBSDProgram or MyPublicDomainProgram. You're obviously proscribed from decompiling MyPropProgram. 'Digital' amendments to copyright law on your area may also forbid you from doing this to MyOldBSDProgram.

I'm really not sure that the advertising-clause-enhanced BSD licence is any 'freer' than the GPL. The GPL just stops you from selfishly stealing what isn't yours.

@XBe
by Zab Ert on Fri 30th Jan 2004 15:58 UTC

Wrong. It seems to me that you never read the GNU site. So I'll spell it out for you:

Free means Freedom. Freedom of ANY user to become an user, distributor, developer, integrator, WITHOUT having to pay MORE for it.

with BSD-style license, you give this freedom PLUS the freedom to derive the work in a non-free fashion. why? maybe because you are really giving what you want to give. maybe because you fear hardware makers won't make drivers to your software (think nvidia).

with copyleft, you give only this freedom. and you say, you want to use my code? ok. just IF you derive from it AND IF you distribute the derived code, THEN YOU MUST maintain the pace and keep it open. just that. no more.

HTH,

Re: Rayiner
by XBe on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:01 UTC

The GPL is about individuals giving up certain rights to ensure the freedom of everyone else.

I respect you and all that Rayiner in fact most stuff you write are brilliant, but this is plain wrong.

Did anyone stop and bother to QUESTION the metaphor with free speach? I find the comparison plain stupid. Considering the amount of things RMS writes and what he writes, do you actually mean the only thing he got right was the GPL comparison with free speach? Think again, the comparison is just idiotic.

Free speach is about saying whatever you want and the connection to software is idiotic

I'd like to quote the following that RMS declares as what makes it free as in free speach according to the 4th rule
"The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this."

Freedom to release your software I agree on, but freedom to close the software is inclded in free speach as in, if you ehar someone say something you reflect on it, build your own opinion and CHOOSE NOT TO EXPRESS IT, it's still free as in free speach... the GPL does NOOOOT comply to this and therefor the comparison is WRONG!

fine with me
by stew on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:11 UTC

They write the code, they have the right to choose whatever license they want. If their new license requires that whenever you use their code, you have to list their credits - fine with me. I don't see anything wrong with that.

OK, so it is not compatible with the GPL. So? I think compatibility (to anyting) is an unnecessary burden that has more importance than it deserves. If compatibility with existing software were crucial, then we shouldn't have started with alternative operating systems in the first place and just stick to some ancient common denominator (how about MS-DOS? Let's all be compatible to MS-DOS).

@XBe
by Rayiner Hashem on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:11 UTC

I think the free speech comparison is wrong too. I really don't think that software freedom is anywhere up there with Constitutional freedoms. My point was not that, however. My point was that when the FSF uses the word free, they use it to mean that certain people (developers) give up certain freedoms (making non-free code forks) to ensure that other people (users) always have certain other freedoms (being able to modify the code of their programs).

To use a metaphor: BSD is like an Anarchy. It is more free than GPL in absolute terms, but it could possible lead to a non-free society --- if everyone can do what they want, the strong can rule over the weak. GPL is like having a government and a Bill of Rights. *Any* form of government is less free (in a sense) than no government at all, but such a government can lead to more free society overall.

Thus, the word "free" doesn't just have a single definition. Over time, people have ascribed to it different meanings. The FSF is simply using one of those meanings.

@XBe, again
by Zab Ert on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:12 UTC

You are right... except that, in your metaphor, if you build your own opinion and choose not to express it, you would not be "distributing" your opinion ("derived work"). the GPL says if you build your opinion on other's (or my) speech AND shares your new, "derived" opinion with others, you pass along the right to these others to build their own ("derived") opinions, and pass along, freely. the BSD says you can break the NEXT level to form, and pass along, their opinions.

You still don't understand.
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:14 UTC

"Freedom to release your software I agree on, but freedom to close the software is inclded in free speach as in, if you ehar someone say something you reflect on it, build your own opinion and CHOOSE NOT TO EXPRESS IT, it's still free as in free speach... the GPL does NOOOOT comply to this and therefor the comparison is WRONG!"

Under the GPL you have have the right close any software you want (-: You just don't have the right to redistribute that if all the other authors don't agree that you can. If you are the only author, seeing as how you still own the copyright, you can close it. You just can't "Take back" what you have already put out there as GPL'd.

@XBe
by Wolf on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:14 UTC

<2 cents>
GPL means freedom to study and learn source code for mutual benefits and making sure that no one can steal your source code, make additions and hide those additions from you. Think about it, how bad will you feel if you wrote 10000 lines of source code under BSD, some company came along, took your source, added 1000 more lines, and started selling it in market, without showing you those new 1000 lines.

BSD is more like a charitable license for everyone to benefit in the way they want to benefit. It has a good side that it gives commercial software to florish using others work but has a bad side that companies can steal your hardwork and make money. Its basically how you look at it.

I personally won't ever like that my hardwork is sold in market without my benefit or without giving source code to the whole community, so i put my work under GPL 2.0 ONLY. I don't add any later version, because that will give FSF control of my work, if they tomorrow release GPL 2.1 same as BSD or any other license.

</2 cents>

Thanks
Wolf

@stew
by Zab Ert on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:18 UTC

The problem, if there is one, is described in the following scenario:

I come up with some VERY GOOD nvidia accelerated drivers for XFree. NVidia corp. DID NOT HELP me writing the drivers in any way, so why should I give them the right to distribute a binary "nv.o driver build 8999" based on my work and with some improvements I could use too? So, I want to license my work under the GPL. if they decide to improve and distribute a derived driver, they must distribute the source.

If XFree goes for a GPL-incompatible license, this would not be possible, because e.g., Debian would be forbidden to distribute my driver at all.

re: XBE
by Syntaxis on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:20 UTC

"Free speach is about saying whatever you want"

This simply isn't true. It's all relative - I can't think of anywhere that freedom of speech is as absolute as you seem to believe it should be.

Here in Europe there are various laws against e.g. publicly promoting Nazism. In the US you don't have the right to spout off on private property (this includes e.g. cinemas and shopping malls) and even on so-called public property you can be stopped on grounds of creating a disturbance, causing an obstruction, inciting to violence...

"if you ehar someone say something you reflect on it, build your own opinion and CHOOSE NOT TO EXPRESS IT"

This is a ridiculous comparison that you make. Choosing not to express your opinion is choosing not to exercise your right to free speech at all.

The closest analogy I can think of in the software world is choosing not to distribute your derived work at all, and in fact the GPL does allow this - you only have to comply with the license when you *distribute*, because that's all it covers. It says nothing about *use*.

Re: Felix
by Felix on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:22 UTC

Can you please please please stop misusing the word "free"???

FSF is after sourcecode which is FORCED to remain open, which therefor has nothing to do with the word Free. They use their name for branding but their name should be "Open Software Foundation" because they definitely have nothing to do with Free as in any free...


No. The FSF is after source code which is forced to remain free. Many Westerners claim they live in a free country; but are they allowed to take another person and claim them to be theirs? Of course not! The proposition is absurd and if it were allowed is tantamount to having no freedom at all! The FSF promotes free software, hence the name, and not free developers (though I'm sure they'd prefer that developers are not enslaved, but they rather have some limitations on them).

Furthermore, if something is open, that doesn't mean you can change it. When my Uni has an open day, I don't take that to mean I can rock up, build a new building, re-arrange classrooms to make it better; nor when a shop is opened am I allowed to touch anything and everything I please! If I had an open wound, I wouldn't want J. Random Person to start poking at it and trying to learn about the inner workings of human physiology! Yet I'm given these particular freedoms with free software. In fact, the only real limitation on free software is that you aren't allowed to close it, to strip it of its freedoms!

Free software, and much 'open source software', is a lot more than simply open.

(But don't feel so bad. I'm on record as arguing against the GPL. This was before I realised the advantages it has, and I quietly converted a few months ago.)

Re: You still don't understand
by XBe on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:25 UTC

Under the GPL you have have the right close any software you want (-: You just don't have the right to redistribute that if all the other authors don't agree that you can. If you are the only author, seeing as how you still own the copyright, you can close it. You just can't "Take back" what you have already put out there as GPL'd.

Point is, in free speach you don't have to give back the way to how you formed an opinion and distribute it without saying anything about inspiration etc. So the redistribution rule simply doesn't apply to free speach but it sure does to GPL. However, BSD would more match the criterias as if you provide the whole concept behind it (as in sourcecode) you have to acknowledge the author of it...

Voila, BSD matches it better not GPL

Re: Syntaxis
by XBe on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:26 UTC

Here in Europe there are various laws against e.g. publicly promoting Nazism. In the US you don't have the right to spout off on private property (this includes e.g. cinemas and shopping malls) and even on so-called public property you can be stopped on grounds of creating a disturbance, causing an obstruction, inciting to violence...

Problem here (as in europe) with free speach is that because of people not being able to EXPRESS what they feel and discuss it properly, lots of underground groups appear and we get problems from it... which is also why the nazi movement are growing again in huge numbers all over europe. Now THIS is a problem and this is exactly what happens once restrictions is put on things...

On 'free as in free speech'
by Felix on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:27 UTC

When we describe GPLed software being 'free as in freespeech, not as in free beer', it's an analogy. Like all analogies, it does not mean that it's exactly equivalent. The message it is getting across is that of freedom, rather than pricelessness. I don't think anyone would suggest that GPL free and freespeech free were exactly equivalent.

Re: Wolf
by XBe on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:29 UTC

GPL means freedom to study and learn source code for mutual benefits and making sure that no one can steal your source code, make additions and hide those additions from you. Think about it, how bad will you feel if you wrote 10000 lines of source code under BSD, some company came along, took your source, added 1000 more lines, and started selling it in market, without showing you those new 1000 lines.

As in free speach, if I write 100 000 lines of an essay about animal rights, someone reads it, thinks about it, decides to build their own opinion, *DISTRIBUTE* their opinion without giving mine as a source I would NOT have any problem with it...

Re: Wolf
by Felix on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:33 UTC

As in free speach, if I write 100 000 lines of an essay about animal rights, someone reads it, thinks about it, decides to build their own opinion, *DISTRIBUTE* their opinion without giving mine as a source I would NOT have any problem with it...

See my most recent other post; but also, Um... you realise that the GPL doesn't demand you distribute the original, unmodified source, but rather your modifications to that source? The only possible similarities you could have in this case would be if you distributed a GPLed document in something like LaTeX, and then someone modified it and distributed it only as PDFs...

re: Felix
by XBe on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:33 UTC

When we describe GPLed software being 'free as in freespeech, not as in free beer', it's an analogy. Like all analogies, it does not mean that it's exactly equivalent. The message it is getting across is that of freedom, rather than pricelessness. I don't think anyone would suggest that GPL free and freespeech free were exactly equivalent.

You could also do a propagandha thing and say NAzigermany as in free germany. IT wouldn't exactly match, but it could mean that to others...

I would say that is misusing the word free, just as the analogy in GPL is wrong just as the above.

Run "dict free" in your browser and see what it means... if you justify free as in free speach as in analogy GPL = Free.

Then you might as well justify a lot of evil thigns being called free....

@XBe
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:35 UTC

"Point is, in free speach you don't have to give back the way to how you formed an opinion and distribute it without saying anything about inspiration etc. So the redistribution rule simply doesn't apply to free speach but it sure does to GPL."

The GPL says nothing about having to explain your inspiration or methods. You just to give the program in a human readable way (source code). The same way in spoken language(the human readable form being the written word), you have to give the words you speak by the very act of speaking them.

Yes, The GPL is more artifical, but thats just it's emulation of free speech.

As long as there are restrictions, it is not a free license
by Kherdin on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:41 UTC

The only real "free" license is the Public Domain. All other licenses, GPL/BSD/etc, place restrictions. Restrictions like always having to include names of authors in the code (BSD), or restrictions telling you what you HAVE to do with the code (ie always distribute source code etc). I think the GPL ppl should stop calling the license "free", because in reality it isn't so. Yes, the GPL has many good things about it, such as the license being designed to preserve code in the open, etc. But it is not free, only Public Domain is really free.

re: XBe
by Syntaxis on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:41 UTC

"which is also why the nazi movement are growing again in huge numbers all over europe"

Actually, in the vast majority of cases the far-right parties gain support through playing on the xenophobia of the general populace, which is in turn caused by insufficient integration of immigrants into the local community. Immigration and integration are the two key issues.

Your argument (paraphrased) "Nazism is becoming popular because of the fact people aren't allowed to promote Nazism" seems rather circular to me.

Besides, nothing prevents these groups from meeting in private or conferencing over the 'Net. I'm not personally a fan of the laws in question, but I have my doubts as to their effectiveness in stifling discussion on "forbidden" subjects anyway.

"Now THIS is a problem and this is exactly what happens once restrictions is put on things..."

No, I really don't think that the GPL is contributing to the growth of the nazi movement... but perhaps that's just me. :-D

re: Felix
by Felix on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:42 UTC

You could also do a propagandha thing and say NAzigermany as in free germany. IT wouldn't exactly match, but it could mean that to others...

I really don't understand that. You're being delibarately obtuse. You aren't contributing to the world by trying to express a differing opinion. You aren't even trolling! You're just being difficult.

licenses
by dubhthach on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:42 UTC

My opinion on licenses is the same as Linus
he who writes the code gets to choose the license, people who complain about what license something is under are just whiners.

Re: As long as there are restrictions, it is not a free license
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:45 UTC

You can't shout fire in a crowded theater. Do you still have free speech?

@XBe and others
by Wolf on Fri 30th Jan 2004 16:57 UTC

You simply needs to understand that GPL makes sure that no one can misuse other's hardwork and sell it under their name. They force you to share your work derived from others hardwork so that they can also benefit like you benefitted.

I understand that its more like dictatorship, but with too many selfish out there, this is the only way to make sure that rights of the weak are defended.

You should understand that GPL gives people like us who don't want to share our code due to the fear of it being misused by corportate, a confidence, to share it without fear. And thats why it rocks.

I don't say BSD is bad or GPL is bad, both are different licenses. If tomorrow i right something, which i think can be best used in a commercial product, i will give it under public domain, so that someone can derive from it and sell it, but frankly it ain't gonna happen, unless they pay me for my hard work. I am not a charitable trust after all.

- Wolf

One more thing
by Wolf on Fri 30th Jan 2004 17:03 UTC

sometime you need to force things to ensure freedom. Think about it, today you are free to sit in your homes and do what you want, because police and government is protecting you. You feel safe in their presence. Would you feel so free and safe, if there was no police?

If I am physically not a very big guy and if there was no police to protect me, someone will come and steal my money and i will sit their helplessly. GPL acts as a police to protect our freedom, our freedom to write code and share it, without the fear of it getting stolen.

How and Why you think its bad?

In many other languages it wouldn't be an issue. In Spanish, for instance, people would talk about software being libre (unrestricted) or gratis (no charge). The whole "free as in speech" metaphor only exists because in English the word "free" includes two very different meanings. You can (and probably will) argue all day about just how free various licenses are, but the analogy to free speech isn't about the code being speech, but about the language used to describe the license.

Re: wolf
by A.K.H. on Fri 30th Jan 2004 17:21 UTC

I understand that its more like dictatorship, but with too many selfish out there, this is the only way to make sure that rights of the weak are defended.

Yes, and the selfish people are those who use the GPL "so others can't profit". Think about it. If some company adds 1000, 10, or even 0 lines of code to your program and manages to sell it, then you could have done the same. If those 1000 lines of code are so important that the program without them is not worth anything, then maybe the company deserves to make money off their addition.

Since the code *you* wrote is released to the public, no one can 'steal it' anymore. That specific code is always avaliable. The GPL is basically like releasing products that "can't be used by liberals" (or some other distict group).

All these analogies are really really wrong (with maybe the exception of Rayniers later argument). For instance, the park analogy is wrong because if you fence off the park, you are taking it away from the public. But code is not a park, it can be *copied* and the original is left untouched. It's more like me cloning the park into my huge yard, putting a fountain in it, fencing it off and charging people to enter my park. The orignal park is still there for free, so if people are paying me for my park, maybe they are really just paying to see the fountain.

And as for GPL being used for learning, *it can't be*. If you see GPL code you could be infuenced by it so that *your* code looks a whole like like it. With proprietary code this is a well known danger and often leads to employment clauses that prevent you working for companies developing similar products for x number of years after you quit. The same applies to GPL code. Those of us who *don't* release our projects under the GPL have to treat GPL code as equivalent to proprietary code: stay away from it.

As for the new X license? I'd prefer it any day to a GPL license and therefore I'm almost glad it's incompatible with the GPL. I still have the freedom to do *almost* anything I want with the code, so long as I include the proper credit.

Does GPL protect you copyright?
by John Drake on Fri 30th Jan 2004 17:22 UTC

The discussion is veering off the topic (at least it appears that way to me regarding the philosophical discussion on free and intent of the GPL).

But I would like to address what peragrin earlier "Some people here need to Fscking read the GPL. Understand something. YOU DO NOT LOSE YOUR IP UNDER THE GPL. It stays your under your copyright for etirnity"

But first I will babble about the licensing nature of GPL, in which I agree with those commenters who say the FSF is interested in forcing source code to remain open.

I have read the GPL license and it (version 2.0) says in clause 2b:

“You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License. “

This is no doubt the reason MS labeled FSF software as viral. This clause clearly requires you to distribute your code under GPL if you use any GPL code.

Fortunately, many libraries provided a proviso that did not require the GPL being applied to binary distributions (see below):

/* As a special exception, if you include this header file into source files compiled by GCC, this header file does not by itself cause the resulting executable to be covered by the GNU General Public License. This exception does not however invalidate any other reasons why the executable file might be covered by the GNU General Public License. */

-- As a special exception, if other files instantiate generics from this unit, or you link this unit with other files to produce an executable, this unit does not by itself cause the resulting executable to be covered by the GNU General Public License. This exception does not however invalidate any other reasons why the executable file might be covered by the GNU Public License. --

The introduction of the LGPL (or GPL 2.1) introduced in 1999, does away with the need for these special exceptions. Without this modification in the GPL, I doubt very much IBM would be supporting Linux the way it does today.

However, to say that you retain the rights to your software when you GPL it, is wrong. By GPLing your code, you are handing it over to the FSF. They in turn, let you license it. You may remain the author, but you no longer remain the owner.

From the GPL (GPL 2.0 omits the ‘we’ in ‘we copyright’, GPL 2.1 does not):

“We protect your rights with two steps: (1) we copyright the software, and (2) offer you this license which gives you legal permission to copy, distribute and/or modify the software.”

John

Kherdin said it !
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 17:55 UTC

> The only real "free" license is the Public Domain

Take a look at http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/category.jpg

According to the FSF, "Free Software" and "Open Software" are the same. Pubic Domain is Free.

As for the definition of "FREE SOFTWARE", it is very clear :

- The freedom to run the program
- The freedom to modify the program
- The freedom to distribute copy (original or modified)

The copyleft effect is another story, which is about the big question "The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything"

My answer is : "the ultimate free softawre is Domain Public"

> A company comes along and improves A and B:
>
> - They license A under GPL, I can still do
> lots of things with the code.
>
> - They don't release code for B at all,
> I can't do anything with the code.

You still have the original B program, which is "free".
You can improve it, as the company did. They wrote the code, they choose the license

Sorry for the poor english. I am a stupid french programmer

@John Drake
by Rayiner Hashem on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:00 UTC

This is no doubt the reason MS labeled FSF software as viral. This clause clearly requires you to distribute your code under GPL if you use any GPL code.
---
Duh. That's the whole point of the GPL. If you want to benefit from the GPL, you in turn have to contribute back to the community.

The introduction of the LGPL (or GPL 2.1) introduced in 1999, does away with the need for these special exceptions.
---
The GPL and these exceptions are completely different. The exception in the header file is there to allow you to include the header in your programs without that counting as using GPL'ed code. The LGPL is something else entirely. If the header was under LGPL alone, without exceptions, you could *not* include the header in your program without L/GPL'ing your program. The LGPL exists for the following reason: Linking code with other code is the same, at the technical level, as including the sources directly into your source tree. This means that any code linking to a GPL'ed library must be under a GPL-compatible license. The LGPL exists to make an exception for linking, and allows applications under any license to link to LGPL'ed code. However

Without this modification in the GPL
---
It is not a modification to the GPL, but a seperate license entirely.

I doubt very much IBM would be supporting Linux the way it does today.
---
Since Linux is GPL'ed, the provisions of the LGPL do not matter. IBM has donated a great deal of code to Linux under open source licenses like GPL and LGPL. In fact, GPL is pretty popular among commercial companies because it lets them distribute the code without allowing their competitors to incorporate it into proprietory products. This is the reason that JFS and XFS were released under GPL rather than, say, BSD.

However, to say that you retain the rights to your software when you GPL it, is wrong. By GPLing your code, you are handing it over to the FSF. They in turn, let you license it. You may remain the author, but you no longer remain the owner.
---
The bit you are quoting is from the Preamble:

"We protect your rights with two steps: (1) copyright the software, and (2) offer you this license which gives you legal permission to copy, distribute and/or modify the software. "

The problem is that you read it wrong. The "You" refers to the licensee:

"Each licensee is addressed as 'you'." (Clause 0 GPL)

The GPL is written from the point of view of the FSF. The developer is referred to as "the author." The FSF is referred to as "We." The licensee is referred to as "you."

So I repeat: Unless you assign your copyright over to the FSF, you own it completely!

RE: A.K.H.
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:02 UTC

"so others can't profit"

No, it's "so others can't profit while removing freedom".

dumbass

re: Anonymous
by A.K.H. on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:06 UTC

No, it's "so others can't profit while removing freedom".

If you read my post, you'd see that in no way are any *freedoms* being *remove*. The released code will be always as it was. The derived code has value added, and so restrictions might be placed on the added portions... but that doesn't effect the original released code in the slightest.

3 lights
by dpi on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:09 UTC

* Any deratives of non XFree86 4.4.0 (earlier versions than that one) can still be used.
* The earlier beta's don't count neither.
* This includes the innovative fd.o
* The code and changelogs can still be watched and seen as how they fix bugs thus allowing others to fix these bugs theirselves.
* This while the development of earlier beta's was still under the old license.
* Discussion seems still open.

No disaster *yet*, move along.

heh
by James Q on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:09 UTC

Anyone that argues "Free" and "free" are 2 different words needs to go back to school.

re: Anonymous/ free software definition
by A.K.H. on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:12 UTC

Good job parroting the FSF. Although, that's not *my* definition of free software. The FSF can try laying claim to the term "free software" all they want. It has no relevance on our current discussion.

I could just as easily *clearly define* a term like so:

Definition: "free software"

Source code and software compiled from it that can be relicensed under any other license.

Weee. We are having fun now eh?

Lay off the pizza
by James Q on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:21 UTC

Dpi: You don't believe you are a Jedi. You will forget what you saw here today.

@John Drake
by Archie Steel says Linux Rules! on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:29 UTC

By GPLing your code, you are handing it over to the FSF. They in turn, let you license it. You may remain the author, but you no longer remain the owner.

This is completely false. You don't have to assign your copyright to the FSF if you release code under the GPL. Some people do, but the great majority don't, and remain the owner of their software. They can even relicense it if they want.

What get's more and more obvious is
by XBe on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:30 UTC

That the word free and GPL is not friends...

Whether GPL is good or bad now that's a completely different story and as some suggested, we'd all be better off with a dictator, I don't agree. Even though I respect the opinion that someone thinks that a dictator or GPL would be the better choice for how to run things.

Indeed the author chooses whatever license to publish something under, but that's not the problem. A Developer is a developer, not a lawman. Understanding a complex license like GPL which even lawmen has a hard time understanding is really difficult. However, many don't know the differences and get printed in their face "GPL is free" etc which is just wrong. Don't confuse what it's about.

How does this affect the general user and why would he/she have a say about this?

Since GPL has a viral effect (I do hope a debate about that won't start off) it's also a question about how GPL affects R&D and what effects that has for humanity as well as software evolution. I could have a long run explaining that R&D and GPL don't match eachother (which I actually think at least 70% of us would agree on) but I believe, as a user, GPL affects me badly in the long run... therefor I've dedicated parts of my time to work against it, just like I spend some time working against communism/dictatorship.

@Rayiner Hashem
by John Drake on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:43 UTC

I'll accept your point that the LGPL covers only binary linking, but does not cover the more general use of source code which gets compiled into binary.

And I will accept your assertion that GPL does sign over your copyright. From paragraph 10:

"If you wish to incorporate parts of the Program into other free programs whose distribution conditions are different, write to the author to ask for permission."

But I still do not like the "viral" nature of the GPL.

Which is why I like the new XFree86 license because it only requires you to recognise the original source.

John

@A.K.H.
by manuel on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:49 UTC

Sorry for the Anonymous, I'm now at home and forgot to fill the field.

I'm not "parroting", I don't like the FSF and their philosophy.

> Source code and software compiled from it
> that can be relicensed under any other license.
>
> Weee. We are having fun now eh?

http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

An Open Source software is a free software. A free software is an Open Source software. You seem to think that a free sowtware is a copyleft software. It's not.

@XBe
by Archie Steel says Linux Rules! on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:50 UTC

Understanding a complex license like GPL which even lawmen has a hard time understanding is really difficult.

The GPL really isn't that complex - it's actually quite simple to understand.

Opponents to the GPL usually want to have the right to use the code for free, modify it, and then make a profit from it by releasing the resulting code under a proprietary license. In other words, they want a free ride (the irony is that some anti-Linux trolls will say they prefer the BSD license and then say that "nothing in life is free" - in other words, "do as I say, not as I do").

If you want to make profit from selling software under a proprietary license, just write the code from scratch, use BSD code or buy some proprietary code under a license. But don't complain that the GPL isn't free just because it won't give you a free ride.

Oh, and the comparison to a "dictatorship" (and the subsequent amalgamation of "dictatorship" and "communism") are completely groundless. The GPL is an extension of Copyright, it grants more right than a simple copyright, and yet I don't hear anyone saying that the copyright system is a dictatorship.

Off-topic: for the record, some of the most notorious dictatorships of the 20th century weren't communist (and in fact were completely opposed to communism): Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain, Chile under Pinochet (and in fact most South American dictatorships).

Authoritarianism/Liberalism is a distinct political axis than the traditional Left/Right axis. I suggest you check out this link to better understand the distinction (and learn something about your own political inclinations as well):

http://www.politicalcompass.org/

@Archie Steel says Linux Rules!
by John Drake on Fri 30th Jan 2004 18:52 UTC

Reading all the way down to the bottom of the license (which is really, really tedious) I see that I was wrong in my assertion that GPL requires handover of the copyright.

However, one only clearly sees that in section 10. The preamble, certainly implied to me that you handed your rights over.

Sorry for any confusion.

It would be helpful for those who disagree to provide evidence of their disagreement.

John

@John Drake
by Rayiner Hashem on Fri 30th Jan 2004 19:00 UTC

It really wouldn't make sense for a license statement to address the licensor, since licenses are written from the point of view of the licensor addressing the licensee. These sections of the GPL are not unclear in the least.

re: manuel
by A.K.H. on Fri 30th Jan 2004 19:06 UTC

Actually, I'd argue, by my definition of free, that copyleft is *not* free, contrary to what the FSF thinks. My point was that it's futile to worry about definitions since anyone can define what "free software" is to them.

GPL is GPL software. Simple. It's free for end use, restricted for source use. The term "free software" is nonsense just leads to more flame wars. It's only used by the FSF so that they can seem "holier than thou".

And once again...
by Bascule on Fri 30th Jan 2004 19:11 UTC

...a discussion of the GPL turns into an onslaught of armchair lawyering.

Doesn't it seem to anyone else as if the GPL is too vague and ambiguous for comfort?

v Re: A.K.H.
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 19:15 UTC
v Re: Anonymous
by James Q on Fri 30th Jan 2004 19:39 UTC
v re: Anonymous -> GPL chant
by A.K.H. on Fri 30th Jan 2004 19:43 UTC
what a load of...
by asd on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:00 UTC

"Umm, try comming up with coherent thoughts.
How is something with strings attached free."


Tell me about ONE human activity that does not
come with strings attached.


Speaking? We (as in humans) have social rules for speech. (no
loud jokes on a funeral, no shouting in the cinema, no
telling da boss to go buy a donkey and get fscked by it).
Fine, you won't go to jail, but you will:
a) Get the crap beaten out of you
b) Lose your job
c) run out of friends.


Sh*tting? pissing? You cannot do that in the middle of the street.

Walking around naked? Nope. See above.

Property? You have to pay for most things in order to own
them.

Taking up space in the world? breathing? anything at all?
Well, you HAVE to do something with your life. Get a job.
Work for some cause (even if it's not your cause). breed.


If you get 100% anal about freedom, then you have to come
to the conclusion that NOTHING is free. Leave the GPL alone
if you don't like it.

I actually expected this...
by Solar on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:01 UTC

> Stop spreading disinformation about the GPL to promote
> your own personal agenda.

Ah, I expected this to happen. Everyone who speaks up against the GPL has "a personal agenda".

Perhaps I just have an opinion, and excercise my right of free speech? (Ah, the irony...)

Why not ask yourself three things:

One - as maintainer of a piece of GPL'ed software, if you ever accept a bugfix by someone else, what happens to your IP, your right to release another copy of your code under a different license?

Two - how many GPL'ed pieces of software do you know that actually state a specific version of the GPL? And how many state "X.Y or later", or omit any reference to the version?

There's more, but I think if you really think about these two points, that's already something.

No strings attached.
by Solar on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:05 UTC

> Tell me about ONE human activity that does not
> come with strings attached.

Writing code that other people could need, either to build a larger product or to educate themselves, and release it into the Public Domain so they can do so.

Releasing Linux as GPL was OK with me. Releasing gcc as GPL was OK with me.

But why must a C library be GPL, or a graphics cards driver, or "more"? What is the sense of discouraging the use of a cross-platform, cross-OS driver infrastructure for fear that Windows could benefit? (Last time I looked, they had all the drivers they need.)

Re: Solar
by CE on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:08 UTC

You've stated that it would be better to put it as public domain, but this isn't possible in every country.

asd
by James Q on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:10 UTC

ahaha, you're one of those "fscked" people huh.
I bet you use "micro$oft" too..

As much as you seem to feel an uncontrollable urge to come to the defense of the GPL that still dosn't make it free.
Something that has to redefine a word to exist is a bit suspect.

Nothing that sinister...
by Solar on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:21 UTC

> Opponents to the GPL usually want to have the right to
> use the code for free, modify it, and then make a profit
> from it by releasing the resulting code under a
> proprietary license.

Scrap "profit", say "revenue", and you hit it.

I want to create a new, better operating system.

Should I actually make it happen, I would like to have the money to advertise it, to produce shrink-wrapped distros that people can buy for a cost-covering fee at their local convenience stores (without user #1 putting it online for free download and getting away with it), and I don't want to go broke on paying the development / download server.

Now, I could do it the GNU way: Make the stuff so damn hard to understand that I can reap a fortune on manuals, consulting services, and user help desks.

But tell you what, I'd prefer to spend my time coding a system that's so damn easy to use that no-one could sell a single copy of "How To Use XYZ".

And since Mr. Stallman thinks I am "a social problem", and even "educated" people like OSNews readers think I'm spreading FUD and have "a personal agenda", well, I have to write my own C library.

And because I think this sucks big time, and that no one should have to go through such basic a task about three decades after the invention of the language but rather spend his/her time designing better software for the people, I'll release that lib it into PD where it belongs.

Some evil dictator am I...

Re: Solar
by Solar on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:22 UTC

> You've stated that it would be better to put it as
> public domain, but this isn't possible in every country.

Huh? In which country are you not allowed to fortfeit your copyright?

... only if it's yours to give.
by asd on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:23 UTC

"But why must a C library be GPL, or a graphics cards driver, or "more"? "

Personally, I don't care much about the particular graphics
drivers or the libraries people whine about so frequently.
I've got an NVidia card and use the closed-source drivers
happily.

The reason i made my post is because I get the feeling that
some people in this discussion are against the GPL simply
because "It's not as free as *** and therefore it's bad for
business/people/whatever"

There are several kinds of freedom. (as you all are discussing
over and over) I believe that when you create something,
that something is yours to keep or give away by any means
that you like.

The oh-so-great GPL is just one friggin license that allows
people to release software, ensuring that it will be kept
free. An agreement between two parts. Nothing more. Do you
want to see that as a limitation or as a means
to take away YOUR freedom? fine. Write your own damn
library/program/driver then. There's your freedom. If the
original author wants his implementation to be open for as
long as the GPL is (believed to be) valid, it's his/her call.

And it's his/her call to attach strings also. The amount
of strings the GPL attaches (only one) is, to my eyes, well worth
the benefit. And GPL software *IS* very free in a lot
of ways. The one string is there simply to remind you
that those libraries/programs/drivers were not yours to begin with.


Now, if you are talking about "Writing code that other people could need, either to build a larger product or to educate themselves", then you do not have to bind your
work to GPL sources. Want to give away completely freely?
You can do that only with what's 100% yours. That's the
way this world has always worked, as far as I see.



v .-
by asd on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:24 UTC
addressing your questions
by Anonymous on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:28 UTC


"One - as maintainer of a piece of GPL'ed software, if you ever accept a bugfix by someone else, what happens to your IP, your right to release another copy of your code under a different license?"


You can freely release the code copyrighted by you under gpl *and* also any other proprietary license. this is what mysql and qt does. so your copyright is retained with you. dont use ip. its a catchall term. if you mean patent rights you will to explicitly license the patent to be used for that gpl'ed code.




Two - how many GPL'ed pieces of software do you know that actually state a specific version of the GPL? And how many state "X.Y or later", or omit any reference to the version?


a whole lot of software from linux to mysql uses a specific version of a license. somebody who licenses his software should carefully go through the license and understand its implications

..
by asd on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:34 UTC

(my original response to you just got modded down, bummer =oP)

"I bet you use "micro$oft" too.."

No. I just wanted to avoid a specific word.

"As much as you seem to feel an uncontrollable urge to come to the defense of the GPL"

It's not uncontrollable, nor an urge. I just I felt like it.


"Something that has to redefine a word to exist is a bit suspect."

You call it 'redefine'. I call it 'trying to explain'.

I think you are a bit paranoid. Calm down a bit.

re: asd
by A.K.H. on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:34 UTC

The reason i made my post is because I get the feeling that
some people in this discussion are against the GPL simply
because "It's not as free as *** and therefore it's bad for
business/people/whatever"


No no no. We got all upset because the parent article was discussing how the new XFree license was incompatible with the GPL. If someone likes the GPL and uses for their code, I don't think anyone here would care.

We *do* care though, when GPL supporters go on and on about how *free* the GPL is rather than simply stating the restrictions the GPL imposes. I think the "Free Software" talk is very misleading, just state that it's free but with some restrictions. Then everyone knows what they are getting into when they tinker with the code.

It goes without saying that we also care when GPL supporters complain about other peoples choice of licenses.

asdf
by James Q on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:44 UTC

Well, to actually stay on topic the question of freedom is relevent when discussing how the new XFree license is incompatible with the GPL.

Now, how are gpl supporters 'trying to explain' GPL by using "Free" vs. "free". I see that as a redefinition.



A.K.H.
by asd on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:45 UTC

"We *do* care though, when GPL supporters go on and on about how *free* the GPL is rather than simply stating the restrictions the GPL imposes. I think the "Free Software" talk is very misleading, just state that it's free but with some restrictions. Then everyone knows what they are getting into when they tinker with the code."

Well, i agree that GPL purists are a pain more often than not.
The "free software talk" is just as misleading as Microsoft
saying that Windows is always cheaper, or that the GPL is
communism.

Every person that has read enough and gets informed well
enough knows that you can't judge how good John Doe's software is
basing your conclusions on what John Doe supporters say. We
get crap on all fronts.


"It goes without saying that we also care when GPL supporters complain about other peoples choice of licenses."

You shouldn't.

I once read some dumb*ss at slashdot saying something like
"you gotta love Linux users. When you choose an OS, they
bash you for it. So you choose Linux and a shell,
they bash you for your choice of shells. ... ... "

You should only "care" about ( insert name here ) supporters
"complaining" until you made your choice. Then it's all
opinions.

Would you "care" if you get bashed for voting a given
candidate? No? That's because you had your reasons and
your motive was just as good as anyone else's.

James Q
by asd on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:47 UTC

"Now, how are gpl supporters 'trying to explain' GPL by using "Free" vs. "free". I see that as a redefinition"

I wasn't present during the "Free vs. free" discussion.

Anyway, i think you are refering to the "Free vs. Gratis"
issue that is always a bit hard to explain in english.

I already said what i wanted to say about the GPL, so i'll
leave the rest up to you.

asdf
by James Q on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:56 UTC

It's ok, your english failings don't prejudice my opinion.
I guess you have nothing to add besides riding the fence. That's fine, it's your choice.

James Q
by asd on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:59 UTC

What's "riding the fence?"

re: asd
by A.K.H. on Fri 30th Jan 2004 20:59 UTC

Of course, you are right in that I don't care what GPL people think of *me*. But when the GPL people make front page news by complaining about the new XFree license, then I care. Why? Because they might convince those not in the know that anything other than the GPL is bad.

That of course would promote *more* GPL software in places where there is no good reason for it. If an author really *wants* the GPL for some reason, then fine. But if they just need a license they beleive to be free, then they should choose a custom license or something closer to public domain.

Most people are choosing GPL these days out of some twisted logic they got from FSF diatrib on how it's really evil to release software with licenses that can be changed to proprietary licenses. The FSF itself is only sligtly anti-non-copyleft as you can see here

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-copyleft.html

But a lot of GPL supports are not so moderate. And anyone reading any material on www.gnu.org, be warned. The language they use is *very* manipulative. Things are worded in such a way as to make GPL the only good license. They *really* abuse the word free in their literature.

asdf
by James Q on Fri 30th Jan 2004 21:03 UTC

I'll leave you to google for an appropriate answer.

A.K.H
by asd on Fri 30th Jan 2004 21:13 UTC

"But when the GPL people make front page news by complaining about the new XFree license, then I care. Why? Because they might convince those not in the know that anything other than the GPL is bad. "

I agree with you for the most part. I i get what you
mean, you are basically pissed off at the amount of GPL propaganda.


Some time ago i was like that, getting pissed at Microsoft.

Then, i ALSO got pissed off by SCO.

Then, i ALSO got pissed off by FreBSD supporters bashing my OS
of choice.

Then, i said "I'm getting pissed off to often."

Did you ever see the movie "Training Day"? I thought it
was a pretty bad movie, but somewhere near the
beginning of it, there's a line that I found great.

"You see what i'm reading? This is a newspaper. It's 90%
BULLSH*T. But i read it. Why? Because it entertains me."

(or something like that.)

You read about Linux, and there's a great deal of bull.
You read about Windows, and there's a great deal of bull.
You read about SCO, and there's a great deal of bull.

But keep reading, and at some point you'll find you
don't get pissed anymore. Anyone with half a brain will
eventually learn that the media is mostly entertainment
and very little real information.

And you just have to accept that, because it's not ever
going to change. (not doring our life span, that's for sure.)


Just to be on topic for a change, I'll say that i don't
care much about the changes in XFree's licensing model.
Even if they were to close the source, ss long as the new
forks are still available, nothing was lost.


asd
by James Q on Fri 30th Jan 2004 21:21 UTC

So you prefer to lower yourself to a level of entertainment as opposed to legitimate discussion because you feel change is unnacheivable.

I for one don't find dulling down my sensitivities to be an acceptable coping mechanism. I'm glad it works for you though ;)

James Q
by asd on Fri 30th Jan 2004 21:22 UTC

I can't find a clear definition, but, from context,
it sounds like "not making a decision" or "not picking
a side"...

Are you trying to say that there's a "side" i need to
pick?

Well, then i guess i'm a GPL supporter. no? that was why
i first posted to this story. Maybe i'm not a fanatic,
but who the hell cares, no one is reading this far in the discussion thread anymore anyway.

James Q
by asd on Fri 30th Jan 2004 21:23 UTC

It's not "lowering myself to a level of entertainment"
as much as it is "taking it more lightly". =)

The Site's Information @Xfree86 Says
by anon on Fri 30th Jan 2004 21:29 UTC

"You can do what you like with the code except claim you wrote it." Thankyou.

re: asd
by A.K.H. on Fri 30th Jan 2004 21:36 UTC

But keep reading, and at some point you'll find you
don't get pissed anymore. Anyone with half a brain will
eventually learn that the media is mostly entertainment
and very little real information.


Hmm, yet you are here, as am I, nattering back and forth about the GPL. If you think I'm frothing at the mouth angry over here you are wrong. ;)

And this is not media really, it's a public forum , an international one even. And we're all just having fun posting here, giving our opinions on things. So in the spirit of discussion, I'm giving my opinions on the GPL and FSF in the hopes that someone may find them enlightening, interesting, or amusing.

As for being on topic, I'm much more interested in Keith Packards X stuff these days. See, I'm more of a techincal purist, if something is technologically cool, I don't really care what the license is. In that light the license the main X people choose probably won't matter much anyways. Of course, if there is an option, I'd rather see non-copyleft free stuff become successful. I think it promotes advances better, as well as standards. ;)




last one, i swear.
by asd on Fri 30th Jan 2004 22:01 UTC

"And this is not media really, it's a public forum , an international one even. And we're all just having fun"

yeah, but it often happens that not all of us are "just
having fun" around here =)

And i didn't mean to say that you were pissed off right now.
I just responded to you saying that you did
get pissed off when GPL fanatics spread misinformation.



"I'd rather see non-copyleft free stuff become successful."

.. I'd rather see the non-copyleft stuff become successful
AND the OpenSource re-implmentation grow =P


@Solar
by Archie Steel says Linux Rules! on Fri 30th Jan 2004 22:27 UTC

If you want to derive revenue from the licensing of software, then don't use the GPL, it's as simple as that! However, selling shrink-wrapped software isn't the only way to generate revenue through writing code.

One could write an app that is used internally by a company/government agency, decreasing costs and increasing revenue.

One can offer services, as you have indicated (not everything can be made so simple that grandma can use it - why do you think there are MSCEs out there?).

One can distribute source code freely but sell binaries in a convenient fashion and at a reasonable price, deriving revenue from non-techies who don't know how to compile stuff, or don't want to deal with the hassle.

Write software for a piece of hardware you're selling (you can't copy hardware!) and increase your revenue by not having to pay a licence fee or royalties.

It is possible to be profitable while selling GNU software - look at Mandrake, who has started turning in a profit after finally getting over their edutainment debacle (that's what made them lose money, not the fact that they were selling free software).

And, if you still want to go proprietary, then do it. You just won't be allowed a free ride by using free (as in freedom) source code to make a proprietary software product - you'll actually have to work (or pay some licensing fees) to earn your money!

@Solar
by Archie Steel says Linux Rules! on Fri 30th Jan 2004 22:32 UTC

Two - how many GPL'ed pieces of software do you know that actually state a specific version of the GPL? And how many state "X.Y or later", or omit any reference to the version?

This doesn't make sense. You don't have a notice with your GPLed software that says: this is covered by GPL vX.Y - the license itself is attached to the software package. It's there. You can read it. Who cares if the FSF comes up with a new version - the one that counts for your piece of code is the one that's distributed with it. You can even take the GPL, change some provisions you don't like (though, to be on the safe side, you should have a lawyer look at it) and call it the "Freakin' Awesome Public Licence, Beeyotch!" if you want...

It's always the same thing, whenever there's an article about the GPL on OSNews, you get a bunch of people criticizing it, even though they don't fully understand it. It's quite simple, really: if you don't like it, don't use it!

@James Q
by Archie Steel says Linux Rules! on Fri 30th Jan 2004 22:37 UTC

Free (as in speech) vs. free (as in beer) is not a redefiniton, since the word has two distinct meanings. In many other languages, there are actually two different words, one for each meaning. In french, for example, we have "libre" and "gratuit".

English is a language that is notorious for have a lot of words that have more than one meaning. Thus, it is important to specify the meaning of a word when a controversy arises about its use in a given context.

@James Q
by Archie Steel says Linux Rules! on Fri 30th Jan 2004 22:43 UTC

It's ok, your english failings don't prejudice my opinion.

Could you be any more arrogant? If you can't understand the differences between the various meanings of the word "free", then it's fair to say that you're the one having a less-than-perfect grasp of the English language.

Let me direct you to my old friends, Merriam and Webster:

http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=free

You may be surprised to learn that there are fifteen different meanings to the word (though some are indubitably similar). In the present context, the "Free vs. free" debate opposes meanings #1 and #10.

Incidentally...
by Archie Steel says Linux Rules! on Fri 30th Jan 2004 22:57 UTC

...all you folks criticizing the GPL should focus on the issue at hand, i.e. the advertising clause that will now be found in the XFree86 license. There is a thorough explanation of the kind of problems caused by such a clause on the FSF website:

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/bsd.html

Here is a revealing excerpt:

"Initially the obnoxious BSD advertising clause was used only in the Berkeley Software Distribution. That did not cause any particular problem, because including one sentence in an ad is not a great practical difficulty. [...]
But, as you might expect, other developers did not copy the clause verbatim. They changed it, replacing ``University of California'' with their own institution or their own names. [...] When people put many such programs together in an operating system, the result is a serious problem. Imagine if a software system required 75 different sentences, each one naming a different author or group of authors. To advertise that, you would need a full-page ad.
"

Eventually, the advertising clause was dropped from the BSD license, which BTW is considered a "non-copyleft free software license." Despite what the anti-GPL posters are keep insinuating, the FSF is not against non-copyleft free software. From the same page:

"We recommend copyleft, because it protects freedom for all users, but non-copylefted software can still be free software, and useful to the free software community."

But then again, there are always people who have an axe to grind with something that prevents corporations stealing people's code and re-using it in their own proprietary offerings...

Oh, my...
by Solar on Sat 31st Jan 2004 00:08 UTC

@ Anonymous:

> > One - as maintainer of a piece of GPL'ed software,
> > if you ever accept a bugfix by someone else, what
> > happens to your IP, your right to release another
> > copy of your code under a different license?"
>
> You can freely release the code copyrighted by you under
> gpl *and* also any other proprietary license.

Wrong. Legally, as soon as the code is no longer 100% your own, you basically need the written consent of everybody who ever contributed to it to change the license. This goes for *any* license.

@ Archie:

Your list of examples of how to make money from GPL'ed code is as pathetic as every such list I've ever seen.

> One could write an app that is used internally by a
> company/government agency, decreasing costs and
> increasing revenue.

If it's used internally only, the license matters zilch. No points to GPL.

> One can offer services, as you have indicated...

That's unrelated to the code. I could even offer services without writing code first. No points to GPL.

> One can distribute source code freely but sell binaries
> in a convenient fashion and at a reasonable price,
> deriving revenue from non-techies who don't know how to
> compile stuff, or don't want to deal with the hassle.

Again, that implies that it's too difficult for Joe Average to use in the first place. Zero points for the designer, zero points for the GPL.

> Write software for a piece of hardware you're selling
> (you can't copy hardware!) and increase your revenue by
> not having to pay a licence fee or royalties.

Again, I was talking OS design, not some derivative income stream.

> It is possible to be profitable while selling GNU
> software...

None of your examples was about selling GNU software. All of them were about "auxiliary ways of income despite placing your code under GPL". And you forgot asking for donations... "please, do you have a couple of cents for a starving programmer..."

> And, if you still want to go proprietary, then do it.
> You just won't be allowed a free ride by using free
> (as in freedom) source code to make a proprietary
> software product - you'll actually have to work (or
> pay some licensing fees) to earn your money!

Again, and sloooooooowly so you might finally catch the idea: I don't want to make a living from it - I'm quite happy doing this in my spare time. But I want it to pay for its costs.

Yes, you can reap money by making a Linux distro - because it's next to impossible to get that s***load of stuff up and running yourself if you don't have one. That's not a feature, damnit, that's probably the biggest flaw of the whole beast! And I'm sure as hell not going to copy that lack of intuitivity just so I can, after 8 hours of coding, spend another 8 hours of consulting to earn the money that pays the flat I'm sleeping in the remaining 8 hours!

So, no consulting, no hardware, no internal corporate use, no asking for donations, no extra charge for compiling all that stuff for you.

But I still want to be able to provide a development and download server, magazine ads, and perhaps even legal decoding of DVDs (gasp!)...

> the license itself is attached to the software package.
> It's there. You can read it. Who cares if the FSF comes
> up with a new version - the one that counts for your
> piece of code is the one that's distributed with it.

Go forth in thy belief...

And now for something completely different
by Wrawrat on Sat 31st Jan 2004 00:22 UTC

I don't know why GPL zealots are making such a big deal of this. I'm sure most developers don't mind giving them credit. Sure, having a list of 75 names can be tedious but it's not that bad. Disk space is cheap and text is easily compressable. ;)

If they don't like it, perhaps they should shut up and start developing their own implentation of X, preferably without using XFree86 as a base (not even 0.0.1 as I believe it's hypocrite to use something from someone you don't support, pretty much a la SCO that is using SAMBA while trashing GPL). I seriously don't care if it slow down the development of a workable GUI for Linux as only distributions and/or people drinking Stallman's you-know-what would be affected.

Re: Public Domain/Solar
by CE on Sat 31st Jan 2004 00:59 UTC

In Germany it's possible to transfer copyright to anybody, but putting something as public domain is not possible in German law.
Of course, you can allow erverybody to do everything legal with it, but it's legally problematic in some countries.

Article in German with bits of information to this issue:
http://www.linux-magazin.de/Artikel/ausgabe/1997/01/Freeware/freewa...

@Archie Steel says Linux Rules!
by John Drake on Sat 31st Jan 2004 01:00 UTC

Personally, I prefer to acknowledge sources from which I develop rather than be forced to reveal my personal source code. If I have to list 75 names, so be it. I don't even mind making available all the sources I use, but I balk at being required to reveal how I used, assembled, and embellished the original sources.

Without question there is a ideological gulf between the various types of licences and what is a fair licensing scheme and what isn't.

I, personally, avoid any source code that requires me to open my code. So GPL'd stuff is out, or that imposes any restrictions on how I distribute my code. (So when Borland years ago came out with the silly licensing that forbade anyone developing products similar to their own, I abandonned Borland. MS forbids benchamrking .NET apps - so I don't use .NET and I don't recommend it. etc, etc, etc)

It is unfortunate that there are different licensing ideologies which lead to a lot of wheel reinvention.

John

Zealots
by CE on Sat 31st Jan 2004 01:34 UTC

Perhaps some people here who like referring to other as "GPL zealots" tend to be Anti-GPL zealots in my opinion.

PS: Solar, you should know that there's no kind of "public domain" possible in Germany as it exists in the US. (-> *.dip0.t-ipconnect.de)

Re: A.K.H
by Felix on Sat 31st Jan 2004 01:37 UTC

But keep reading, and at some point you'll find you
don't get pissed anymore.


I can read as much as I want, but if I have four scotch & colas, I'll still get pissed ;)

RE: Zealots
by Wrawrat on Sat 31st Jan 2004 02:01 UTC

Perhaps some people here who like referring to other as "GPL zealots" tend to be Anti-GPL zealots in my opinion.

Why? There's a difference between GPL supporter and GPL zealot. You can support the GPL without rejecting any other existing licence in the world. I support the GPL but I don't think the rest of the world outside the GPL is the work of the devil. I believe that people should try to adapt to the world instead of adapting the rest of the world to their likings. If they don't like the new XPL, they just have to develop their own alternative. They will get my respect if they do. They won't if they fork or if they keep yapping instead of actually doing something.

RE: Zealots
by Felix on Sat 31st Jan 2004 02:51 UTC

There's a difference between GPL supporter and GPL zealot. You can support the GPL without rejecting any other existing licence in the world. I support the GPL but I don't think the rest of the world outside the GPL is the work of the devil.

It's also possible to reject all other licences and consider the GPL (and other copylefts) to be the best of a bad bunch without being a GPL zealot. A lot of people reject the concept of IP and would like to see it totally abolished (some poeple even reject property). Using a licence that doesn't require modifications to be free can cause IP to continue, inasmuch as while you're essentially disclaiming the property, it doesn't prevent others from keeping it. (The GPL is, true, based on IP; however, the GPL uses this as a way to make IP and no IP equivalent.) Remember that the objectives of the two licences differ, and so many people who exclusively prefer the GPL do so because of the objectives and are thus certainly not 'GPL zealots', but might be 'anti-IP zealots' or 'anti-property zealots'; indeed, the term 'zealot' is still probably not applicable to them, excepting of course as a piece of propaganda.

Secondly, considering that the GPL is something of a de facto standard in FOSS, and considering the strife XFree86 are having right now with splits and mergers and fd.o and X.org and everything else, they're practically shooting themselves in the foot if it isn't GPL compatible.

Also, I don't understand what's wrong with forking XFree86. If the licence up to but excluding 4.4.0 RC3 was acceptible but passed it not, and that licence allows forking, then what's wrong with forking it at the latest possible point, thus minimising unnecessary duplication of work? Why re-invent more wheels than you have to? Furthermore, if by 'yapping', they can have the licence changed to one acceptible by all parties, they're avoiding any duplication, which sounds a much better alterntavie to me.

@Solar
by A nun, he moos on Sat 31st Jan 2004 04:34 UTC

Your list of examples of how to make money from GPL'ed code is as pathetic as every such list I've ever seen.

That's your opinion.

If it's used internally only, the license matters zilch. No points to GPL.

No points taken off, you mean. This is a way in which GPL (or another free license) can help saving money.

That's unrelated to the code. I could even offer services without writing code first. No points to GPL.

Again, no points taken off. You do overlook a point: a GPLed program will be attractive for a service provider as it can be redistributed - this means potentially bringing in additional customers, especially if you do a good job and the word-of-mouth about your services goes hand-in-hand with redistribution.

But that's besides the point. We're talking about ways that you can have a revenue stream with GPLed programs - we never said they had be exclusive to GPLed programs.

Again, that implies that it's too difficult for Joe Average to use in the first place. Zero points for the designer, zero points for the GPL.

That is one of the worst arguments I've ever heard! How hard is Windows to use and install if you only have the source code? Software packagers and distributors are providing the same service that MS is overcharging for: putting useable software so that the average Joe doesn't have to. I mean, this is like saying that a Tivo would be a hassle to build from scratch, therefore it's too difficult for Joe User! It doesn't make any sense!

For the record, my totally non-geek girlfriend has no problem using a pre-installed Linux computer, but wouldn't know how to install Windows if her life depended on it. That's why you have people packaging stuff together, and they should be compensated for their trouble - but, following your twisted logic, this is okay for MS but not for Linux distro makers? This is a completely untenable argument, based on blatantly biased double standards. The only difference is that, with Linux, technically-oriented people have a choice: buy it ready-made or build it themselves.

I think you're not only anti-GPL, but that you're anti-Linux as well. Why don't you just admit that you've got an agenda here, it'll save us all a lot of time.

Again, I was talking OS design, not some derivative income stream.

You want to make money by making a proprietary OS? I think I might have a bridge in New York that I could interest you in.

I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but BeOS tried this, and they failed. There is no way anyone can challenge Microsoft on its home turf. The only thing that makes Linux a threat to MS is the GPL, because that means that they can't buy it out, or "embrace and extend" it. Bitch all you want about the GPL, but without it Linux would have already gone the way of the dodo.

None of your examples was about selling GNU software.

Incorrect. The packaging one was about selling software. It could be software you wrote, or that somebody else wrote, but it's still selling GPLed software (not GNU, pay attention).

All of them were about "auxiliary ways of income despite placing your code under GPL".

Apart from the fact that you are incorrect, the fact remains that income is income. Period.

And you forgot asking for donations... "please, do you have a couple of cents for a starving programmer..."

Despite your caricature, there are people who have made quite a bit of money with donations. Sure, they won't become insanely rich, but hey! Becoming insanely rich isn't everything...

Again, and sloooooooowly so you might finally catch the idea

Oh, I've "caught the idea" all right. It's you who doesn't seem to get it: if you don't like the GPL, then don't license your code under it!

Gee, how many times must one repeat the obvious!

I don't want to make a living from it - I'm quite happy doing this in my spare time. But I want it to pay for its costs.

Its costs? If you're doing this in your spare time, then who cares what the development costs are.

Basically, you're saying "one can't make money with GPL software." Then when people give you valid examples of how you can make money, you reject them without giving a good reason why. It seems as if you're not really interested in debating GPL business models, but that you'd rather just push your agenda.

Yes, you can reap money by making a Linux distro - because it's next to impossible to get that s***load of stuff up and running yourself if you don't have one.

Again, how easy would it be to install and use Windows if you only had access to the source code?

All software begins as source code. Proprietary vendors may hide that code, but it still exists. And it's not user-friendly until it's been compiled and packaged. Distro makers provide a service, and they should be compensated for it - but you have the choice to do-it-yourself if you want to.

That's not a feature, damnit, that's probably the biggest flaw of the whole beast!

Nope, that is a feature - and probably the greatest feature: freedom.

Windows lacks that feature: technically-inclined people cannot just download the source code, compile it and install it (having possibly modified to better suit their need).

So Linux has the best of both worlds: pre-compiled, pre-packaged (and sometimes pre-installed) binaries at a reasonable price, or a do-it-yourself bundle of code for free.

So, no consulting, no hardware, no internal corporate use, no asking for donations, no extra charge for compiling all that stuff for you.

That is your choice, and no one else. But they are valid models for GPLed software, like it or not.

But I still want to be able to provide a development and download server, magazine ads, and perhaps even legal decoding of DVDs (gasp!)...

Funny, there are plenty of development and download servers for GPL apps. I've also seen some magazine ads for Linux (not as much as from MS, of course, but then again Linux relies heavily of word-of-mouth, which is the best marketing you can get for your dollar).

Oh, and perhaps you weren't aware, but DVD-Jon has been acquitted of all charges - and there's nothing preventing a distro-maker from bundling DVD-reading apps in boxed set or for-sale downloadable ISOs.

Go forth in thy belief...

I see you didn't even try to make an argument here. The fact remains: the license that counts is the one that's distributed with your software. You own the copyright, you set the terms (with the exception of fair use provisions). Again - and your lack of a credible response validates this - it does not matter if the FSF makes a new version of the GPL license, it won't change the wording of the license you've distributed your software under. That's just common sense.

@John Drake
by A nun, he moos on Sat 31st Jan 2004 04:41 UTC

I, personally, avoid any source code that requires me to open my code. So GPL'd stuff is out,

In other words, you want to use stuff for free without giving anything back in return. Apart from being a bit selfish, that's totally within your rights, and there is quite a bit of BSD (and other non-copyleft free software) code out there.

But you've got to understand that there's a lot of people out there who are ready to give the product of their hard work for free, but only under the condition that anyone modifying it also releases it under the same license. That's also within their rights, and while you may not like it you can't say that it's not fair.

Not only is it fair, but it's also quite generous - and it insulates their work from corporate takeover.

RE: RE: Zealots
by Wrawrat on Sat 31st Jan 2004 05:20 UTC

It's also possible to reject all other licences and consider the GPL (and other copylefts) to be the best of a bad bunch without being a GPL zealot. [...]

True. However, those that want to boycott XFree86 for such a trivial change are. If they are not for you, they sure are for me. It's not like they are claiming "all your code are belong to us". It just seems excessive to me.

Secondly, considering that the GPL is something of a de facto standard in FOSS, and considering the strife XFree86 are having right now with splits and mergers and fd.o and X.org and everything else, they're practically shooting themselves in the foot if it isn't GPL compatible.

That's a fact... but this situation is vaguely familiar (Microsoft, anyone?) and I don't like this. Bowing down to a majority just because it's a majority isn't my thing, especially when that majority choose that licence without knowing the full implications. I'm *not* saying that we should fight any majority, I'm just saying that the XFree Group should be able to do what they want with their code and that the GNU community should discuss with them or thinking about it before boycotting/forking or whatever. However, I would have more respect for them if they start up from scratch instead of forking for such a stupid change.

Also, I don't understand what's wrong with forking XFree86. If the licence up to but excluding 4.4.0 RC3 was acceptible but passed it not, and that licence allows forking, then what's wrong with forking it at the latest possible point, thus minimising unnecessary duplication of work? Why re-invent more wheels than you have to?

Ask the last question to those developing Linux distributions... ;)

Indeed, there's nothing wrong in forking. However, I would think it's hypocrite in this particular case. To me, it's basically saying "Thanks for the work, now screw you" just because of a trivial change in the licence. Moreover, most people claiming that XFree86 is dogshit are Linux users... Perhaps it could be a good idea for them to start something else from scratch instead of bitching the work provided generously by a group of volunteers.

Furthermore, if by 'yapping', they can have the licence changed to one acceptible by all parties, they're avoiding any duplication, which sounds a much better alterntavie to me.

The only compromise I can see in that particular case is the removal of the advertising clause... and that's exactly what they added, no?

My 2¢.

Be happy
by Wolf on Sat 31st Jan 2004 06:19 UTC

All these anti-GPL people are just lamers, i bet they have never written one line of software for community and they curse GPL because they can't steal the source code.

Freedom doesn't mean that you can do anything, freedom means you can do anything without harming others...DON't YOU GET SUCH A SIMPLE THING.

What would happen to linux without GPL? Everyone damn company (may be including Apple and MS) will make their own version and keep the secrets to them. Think about it guys, i wrote the source code and tomorrow someone take it, read it, modifies it, sell it and i suddenly have no right to see the modifications, because i released it under BSD. I don't think there are many people out there who would like that.

GPL enforce you to reciprocate. You can't just benefit from the community without reciprocating or you are just LAME who loves to steal others work and not reciprocate.

I am sick of these dumbasses who think that freedom is in what you do. Yeah Bin Laden is free to kill others because he thinks it is right. I should be free to smack these anti GPL lamers because i am free to do what i want and thats what freedom means to these people. WOW I can do anything i want LOL. I can kill people, i can steal things, YES FREEDOM. BSD ROCKS LOL LOL LOL. God help these Stfu people.

RE: RE: Zealots
by Felix on Sat 31st Jan 2004 09:27 UTC

True. However, those that want to boycott XFree86 for such a trivial change are. If they are not for you, they sure are for me. It's not like they are claiming "all your code are belong to us". It just seems excessive to me.

I didn't say they weren't zealots, though I'll still dispute that; I said they weren't necessarily GPL zealots.

That's a fact... but this situation is vaguely familiar (Microsoft, anyone?) and I don't like this. Bowing down to a majority just because it's a majority isn't my thing, especially when that majority choose that licence without knowing the full implications. I'm *not* saying that we should fight any majority, I'm just saying that the XFree Group should be able to do what they want with their code and that the GNU community should discuss with them or thinking about it before boycotting/forking or whatever. However, I would have more respect for them if they start up from scratch instead of forking for such a stupid change.

I'm not sure that the situation is similar to Microsoft. Microsoft tends to force people to do stuff. In this case, what's happened is a minority (who happen to have three arms), who happen to own the ball, have said: 'We're going to change the rules. From now on, you have to catch the ball with your middle hand'. The majority only have two hands, and so can't catch the ball with the middle hand, but they are capable of duplicating the ball and finding some other court to play on with the old rules. Worse still, before the ball-owners had made this decision, they expelled some of the ball-owners (who duplicated the ball and went somewhere else), and some of the ball-owners decided they didn't like the rules, so they duplicated the ball and went somewhere else, too. This makes the game less fun for the original ball-owners, because while there's still a lot of people with three hands---more than just the ball-owners---the more the merrier and now the ball's more likely to go off the court. On the other hand, the majority of the two-handers are quite happy to rejoin the original ball-owners if they give up their rule.

Ask the last question to those developing Linux distributions... ;)

Most of the different Linux distros are trying to accomplish different things. What you're asking is for someone to build something that exists and that they're entitled to from scratch to do the same thing as what is already being done.

Indeed, there's nothing wrong in forking. However, I would think it's hypocrite in this particular case. To me, it's basically saying "Thanks for the work, now screw you" just because of a trivial change in the licence.

A person is a hypocrite, you get hypocritical things. But the way I see it, they're saying: 'You've effectively told us we can't play. Some of us have contributed to XFree86's success, even if it's only by submitting bug reports. We're going to reluctantly have to start playing on another field. But seeing as it won't cost you anything, we'll copy your ball and your rule book from the last moment it let us play'. And if the change makes the licence GPL-incompatible, it obviously isn't 'trivial', is it?

Moreover, most people claiming that XFree86 is dogshit are Linux users... Perhaps it could be a good idea for them to start something else from scratch instead of bitching the work provided generously by a group of volunteers.

And most of the people claiming that XFree86 are also idiots who don't understand that no, really, the fact that it's network transparent doesn't make it slow! Many of these people wouldn't be able to write an X-Server, let alone design another windows system, from scratch, and those that could seem to be unable to gain critical mass. Also, I think it isn't too much of an overstatement to say that the majority of people using XFree86 are also Linux users, and, in fact, that the majority of people using a free (for suitably liberal definitions) desktop are Linux users, so this is certainly going to have an effect. But I will grant you your '[the] majority choose that licence without knowing the full implications'. (OTOH, it's my opinion that if everyone knew the full implications, only the evil would chose against it, but I have an odd definition of evil ('the desire to attain and/or consolidate power') and some odd views...)

The only compromise I can see in that particular case is the removal of the advertising clause... and that's exactly what they added, no?

True, but the incentive is to make 'don't claim it as yours' stronger. There are other ways to do it. I think an explicit 'Don't claim it as yours' and perhaps '... and don't remove us claiming it as ours' would be sufficient (except in legalese), but I'm not a lawyer.

RE: RE: RE: Zealots
by Wrawrat on Sun 1st Feb 2004 04:01 UTC

I believe we could argue for days on that subject and I seriously don't think that we would change our position... So let's agree to disagree, okay? ;)

I do understand your points. However, I still think it's a bit excessive to fork a project just because of a stupid issue like this. Yes, the change might make it non-GPL compatible but the GPL is not the mother of all libre licences. Anyway, I guess I shouldn't make a big fuss of this and I only hope that we won't have 18 forks of XFree86 in the future... That's what I fear.