Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 2nd Sep 2009 12:41 UTC, submitted by nitsudima
GNU, GPL, Open Source David Chisnall casts a critical eye over the GNU General Public License and asks whether it's done more harm than good for the Free Software movement. "Looking back, has the GPL been a help, or a hindrance? And will it continue to be a help or hindrance in the future?"
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The Pontificator
by TheBadger on Wed 2nd Sep 2009 18:21 UTC
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And I thought InformIT had met its demise. It's interesting how Chisnall regards the release of the NeXT sources in a negative fashion - had there been no obligation to release them, the GCC community would have received nothing at all. That the code wasn't great or that Apple have gone off and funded a rival project is neither here nor there.

One can argue that Apple disliking contributing to Free Software lowered the quality of their subsequent contributions to GCC, but they could take the same attitude with their public contributions to permissively-licensed projects if they don't want other people using their code. And although people could sling poor quality patches at Linux, they generally don't if they want to reduce their own maintenance burden. In short, Chisnall moans about the GPL, but Apple's behaviour is all about being able to pursue a fork of a project, which is a resource issue, not a licensing one (and his tales about Google and Yahoo! even underline this). Even then, at least the source was made available - it's not as if it had a zero or negative value.

The GPL is all about end-user freedoms and having the code as open to as many people as possible - that's why people say that it's all about "freedom for the code". When Chisnall pontificates about popularity or how business-friendly the GPL is, or tries to teach us a lesson about how "forcing" people to share is bad, it sounds like an apology for letting companies like Apple do the right thing. Since Apple routinely show themselves to be anything but trustworthy (patents, DRM, spurious DMCA activity, harassment), I'd rather have them face off against the GPL, myself.

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