Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 21st Apr 2012 19:25 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source "A new analysis of licensing data shows that not only is use of the GPL and other copyleft licenses continuing to decline, but the rate of disuse is actually accelerating." This shouldn't be surprising. The GPL is complex, and I honestly don't blame both individuals and companies opting for simpler, more straightforward licenses like BSD or MIT-like licenses.
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RE: Pragmatic vs theoretical
by lemur2 on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 02:36 UTC in reply to "Pragmatic vs theoretical"
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

They'll use OSS as a "base" and stick a proprietary icing on top. The problem here is that since the GPL is "viral", they don't want it to "infect" the proprietary code, thus forcing them to release it (I believe this has happened with the Linksys WRT router).


The GPL is not "viral", it applies ONLY to a package of code released by the author of that code under the GPL.

If the GPL was truly "viral", then it would not be possible at all to write any proprietary package for Linux.

But here is an example of a commercial package for Linux:
http://www.bricsys.com/en_INTL/bricscad/comparison.jsp

The problem with the Linksys router was that it wasn't proprietary software that Linksys were using in their routers, it was Linux and Busybox, which are both packages which were released by their authors under the GPL.

Linksys hired a firm to write code for their router products. That firm did NOT write proprietary code, they just took Linux and Busybox and tried to re-distribute it as proprietary.

So under the terms of the GPL, Linksys had to provide source code. The thing is ... it was just source code for Linux and Busybox anyway, as it was used on the Linksys routers. So how did that hurt Linksys in any way?

As a consequence of making that source code available, all kinds of "homebrew" firmware became available for these Linksys routers (which Linksys did not have to write), and the routers became insanely popular.

https://openwrt.org/
http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/index
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomato_%28firmware%29

It wasn't only the router, it was a lot of proucts, including NAS devices.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSLU2
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unslung

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_General_Public_License#The_GPL_in_...
On 11 December 2008, the Free Software Foundation sued Cisco Systems, Inc. for copyright violations by its Linksys division, of the FSF's GPL-licensed coreutils, readline, Parted, Wget, GNU Compiler Collection, binutils, and GNU Debugger software packages, which Linksys distributes in the Linux firmware[61] of its WRT54G wireless routers, as well as numerous other devices including DSL and Cable modems, Network Attached Storage devices, Voice-Over-IP gateways, Virtual Private Network devices and a home theater/media player device.

After six years of repeated complaints to Cisco by the FSF, claims by Cisco that they would correct, or were correcting, their compliance problems (not providing complete copies of all source code and their modifications), of repeated new violations being discovered and reported with more products, and lack of action by Linksys (a process described on the FSF blog as a "five-years-running game of Whack-a-Mole") the FSF took them to court.

Cisco settled the case six months later by agreeing "to appoint a Free Software Director for Linksys" to ensure compliance, "to notify previous recipients of Linksys products containing FSF programs of their rights under the GPL," to make source code of FSF programs freely available on its website, and to make a monetary contribution to the FSF."


Linksys sold many, many times more of these WRT routers than they would have if the router had been just another closed, proprietary product.

So, once again, where is the harm to Linksys? There is only upside and increased sales to Linksys ... all coming from having to release the source code of their router, which wasn't even their code to begin with.

Edited 2012-04-23 02:55 UTC

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