Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Mar 2009 18:02 UTC, submitted by google_ninja
GNU, GPL, Open Source Eric S. Raymond is one of the three big figures in open source, together with Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman. During a talk for the Long Island Linux User Group, he made some interesting statements about the GPL, namely that the GPL is no longer needed due to the way the open source movement works.
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RE: Abolishing Misunderstandings
by sbenitezb on Tue 24th Mar 2009 21:19 UTC in reply to "Abolishing Misunderstandings"
sbenitezb
Member since:
2005-07-22

Users need and deserve freedom. Someone must defend these freedoms, this is why we need the GPL license.


Aha, except the GPL protects the code, not the users of it. Your argument is flawed. If you have software A which is licensed under any license bar GPL like, some company "steals" the code to "close" it and make money of it, tell me, how the hell are you, as a user, less free? The code is still there, not like it vanished after being downloaded by company X to make money of it. You can already and will be able to download, study, modify, run the code without problems at all. It really doesn't matter if a billion companies around the world take the code and use it, as long as you can do it too.

The freedom you are talking about is not your freedom, is the freedom of something material, not of an individual. GPL accounts only for the code, not the programmer or the users. Look carefully: it tells you what you can do with the code, but also what you can't. It's in there, you can't modify it and redistribute the compiled code without also making the changes public. So in fact, you are being restricted, as a user of the code, you are actually, take this, less free.

Reply Parent Score: 3

tziobro Member since:
2009-03-25

Free software is movement and philosophy. GPL and few others "constitutions" only describe it. Of course, it gives you some freedoms in cost of some limitations.

Like you are living in free country, but you dont have right to cheat, steal or kill anybody you want. Do you consider those limitations as a drawback?
It is about what is fair or what is not.

How are you going to guarantee those freedoms in other way than limit some other rights? Some rights will always be in contradiction to each other.

Anyway, sometimes it is better to give right to "kill other people".

Reply Parent Score: 1

sbenitezb Member since:
2005-07-22

Free software is movement and philosophy. GPL and few others "constitutions" only describe it. Of course, it gives you some freedoms in cost of some limitations.


Well, it doesn't give me any more freedom than other free licenses. Compare with BSD, for example. I'm still able to use and redistribute freely. So it's not something only the GPL provides. So that argument about freedom for the user being what makes GPL interesting is pure bullshit. GPL only can guarantee that any changes to the code will be available for you to download, study, use and merge with the original source, which is fine. Other than that, I fail to see any real benefit.

So what would happen if some major project changed its license from GPL to say MIT? Would the project be any less free? Would you as a user be any less free? Not at all. What could happen is some player in the industry to use that code to build and sell a product, based on it, like Apple did with FreeBSD code. But look, Apple gave FreeBSD new life in a time where FreeBSD 5 really sucked. So how bad was it?

The only real reason to use GPL is when the developer really doesn't want any other entity to profit from that code without giving back. That's what makes the GPL attractive, and only that. And ESR is right about the current trends. We are moving to a software as a service style of computing. So offloading all that work to the open source community makes a lot of sense.

Reply Parent Score: 3

StaubSaugerNZ Member since:
2007-07-13

"Users need and deserve freedom. Someone must defend these freedoms, this is why we need the GPL license.


Aha, except the GPL protects the code, not the users of it. Your argument is flawed. If you have software A which is licensed under any license bar GPL like, some company "steals" the code to "close" it and make money of it, tell me, how the hell are you, as a user, less free? The code is still there, not like it vanished after being downloaded by company X to make money of it. You can already and will be able to download, study, modify, run the code without problems at all. It really doesn't matter if a billion companies around the world take the code and use it, as long as you can do it too.

The freedom you are talking about is not your freedom, is the freedom of something material, not of an individual. GPL accounts only for the code, not the programmer or the users. Look carefully: it tells you what you can do with the code, but also what you can't. It's in there, you can't modify it and redistribute the compiled code without also making the changes public. So in fact, you are being restricted, as a user of the code, you are actually, take this, less free.
"


As Mr T. would say, "Protecting the code is protecting the users, fool!"

You must be very new to software to not know about historical cases like the Windows NT Kerberos debacle. Taking a standard, extending it, so that other non-NT Kerberos users cannot connect. If the code was open then the original Kerberos folks could modify their stuff with a "compatibility mode". Code was closed though so it was not possible.

Who suffered as a result? sure the Kerberos "codebase" did but more importantly *actual users*. Could that bullsh!t happen with GPL, No Way!

And it is not only Microsoft that have done this. Other companies have tried to do the same thing. Make money off the work of the community (which is both allowed and encouraged) but not giving any modifications back (which is not).

Saying GPL only protects code not users shows how little you understand about both the subject and the shenanigans that have gone on in the past. It is not a matter that companies might exploit

GPL is not anti-capitalist (even if some adherents are). You can make money off GPL software and talented people do. It is against the erection of artifical barriers to preserve inefficiencies and exploitation by those with greater avarice than talent.

Reply Parent Score: 9

Luka Woititz Member since:
2009-03-24

Aha, except the GPL protects the code, not the users of it. Your argument is flawed. If you have software A which is licensed under any license bar GPL like, some company "steals" the code to "close" it and make money of it, tell me, how the hell are you, as a user, less free?


Saying GPL only protects code not users shows how little you understand about both the subject and the shenanigans that have gone on in the past.


I agree with the last counterargument.

Well, it doesn't give me any more freedom than other free licenses. Compare with BSD, for example. I'm still able to use and redistribute freely. So it's not something only the GPL provides. So that argument about freedom for the user being what makes GPL interesting is pure bullshit.


There are just two possibilities in such thinking. Your knowledge about this problem is worth to take another read on a few more essays, or you are simply a complete soul member of the 'open source movement'. Why the quotation marks? Because it is not really a movement in the original meaning of the word.

You are really so intersted in the practical difference (although this is absolutely not the primary one)? The BSD license is a permissive free software license, that has been approved by the OSI initiative; the GNU GPL license is copyleft.

Open source software ~= everyone has permission to read and use the source code.

Free software ~= everyone will always have permission to read and use the source code.

A small difference, perhaps, but nevertheless an important one.


There have been a lot of definitions made, including by the free software movement as well as the OSI initiative, but some of them are more rational than others.

Open source software is a development methodology; free software is a philosophical, ethical and social movement.

Reply Parent Score: 1