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

And GPL is not the only license able to assert this. In fact, any license that allows you to read source code and modify it, at least once in the time is all you need to make it free software. If you don't think so, I can point you to the Firebird database, once closed and known as Interbase by Borland, then open sourced (forever) and then closed again. The source of that first open release was forked to give life to Firebird, which is free. The license sucks horribly.

There is a false asumption that GPL gives more freedom. What it gives, if anything, is more contributors (even extorted ones). But this is also highly dependent on the project. I doubt Postgres has/had any problems with some company selling a fork (EnterpriseDB was the case, I think).

All in all: you get your freedom the first time the project is released. After that, it's up to the developers to keep maintaining it, improving and merging contributions. GPL guarantees further improvements are also released, even by greedy companies. But if the project is worth its salt, BSD/MIT licenses will keep any project running and updated.

Many say GPL keeps companies honest (by extortion, they aren't really honest, you just happen to have something they need, but it comes with a price to pay). I would prefer to think BSD keeps honest companies within a project, they really don't have to contribute, but they still do, so they are good and valuable. Sometimes it's better to acuse them of greedy players. Big companies don't like bad PR.

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