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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Mark Williamson
Member since:
2005-07-06

I think you don't understand mine, the fact that the companies are aware of the GPL before contributing, doesn't mean they do it pleasently, they may be doing it because they have to, not because they entirely agree.


Yeah, OK. I don't think we are really saying different things, so much as coming from different points of view.

The thing I really disagreed with was the word "force", which makes it sound like companies have no choice but to contribute source code. They do have a choice because they can decide upfront whether to get involved with GPLed stuff or to use a proprietary or BSD-licensed alternative, so they're not really being forced into anything.

But they are required to participate in a relatively "expensive" form of "payback" for their use of the code, whereas in the case of BSD-licensed stuff any contributions are more of a "donation". If they want to use the source code but "pay" the minimal amount of community contributions in return then it's usually a wasted effort - the random GPLed vendor code that usually gets thrown over the wall in these cases often seems to have very little use to the community.

I would imagine that when companies contribute to a BSD-licensed upstream it would more often be a good faith attempt to engage with the community, which is an advantage. I can't see it ever being worth a company's time to just throw some BSD licensed code out and then run away. But the GPL does have other advantages which - to certain companies - may encourage willing good-faith contributions which they wouldn't have made otherwise. Both licenses have a place, I think.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Hiev Member since:
2005-09-27

Both licenses have a place, I think

Definitvely, but I dislike how a bunch of loonies members of the FSF condemn anyone who makes a different choise.

Edited 2009-09-02 16:34 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

That happens with loonies from every camp.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Mark Williamson Member since:
2005-07-06

Both licenses have a place, I think

Definitvely, but I dislike how a bunch of loonies members of the FSF condemn anyone who makes a different choise.


I'm absolutely with you on that point! Free stuff, be it GPL or BSD or whatever is always a good thing in my opinion. And there is never, ever, ever anything wrong with BSD licensing something if that looks like the best choice to the author of the code.

Personally, I think the GPL is a great license and that part of the reason it is great is due to the insight and effort put into it by RMS and the FSF. But at the same time, some of the things RMS and the FSF come out with sound ridiculous to me. I don't always like their politics, though I do respect that they are generally pretty consistent in their positions.

I think the reasons the GPL has been so successful are somewhat different to the reasons it has been created.

Reply Parent Score: 2

TheBadger Member since:
2005-11-14

Both licenses have a place, I think

Definitvely, but I dislike how a bunch of loonies members of the FSF condemn anyone who makes a different choise.


And I dislike how a bunch of permissive licence advocates continually whine about the FSF at every juncture. Sure, the FSF would rather you use copyleft licences, but they do acknowledge the Free Software nature of permissive licences.

Meanwhile, with the seemingly endless stream of articles these days featuring ill-informed commentary about the GPL, accompanied by people who take every opportunity to make narrow-minded jibes about "fundamentalists", "religion" and (your words) "loonies", one has to wonder who is part of a religion, exactly.

Reply Parent Score: 1