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
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"I don't think so, you contribute to GPL because you are forced

Now that is stupid (sorry, it just is). Who forces you to pick a GPL'd source for your needs? Why don't you just code your own stuff with the licence you wish, or even never publish it? If you still pick someone else's work's results that (s)he chose to GPL, and you know it's under the GPL, and you still choose to use it and modify it, then you can't complain about anyone forcing you to do anything. It was you who willingly chose to adhere (in an optimal case) to the GPL.

Forcing you, right. Geez, my hair starts to go gray.

Yup. GPL only forces you to contribute back in the same way that my local shops force me to give them money - if I get something from them I have to give something in return, but I know that in advance and have the choice to go elsewhere.

I get the impression that Hiev was partly trying to point out that requiring contributions of source does not guarantee quality contributions (compare the random "tossed over the wall" contributions of hacky vendor code various GPL projects get). Whereas a under a BSD-ish license you'll only get code from the really motivated contributors who actually want to help.

To me that doesn't make the GPL bad, since willing contributors will - to a certain extent - self select through their use of GPL code in the first place. But I can see the argument that contributors to a given BSD-licensed project are (more?) likely to be working for the benefit of the community than in simply ticking a legal checkbox so they can get access to some free code.

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