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

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Pragmatic vs theoretical
by pfgbsd on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 02:43 in reply to "RE: Pragmatic vs theoretical"
pfgbsd Member since:
2011-03-12

"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.
"

That's MPL. Anything you link with GPL'd software becomes contaminated and is also GPLd. That's one of the reasons why MacOSX doesnt carry GNU readline.

Reply Parent Score: 0

kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

"[q]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.
"

That's MPL. Anything you link with GPL'd software becomes contaminated and is also GPLd. That's one of the reasons why MacOSX doesnt carry GNU readline. [/q]

Except with GPL, you can remove the link and you're no longer infringing. A proper virus doesn't get removed that cleanly.

Reply Parent Score: 1

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

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


That's MPL. Anything you link with GPL'd software becomes contaminated and is also GPLd.
"

Not true. If you write your own code, it is your code. If you make a product using someone else's code, it is still their code, and you need to get their permission.

If you write some code, and you link with GPL'd software, then you have created what is known as a derived work under copyright law. You don't then wholly own the resulting work, it becomes jointly owned by you and by whomever holds the copyright to the works which you linked in. This is an act YOU did, in no way were you forced to do that.

OK, so if you did that, you now have the following options:

(1) Release the whole of the derived work, both your code and the GPL'd code which you linked in, under the GPL. That is fine according to the permissions of the GPL.

(2) Get a separate commercial license to use the code which you linked in from the copyright holders. They may, or may not charge you for that commercial license at their discretion. Once you have such a sepearte commercial license for the "parts" which you used to make your product, you are now all set to be able to sell your product commercially.

Either way, you are not "forced" to do one thing or the other. If you decide to release the derived work (including some of your code) under the GPL, then that is your decision. If you decide to make your product commercial, and you get a commercial license from the authors of the work you linked in, then the resulting derived work is commercial, not GPL.

The GPL is therefore not viral.

Edited 2012-04-23 04:01 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Pragmatic vs theoretical
by zima on Sat 28th Apr 2012 22:59 in reply to "RE: Pragmatic vs theoretical"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

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

There is at least one scenario where this term (even if needlessly loaded) can be applied to GPL. Not the example parent gave, but very much in context of BSD & GPL.

An active effort insisting on using GPL, while importing large chunks of BSD licensed code, can in practice (not in the ~legal sense) sort of contaminate BSD codebase from which it started, steal the spotlight from it, so the BSD version might even start to languish and after a while it's as good as dead. Certainly it brings needless duplication of effort.

Or at least BSD (operating systems) devs grumble about such dynamics re their code and Linux, from time to time.

Edited 2012-04-28 23:12 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2