Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th Jun 2007 23:09 UTC, submitted by thebluesgnr
GNU, GPL, Open Source The FSF today released version 3 of the GNU GPL, the popular free software license. "Since we founded the free software movement, over 23 years ago, the free software community has developed thousands of useful programs that respect the user's freedom. The programs are in the GNU/Linux operating system, as well as personal computers, telephones, Internet servers, and more. Most of these programs use the GNU GPL to guarantee every user the freedom to run, study, adapt, improve, and redistribute the program," said Richard Stallman, founder and president of the FSF. This article has some interesting replies from the BSD community (right in the middle).
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If you want to give your software away for free, use BSD. If you want to share your software, use the GPL.

Software under the GPL is not free. Microsoft office is not free, you have to pay Microsoft money. The Borland developer tools are not free, you have to pay Borland (or whatever they're called these days).

Lastly, software released under the GPL is not free: if you choose to copy and paste GPL code into your own program you have to share it. This is how you pay for GPL code. This is a very egalitarian idea: I share my code, and if you use it in your own program, you pay me back by sharing your code or else you ask me to relicense the code under a different license to suit your needs (which was always possible).

To make sure no-one can escape sharing (after all, this is how they're paying to use the software), GPL v3 requires the following

(a) You make the source code available

(b) You don't use patents to prevent people from using your code, which would effectively block code-sharing despite (a)

(c) You don't use DRM to prevent people from using your code, which would effectively block code-sharing, like (a)

The GPL is no more viral than any commercial license, the only difference is in how you pay to use the software. And it's always worth remembering that you don't have to share until you distribute the source-code (and as corporations are legal entities, you can give a copy to all your 1000-odd co-workers without legally distributing it). It's further worth remembering that if this is a problem, you can always ask the original author to re-license their work under a commercial license if you would rather not share.

This GPL is viral/evil/not-as-cool-as-BSD thing is rubbish. It does what it sets out to do: encourage people to share code. There's no excuse for "accidentally" using GPL code in your own software, just as there's no excuse for "accidentally" installing a pirated copy of MS Office on your friends PC. Both place value on software, and if you choose to use it in a certain way, then you have to pay for them: the only difference is in how you pay.

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