Home > Open Source > GPL Version 3: Background to Adoption GPL Version 3: Background to Adoption Eugenia Loli 2005-06-11 Open Source 87 Comments The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today released the following article by Richard M. Stallman and Eben Moglen discussing the forthcoming GPL Version 3. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 87 Comments 2005-06-11 6:32 pm Actually, if you look at the date at the very beginning of the article, you’ll see that it was released June 9th: “Boston, MA, USA – Thursday, June 9, 2005 – The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today released the following article by Richard M. Stallman and Eben Moglen discussing the forthcoming GPL Version 3.” 2005-06-11 6:34 pm You’ve uncovered the conspiracy! 2005-06-11 6:37 pm I was a little surprised that the FSF is treating the GPL as a sort of manifesto for the OSS movement. 2005-06-11 6:42 pm A correction. A manifesto for Free software and GNU which is not a suprise at all considering the fact GPL was framed by Richard M. Stallman along with Eben Moglen as a direct result of a license that implements his ideas on the GNU manifesto http://www.gnu.org/gnu/manifesto.html It was the first software license that implements a reciprocative model which has directly responsible for many of the fundemental concepts and ideas for both Free software ane OSI definitions 2005-06-11 9:07 pm stallman does not impress me. i dont like him very much. i hate the new license 2005-06-11 9:09 pm oh whatever. The GPL was not the origional open source license. there was free open educational licenses before that and you know it. stallman is treating the GPL like its some manefesto, it’s completely insane. the linux thing has completely gone to their heads. they need to get real jobs and stop living off of donations. GPL DOES NOT equal open source BSD DOES NOT equal open source open sourced code equals open source… Does not take a genius to know that! 2005-06-11 9:17 pm “stallman does not impress me. i dont like him very much. i hate the new license” whether you hate stallman or not is irrelevant and shouldnt determine whether you hate the FSF licenses and its quite amusing that you hate “the new license” which doesnt even exist. “oh whatever. The GPL was not the origional open source license. there was free open educational licenses before that and you know” if its specific to educational sector, its not a open source license at all since favoring any entity or field specifically is against the definition of both FSF and OSI http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php 2005-06-11 9:29 pm They talk about “code of conduct”, “a constitution” and a “literary work”. I guess the FSF can’t help but to diminish themselves when they release stuff like this. Oh well, nobody was going to use GPL v3 anyway. 2005-06-11 9:50 pm Actually, many projects are going to use GPL 3. Considering most are licensed under “GPL v2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation”. 2005-06-11 10:11 pm “if its specific to educational sector, its not a open source license at all since favoring any entity or field specifically is against the definition of both FSF and OSI ” So, OSI and FSF both have strict laws that define “open source” GIVE ME A BREAK. This is propoganda from both of those organizations. If software’s source is open (viewable and useable) then It’s open source! Don’t give me this FSF and OSI owning the definition of “open source” BS 2005-06-11 10:17 pm but the GPL=GPL and open now and open later and open forever and I own it just as much as you own it…. Free-as in freedom, as in always free, as in free to have a life of its own….. yea there has always been “open” but the problem was that it was open ONLY as long as the controlling party decided it was open, which was usually long enough to take advantage of the people working on the OPEN version and then close it up and tell them to shove off that it was no longer open and that it was their baby and thanks for the contribution….byeee…. 2005-06-11 10:29 pm So, OSI and FSF both have strict laws that define “open source” GIVE ME A BREAK. This is propoganda from both of those organizations. —— Its not a law, its a convention for any terminology. OSI came up with the term and the definition. It is commonly agreed upon convention and is necessary for any meaningful conversation about it, especially since we are talking about licenses here. If you want to come up with your own variant of it, go ahead unfortunately your current one is very leaky ” If software’s source is open (viewable and useable) then It’s open source! Don’t give me this FSF and OSI owning the definition of “open source” BS” you dont mention redistribution rights here for example. Try forming a better one next time. Think about it carefully. Again we are talking about software licenses which are legal instruments 2005-06-11 10:31 pm As you might remember, OSI tried to have the term Open Source trademarked and failed. Of course that won’t stop them and the FSF from being some kind of defacto arbiters of “free software” and “open source”. It doesn’t matter though. They have no control and anybody can do whatever they want no matter how much FSF talks about “codes of conducts”, “constitutions”, and “manifestos” 2005-06-11 10:46 pm the GPL is the holy book, RMS the prophet and debian is the religion so get religion NOW….. amen! 2005-06-12 1:07 am I think RMS shoudl release teh GPL as GPL. Until then it’s nothing more than a proprietary license that locks users into one way of doing things. 2005-06-12 1:16 am I agree. Until the GPL is GPLd its a proprietary license that takes away freedom. 2005-06-12 2:00 am has anyone managed to get a source cd from linspire yet? nah i didnt think so 2005-06-12 2:31 am RuntimeError: maximum recursion depth exceeded 2005-06-12 3:37 am http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl-faq.html#ModifyGPL You can modify and redistribute the GNU GPL. 2005-06-12 4:17 am Do you realize how ridiculous your argument is? The GPL isn’t a software product, it is a license to use one. You can choose to release your product under this license, or under another one. The GPL is an extension of the rights normally granted by copyright law. It is definitely not a proprietary license as they allow the freedom to modify and redistribute software, which is by definition not possible with a proprietary license. The text of the GPL itself is probably covered by copyright law, but as others have pointed out you can change the text of the license and re-release it under a different name. Who cares if you can’t use the original name, that would only lead to confusion and probable litigation. Ultimately the name of the license is irrelevant. What is important is the text of the license, as it outlines the conditions under which the software may be used, distributed and modified. It seems to me that all you’re trying to do is to play with words and definitions in order to further confuse matters. Here’s my advice: eschew obfuscation! 2005-06-12 4:23 am Free software is only free because you steal it. I should have known this thread would turn into a troll magnet… For you information, free software is free because those who created it (and therefore own it according to copyright law) have chose to release it as such. Stallman and his cronies are theives and commuinists. Please give a single example of software (or anything else) that has been stolen by RMS. As for sharing knowledge, it has been the basis of scientific research since its beginnings. Not to mention that the idea of sharing is a Christian value (and is found in most other religions as well). GPL is feces. And you have no idea what you’re talking about. 2005-06-12 4:32 am Thanks for the link. Things are even worse than I suspected, especially consider the viralness of the LGPL. I wonder if anybody that is statically linking their proprietary code is offering the .o files too? Does any of this stuff ever even get enforced. What a mess. It used to be when you released source code you just didn’t care what anybody did with it. It was a gift. The GPL sure is a lot more greedy than the BSD. If you’re not going to dual-license why would you even care. 2005-06-12 4:39 am Yeah, it seems that the FSF don’t practice what they preach. I guess nobody can take the FSF seriously when the GPL isn’t GPL. From the FAQ they don’t even want you to come up with your own license. That’s crazy. Why would they care unless it wasn’t GPL compatible. Something very fishy about this FSF place 2005-06-12 4:41 am You do not have to release anything if your app links with a LGPL library. As to enforcing these laws, as with any license, it is up to the copyright holder to send a cease and desist letter to those who use their software without respecting the terms of the license it’s distributed under. As usual, if you don’t like the GPL, just don’t distribute your software under it. 2005-06-12 4:46 am Who cares about taking the FSF seriously or not? What matters, from a legal point of view, is the actual text of the license. And of course they’re going to preach for their cause by saying that the proliferation of free license is problematic. They also say they won’t take legal action if you create your own GPL derivative (they probably couldn’t anyway), so I fail to see what the fuss is about. By the way, the GPL is designed specifically for software, not licenses, so you can’t “GPL the GPL”. That’s like trying to use a hammer on a screw. 2005-06-12 4:48 am RMS certainly practices what he preaches, since he releases his own software under the GPL. 2005-06-12 4:56 am The GPL is so viral and so incompatible with other licenses (Apache) that so much duplication of code effort has to be done. Too bad that the GPL wasn’t more of a sharing license like BSD and others. We would have much better software now. 2005-06-12 5:03 am The GPL license is every little bit as “sharing” as the BSD license. The difference is that the GPL makes sure that the code and its derivatives can continue to be shared freely. In other words, while the GPL is more restrictive with what you can do with the code, the restricitions are only used to make sure the code stays free. In other words, it restricts some freedoms to make sure other freedoms are protected. This is very common in all matters of laws – even the U.S. Constitution places limits on some freedoms to protect others. For example, my freedom to go wherever I want is restricted so that I can’t just go inside your home without your permission. Finally, I fail to see how the BSD license improves the quality of code as compared to the GPL… 2005-06-12 5:14 am Something about companies that use GPLd code in web services will have to distribute their code. Nobody will abide by that. They should make the GPL less restrictive instead of more restrictive. It’s good that there are free licenses like BSD instead of the GPL. 2005-06-12 6:35 am Something about companies that use GPLd code in web services will have to distribute their code. Do you have a link for that? Nobody will abide by that. Well, if it is a real requirement (I’ll wait for that link), and they use GPLv3-licensed software, then they will have to comply or face possible legal action from the software owner. I imagine that those companies would choose to use different software if they don’t want to release modifications. It’s good that there are free licenses like BSD instead of the GPL. The GPL is as free as the BSD, but in a different way. So I’d rather say that it’s good there are Free and Open Source Licenses like the GPL and the BSD. They are both good licenses and spreading FUD to start yet another GPL vs. BSD flame war seems a rather aimless exercise. As usual, if you don’t like the GPL, don’t use it. 2005-06-12 7:17 am Until the GPL is gpl then we can’t consider it a free license. Until then the GPL license is proprietary 2005-06-12 7:26 am Until the FSF can live up to the ideals it tries to impose on the rest of us the GPL license is not free. We’ve seen a turning point where the FSF does not represent the community anymore 2005-06-12 7:52 am You can’t GPL the GPL, because the GPL applies to software, not licenses. Answer this simple question: what is the source code to the GPL? How do you compile it? What you’re saying doesn’t make any sense. Tim The FSF doesn’t write code, so it can’t “live up to its ideals” because the GPL applies only to code. Richard Stallman, the author of the GPL, does live up to his ideals, since all the software he writes is released under the GPL. Also note that the FSF doesn’t try to impose its ideals on anyone. It offers a license for those who share its ideals – that’s very different. You guys can keep making false statements all you want, that still won’t make them true. And ignoring counter-arguments while repeating them only makes you sound like a bunch of astroturfers (or one astroturfer using techniques to change his IP for each “persona”). 2005-06-12 7:56 am And those that don’t agree don’t believe in freedom. I wonder if this anunmoos guy is part of the FSF organization. 2005-06-12 8:06 am Really, I guess the “Free Software Movement” is clearly defined by RMS and RMS alone. RMS wants to be the savior of open source software. But he seems more like a benevolent dictator. 2005-06-12 8:12 am The GPL cannot be GPLed because the GPL refers to code, not licenses. In any case, the GPL faq states that you can make derivatives of the license. You can take the text of the license and modify it, then redistribute it, so the whole issue is moot. The fact that you can’t call it “GPL” is to avoid legal confusion, and affects in nothing your ability to use the modified license. In any case, the truth remains that the GPL was designed for software, and software only. There are other similar licenses for non-software creations (such as the Creative Commons License). And those that don’t agree don’t believe in freedom. Right. How about providing actual arguments instead of labeling those who disagree with your opinion? I believe in freedom, and yet I disagree, therefore your statement is invalid. I wonder if this anunmoos guy is part of the FSF organization Yes, that’s right, we’re out there and we’re watching you! Mwahahaha… Seriously, if you’re interested to know I’m a game designer at a Canadian game development company. I just happen to like the GPL, and I also like the BSDL, and the Apache License, etc. They are all valid licenses and it’s up to developers to choose among these if they want to open-source their software. 2005-06-12 8:15 am Except that RMS can’t force anyone to do his bidding: he can only convince people through the merit of his arguments. By definition a dictator possesses actual power. RMS has influence, but that’s because of what he says, not through some coercitive means. 2005-06-12 8:19 am You are right. RMS wants to be a dictator but doesn’t want to embrace freedom 2005-06-12 8:30 am RMS represents free software for many people and he certainly represents GPL. If this was just some guy writing an article on GPL it would stand on the merits of the arguments being made. Because of his relationship to GPL, what he says has matters less than who he is. Some people take his words has holy writ or doctrine from a benevolent dictator. 2005-06-12 8:30 am Making sure that people enjoy Free Software, and that this software and its derivatives will remain free, that’s what you consider “not embracing freedom”? I fail to see the logic that led you to this conclusion. Perhaps what you guys all mean is that the GPL privileges the freedom of users over the freedom of developers who want to reuse code but not release it as free. Well, as I explained before, sometimes to protect a freedom you need to curtail another one – and user freedom is more important than developer freedom, because all developers are also users, while the reverse isn’t true, and those who believe in freedom also believe in freedom for the most people possible. In this sense the GPL, while more restrictive than the BSD, is a better promoter of freedom – its net effect being that more code will be free (because it reduces the occurences of free code being modified into a non-free version). 2005-06-12 8:37 am I disagree. The fact that many people hold RMS in high esteem is precisely because of his ideas, not because of some personal charisma. And though he may be the face most easily associate with Free Software and the FSF, that doesn’t make him into any kind of leader. The fact is that, because of its libertarian outlook, the Free/Open Source movement doesn’t have any leader. There are plenty of people who don’t agree with RMS on everythings, and as such it is not a monolithic community. This is the result of the highly democratic nature of the F/OSS movements (yes, democracy will produce lots of differing opinions – imagine that). The problem is that most threads about the GPL degenerate into personal attacks on RMS. I don’t agree with RMS on everything, yet I don’t feel the need to constantly attack him on Internet forums… As usual, if you don’t like a license, don’t use it. There’s actually very little else to say on the matter. 2005-06-12 8:42 am The article is very, very disturbing in the way that Richard Stallman is trying to encompass the free software movement with a constitution and code of conduct. No, these people will be held accountable for the lack of democracy in this process. The article is very dictatorial 2005-06-12 8:52 am When a GPLv3 discussion draft is released, the pace of that conversation will change, as a particular proposal becomes the centerpiece. The Foundation will, before it emits a first discussion draft, publicize the process by which it intends to gather opinion and suggestions. The Free Software Foundation recognizes that the reversioning of the GPL is a crucial moment in the evolution of the free software community, and the Foundation intends to meet its responsibilities to the makers, distributors and users of free software. In doing so, we hope to hear all relevant points of view, and to make decisions that reflect the many disparate purposes that the license must serve. Our primary concern remains, as it has been from the beginning, the creation and protection of freedom. We recognize that the best protection of freedom is a growing and vital community of the free. We will use the process of public discussion of GPL3 drafts to support and nurture the community of the free. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dictatorial? Hmmm. 2005-06-12 9:08 am I didn’t mention charisma, his power comes from the fact that he controls the GPL license and represents GPL. BSD is a better license all around (and of course this isn’t fact, this is my opinion). BSD software doesn’t magically disappear if Microsoft decides to implement part of it for their TCP/IP stack. The software is still there. The basic problem I see with GPL is this concern over the software not improving over time because some proprietary source has stolen it and closed the precious source. The source is still open! Just because there is a derivitive work out there based on some code, doesn’t make the original code magically disappear or any less “free”. I find the GPL too restrictive. I find such restrictions on code use odious. No one likes to be told what they can or can not do. That is not what freedom is about. Freedom is about doing whatever you want. With a BSD style license, you just have to acknowledge that you used it. This concern over code “freedom” above all is odd. Why not be more concerned with people’s freedom to use code. Because BSD and other open license software can be used anywhere it will always remain available to anyone, even Microsoft. GPL fans say that it guarantees progress in the code is freely available, but the software forks anyway when people require a major change in the direction of the code base. How often do you see this required release of source saving a GPL’d project? Do you think if Linux was BSD licensed Microsoft would release MS Linux without source and that would kill off every other Linux project? 2005-06-12 9:48 am Freedom is about doing whatever you want. No, Freedom is about doing whatever you want as long as you don’t cut of the freedom of other people. For example you don’t allowed to kill other person, because this would be an advantage for you but disadvantage for everyone other if you would have this freedom. Or you don’t have the freedom to steal if you want something, this would be an advantage for you but an disadvantage for everyone other. Freedom isn’t something that allow you to do what ever you want. Your freedom stops at this point were the freedom of other people began. So a BSD-style license is less free, because this license don’t draw the line were your freedom ends and the freedom of other persons began. 2005-06-12 9:51 am Perhaps what you guys all mean is that the GPL privileges the freedom of users over the freedom of developers who want to reuse code but not release it as free. but this is a point were freedom convert into power. Freedom isn’t the right to do what you want. Freedom is the right to do what you want as long as you don’t touch the freedom of other people. 2005-06-12 11:10 am This person, even if I never met him in my life, had the guts to give away his work to public and to fight for over 2O years, that whoever has the intent to use it (his work), to learn it by reading or to improve it, CAN DO SO, but only if he has enough respect for human being, for freedom of thought and for himself and does NOT expect anything to get back from. This guy actually proved it by the continuity of his acts (emacs, gcc). And even if he would prefer to actually develop software he devotes his time and his life to make sure that people, who WANT give a gift to public are able to do so and that their work WILL be respected in future – by staying free. This is by giving a the license that garantees this in today’s society structures. I am also gratefull for the BSD license and MIT and whatever licenses exist, that are even MORE free in the sense, that they give away work, without expecting that it modifications on it remain free. And I am sure, that RMS actually would love to do the same kind of license that BSD is, but he was to grown up to see, that this will nourish people (or companies), that are completely opposed to his ideology and are searching to lock in (the opposite of freedom) everybody that uses their work and make it very hard to switch afterwards and make him and if possible his children pay for the dependency for generations. So in some way RMS, loves freedom, trust himself but does NOT believe (even if it may be his deepest wish kind of dream) that ALL people have the same love for freedom, for equality and brotherhood – and that there are people out there that would take the freedom from other to increase their own. So from an anarchistic point of BSD is closer to the ideal but not everybody is ready for it and there are abuses. But GPL is closer to reality – because it protects freedom – even if there are people that do NOT like it for this reason, generally those are the same people that would like to enforce some one to pay for their work even if their work at 99.999..% is based on the great work of others who gave it for free. And even if RMS sounds like a preacher, some call him a dictator and so on, for me he proved by his work, by his continuity that he is faithfull to his ideology. The same goes for Linus Torvalds. And I hope that RMS will find a person to replace and to help him in the future to do the work. A person, that will have enough time to prove by his acts to the world, that we can trust him and that he will not betray us. Sorry for my bad english I needed to say this. And I hope that the GPL 3 will keep this ideology and will not try to make compromises. 2005-06-12 3:46 pm i can agree to the most points. But one comment: So from an anarchistic point of BSD is closer to the ideal but not everybody is ready for it and there are abuses. But GPL is closer to reality – because it protects freedom if i understand what you mean, than you say that in a “perfect-world” a BSD-style license would be perfect because nobody would abuse the “freedom” to make it proprietary. But what would this mean? In a “perfect world” the theoretically “freedom” to make a program proprietary would no one execute. That would you leave by all the freedoms which you already get from the GPL. Therefore i think the concept of the GPL is perfect. In the real world it just works and in the “perfect world” it would work too and no one would missing the additional “freedom”. 2005-06-12 4:06 pm What? OK murdering someone and stealing software are two different things? If you don’t believe that, we will never come to any kind of agreement on software licensing. The fact that you don’t HAVE to give back code to the original developer means that the author gave the code with no strings attached. It also means that competition can exist within BSD, not so with GPL. You can always have your competitors code with GPL. Always. The forced release of code also means that GPL code can pollute other non-GPL projects, if GPL code appeared in BSD code they would have to go through and audit all code to remove GPL. Once you go GPL, there is no going back, you have ceded it to GPL. The FSF *GNU* General Public License. Thy are now the stewards of your code, not the general public. With BSD there is no “target audience”. RMS and the FSF seem more like a religious group, but its seems that instead of worshiping a being of higher power they are worshiping software. The entire world wouldn’t come to an end if software weren’t open and free, but RMS and the FSF probably thinks so. The “constitution” of OSS? To say this man is eccentric would be an understatement, http://www.stallman.org/ . Software should be more pragmatic and less religious and political. The GPL is more about an ehtical and moral stance on the availability of software than about software licensing. If you are a student or wish to learn more about programming and ever wish to contribute code to a non-GPL project, you had better never study code that is released under GPL or you could violate the GPL and copy GPL code into a non-GPL project. This is a big deal, it creates a schism between GPL and everything else. BSD code promotes code reusage between projects, regardless of political or religious agenda. 2005-06-12 4:10 pm http://www.webster-dictionary.net/definition/freedom Freedom has nothing to do with other’s rights, at all. 2005-06-12 4:12 pm the GPL is a bit fanatic because if it wasnt then we would be back to a monopoly or at least every company abusing the heck out of the “community” come on, exploitation-the american way,heck not just american anymore…. I would say the GPL protects us from explotation as well as manipulation as much as is possible…. 2005-06-12 4:19 pm yea freedom does have to do with anothers rights… because you and i have the same rights, your rights stop when it encroaches on my rights and vice versa… you have freedom of speech, but you can not come into my house claiming “freedom of speech” the definition is just that a definition… 2005-06-12 4:24 pm Freedom has nothing to do with other’s rights, at all. freedom doesn’t exist only for one person, you have to understand it also in the context. For example if you use some freedom this may have effects to other people if the effects to other people are larger than the effect to you than you practise power again other people. For example you can call it freedom for you if you have the freedom to decide which person has a right to life and which person doesn’t. This maybe a freedom to you but if you see it in the context than at least i came to the conclusion that this is not your freedom but your power over other people. I think you should have freedom but you shouldn’t have power over other people. The points were your personal freedom convert to power over other people is the point were someone have to stop you. 2005-06-12 6:07 pm I don’t have a link on the web services thing, but I’ve heard that it will be addressed in the next version of the GPL. The issue is that if I have some library that’s under the GPL (let’s say libreadline), I obviously can’t link to it with my proprietary application (notice libreadline is GPL, not LGPL). However, I can create a soap wrapper for it, which will be released under the GPL. Now, I can just write my application so that is talks to some soap server which happens to export the interface of libreadline but might or might not actually be using the library, and therefore is not at all covered by the license terms of libreadline. I really have no idea how one would write a license to get around this; a soap client does not need to know anything about the server, other than the exported interface. Anyhow, that’s the issue that people are supposedly trying to address. 2005-06-12 7:29 pm I didn’t mention charisma, his power comes from the fact that he controls the GPL license and represents GPL. What does “representing the GPL” mean in a legal context? Nothing. What matters is the text of the license, period. And power implies coercition, i.e. forcing people to do something they don’t want to do. This doesn’t come from the GPL or RMS, but from copyright law. Copyright law is coercitive, as it precludes someone from doing what they want with copyrighted material. Because RMS can’t force anyone to license their software under the GPL, he doesn’t have power. Rather, through his writings, he seeks to influence people to use the GPL, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Power is not the same thing as influence. Don’t confuse the two. Words have meaning. Once you go GPL, there is no going back, you have ceded it to GPL. The FSF *GNU* General Public License. Thy are now the stewards of your code, not the general public. False. You don’t “cede” your code to the GPL, you release it under the GPL. And while some people do cede their copyright to the FSF, most developers of GPLed software don’t, they remain the sole copyright holders of the code they wrote. The GPL is more about an ehtical and moral stance on the availability of software than about software licensing. Sure. There’s nothing wrong with ethics and morals, you know? If you are a student or wish to learn more about programming and ever wish to contribute code to a non-GPL project, you had better never study code that is released under GPL or you could violate the GPL and copy GPL code into a non-GPL project. Again, this is completely false. There is nothing wrong with studying GPL code to learn how it works, then writing a proprietary app – as long as you don’t actually copy code. This is not because of the GPL, but of copyright law. But there is no provision for someone copying the principles and methods use – I think you’re thinking of software patents (which the FSF is against). I find the GPL too restrictive. I find such restrictions on code use odious. No one likes to be told what they can or can not do. That is not what freedom is about. So you must completely hate proprietary software, then, because it is a lot more restrictive than the GPL. A proprietary license tells you a lot of things you can’t do with the code. You can’t study it, you can’t modify it, you can’t redistribute it. So according to your own logic, you must be completely opposed to proprietary licenses… The BSD and GPL licences are both equally free, but they protect different kinds of freedom. The GPL protects the freedom of developers who don’t want derivatives of their code to become proprietary, while the BSD protects the freedom of developers who don’t care if derivatives of their code are re-release under much more restrictive licenses. Saying that one is more free than the other doesn’t make much sense, I’m afraid. 2005-06-12 8:47 pm Both licences protect the right to use, modify and redistribute the software. The only additional right the BSD allows is the right to relicence the code. But since the GPL is as free as it gets regarding “usage, modification and distribution”, the only reason you would like to relicence original code yourself would be to take this right that makes free software free, away from other users. There is NO other reason anyone would need this freedom, than to take it away from the people he distributes the code to. IRL there also exists a GPL-like framework, called law, which ensures everyone is free as it gets without this greediest freedom of it all: the freedom to take the others freedom away and to benefit from this. YOu are not free to enslave people, so why sould you be free to enslave formerly free code into a proprietary licence? Calling GPL’d “not free” in any sense is ridiculous, since all it does limit you, it to make the code “not free” yourself. Without this requirement the code could theoretically not survive a single distribution point, because everyone could relicence it, as he sees fit. The code could theoretically disappear when its original distributor disappears. Do that with GPL’d code. Additionally, since all you want is to make the code not free, and thus do not seem to have problems with proprietary licences, and you call the GPL not free, whats was your actual problem with it? 😉 2005-06-12 8:55 pm There’s a couple things that the GPL license and really the FSF are trying to convince people of (and it seems to have worked for a very small segment of programmers), and that is that source code is equal to real freedom when clearly it isn’t. For those that are drinking the koolaid, I’ll explain it this way. Are you any less free because you don’t have the schematics to any of your household appliances. Are you any less free because you don’t the embedded code to your microwave? I didn’t think so. Source code is just a design or schematics. The whole thing about GPL protects the freedom for users is a lie too. When someone writes code they don’t think about “protecting the freedom of users”. They do it to scratch an itch and/or to sell. People don’t write code for free just for the sake of others. There’s no altruism involved. In fact with dual-licensing such as Trolltech its more about making money and using the GPL as advertising. When you license something BSD it’s a gift with no strings attached. It’s must more altruistic than the GPL can ever be. The BSD/Mach license enables things like OSX. But I’m sure OSX and windows users feel “less free” because they don’t have access to all the code. Linux users don’t have access to all the source code either. Nvidia/ATI drivers, bios, other firmware, etc.. And then the whole constitution, codes of conduct, literary work thing, and last but not least that the goal of the FSF is “primarily social and political, not technical” tells all. It has nothing to do with code at all. Here’s the Slashdot discussion about it which is very interesting considering the sympathetic audience that slashdot has “historically” towards the FSF. http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/10/1533241&tid=117&tid=1 2005-06-12 8:59 pm Apache, the vim license, all the E17 libraries. It’s always the GPL that is incompatible with some other open source license. BSD/MIT/X11 doesn’t ever seem to have that problem. Hell, if you fork the GPL its no longer compatible with the GPL. 2005-06-12 9:21 pm There’s a couple things that the GPL license and really the FSF are trying to convince people of (and it seems to have worked for a very small segment of programmers), You are aware that the GPL is – by far – the most popular free/open source license, right? BTW, the GPL can’t “convince” people. It’s a license. People choose it. and that is that source code is equal to real freedom when clearly it isn’t.</I It’s not only access to the source code, it’s the freedom to modify it and redistribute it freely (the latter being the main advantage for users). What I don’t understand, though, is that all other free/open source licenses also offer access to the source code, and you don’t seem to have a problem with that. [i]For those that are drinking the koolaid, I’ll explain it this way. Could you be a little more condescending please? You know, because insulting those you disagree with is really what a good logical debate should be about… I’m sorry, but you just lost all credibility with that statement. The whole thing about GPL protects the freedom for users is a lie too. When someone writes code they don’t think about “protecting the freedom of users”. They do it to scratch an itch and/or to sell. People don’t write code for free just for the sake of others. There’s no altruism involved. I’m sorry, but you have absolutely no way of knowing that, therefore that entire statement is pure opinion. Futhermore, it’s entirely possible for people to have multiple goals when writing software: they could very well be scratching an itch and doing it for the sake of others. Not to mention that your argument is self-contradictory: if people don’t write code for altruistic reasons, why do you argue that the BSD is “more altruistic” since – according to you – people don’t write code for altruistic reasons? This simply destroys your entire argument. And then the whole constitution, codes of conduct, literary work thing, and last but not least that the goal of the FSF is “primarily social and political, not technical” tells all. It has nothing to do with code at all. Are you arguing that software development has no social or political impact whatsoever? Control is power, and as our society is increasingly permeated by technology, those who control that technology will have increased power and influence over everyone’s life. Free software makes sure that some of that control belongs to the community, not just a handful of corporations. Hell, if you fork the GPL its no longer compatible with the GPL. You can’t fork the GPL in the first place, as it isn’t code. What you mean to say is probably: “if you make a license based on the GPL it will no longer be compatible with the GPL”…however, this is not necessarily true either – it depends on the actual text of the new license. 2005-06-12 9:25 pm Sorry for that missing italics closing tag. Here it is again. Mods, could you delete the previous post? ——– There’s a couple things that the GPL license and really the FSF are trying to convince people of (and it seems to have worked for a very small segment of programmers), You are aware that the GPL is – by far – the most popular free/open source license, right? BTW, the GPL can’t “convince” people. It’s a license. People choose it. and that is that source code is equal to real freedom when clearly it isn’t. It’s not only access to the source code, it’s the freedom to modify it and redistribute it freely (the latter being the main advantage for users). What I don’t understand, though, is that all other free/open source licenses also offer access to the source code, and you don’t seem to have a problem with that. For those that are drinking the koolaid, I’ll explain it this way. Could you be a little more condescending please? You know, because insulting those you disagree with is really what a good logical debate should be about… I’m sorry, but you just lost all credibility with that statement. The whole thing about GPL protects the freedom for users is a lie too. When someone writes code they don’t think about “protecting the freedom of users”. They do it to scratch an itch and/or to sell. People don’t write code for free just for the sake of others. There’s no altruism involved. I’m sorry, but you have absolutely no way of knowing that, therefore that entire statement is pure opinion. Futhermore, it’s entirely possible for people to have multiple goals when writing software: they could very well be scratching an itch and doing it for the sake of others. Not to mention that your argument is self-contradictory: if people don’t write code for altruistic reasons, why do you argue that the BSD is “more altruistic” since – according to you – people don’t write code for altruistic reasons? This simply destroys your entire argument. And then the whole constitution, codes of conduct, literary work thing, and last but not least that the goal of the FSF is “primarily social and political, not technical” tells all. It has nothing to do with code at all. Are you arguing that software development has no social or political impact whatsoever? Control is power, and as our society is increasingly permeated by technology, those who control that technology will have increased power and influence over everyone’s life. Free software makes sure that some of that control belongs to the community, not just a handful of corporations. Hell, if you fork the GPL its no longer compatible with the GPL. You can’t fork the GPL in the first place, as it isn’t code. What you mean to say is probably: “if you make a license based on the GPL it will no longer be compatible with the GPL”…however, this is not necessarily true either – it depends on the actual text of the new license. 2005-06-12 10:21 pm There is so much duplication of effort these days because people have to rewrite code to get around the viral and incompatible nature of the GPL – all to the detriment of the user. You’re right, twice in my professional life I had to write proprietary code for my employer, even if I liked to use two libraries, that could fit my needs – but they were in GPL (one of them is GMIME a great piece of work). And STILL I AM HAPPY that those libraries are GPLed! Because if I see how many proprietary code is rewritten in the domain I am working, for the sake of innovation that nobody really profits of because if the company goes bancrupt all that pretty code vanishes! And the user is paying for every of this innovation – without even being able to prove, that product A really does better then product B – the only choices he has is to ask other customers that use the product (which is not evident because those are competitors and will not like to give information in order to hinder him to get as good as they are in their business) or to believe the sales man! So once again, it is the choice of my employer not to use those libraries and it IS NOT the fault of the guys to put those libraries under GPL in contrary I encourage them to continue until one day they may be ready to replace those proprietary code and give the customer the possibility to do things, that they cannot do with the product they are paying for today. The GPL does NOT beware from double efforts and from competition – look XFCE and GNOME, etc. (don’t want to get into that discussion). Yes there is a lot of double efforts till the best solution wins, or one gets abandoned by maintainers or it becomes obvious that both have their reason to be. That is great! 2005-06-12 11:09 pm I disagree: innovation in software development has not stalled due to the GPL. There is absolutely no causal link and in fact I challenge you to give us one example that would support this bizarre theory. Really, you are beginning to sound like a broken record. You don’t like the GPL? Fine, then don’t use it. As a user, I use lots of excellent GPLed software and I’m quite comfortable with that License. KDE is an excellent example of how GPL/LGPL software can be innovative and actually superior to proprietary alternatives. BTW if you ignore my challenge like you’ve basically ignored every counter-argument I’ve put forward, then you’ll leave me no choice but to believe that you are in fact admitting defeat… 2005-06-12 11:32 pm As can be seen by the discussion over at Slashdot even the party failthful no longer support the FSF when they talk about “code of conduct” and “constitutions” and “literary works”. It was inevitable that the FSF’s self-importance would come back to backfire on them. That’s what happens when you mix software and politics. You end up with a failure like Hurd. We can now move on with less restrictive licenses for true innovation 2005-06-12 11:40 pm When you’re done trolling, perhaps you could provide actual arguments instead of restating the same opinion piece over and over again? With expressions such as “party faithful” you only achieve in proving that your goal here is to provoke a flame war, and nothing more. At least you admitted defeat by refusing to provide any proof for your allegations. 2005-06-13 12:00 am Thanks for the link. Contrary to what you would have us believe, there are lots of pro-GPL posts in that thread. Are you consciously trying to mislead people? Is that your idea of freedom? I particularly like this one from the thread: “The GNU License gives everyone equal freedoms. The BSD license gives the developers the right to REMOVE freedoms from the users, which obviously doesn’t sound right.” As me and others have said, it’s all a matter of balancing different types of freedom. The BSD and the GPL are both equally free, but in different ways. You have provide absolutely NO arguments to invalidate this statement. 2005-06-13 12:01 am FSF is about the Free Software Movement (read “Free” as a verb). The tools FSF use to free software is GNU and GPL. I guess that BSD is about research and quality. For this peer review is the tool. This is important to understand if you, as a developer, is choosing between the two. If you want your work to be availible for anyone to use. BSD is suitable. If you want to support the free software movement by ensuring that your code can only be used in free software, GPL is your tool. Some people in this thread seems to have concernes with the free software movement as a competitor to the bsd community. While the core of their argument for BSD is that, in contrast to GPL, it allows you to use the code without contributing your modifications they argue that GPL is bad because GPL code isn’t contributed to the BSD community. 2005-06-13 12:16 am As can be seen with Novell, RedHat, Sun, and Ubuntu – they all chose Gnome because it has LGPL and not a GPL toolkit. All other toolkits are free for the usage – except Qt. 2005-06-13 12:24 am As can be seen with Novell, RedHat, Sun, and Ubuntu – they all chose Gnome because it has LGPL and not a GPL toolkit. I guess you haven’t heard of Kubuntu, the KDE Ubuntu distro. And what about Mandriva, SuSE, Lindows, Knoppix? These all use KDE as the default. FYI, the KDE libraries are LGPL, not that this is anything to do with why a distro would choose KDE or Gnome. As for Qt, it is dual-licensed. If you use it for free software, it is free (GPL). If you use it for proprietary software, it is proprietary. I’m sorry, but so far none of your arguments hold together. You should stop spreading your FUD, no one’s buying it. 2005-06-13 12:33 am KDE was the first full fledge Desktop Environment for Linux but because Qt has a dual-licensed GPL/proprietary license there has to be so much duplication of effort, therefore diminishing the chances of Linux ever succeeding on the desktop 2005-06-13 12:36 am > I’m sorry, but so far none of your arguments hold together. > You should stop spreading your FUD, no one’s buying it. He isnt spreading FUD, hes simply trolling, and youre feeding him. Stop discussing with the idiot, and the idiot will feel ignored and go away. 2005-06-13 12:47 am …it is not viral like the GPL. Linux would be even more hobbled if it Torvalds hadn’t ignored Stallman. There would be no binary drivers. Great things happen when the FSF is ignored. Of course not having a stable kernel ABI hurts Linux, but that’s really a technical consideration and not political. 2005-06-13 12:49 am I just don’t like the direction that I see the FSF going with that article. 2005-06-13 2:04 am What exactly does GPL accomplish that BSD does not. I am not advocating proprietary software (although – contrary to many – I do believe it has its place). If your goal is for freedom then I don’t see what GPL buys you other than Free Software lock-in. So I guess if your political stance is that of absolutely no proprietary software and you are idealogically opposed to it, then GPL is the way to go. If the only software that existed was GPL’d then the GPL license would be harmless. However, recently there was an article that described a competitive computer model between Microsft and Linux which showed that Linux and Microsoft would very probably both exist with little chance of one or the other being ousted. If this were the case, wouldn’t it be better (just on pure reasons of progress and pragmatic code reuse) to choose BSD. What potential situation could your predict where BSD would fail to provide what GPL provides, in particular in an industry with many software licenses, most of which are not copyleft. 2005-06-13 2:24 am Read the article or any GNU manifesto. The reasons for it are “political and social, not technical”. That’s another reason why so many people hate this. Everytime the FSF puts out something like this they shoot themselves in the foot. That’s the good news. Read the link to the discussion over at slashdot. Look at how many negative comments there are. And this is a crowd that has “historically” supported FSF/Stallman/GNU. And look at how the dual gpl/proprietary model of qt is hurting KDE just by their choice of toolkit years ago, basically dooming any kind of standard desktop. 2005-06-13 3:38 am The point of the “share-alike” aspects of the GPL is to prevent anyone from taking advantage of the individual or the community who wrote the code originally. This would be obvious to anybody who had basic knowledge of the license. 2005-06-13 3:53 am If this were the case, wouldn’t it be better (just on pure reasons of progress and pragmatic code reuse) to choose BSD. Not really. It’d only be better for a single group, i.e. ISVs who want use free code into proprietary apps. In other words, it is making simpler for people who want to make profit off of someone’s work, without allowing other to make a profit off of their own. If that’s fine with you, then go ahead and release your software under the BSD license. That’s the first freedom you have as a developer, you can choose whatever license you want to use (as long as it doesn’t contravene any laws…). On the other hand, there are lots of people who want not only their work to be useful to everyone else, but also that any derivatives of that work remain open for everyone else. The GPL is freely chosen by these developers. As a user, the GPL reassures me that a popular program won’t be forked into a possibly better, but closed one (which I can’t legally redistribute, and also study or modify if I’m a user and a developer). So if you like the idea of free software and the benefits it brings to all of us – and including in the developing world, which is trying to find ways to escape the economic colonialism of the west. Anti-GPL advocates usually act as if nothing mattered but the profit margins of ISVs who want to make money off of code they didn’t write without allowing others the same luxury. Pro-GPL advocates understand that software is more than just about economics, but that it has social and even political ramifications (open-sourcing – and auditing – voting machine software should be a priority in the U.S.). Anyway, you can’t deny that there’s a strong political element in software licensing debates. Those who favor the BSD tend to be right libertarians, who place their faith in free-market ideology, while those who favor the GPL are often left libertarians, and usually more socially conscious. Me, I like both licenses, they’re both open-source licenses and both licenses are compatible (since you can make a GPLed derivative of a BSD app). These silly license wars are a waste of time. You don’t like the license, don’t use it. That’s all there is to it. 2005-06-13 4:32 am The GPL is a developer license because it can always be re-licensed if you are the copyright holder. The user doesn’t care about source code and if knowledgeable would agree that the BSD license is better because more of the code can be re-used. The FSF is headed up by the socialist Richard Stallman who wants all programs to be forced to include the source code. He can’t do this legislatively, but would like to do this through the viralness of the GPL. That’s why when you contribute to an official GNU project you have to assign over copyright to the FSF, so they can relicense your work to anything they deem fit. The FSF is a political organization who just uses code as its vehicle. They don’t care about developers or a better software experience for the end user. As can be seen by the slashdot comments, the days of the FSF/GNU having influence are numbered. The GPL can be used as a vehicle for free markets, such as dual-licensing, but the FSF hates that. You can never forget the anti-free market goals of the FSF. The last thing they want is freedom. 2005-06-13 7:38 am > You can never forget the anti-free market goals of the FSF. The last thing they want is freedom. Actually Richard Stallman made a living selling copies of Emacs on tape as people found the convenience of tape worth paying for. I remember this story because I once saw him give a talk. IIRC, he started the whole business because his lab was kindly donated a printer by HP. There was a problem with his printer that he wanted to fix and so begged HP to give him enough information to fix it. His friend at another lab had a similar printer and similar problem. Eventually HP supplied his friend with a software fix for the printer. Stallman discovered this and asked his friend for the code to fix his own printer. His friend replied that HP gave him the fix on the specific condition that he didn’t pass the fix on to Stallman. Stallman was not asking HP to do anything except allow him to fix his own problem, yet they refused. Is this the kind of behaviour you agree with? Ok, sure it was HPs code to begin with, but the point is still the same. Stallman then saw clearly how the freedom to information would have a real impact on peoples’ lives in the future. Unfortunately, Fozzie, you just don’t seem to get it. All you seem to think about is the dollars as if that is all that really mattered in the world. Yeah that abstract entity called a business has a need to prosper, and Stallman ain’t against that, but never ahead of the needs of living people. Incidentally, I have just switched to a company that makes money consulting to clients by writing and configuring mostly open source code. It is possible to make money in the free market using GPL code if you are able to adapt. The margins for a company providing free software are far better than when I was writing proprietary scientific software using other proprietary software – which means vastly more money for salaries The customer wins too as they always have the option of training their own staff to maintain their systems (although that isn’t their core business, so although they have the option, they don’t). Everyone wins. Where is you real life business experience with the GPL Fozzie, or are you some bored college kid that thinks that a clever devil’s advocate argument is amusing? Ok, you like the BSD license. Cool. Use it. However, at least go and read about the Kerberos fiasco where Microsoft took successful code and modified their version into a proprietary protocol that wouldn’t play nicely with others. Made life difficult for plenty of sysadmins for no good reason other than Microsoft wanted even more cash than it had by maintaining its monopoly. Perhaps that is why the rest of the world sees the benefit of GPL and will eventually leave inflexible dinosaurs like you behind. They might be dirt poor, but they certainly aren’t stupid. Here’s an interesting (vastly simplified) history lesson. During the Dark Ages the (Roman Christian) Church maintained a jealously guarded monopoly on learning in the West. Through various social upheavals (the Black Death being one, which shifted power to the remaining workers) came a new age of discovery. Reformation and enlightenment followed, whereby learning become more common and an explosion of ideas and progress became possible when many brains could share ideas. We wouldn’t be where we are today if the status quo had been maintained and the learning genie being able to escape temporarily but being able to be bottled up again. The same is true with software. Ordinary people come up with great ideas that would never make economic sense for a corporation to develop. However, since the natural instinct of corporations is try to obtain maximum profit (trying to obtain monopoly) they will always tend to remove competition. Once purpose of the GPL is simply to counter this and ensure that competition in the software space can never be removed. The GPL ensures competition survives, get it yet? The BSD license may be great for those garage hackers that dream of riches but unfortunately it can’t offer this protection of the GPL. As “A Nun, He Moos” has tried to point out several times. It is your choice whether to use the GPL or not, just as using the GPL may be the choice of others. We are sorry you still don’t grok it yet but if you keep thinking you may get below the surface. 2005-06-13 1:47 pm “The GPL is a developer license because it can always be re-licensed if you are the copyright holder. The user doesn’t care about source code and if knowledgeable would agree that the BSD license is better because more of the code can be re-used.” huh,what, not sure what you are saying here…more code can be re-used, how much code can you reuse if some company snags it, improves it but makes it a propriatary product? gpl covered code cannot be removed from the protection of the gpl and placed under a different license… —————- “The FSF is headed up by the socialist Richard Stallman who wants all programs to be forced to include the source code.” from the gpl faq – “… intended to make sure the users can get the source code, not to force users to download the source code even if they don’t want it.” the keyword being CAN and it explicitly states NOT forced to receive the source code. ———- “That’s why when you contribute to an official GNU project you have to assign over copyright to the FSF, so they can relicense your work to anything they deem fit.” well anyhting they deem fit would probably be just fine with me but no project is REQUIRED to turn over copyright to FSF but considering FSF has a legal team I think I would like that protection. Of course on official GNU projects you do that, it is THEIR project…. ————– The FSF is a political organization who just uses code as its vehicle. They don’t care about developers or a better software experience for the end user. Uh without them and others we would not have a “better software experience for the end user” we would still have win95! ——– I would comment more but i think it is a waste, I honestly do not see how anyone can be so purposefully obtuse and totally confused but I guess the proof is in the pudding and YES folks it can be done! 2005-06-13 5:12 pm the fsf can no longer be trusted. with all the politics involved everybody has decided that the FSF is no longer a viable entity. we can only hope that the FSF will adopt a free license like the MiT/X11. We can only hope that the FSF will stop its extremist socialist political stance and be a group for the people 2005-06-13 6:02 pm No, the community hadn’t decided anything. FSF is and has always been a political entity. GPL is and has always been a political tool. If you do not wan’t to be part of this community you are free to choose otherwise. 2005-06-13 6:52 pm Me, I like both licenses, they’re both open-source licenses and both licenses are compatible (since you can make a GPLed derivative of a BSD app). These silly license wars are a waste of time. You don’t like the license, don’t use it. That’s all there is to it. I agree with you that license wars are a waste of time. If you don’t like the license, don’t use it. As always, you should use the best tool for the job. The only correction I would make to your post is that the licenses are not mutually compatible. You can make a GPLed derivative of a BSD app, but you cannot make a BSDed derivative of a GPL app. The BSD is compatible with the GPL but the GPL is not compatible with the BSD. 2005-06-13 7:02 pm We’ve decided that anun he moos is a communist political agent for the FSF. That is fine, but we all know what his agenda is Anun he moos can not be trusted. Any agent of the FSF shall be scorned and always cast in doubt. Anun he moos is a canadian and a socialist agent. We won’t trust him ever again. 2005-06-13 7:35 pm You can make a GPLed derivative of a BSD app, but you cannot make a BSDed derivative of a GPL app. The BSD is compatible with the GPL but the GPL is not compatible with the BSD. Actually, “compatibility” doesn’t necessarily cover the ability to relicense code. You can use BSD code with GPL code, so in fact they are compatible. However, you can’t relicense modified GPLed code as BSD, while you can relicense modified BSD code as GPL. But the fact of the matter is that both code can work together, and therefore they are compatible (in the basic sense of the word). 2005-06-13 7:41 pm Right, whatever you say, bub. And what’s this about “we”? “We know what his agenda is, we won’t trust him again.” Are you talking about you and your imaginary friends? I think someone forgot to take his medication this morning… 2005-06-13 9:42 pm Actually, “compatibility” doesn’t necessarily cover the ability to relicense code. You can use BSD code with GPL code, so in fact they are compatible. However, you can’t relicense modified GPLed code as BSD, while you can relicense modified BSD code as GPL. But the fact of the matter is that both code can work together, and therefore they are compatible (in the basic sense of the word). True, in the basic sense they are compatible. I was only pointing out that the re-licensing of code (to use your example) is not a reciprocal compatibility between the two; but rather only works in one direction (BSD=>GPL). It seems that this is what upsets people. 2005-06-13 9:48 pm Yes, I think you hit the nail on the head. This seems to be the main point of contention people have with the GPL.