Python is better than free (was Re: GNU wars again)

Delaney, Timothy tdelaney at
Wed Oct 3 04:54:48 CEST 2001

> From: Chris Watson [mailto:opsys at]
> On Tuesday 02 October 2001 02:58 pm, Oleg Broytmann wrote:
> > On Tue, Oct 02, 2001 at 11:58:52AM -0500, Paul Miller wrote:
> > > Trying to make me into a cheap-skate and a thief doesn't 
> endear me too
> > > much to you Oleg.
> >
> >    But of course!
> >
> > > The issue is not whether I use people's work without 
> paying them - if
> > > they didn't want me to, they would CHARGE for it.
> >
> >    This is exactly how the GPL works - it charges for my 
> code. You can pay
> > me money, or you can pay me by opening your code.
> Thats called extorsion. 

Time to wade in.

My preferences lie very strongly with BSD-style licenses (basically, do what
you want with this). I personally feel that code should be available to be
used in whatever way someone wants. This is not to say that all code should
be without charge - depending on what it is, I would be quite willing to pay
a (one-off) fee to be able to *then* do whatever I wanted with the code
(with some caveats - I would not expect to be able to distribute code in
unmodified form if it required a fee for me to obtain it in the first

I find the GPL is one of the best ways to ensure that your code will not be
used by other people, unless you get lucky and it becomes a big open source
project (note - no capitals on open source, so no one jump on me for using
the term incorrectly). For every large GPL project that's well supported by
many developers, there are thousands of bits of GPL code which are never
used by anyone except the original author.

With BSD-style licenses, you find that you code is more likely to be used by
someone else. GPL code is often useful, but not used. I know I have many
times looked at something, thought I would like to incorporate it into
something I was working on (usually public domain or open source), then
noticed it was GPL and decided not to use it because it would restrict what
others could do with my code.

However, GPL is *not* extortion. The writer of a piece of code has every
right to want to protect, control or charge for it.

Tim Delaney

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