Python Cannot be Killed

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.net
Thu Jun 19 18:07:24 CEST 2003


"Delaney, Timothy C (Timothy)" <tdelaney at avaya.com> wrote in message news:<mailman.1055978535.23698.python-list at python.org>...
> 
> Personally, the only thing I have against the GPL is that in practical 
> terms it restricts the amount that code licensed under it is used.

Actually, a lot of software licences restrict the ways that the code
can subsequently be used or distributed. I interpret your usage of
"amount" in the above sentence to mean "range of potential licensing
situations" - ie. the GPL doesn't let you drop GPL-licensed code into
a closed source software product and then allow you to refuse to offer
the source code of that product to your customers. Therefore, some
licensing situations are off limits, but this isn't really news, and
in many cases it isn't objectionable either.

> BSD-style licenses allow far greater usage of code, and as a result such 
> code does get used more. I prefer that my code, where possible, be used 
> by as many people as possible. I also prefer to use the best possible 
> option for my code, but am often restricted at work from using the best 
> solution because it is under the GPL, and we have to protect trade 
> secrets and thus cannot release the source code to distributed projects.

I suppose it depends which kind of software projects you're involved
in. If your company/employer sells its software to various customers
and this software is the "competitive advantage" the customers pay a
premium for (with special ingredient X - your "trade secrets" -
included), then it might not be perceived as appropriate to license
that software under the GPL. One could, however, envisage a situation
where you do produce exactly that kind of software under the GPL: if
your customers are really your "strategic partners" who won't compete
with you in the software business, then it isn't in their best
interests to upload the offered source code to an FTP site somewhere
and let the world download it. (I wouldn't run a business on such a
strategy myself, however.)

As I understand it, GPL-licensed code really isn't a major risk in
many parts of the industry. For example, in situations where
consultants develop code for a customer in order to implement a
specialised system, the source code may well be the property of the
customer (as agreed in the contract) from the start, and even if this
isn't the case, the source code is probably delivered anyway - thus
the requirements of the GPL would be satisfied anyway. If the customer
isn't interested in selling that code on in binary form, then there
really is no problem in licensing the delivered system under the GPL,
provided the customer understands the obligations that they
subsequently have. (I can imagine that many customers don't want to
enter the software licensing business, so nobody "loses" through the
use of the GPL, contrary to the "arguments" put forward by certain
proprietary software monopolists.)

That's my interpretation of the terms of the GPL anyway. To an extent,
one can argue that a Python-style licence isn't always desirable, too,
at least in certain software maintenance situations, but that's
another story.

Paul




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