Python Cannot be Killed

Alexander Schmolck a.schmolck at
Wed Jun 18 00:12:18 CEST 2003

Jarek Zgoda <jzgoda at> writes:

> Krzysztof Stachlewski <stach at> pisze:
> >> More than that - unlike Kerberos, Python can not be taken by any
> >> particular company and become its "flagship", while being screwed.
> >>
> >> Software Craftsmen, please, consider this fact when choosing a license
> >> for your product - only GNU GPL guarantees that your code will not be
> >> "taken away" by any company.
> > 
> > Python is not GPL (something has changed from yesterday?)
> > It is GPL compatible. This is not the same.
> Did I say "Python Craftsmen"? No, I didn't...
> I mean, that any of you, that produces any of software that is intended
> to be freely available, you should consider publishing it under GNU GPL,
> since this is the only license, that guarantees anything. 

Nonsense. All licenses "guarantee something". The GPL, unlike BSD, guarantees
that everything that "in part contains or is derived from" GPLed code must
itself be GPLed. This may or may not be what you want, even if you don't care
about being "business friendly".

For example, while the conditions of the BSD-license seem fairly clear to me,
GPL seems rather more open ended:

GPL (point 9):

    The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of the
    General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar
    in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new
    problems or concerns.

    Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program
    specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any
    later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions
    either of that version or of any later version published by the Free
    Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of
    this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free
    Software Foundation.

I am not a lawyer, but my reading is that this gives the FSF a fair amount of
control under what conditions *MY* GPL'ed code is available -- if they publish
a new version, my code is automatically licensed under it -- even if I don't
happen to agree with those changes. Wrong?

Another issue is that the meaning of "in part contains or is derived from" is
anything but obvious, at least unless you are an IP expert (static linking and
cut&paste are not the only forms of code reuse).

> There are loobies that say that BSD licensing is more "business friendly" -
> in fact, you can see what "business friendliness" means in recent SCO vs.
> IBM case - this all is due to "Open Source friendliness" to business. If we
> follow straight rules of Free Software, we will newer face such a shame.

Well, I might be wrong, but I think this is also complete nonsense. AFAIK SCO
claims to have patents on **GPLed** code!

And whether BSD licensing is more "business friendly" depends on your
particular business model -- for example try telling the Qt or Alladin people
(who after all run successful businesses) to switch from GPL to BSD licensing
because it's more business friendly.

Another issue is that BSD-style licenses also happen to be more open-source
friendly in many cases -- GPL is incompatible with many other open source
licenses and the aims of even some of those programmers who only write
open-sourced software.


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