The Industry choice

Bulba! bulba at
Fri Jan 7 02:13:28 CET 2005

On Thu, 06 Jan 2005 14:27:55 -0800, Jeff Shannon <jeff at>
>>>That's generally the goal of the Free Software Foundation: they think 
>>>all users should have the freedom to modify and/or distribute your code. 
>> You have the freedom of having to wash my car then. ;-)

>A more accurate analogy would be, "You're free to borrow my car, but 
>if you do, you must wash it and refill the gas tank before you return it."

That analogy is an equivalent of LGPL. Not GPL. GPL in analogy would
require you to donate whatever you created thanks to studying the
construction of that car in the meantime. And yes, again, sure
that is what the borrower agreed to do, sure that NOT using it
at all does not result in such obligations, and again - that is not
the point.

>Note that the so-called 'viral' nature of GPL code only applies to 
>*modifications you make* to the GPL software.  The *only* way in which 
>your code can be 'infected' by the GPL is if you copy GPL source.
>Given the standard usage of closed-source software, you never even 
>have access to the source.  

Which means that standard closed-source software does not impose
itself on your software - except those detestable cases where
Stefan Axelsson pointed out, it prevents you from developing
smth similar if you agreed to such a pre-condition in EULA of this

It would appear that such a software attempts to economically
lock the user in using the only binary in the world that implements
this functionality; and FSF attempts to economically, indirectly
lock the developers - and indirectly users - in "being pressured
to give away" on the rationale of sharing being so good for 

Now, this may not be what they INTENDED - but from my 
viewpoint it seems like that is the RESULT.

Not only I see this as unfair, but also as counter-effective
in getting more of people into both using and developing
software with publicly available source code ("free software"
guys tend to get hot under the collar when they hear 
"open source"). 

Trying to bully people into this thing _for their own good_ 
tends to have the effect opposite to the intended. You
achieve more by showing positive attitude rather than via 
conspiracy theories and paranoia. It is also this mostly
friendly and relaxed aspect of Python community that I
like so much.

Again, agreeing / not agreeing and resulting use / walking
away _are not the issue_. I don't see MS defended like "well
if you don't like whatever MS does, just don't use their 
software, so shut up about whatever licenses MS actually 
has and about whatever it does!".

>If you use GPL software in the same way 
>that you use closed-source software, then the GPL cannot 'infect' 
>anything you do.

True, but that abstracts from source code issues, doesn't it?

>The 'infective' nature of the GPL *only* comes when you make use of 
>the *extra* privelidges that open source grants.  

Those extra privileges are the only way of _building_ large 
software systems, isn't it? So I would define it as "normal".

Yes, closed-source is sort of "crippled" in this regard. 

>So yes, those extra 
>privelidges come with a price (which is that you share what you've 
>done); but if you don't want to pay that price, you have the choice of 
>not using those privelidges.  This does not, in any way, prevent you 
>from using GPL'ed software as a user.

Obviously; but while what you wrote is true, it is not the crux of
the problem.

>(Problems may come if someone licenses a library under the GPL; that's 
>what the LGPL was invented for.  But the issue here is not that the 
>GPL is bad, it's that the author used the wrong form of it.)

>Personally, I'm not a big fan of the GPL.  I'm much more likely to use 
>BSD-ish licenses than [L]GPL.

Personally, I think that LGPL in abstract sense does make sense: if
you use and modify this thing, you should return back the _modified_
part - and this should apply regardless whether you keep it in private
or not, release in binary or in source to anybody.

However, it's definitely safer and since it also FEELS more benign,
BSD-like licenses are probably more productive in terms of motivating
people to  cooperate, so I agree with you on that point.

>  But it still bugs me to see the GPL 
>misrepresented as some plot to steal the effort of hardworking 
>programmers -- it is, instead, an attempt to *encourage* hardworking 
>programmers to share in a public commons, by ensuring that what's 
>donated to the commons remains in the commons.

OK, a quick sanity check: does Python not remain "in the commons"
because some people use it in closed-source applications? I would
say that ALL of software released under GPL, LGPL or other free / 
open source licenses remains in the commons.

All of the controversies seem to be about the derived works, don't

It's a man's life in a Python Programming Association.

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