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Re: Recently released QPL

On Wed, Mar 24, 1999 at 10:15:38AM -0500, Jonathan P Tomer wrote:
> > correct; the gpl doesn't allow itself to be mixed with any licenses of
> > 'lesser blood'. i guess that would make rms feel dirty or
> > something. ;)

Joseph Carter <knghtbrd@debian.org> wrote:
> This really (I mean _REALLY_) turns me off of ever using the GPL on
> anything.

Not me.

And, I don't think that tossing around words that imply a lot but
really mean nothing [for example the bit about feeling dirty] solves
any useful problem.

For example, I remember the problems I had trying to get a copy of a
"freeware" apl interpreter for unix back in the '80s.  [To make a
long story short: even though the program itself was freeware, it had
apparently incorporated a small bit of unix code -- probably for terminal
handling -- and I couldn't get the university I was at to put me on the
list of people who had a license to look at unix code.]

Freely distributed software has a long history, which predates the GPL.
Until some time around the late sixties, no one bothered selling software
-- computer science up to that point had evolved around a culture which
freely shared programs.  If you wanted access to an IBM program, you
just got a copy of it from IBM.. no big deal.

Then, someone had the bright idea of applying copyright law to software.
This was considered rather dubious, legally (after all, the essence of
software is what it does -- not how it's expressed, and copyright doesn't
protect function, it only protects the specific expression of ideas).
This has a variety of implications, and I don't know if it's worth going
into them all.

Anyways: the Unix copyright was not unique.  There are a variety of
firms which, if they think it's worthwhile, would be only too happy
to take a piece of freeware and lock it up by modifying it restricting
redistribution rights.

Personally, I think that the way the GPL solves this problem is rather
elegant.  It does tend to conflict with licenses which have a proprietary
slant, but I see that as a feature.  If you don't like that feature,
you're always free to use something else -- I just plain don't buy into
the idea that the GPL is somehow evil.  On the other hand, I don't buy
into the idea that proprietary licenses are somehow evil -- though I
generally avoid using software with such licenses for practical reasons.


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