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Re: Recently released QPL

On Thu, Mar 25, 1999 at 04:03:27PM +0100, Marcus Brinkmann wrote:
> > RMS has also argued against GPL+extra permissions.  RMS wants GPL, only
> > GPL, and never anything else.  Because of the anti-social nature of the
> > GPL many things are being written for the LGPL and RMS recently made a
> > plea to people to stop using the LGPL for things like libraries. 
> > However, look at what happens if you do that.
> > 
> > Either the GPL needs to change (VERY unlikely), the FSF needs to publish
> > a new license which is more friendly to things which are Free Software
> > but not GPL, or someone else needs to do it and TRY to get people to use
> > it.
> > 
> > Somehow all of these options don't seem to go very far in my mind, but
> > one of them has to happen if we want to stop this license fragmentation.
> Oh, come back from your high horse and land on mother earth again, will ya?
> If you want to prevent license fragmentation, use the GPL. if you want to
> suck in all dfsg free software, use X license.

Ahh, you mean use a license that grants me NO PROTECTION AT ALL or use a
license that grants me lots of protection, but prevents other people from
using it unless they agree with RMS' ideals?  I don't agree with RMS'
ideals.  RMS' ideals involve taking away the choice to use non-free
software, I won't support that!  RMS' ideals are about his marginalized
and to be quite honest unrealistic view of the world.  The GPL is his
attempt to force his view on others and now more than ever he's trying to
cram his views down our throats.

He has already proposed on more than one occasion that Debian get rid of
the nasty (in his mind) point on our social contract to support people
who use non-free software and has taken steps to cause us to all but
delete the contrib and non-free portions of our archive in potato.  It's
about time someone stood up and pushed for just a little bit of realism

The facts are:

Copyright law is here to stay.  It isn't going to become weaker in the
face of software, it's going to become stronger.  Why?  Because while
people like him are trying to preach to anyone who will listen, people
who have lots to lose if they can no longer abuse the Copyright system
are pouring lots of money into going so far as to make it a crime to
posess and use gdb because it /CAN/ be used to defeat Copyright

Patents apply to software in much of the world.  Even in places where
patents on software are illegal (Germany) things like the mp3 algorithm
are patented anyway---and in such broad terms that anything remotely
resembing the technology is also covered.  There is little chance of
convincing the world governments that software patents are bad.

Closed software exists.  While some companies are trying to reach out to
the community, he's trying to get them to do it his way.  They're seeing
him and his ideals and they don't think they can make any money GPLing
their software.  They can't make a real living off of tech support and
they know it.  They aren't hardware vendors.  How else can they make
money off the GPL?  Cygnus is usually cited as an example where I would
be wrong in saying that a company can take GPL software and make a living
off of selling it.  But Cygnus also sells proprietary software to their
customers who want to pay for it.

Before you talk about my high horse, you should look at RMS's.

> The X license does support license fragmentation, the GPL does not. If
> everybody would use GPL, we would have no license fragmentation, and no
> debian-legal list.

Eh?  What the hell are you smoking?  How many licenses are there out
there whose job it is to be almost GPL but not quite?  QPL, {N,M}PL, ZPL,
NCPL, the list goews on...  Yet stuff that's X licensed is just X
licensed.  People use and abuse it however they feel like, usually
incorporating it into GPL or proprietary works.

> Unfortunately, some people don't buy in either license,
> X/bsd'ish nor GPL, but try to cook up their own which allows them to
> incorporate this in their business model (QPL, NPL). This is what creates
> the real problems.

And here you go and agree with me..  People don't like the GPL because
they can't make any money using it and the X license is all but public
domain.  So they write their own licenses.  The GPL being pushed as the
"standard" and "preferred" license is what drives these dozens of new

> Stop complaining. Decide which to use for your own programs. You are free
> to choose among a variety of freeness. I prefer GPL because it makes sure
> that Free Software will grow in any case. Other people choose X license
> because they feel the need for proprietary extensions. You can even decide
> on a case by case base.
> The real solution is to publish it under multiple licenses. People who want
> most freedom, will not license it exclusively under GPL, and not exclusively
> under Artistic (for example, because this is incompat with GPL), but they
> will offer both licenses (they won't loose anything). Problem solved.

The Artistic license is unsuitable because my code can become proprietary
and I don't want that.  I don't care if someone else writes something
under BSD license and uses my code (say my code is a shared lib) in their
program.  However, I don't want non-free code to use my lib.  A license
which took this middle ground between the GPL and the LGPL is something a
lot of people have asked for and even more have tried to write.

Had there been such a license it would have been used in place of the QPL
I am pretty sure.

> If upstream authors do offer a GPL-incompatible license, urge them to
> release it under GPL, TOO. If they really care about Free Software, this
> won't change anything for them.
> But people who like the viral effect of GPL will not license their code
> under X license.

I happen to like the effect it has on the code itself.  I don't like the
affect it has on other people's code as is the case with libreadline. 
Take ash, a nice and minimal shell.  Many people would use it more if it
were linked with something like libreadline.  ash IS free software and
COULD BE linked with libreadline---except that libreadline is under the
GPL which means it is incompatible with ash's BSDish license.  Turns out
that ash was contributed to the BSD project, so there's virtually no
chance of tracking down the original author and getting the licence
changed at this point.

> I think it is reasonable for people to get religious about pro-GPL: 
> Using BSD style licenses will make it possible to extend the softare in
> proprietary software without benefit of the Free Software community.
> However, I think it is unreasonable to get religious about anti-GPL:
> If you don't like the additional restrictions, and use a GPL-incompatible,
> MORE free license, you don't loose by adding the GPL to the list of valid
> licenses (in fact, not doing so would be paradox, because you would
> invalidate your own anti-GPL argumentation with your actions)

What's good for your side is good for your side, but not your opposition? 
And I'm not "getting religious", I'm getting realistic.  Is that too
painful for GNU zealots to handle?

Joseph Carter <knghtbrd@debian.org>            Debian GNU/Linux developer
PGP: E8D68481E3A8BB77 8EE22996C9445FBE            The Source Comes First!
<stu> apt: !bugs
<apt> !bugs are stupid
<dpkg> apt: are stupid?  what's that?
<apt> dpkg: i don't know
<dpkg> apt: Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder...
<apt> i already had it that way, dpkg.

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