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Re: The Show So Far

On Wed, Mar 12, 2003 at 08:19:34PM -0800, Terry Hancock wrote:
> Furthermore, if you made enough modifications and/or innovations to prevent 
> being outcompeted by a free competitor derived from the same GPL sources you 
> used, then you have committed considerable capital resources.  Once again, 
> IMHO, you have a right to charge for your work.  If I don't like to pay you, 
> I have an easy option -- just replicate from "GNU Foo".  The point is, if 
> it's *easy* I don't have a problem and if it's *hard* then you earned your 
> money.

People who develop GPL code do so with the understanding that nobody can
take that code and make it proprietary.  This is the fundamental, basic,
ultimate reason people use the GPL instead of less restrictive licenses.

This is what is undermined by the RPC loophole.  The value of their
modifications doesn't justify circumvention of the GPL premeses--just
the opposite, it makes the circumvention that much more of a problem.

> Surely the carrot -- allowing free developers to improve the software instead 
> of having to bear all development costs on yourself -- is adequate to 
> encourage release, without the stick.

If we believed this, then we would all be using BSD licenses, not GPL.
The GPL is written with the express belief that this is not true.
(Experience shows--lots of proprietary vendors, such as Microsoft, have
taken BSD code, integrated it into their products, improved it and
never contributed back code at all[1].)

If you believe that there's no need to force people to release source,
then you're not arguing against this case specifically, you're arguing
against using the GPL at all.  (That is, this seems to be a BSD-instead-
of-GPL argument.)

> Although, I am in fact developing a web application, and for me the "carrot" 
> is far and away sufficient to release the code, even though I expect there 
> will be few actual deployments. I'm hoping users of my site will be motivated 
> by the desire to make my site more useful to them.

So are you going to release under a BSD-ish license, then?  Why force
people to release source through legal means if you don't really need to?

I agree that the RPC loophole may either be unfixable, or it may not be
possible to fix it without sacrificing too much freedom elsewhere.  I'm
not yet convinced, of course.  I do think there's a potential problem;
I'm not *quite* convinced it'll become a real one.

[1] Of course, Microsoft's products that make use of BSD code aren't
highly known as being very *good*; but they don't release source just
the same.

Glenn Maynard

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