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Re: Hypothetical situation to chew on

On Thu, Jan 06, 2005 at 12:57:49AM +0100, Francesco Poli wrote:
> > I don't think most
> > people find offensive the notion of a sole copyright holder of a GPL-
> > licensed work granting proprietary licenses for a fee.
> It's perfectly legal, AFAIK.

Of course.

> * in many cases it generates the interest to persuade potential
> proprietary-license buyers that the proprietary variant is somewhat
> better or the only alternative (possibly contributing to spread FUD
> about the GNU GPL)

This is a problem with individuals being dishonest, not a flaw of
this particular business model.

> * I fail to see the usefulness (from a downstream recipient's point of
> view) of a proprietary variant, when a technically identical piece of
> software is available under the GNU GPL (the only exceptions are maybe
> libraries and the like...)

This model is most common and most useful with libraries.

> * some of the downstream recipients do not get freedoms, and this does
> not "sound good"

I disagree.  People still have exactly as much freedom to make use of
the GPL work after an additional license is granted to some third party
as they did before.  For example, I don't have less freedom to use MAD
if Nullsoft buys a proprietary license to make use of it in Winamp[1].  (On
the other hand, if it's funding the person doing the development, it may
help ensure its continued development, which actually is in my interest.)

The only case where what you say holds is where the licensee purchasing
the proprietary license would have otherwise used the GPL license and
released source.  Which case--encouraging companies to GPL source, or
funding the further development of the work itself--is more beneficial
is an open question, up to each licensor to decide for himself, of course.
(In this case, I'd say that the future maintenance of MAD benefits me
and my projects far more than would Winamp being released under the GPL,
but it can go either way.)

[1] which, as far as I know, they have not done; this is a purely hypothetical

Glenn Maynard

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