[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Social Contract

Paul D. Smith wrote:
%% Mike McCarty <Mike.McCarty@sbcglobal.net> writes:

  mm> Isn't that one of the claims of most people who support the use of
  mm> the GPL? That, since everyone just labors on it for love, or
  mm> whatever, and that the source is available, then the quality will
  mm> be better?

I don't know about what "most people" claim, but that's not part of the
manifesto of the FSF or reason behind the GPL.

Well, I wasn't intending to imply that. Sorry if it sounded like I was.

I haven't read this entire thread, but let me say that the primary goal
of the FSF, and the reason they created the GPL, and the reason they USE
the GPL, is in no way, shape, or form about making better quality
software.  That may, or may not, be a side-effect.

I agree that the main motivation of the FSF is not specifically quality.
It's about always getting source so one can study, learn, and repair
broken stuff.

Also, the FSF and GPL also aren't concerned with maximizing the freedoms
of any particular individual; if they were then obviously public domain
is the right way to go.

Why, thank you. When I've made statements like that, I've been accused
of being a GPL hater, an enslaver, and a liar.

What the GPL is all about is maximizing the amount of available free
software (where "free" is defined by the traditional freedoms to
examine, modify, and redistribute, as discussed on the FSF's web site).
That goal means that some individual freedoms are not available, but
this isn't uncommon: there is often a trade-off between individual
freedoms, and freedom of the group in general.

We certainly agree there, except I would omit the phrase "traditional
freedoms" and substitute "privilege" and add "restricted privilege"
before "redistribute".

  mm> So, the GPL tells me what I can do with something I purchased.  It
  mm> tells me how I can dispose of it, and under what conditions.  And
  mm> discourages me from making modifications to it, because then I've
  mm> got to release that, too.

If the fact that you don't want to distribute your modifications when
you distribute the "result" of your modifications is a discouragement to
you, then definitely the GPL is not for you.


The people who choose the GPL are doing so for a very specific reason:
They are not totally altruistic.  They want something in return for

I'm leery of imputing motives to people I don't know.

their work that they provide you.  It's not necessarily money: instead
it's that you contribute any enhancements you make to their work back
into the commons.

I'm sure that's true for some. I'm equally sure it's not true for

If that quid pro quo is not to your liking then you should definitely
stay away from the GPL.

Thanks for that advice. I'll do that.

  mm> Oh, and I've got to assign the rights to the Free Software
  mm> Foundation. That's a primary point in the GPL. Because otherwise
  mm> the FSF and you and whoever cannot get standing. You might
  mm> investigate that part of it.

That's totally, absolutely untrue.  Not even close to being true.

No, no, it is.

IF you modify a program where the FSF is the copyright holder (and there
is far more software under the GPL where the FSF is not the copyright
holder than otherwise--the Linux kernel for example), and you want to
contribute your changes back to the FSF, then yes, the FSF will ask you
to assign your copyrights before they accept the changes.  This is so
there is one unambiguous copyright holder for the entire software

And that's what I meant.


  mm> If the fit is good, then fine. For me, the fit is not good, so I
  mm> don't use it. For people who try to make a living writing
  mm> software, who are not members of the idle rich, and who cannot
  mm> afford to donate a significant portion of their lives to giving
  mm> away software it generally is not a good fit. One part which makes
  mm> this a bad fit is that anything which the GPL touches it invades.

You are looking at this incorrectly.  The FSF isn't against anyone
making money.  There are many ways to make money on software that does
NOT involve using a proprietary license.

Umm, do you presume to speak for the FSF? In private e-mail back in
1986 or so I discussed Richard Stallman's goals with him, and his
goal, AIUI, is that people should *not* make money off of writing
software. If I understand him properly, he disbelieves in any form
of intellectual property. But, since he lives in a world which is
not to his liking, he uses the intellectual property laws to try to
reshape it as closely as he can to a world where people cannot
make money merely by writing and selling software.

The GPL can actually _HELP_ you make money.  Why do you think the MySQL
folks, the Qt folks, etc., release their stuff under the GPL?

Huh. You like to speak for others, I guess. I don't have any idea
why they do that. Have you had conversations with them? How would
you know?

Some people I know of do some GPL stuff in order to entice you into
getting their proprietary one. The GPL one is what we used to
call in the Shareware world "crippleware".

This message made from 100% recycled bits.
You have found the bank of Larn.
I can explain it for you, but I can't understand it for you.
I speak only for myself, and I am unanimous in that!

Reply to: