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

Re: what's the killer app for GNU/Linux systems?

On Fri, Dec 01, 2006 at 09:52:16PM -0700, Nate Duehr wrote:
> hendrik@topoi.pooq.com wrote:
> >>My assertion: The kernel is more important than the license.  Code 
> >>trumps license.  No code, no need to even use or have a license... 
> >>whatever it is.
> >
> >Code without licence tends not to propagate.  Linux wasn't the first 
> >Unix-compatible one to have been written.  It seems to me there was a 
> >Unix-compatible kerlen written in the language TURING sometime in the 
> >late 70's or early 80's.  But it didn't have a free license, and  -- 
> >well, have any of you ever heard of it?
> Code before licenses were popular propagated just fine.  Ask RMS!  It's 
> the basis for the entire GNU movement!  Code *was* propagating just fine 
> until greedy companies added licenses.  Then the so-called battle was 
> enjoined.

True.  I remember those days from back in the sixties.  What you need 
the license for is to grant the users the right to propagate the code.  
Placing it in the public domain (which to my mind is a kind of license, 
whatever the legal technicalities may say) has the effect that companies 
can take the code private, privately enhance it to the degree that they 
effectively own what the original code has become, which may atrophy.  
This may or may not be what is intended, but the larger the developer 
community, and the greater the utility of the code, the less likely is 
will be to happen.

GPL did prevent that kind of taking-private, but its contagion 
provisions are, in my mind, more restrictive than necessary to 
accomplish this aim.

> I could send you some code in e-mail right now if you'd like.  You could 
> modify it and send it on privately to someone or use it in your business 
>  and I'd never know about it.  Code propagates just fine without licenses.

And if you ever found out about it seven years form now when you've 
acquired a different mindset?  Would you sue?  Are you sure?  If you 
did sue, would you win?  And even if you are sure you wouldn't sue or 
couldn't win, can I be sure unless you do explicitly place it in the 

Under current international law, code is automatically copyright by the 
author.  Unless a license is explicitly or implicitly granted, no one 
else has the right to make copies.

> Ironically, the places it doesn't propagate now without an onerous 
> license (of either the "good" or "evil" sort) is in PUBLIC.  Because 
> people are somehow afraid of the results of their sharing.
> Both the GPL *and* commercial licenses are ultimately based on FUD.  If 
> you're scared of the consequences of simply taking some code and using 
> it as you please and/or the consequences of doing so:  You want a 
> license to tell you how you may or may not use it.
> Neither is Freedom.  Both are restricted.  Otherwise they wouldn't be 
> licenses.
> If you simply do what you wish with whatever code you have, and accept 
> the consequences, whatever they might be, you don't need a license.

The potential consequences are what generates the fear.

-- hendrik

Reply to: