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No realy, it is NOT the Open Source that is evil

Come on guys, there is nothing wrong with seeing sourcecode. We all learn from that in one way or another and sometimes it can be realy handy when the API documentation was written by an incompetent.

Let me tell you what I believe is evil though. When software that was developed on tax money is released under a GPL licence.
I do not care what a hobyist does in his own spare time. If he wants to GPL the stuff, so be it. But things are different when we start talking about things like public funded Universities or public funded research projects. These bodies have no business dictating the businessmodels that should be used by the companies wanting to take these paid-for-by-taxes results further.
If these types of institutions would e.g. want to protect themselves and tag on a BSD style licence, that is great. In fact, such a practice should be recommended. Everybody can now benefit from the results obtained. But the GPL should be outlawed for results obtained through public funding.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

No disagreement here.  Wasn't that argument precisely why BSD was created in the first place?

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

So IT should be different from other industries? That tax dollars paid for something is the very reason is should be released under the GPL.  It belongs to everyone who paid taxes.  This is no different than any other government sponsored research done at universities, or even NASA.  Tax payers paid for the research, we should get the benefit of it.

In my case, just the opposite irks me.  When a professor uses university resources, students and our tax dollars to develop technology that he/she then patents.  They then form a company and we must pay again, to make use of the very technology we paid to develop.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The GPL licence means it doesn't belong to everyone equally, it belongs to those that are able to satisfy GPL terms.  BSD licence is essentially public domain but you have to acknowledge the original copyright holders, everyone can satisfy those terms.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I tend to agree.  Publicly funded software should be available to _everyone_ in the public, including commercial operators.

<g> OTOH before the government fixes this, Id love to see them fix the whole drug research funding thing where the US govt pays for the research, then gives the results to drug companies for gratis or peppercorn fees, who then sell the fruits of that research on to the public in the form of hugely overpriced drugs.

hmm...maybe thats a different topic.....prolly on a different forum....

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

You've opened a can of worms there, FullName...

I'll just say 'defense spending'.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Read up on Richard Stallman and you'll know why I, and many others, are very anti-GPL. He is the father of GNU and the GPL and slightly more socialist than Carl Marx. :)

Here, read his manifesto:

My favorite part?

All sorts of development can be funded with a Software Tax:

Suppose everyone who buys a computer has to pay x percent of the price as a software tax. The government gives this to an agency like the NSF to spend on software development.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Hi Marc,

yes, he is a radical.

but so what?  name any political movement, any club or any hobby and Ill name some radicals within it.

Just because one man has radical ideas doesn't mean much.
Even within the OSS community his views are pretty controversial.

<g> but that aside,  wth is 'socialist' about the idea you quote? (I dont particular think its a good one myself, but calling it socialist/communist is just stupid)  the govt charges you tax for every cd you buy and gives that money to the riaa because its assumed you are stealing their IP with it.  here in new zealand the govt takes money from me everytime I purchase petrol and uses it to pay for, amongst other things, hospitals, education and various other things.
...taking money from a purchase and using it to fund publicly approved works is a pretty common government trick all over the world, just because you dont agree with the intended use in this case hardly makes it communist.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I have to agree with Fullname on this one,  you are picking a person and applying their personal beliefs to the body as a whole.  If you dislike the GPL because of Stallman, you are "tossing the baby with the bath water."  However, I can understand why people would like the BSD license better. (The new one, not the advertising one). 

I also think some people may be confusing open and free software, which is nicely defined here: 

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

No, the problem is not RMS. The problem is the GPL licence.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Governments do use tax money to build roads. Sometimes they build a road to noman's land, because some company tells a representative: "If we had a road there, we'd build up a plant for some 1,000 workers." Eventually, government will build the road just to satisfy those future 1,000 voters (in their favor).

Same goes for public funding of universities, which develop software under the GPL, which then might be sold by some company - which eventually pays taxes.

So the GPL is just as bad as real politics is.

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

That isn't even the point, the GPL is poor all by itself. Looking at Stallman simply shows how such drivel came into being in the first place. The GPL represents what Stallman stands for and I can't stomach Stallman. You do the math.

BSD on the other hand was just a way to release software into the public domain with a few restrictions (mainly to ensure credit is given to the authors).

I'm a big fan of OSS and the BSD license. I'm just not a fan of idealistic morons who think government is the golden road to utopia.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Oh, and just because we tax blank CD/Tape sales doesn't mean I agree with it. It isn't the same thing, but it is just as wrong.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

While we're at it: is there any approved open-source license (by some remarkable authority) which enables you to safely ship your source-code along with the binaries, while prohibiting commercial exploitation? (unless granted by licensor)

Or does "open-source" always mean "everyone has the right to sell it"?

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I agree that if I wrote software on the government's dime, I would feel that using a BSD license instead of the GPL would be The Right Thing. But....

Universities are also allowed to patent the fruits of US-government-funded research. They have to give the government itself a free license to use the patent, but they can charge private parties whatever license fees the market will bear.

This bothers me a lot more than GPL-ing of government-funded software development.

Seth Gordon
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

There happens to be a lot of open-source development in German universities, done by students and assistant professors. In most cases, most universities even do not know that is being done because they do not have the administrative apparatus to keep track of those projects and copyrights/licenses/patents, and/or they lack legal knowledge to claim those copyrights/patents.

However, students and assistants are aware of the fact their work is not being tracked, and once detected, they claim they do it for a higher cause, i.e. that it would benefit society. Eventually, some leave universities, taking their work with them while it magically transforms into personal assets, and start filing patents on it.

Lesson: wherever government enters free markets and funds work which might as well be provided by free enterprise, doors become wide open for corruption and exploitation (in terms of "taking advantage of").

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, July 30, 2003 has a list of all licenses approved by the OSI. Note that they define 'Open source' as being redistributable (i.e. people you sell/give it to can give/sell it also). It shouldn't be that hard to come up with a license that does what you want, however.

I agree with previous people who said that the government shouldn't contract for code that's GPL'd - the BSD license is (close to) perfect for government use. It allows everyone, including businesses producing closed software, to benefit.

OTOH, the government shouldn't be restricted from using/enhancing GPL'd code when it's more cost effective. An example is the NSA's Linux - they enhanced Linux with the security features they needed for doing highly secret work. To write an OS from scratch would have been cost prohibitive as would have buying the right to a commerical OS (like Windows or Solaris). Using Linux as the base was the best choice in this situation.

To say that the GPL is evil, however, doesn't make any sense. It's just the license that the developer chose to use because it suited what he wanted to do. If you're upset because you can't take the code and make a new (closed) product with it, then just don't use it. There are probably many commercial licenses you don't like also, but they aren't evil either.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

What's so _wrong_ about GPL and government funding?  Nothing.

If you benefit from government funded research, then the GPL is the perfect fit.  You can use the GPL software or other copyrighted material for whatever commercial use you like (IBM and RHAT are the most obvious examples - explain how a company with 80 billion in yarly revenue is NOT a for profit).  There is no hindirances to using GPL software for commercial use.  Ask Nokia, Motorola, Hitachi, Fujitsu. 

There is nothing wrong with insisting that if you use government funded research that that research remain perpetually in the public domain, and that those who benefit from it, contribute to it.

What you object to is that Microsoft doens't use it, won't use it, and it is (perceived to be) a threat to the existance in the same way that all open standards are.  Perhaps it is because in a world of low barriers to entry, Microsoft is not so appealing.

And somehow, there is this interesting notion amongst those residing on Joel's discussions that their destiny is tied to the fortunes of Microsoft.  That's your problem.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

"There are no hindrances to using GPL software for commercial use. "

Not quite true, but it's a good point.

The only hindrance is that if you create a derivative work and try to distribute it, you have to make the source code of your derivative work available.  Non-GPL software developers don't like this because they can't integrate or extend GPL software within their own.  But that's about the only hindrance.  Other than that, any business can freely make use of GPL software.  And as others have said, many businesses do.

For a good rundown of why business shouldn't be afraid of the GPL, read the article at:

Herbert Sitz
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

First, I'm among the seeming minority here that doesn't like Microsoft. Having Government software BSD licensed (or, better yet, just put in the public domain) _is_ better then GPLing it.

With BSD, _everyone_ can use it. Just because a company uses it in their closed-source product doesn't mean that it's no longer available for open-source people to use. If it's GPL'ed then companies that pay taxes aren't getting a fair shake for their tax dollars. OTOH, if the government went closed-source, then no one would benefit.

Also Bluto, their is a real difference between the legal state of 'Public Domain' and GPL'd software. Public domain measn that anyone can use it, for what ever purpose they want, with absolutely no restrictions (including not giving credit).

An example of Public Domain is SQLite. it's used in both open-source (GPL'd, BSD'd, ...) projects as well as closed-source commercial products.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Speaking of "derivative work" I get the impression that some people say that the GPL is "viral", infecting any system that uses it.

Without being a lawyer, I've formed the impression that you can use GPL components in your closed source software. So for example, if you package GPL source code component as a DLL, then any changes the source which which you make inside that DLL should be GPLed, but anything that's outside that DLL (your software which calls the DLL, and perhaps also any software which is called from the DLL) needn't be GPLed. Is this a fair assessment?

Christopher Wells
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Christopher Wells states it clearly and effectively.  The only derivative work which must be shared are those which modify the existing body of GPL code, not a work which uses the GPL work.  So, if you write an application which uses a GPL'd DLL, you do not have to share the application (your work).

If you took the GPL code and added an API that didn't exist before so that your application could access parts of the library previously inaccessible, then that API code must be submitted back.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

If the software depends upon the DLL and cannot run without it then its a breach of the GPL licence for the Greater Work not to be licenced under the same GPL licence.  If the LGPL licence is used then it may be combined with other licences.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Free software lowers the demand for software in general.

The demand for software is probably not so elastic as you think.

That is, it probably doesn't grow and grow and grow, ad infinitum. Look at the office suite market.

Sometime, the rate of growh of the demand for software will plummet.

And then, lots of programmers will be jobless, and the ones who wrote the most open source will look in horror at the results of their work: great results, technically, yes, but with the side effect of killing their profession.

After this, very few people will be able to work as software development professionals (that is, paid for it), but we'll have lots of hobbists working on open source for free.

Great result, indeed.

I wish that programmers could look beyond the technical side of things.

John K.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Ah, and, after the open source revolution will have passed, we shall also have a lot of admins or "software integrators": people who take an open-source package and modify it's config files here and there in order to customize it for the users.

They will probably have very limited programming skills, too.

John K.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

"Free software lowers the demand for software in general."

Microsoft has been providing software for "free" for the last 15 years.  When a competitor comes up with a viable product, Microsoft provides it for free.  In the case of stacker/doublespace, they went so far as to provide the competitor's code for free.

Nothing new here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

> If you benefit from government funded research, then the GPL is the perfect fit.  You can use the GPL software or other copyrighted material for whatever commercial use you like

Government funded work ought to be public domain

Government funded work = community property, including mine

If it's my property, I ought to be able to use it any damned way that I please (and somebody else can too) including keeping it open, making it closed, using a GPL or non-GPL license for either, etc.

If it's my property, I ought not to be told how to use or distribute it.

And whether I make it open or close it, the community benefits
- If I make open, usual open source benefits as argued on slashdot forever
- If I make it closed and sell an app, the community benefits from increased taxes, economic growth (I'll probably spend much of the money I make at other businesses or invest it in new businesses), and presumably my customers benefit from whatever the software provides.

S. Tanna
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

John K has finally convinced me. Open source will put us all out of work.

As will good documentation - if anyone can pick up how my code works, I'll be out of work.

Perhaps we should also delete all our code occasionally, just to create some work?

The possibilites are endless!

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

John -

At the risk of being overly reductionist, there two kinds of software. Some software is written to make money. Much, much more software is written to save money (i.e. custom in-house development). From what I can tell, the people writing the latter kind of software don't fear Open Source all that much.

Devil's Advocate
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

> Microsoft has been providing software for "free"
> for the last 15 years.  When a competitor comes
> up with a viable product, Microsoft provides it for
> free.

Yes, that is true.

Microsoft also lowers the demands for software.

But while it is not within our power to stop Microsoft from making free products, it is within our power to stop making free software, and, in doing so, to stop hurting other programmers.

Want to write a program?

At least make it $1 shareware, not open source.

If you don't need money, donate the amount to a charity of your choice.

> Perhaps we should also delete all our code
> occasionally, just to create some work?

No, but we can at least stop sharing code for free.

We would do this if we (as a group) were "life-smart".

But we are only "logic-smart" and "maths-smart". And that is why we look at the suits in fear.

That is why doctors and lawyers preserve their profession, while we are destroying ours.

That is why, in 10 years I shall probably exit the field.

I really enjoy programming, but I won't be able to do it if I won't help me put food on the table.

It's that simple.

> At the risk of being overly reductionist, there two
> kinds of software. Some software is written to
> make money. Much, much more software is written
> to save money (i.e. custom in-house development).
> From what I can tell, the people writing the latter
> kind of software don't fear Open Source all that
> much.

If the current trend towards open source continues, the people writting the latter kind of software will probably also start fearing open source.

The demand for software is not infinitely elastic.

It does not keep growing no matter what software you throw at it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

S. Tanna,

Community property always has restrictions.  For example, you may at times be restricted from making fires on National Park land.  You are not permitted to drive above the speed limit on public roads.  You are restricted from carrying guns in public places, even though the constituion itself provides for your ownership of guns.  I don't think its a secret that public ownership and tax payer funding comes with restrictions, based on political will, that restrict "your rights".

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

As Simon said, I believe Bluto is incorrect about the GPL.  If your program links with, or depends upon, GPL code, your code must also be GPL.  The LGPL license allows linking with LGPL code without spreading the license to the main body.  I could be wrong on this, but I thought that was the primary difference between GPL and LGPL.

For example, the Linux libc library is under LGPL, allowing programs that link against it to retain other licenses.

Mike McNertney
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Michael -

Contemporary authors have to compete with c. 3000 years worth of works that are in the public domain and are freely available to all. Your public library probably has more books than you could possibly read in your lifetime. No one need to buy new books.

Even so, many people are able to make their livings as authors. Why cannot software developers do the same in the face of free software?

Devil's Advocate
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The Creative Commons web site ( )  with lawyer-proofed licenses you can choose from.

You get to choose some of the terms you'd like to include in the license and it will put it together for you.

Mattias Thorslund
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Get real. There's a bunch of GPL software in the department of web applications (web shops, online services, etc.) which is used by companies to make some real money. No attribution notices. No feedback to the developers. No releases of modifications, neither as GPL or other licenses. No contribution to the development communities. All branded as private property. Even attributed as being developed in-house.

Or take a look at the case Sigma Designs vs. XViD. Sigma came up with an MPEG-4 video encoding solutions, claiming they're the first on the market to provide a complete MPEG-4 solution. But folks from the OSS community found out that a significant part of the codebase was a rip-off from the open-source XViD package, copy'n'paste. Once spotted, Sigma claimed it was not aware of that infringement ("one of our employees seems to have exposed unauthorized behavior" yadda), and then re-released the codec under the GPL, but still no attributions to the XViD project.

Also, I've seen companies who send their employees to the original developers' forums to get feedback, bug fixes, and support, under the disguise of "I'm average Joe, I want to evaluate your software, but I need help". While gaining huge profits from others works and pretending in front of investors it was their intellectual property.

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Creative Commons seems to provide licenses which aim at performing arts only. I still cannot find an approved, acknowledged license which prohibits commercial exploitation by third parties.

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, July 30, 2003


You are so right - I heard about them on the radio and it was indicated they did software licenses also.

Sorry about that.  I should have checked more properly on this.

Mattias Thorslund
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

"If the software depends upon the DLL and cannot run without it then its a breach of the GPL licence for the Greater Work not to be licenced under the same GPL licence. "

That may be what Richard Stallman or the Free Software Foundation says.  In fact, it is:

But it's certainly not clear from the text of the GPL that dynamic linking creates a modified work (or "derivative work" under copyright law lingo).  And it isn't clear to my common sense thinking, either, or the common sense thinking of lots of other people who have thought about the subject.

I assume the issue of whether there's a difference between static and dynamic linking as far as the GPL is concerned will eventually be litigated.  I would be very surprised if dynamic linking turned out to be a violation.

Did you read the article I linked in my post ten or so messages above this one?  It's not written by some quack; the guy is general counsel for the Open Source Initiative (

Stallman and the FSF can't establish the correct interpretation of the GPL.  That's something only the courts can do.  Speaking as a lawyer myself, I'd say Stallman is pretty far "out there" in terms of some of the stuff he says is required by the GPL.

Herbert Sitz
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

That being said, if you are willing to replace some words here and there, I think you'll be able to use them (like replace "Work" with "Software" and so on).  But yes, they seem to be aimed primarily towards recording artists.

Mattias Thorslund
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

When one browses through their pages, he can find e.g.

which states that "The following O'Reilly technical books are currently in print and set to be released under an Attribution license after either 14 years or 28 years after the publication date, given author permission." - which shows just how theoretical that whole new era of open-sourcedness is. Who would want to read "Windows 98 Annoyances" after 14 years? And why does that license not apply after, say, 2 years, when Tim had enough bucks to have his initial spendings covered? The reason for the latter is obvious, of course.

In German, there's a saying which goes like "Getting milk from the cow, while taking it to the butcher." Tim is an acknowledged advocate of open-source software, stating several times a month that free information flow is the only way. This way, he collects all the sympathy from the open-source community. Lately, he joined Macromedia's board of directors. With the same verve he is now promoting the great benefits of Flash, a closed environment.

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

To backup the latter statements with facts, here's excerpts of what Tim O'Reilly said in an interview with stage4, found at

and assembled for your convenience:

stage4: "In your WWDC (2002) talk you explained the O'Reilly philosophy of watching the 'alpha geeks' to spot the next shift in thinking. In terms of art and technology - who and what should we be watching?"

O'Reilly: "(...) I'd also say that you don't just want to pay attention to companies, but to individuals. There's a kind of technology progression, in which individual hackers -- the folks who are comfortable enough with computers to make them do what they want, and who aren't dependent on vendor-supplied solutions -- show us future directions. Eventually entrepreneurs take what the hackers have done and make it more accessible for ordinary users. And then someone figures out how to turn it into a platform on which the cycle can repeat at a higher level.
Right now, we're somewhere between the hacker stage and the entrepreneur stage, but the ultimate outcome is what I call "building the internet operating system." The question is what kind of operating system it will be -- a "one ring to rule them all" OS like Windows, or a "small pieces loosely joined" OS like Linux and the existing suite of internet and web technologies."

stage4: "What do you think should have happened to Microsoft? Are they a threat to the open standards nature of the web?"

O'Reilly: "(...) As to the open standards nature of the web, I think that Microsoft would have put an end to that but for Apache preserving the web standards from the server end. That being said, I think that the open standards internet has been such a win for innovation that it's pushed us into this emergent new world that I've been talking about above. There's no way that this new world is going to be put back into the bag. We're in for very exciting times ahead."

But then:

stage4: "Talking of open standards - how do you see Macromedia's continuing push of Flash as a 'standard' (over html) and now moving into desktop applications with Central?"

O'Reilly: "Well, I've just joined the Macromedia board of directors, so that may tell you something about the importance I place on Macromedia. It's important for Flash to become more open and more standard (even if only to the level of Postscript and Acrobat, which have widely been accepted as standards despite Adobe's ownership, because of Adobe's complete and timely documentation of all new releases)."

I believe this is an accurate example of how people are lured into thinking that everyone is doing it and that it benefits them, so it must be good - "Don't mind the profits! Paradise waits for those who give! Future will prove you're on the right track!". In fact, just like in the dot-com-era, only a few people will benefit from that new ideology, while most people will lose. Because those who benefit already got their 7+ digit accounts at secure havens, it won't matter if the whole concept fails. They can postulate anything, it won't hurt them.

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The linking-to-a-GPL-library issue first came up (as I recall) around the GMP (multi-precision arithmetic) library.  The FSF's contention was that..

(1) The specific expression of the GMP programming interface was licensed under the GPL.
(2) The calling code was written to only work with the licensed code, and therefore incorporated that licensed code.

There was a lot of argument involved, as you can imagine.

At the end, the FSF said that any non-GPL workalike (i.e., the same API) for GMP would break contention (2).  The calling code would no longer be specifically written for a GPLed library, and would no longer fall under the GPL.  Shortly thereafter, work began on a BSD clone of GMP.

A little after *that*, the FSF released the Library GPL (nowadays called the Lesser GPL), which avoids this problem.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Government-funded work released under the GPL is just fine.

The GPL only protects the code, not the technology.

The GPL is not a patent.  It only protects one specific implementation.

Reverse-engineering GPL'd code is completely legal and utterly easy.

Now, you can't just compile a GPL'd project and slap a price tag on it like you can with a BSD'd project.  However, you can't just copy-and-sell the latest theory of producing gold using alfalfa either.  You have full access to the technology, but you have to implement it yourself.

I agree that releasing government-funded work under the BSD or public domain is better, but the GPL is fine.  Maybe the government-funded research is starting with code from an existing GPL'd source, for example.

Richard Ponton
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

[killing the profession... destroying the profession...]

Cobol programmers could say the same thing to Java developers...  Horse and buggies to car makers... etc.

I suggest reading "who moved my cheese?" (google search)

Change or change.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

> Community property always has restrictions.  For example, you may at times be restricted from making fires on National Park land.  You are not permitted to drive above the speed limit on public roads.  You are restricted from carrying guns in public places, even though the constituion itself provides for your ownership of guns.  I don't think its a secret that public ownership and tax payer funding comes with restrictions, based on political will, that restrict "your rights".

All the examples you give are about protecting the rights of others and the property itself.  (I would argue guns fall in the same category, for the same reason I shouldn't be creating a nuclear reactor in my backyard).

However with software, the rights of others and the property itself are always preserved - if the original software is public domain.... because others can always go back to the original government version and do what they like, no matter what I do with my copy.

I would not go so far as saying government should never participate in GPL.

I think government should do the least possible to get their proper position done, and least possible includes least possible software development.

For new projects and research, government work should generally fall into public domain.

However if they need to get the job done, and using established GPL code, helps them do it quicker/cheaper, then I have no objection to them doing it. 

That said, I'd prefer if government's particular contributions (not the whole GPL work including non-government parts) were marked as public domain. i.e. in case of a substantial contribution to a GPL project, the government makes their contributed code (even if non-functional on its own without main GPL work), *ALSO* available separately as public domain.

S. Tanna
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Remember kids when you write open source software YOU ARE SUPPORTING COMMUNISM!

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I said it on the other thread, but since John K is apt to repeat himself, so am I:



And Michael, if you sell your source for $1, someone else will sell theirs for ten cents. It's just economics. Either you live with that or you're one of those damned commies.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Cool! Let's all work for free.

Who needs to eat, anyway?

John K.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

You don't have to work for nothing. Well, you might, John, perhaps because you're too clueless to see the bigger picture. I hope you buy a new car when your current one breaks down, we'd all hate to see the auto industry collapse.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

These discussions remind me of a pithy Twain quote:
"No group of professionals meets except to conspire against the public at large."

I wonder how worried and apocalyptic the record label employees must act.  Another quote:
"I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone." — Jack Valenti

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Great quotes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

> These discussions remind me of a pithy Twain
> quote: "No group of professionals meets except
> to conspire against the public at large."

No, we, programmers, are too stupid to conspire to protect our profession.

Instead, we conspire against ourselves.

John K.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The NSA is not so sure.  They're apparently still sending out GPLed patches.

"NSA initiatives in enhancing software security cover both proprietary and open source software, and we have successfully used both proprietary and open source models in our research activities."

In their press release
"Both the President's National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-Terrorism and the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee have recently called for increasing the federal government's role as both user and contributor to open source software."

They also provide guides for securing MS Windows:

The problem is that the normal usage of free software entails giving feedback in the form of patches and bugreports.  Whereas, with closed-source, the relationship is more about funding a company's R&D through licensing and complaining to tech support.  So if you can't contribute to GPLed software, you can't really call yourself a user.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

OC, so what if the internet is run on open source software? That doesn't mean the same concept is good for everything. Anyway, a better name for the way internet software was written would be academic software.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I was pointing out that the internet created a lot of jobs. And there were probably people predicting the death of the software industry at the hands of these damned a academics back in the day, too. So far it hasn't happened, I'm happily employed despite (because of?) the infrastructure provided by them, and so are most people here (except maybe John K, it would explain the chip on his shoulder).

In fact, the nearest anyone's come to killing the software industry are the few stock market analysts who behaved like assholes a few years back, but that's another rant.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

On the problem of statically or dynamically linked libraries and whether GPL infects other code.

Its true that its mostly the opinion of the FSF that dynamically linking a necessary library is the same as statically linking but I can see the basis for them claiming this and more importantly as a commercial developer the risk analysis says that it is too dangerous not to assume that a court would also agree with them if it was ever tested.

And has been said for all reasonable cases the LGPL usually solves the problem.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, July 31, 2003

This tread, as its subject indicates, is not about the "open source", in the sense of getting the benefits of having source code access.
I started this tread specifically to question the use of some of the open source licences for distributing the results of public funded software developments.
So far I have seen nobody object to the application of the BSD licence.  Furthermore, everyone sticking to the subject agrees that the GPL licence is not suitable in this particular situation: the results of public funded developments.

I know that the OSS advocates are deliberately trying to hide these points. They advocate OSS licencing in general to funding instances on the technical merits that apply inclusively to BSD style licence. On the other hand they lobby specifically the use of the GPL licence to the funded project instances.
Many funding instances are completely unaware of this fact, nor do they comprehend its implications. Is there anything we can do about this?
Unfortunately it is not an easy point to argue.
Also, the OSS lobby is extremely well organized, at least here in Europe, combining both a religious fever grass roots militia and extremely powerfull puppetmasters from both political and very large, deeply connected commercial instances.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, July 31, 2003

At least in Germany, there is "hope". In the near future, the German Supreme Court will decide on some very fundamental aspects of OSS's nature. Not in the space of a theoretical, universal GPL utopia, but in the space of actual German jurisdiction. According to Guenter Freiherr von Gravenreuth, an acknowledged German lawyer in the field of software liability, copyrights and trademarks, the whole concept of building a business on OSS or distributing OSS for free has at least 3 major flaws:

(1) Many vendors like SuSe sell shrink-wrapped, boxed versions of Linux without a license written in German. However, German jurisdiction requires you to supply a license in German. If you fail to do so, general law applies, which means you ARE liable for whatever damages occur by the use of the software.

(2) Some distributors of OSS argue that, because they give something away for free, i.e. as a gift, they are not reponsible for whatever damages occur by the use of the software. This might be true in other countries, however, in Germany it has already been shown in some court cases that, if you give something away for free, while there's an appropriate price other competitors have placed on the product, the gift cannot be considered as a gift, but an illegitimate way of skewing the market. Hence, general law applies, and you are fully responsible and liable.

(3) Clauses in licenses which claim something like "no warranty in any case" are not valid if you give away a fully-functional product. You have to state in the license that the product is unfinished, and not ready for the public. Otherwise, those clauses are replaced by general law again, with implications on warranty, liability, etc.pp.

Those concepts the GPL and OSS might be in conflict with have been long established in Germany to protect consumers and strengthen warranty claims.

Johnny Bravo
Thursday, July 31, 2003

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