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Re: Re: [avr-chat] µC/avr crypto lib

From: Dustin Lang
Subject: Re: Re: [avr-chat] µC/avr crypto lib
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 20:32:06 -0400 (EDT)


I think "open" might be too vague and loaded a term to really discuss licensing issues.

What's the best possible outcome for an open-source developer? For me, it's that people use my code and contribute the results back to me, which makes the code better, more people use it, ... and we solve a problem.

GPL is great in that it enforces, to the entent possible (*), that if the code is used for something, then the community benefits from that use. The problem is in that "if" -- commercial organizations often avoid using GPL code at all because they know that if they do, they'll be force to release other parts of their code. That hurts -- code that isn't used by anyone doesn't help anyone.

BSD removes that barrier -- hence you could say it's more "open" to being used -- but it doesn't guarantee that the community benefits from this use. Its strategy is to catch more traffic, even if the return on that traffic is smaller (and not guaranteed). (**)

(*) Within the constraints of current legal systems. In my mind, the biggest weakness of the GPL is that it only restricts *distribution* of the code. If a commercial entity runs the code as a web service, for example, they can do whatever they want with it -- they're not distributing the code, just the results of running the code. Apparently GPLv3 tries to do something about that. I admit to not having spent the time to get to the bottom of GPLv3.

(**) In practice, I suspect that a significant part of the reason that commercial users contribute code back is so that they can keep up with changes to the public codebase without having to merge in their private changes in the future!

Just my thoughts :)


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