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Re: [avr-chat] µC/avr crypto lib

From: Bernard Fouché
Subject: Re: [avr-chat] µC/avr crypto lib
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 12:05:34 +0200
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20080421)

Bob Blick wrote:

The fact that there are already crypto libraries with other licenses
says to me it's about time we have one that's GPL. Because whether you
like it or not, it's the preferred license for many people. Who write
code. Code that you probably use every day. Maybe some written by
Richard Stallman.

(IIRC, 'xyssl' has both licensing: it is available as GPL or BSD. (however http://xyssl.org is down today so I can't confirm))

GPL was designed for software products only. Software is inexpensive to reproduce and to provide to customers.

In the embedded world, software is sold with hardware. Hardware costs are directly linked to the amount of products manufactured, hardware must be shipped to customers and customers want proximity for service/maintenance of hardware.

When a company sells an embedded product with GPL code in it, it counts on its Bill Of Material being so low, its market share being so big, and/or its hardware being so complex to reproduce that no one will be able to take the same GPL code, build hardware from scratch and make money from it. (for instance, I can read the GPL from a menu in my Panasonic plasma screen but even if I call Panasonic to query the source code, I will never be able to manufacture plasma screens and take any market shares from Panasonic. IIRC Netgear stuff also runs GPL code, but who here will compete with Netgear?)

However if you make yourself in your garage a product that runs code that got the GPL virus, then you will able bigger companies to query the whole source code and eventually make their own version of your product, probably at a lower cost or with a better commercial network to sell that product.

The GPL initial goal is then totally reversed: the author of the code is sure to be robbed of the code's benefits, as anyone that includes the author's code in a product, but the 'big cats'. The big cats make their living because they can manufacture zillions of products at a cost you will never be able to reach in your garage and they can reach customers that will never buy from you. If at the same time they can lower their software production costs and steal clever ideas from the source code thanks to the GPL, that's better for them, not for the individuals that initially wrote the code.

LGPL/BSD allow small companies manufacturing products to be at the same level than bigger companies, at least for intellectual property rights, and these small companies may hope to grab market shares because of creativity hidden in their product's source code. GPL forbids small manufacturers to have such hopes.

So until hardware production costs reach software reproduction costs whatever the amount for products considered, until distribution/transportation costs are also zero, until brand names are all equal, until creativity has no more value, until intellectual property rights are nil, GPL is not "the preferred license" for people that wants to make hardware devices and make a living by selling them, no matter what is the current fashion trend about the GPL.

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