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Re: GNU licenses

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: GNU licenses
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2006 11:21:30 +0200

On 5 Sep 2006 00:24:19 -0700 wrote:

> David Kastrup wrote:
> > writes:
> >
> >
> > If your code was working before including GPLed code, the old code
> > will still continue to work.  So the amount of non-GPLed code will
> > not decrease.  If your code was not working before including GPLed
> > code, there is nothing that can be "decremented".
> And what if it wasn't working and I needed that little bit of GPLed
> code to get a vital program component finished?

If that code is so important that your program does not function
without it, and you cannot yourself solve the problem, then why don't
you contact the author and ask for a different license? Code can be
licensed under different licenses to different people, or even to the
same person for different purposes. 

The situation under copyright law is that you _can not_ use someone
else's work. The various open source licenses give you the right to do
so while maintaining a number of conditions. Imagine that instead of
the GPL, the author had used a "no commercial use" license. Would you
then also feel that she unfairly restricted your ability to make money
with your work?

Why is it so difficult to grasp the idea that you cannot demand a right
for yourself that you are not prepared to grant to others?

> > Then don't use the GPLed code.  Write your own code if you don't
> > like the licenses from the code of others.
> I already know.

But you don't seem to want to do this.

> > If you don't like the license, don't use it.
> >
> > By the way: the copyright to the 300,000 lines remains with you.
> > The other author can only sue for his 3 lines, regardless of
> > whether you or anybody else happens to be infringing.
> But of course if I decide to use the GNU code then I am agreeing
> to surrender some of those rights, namely those withhold the
> source and/or license it under a different set of terms than GPL.

No, you keep all the rights to your original work, and you can license
it under a different license. It is just that you cannot do as you
please with the work of others. 

> > It is not used in a reciprocating way if people choose to license it
> > non-free.  This is not about whether the original license is "fair",
> > but whether the use you can make of it will always count as fair.
> And according to you, "fair" means that you have to give up some
> of your rights (namely to choose exactly what terms to license
> your original work under), and a disclosure of the source code,
> when using GPLed code in an otherwise original work. So in
> order to make the use "fair" you have to give out your code
> under the same terms as the GPLed code, ie. GPL it.

No - it is about granting the same rights to the author of the GPLed
work, namely to determine how her work is licensed. If you want the
right to decide fully over the license status of your work, then you
have to grant the same right to fellow software authors.

> > No.  It is just an imprudent choice of licensing for your work if
> > you want to get others to do the same and profit from it in the
> > long run.
> In other words the point of the GPL is to create more open code
> with legal "muscle", not just keep already free code free. I was

Indeed. As was indicated several times, the purpose of the GPL is to
ensure that there is a growing body of GPLed software, because the guy
who wrote the GPL believes that this is the way software should be

Microsoft believes that all software should belong to them, so that as
many people as possible have to pay them to use it. This is why they
systematically either kill off competing products (remember Netscape -
it had to become Open Source because Microsoft destroyed the market for
browsers), or buy them (FoxPro, Visio etc). 

These are different visions. We live in a free world (more or less).

You have the choice not to use GPLed software, in which case you're no
worse of than you would be if the GPLed software did not exist (apart
from salivating). 

If I build a toll road on my property, you cannot decide that the
advantage of my road is such -even though you're not prepared to pay
the toll- that you should have the right to use it. By all means ask me
to lower the toll, but don't suggest that somehow my building the road
was amoral because now you can no longer bear to use the existing
public roads. 

Stefaan A Eeckels
People don't ask for facts in making up their minds.  They would rather
have one good soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts.

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