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Re: LGPL vs. GPL

From: Ciaran O'Riordan
Subject: Re: LGPL vs. GPL
Date: Thu, 07 Aug 2008 16:48:22 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.1 (gnu/linux)

JohnF <> writes:
> Well, software doesn't have to be free to protect users from
> these kinds of problems, just open -- or visible -- source.

Well, if the source is visible, people can examine it and see where the
problem is, but I think people should also be allowed fix problems (bugs and
security holes) and should be allowed to make modifications to reduce
pointless frustration.  And when they do fix bugs, improve security, or
improve the functionality, they should be allowed to publish their
modifications so that their work can benefit everyone.

Also, if the source is visible but users aren't allowed do anything
interesting with it, it's possible that no one will bother to look at the

> But, as I suppose the usual argument goes, legislating that
> publicly available software must be open source might
> have a chilling effect on developers which could outweigh any
> perceived good.  There's always some kind of tradeoff like
> that, which can't be quantitatively predicted before the fact
>      Commercial developers are probably a different
> story.

Agreed.  Such legislation would have to be debated at length first.
Software is certainly different from food in that individuals can mass
produce software, but mass producing food is only done by companies.  Giving
liability to companies is usually reasonable because they have lawyers and
cash, but giving liability to individuals requires much more care.

I think a reasonable first step would be legislation saying that government
bodies can only use software if they are free to view the source code, to
make changes, and to make and distribute copies (at least internally).  This
should be required simply so that the government can be transparent and is
always in contol of it's own actions.

CiarĂ¡n O'Riordan, +32 477 36 44 19,

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