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[Ed Burnette Tells The Truth] Stallman admits GPL flawed, proprietary li

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: [Ed Burnette Tells The Truth] Stallman admits GPL flawed, proprietary licensing needed to pay for MySQL development
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 2009 12:51:40 +0200

"Stallman admits GPL flawed, proprietary licensing needed to pay for
MySQL development

Posted by Ed Burnette @ 12:14 am

Categories: Commercial, Community, General, Licenses, Linux

Tags: GPL, MySQL, Richard Stallman, Stallman, Tools & Techniques...,
Open Source, Databases, Management, Enterprise Software, Software

Software freedom activist Richard Stallman and others are trying to
block Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL. Why? Because MySQL is covered by
the GNU Public License (GPL), and the purchase has exposed a flaw in the
GPL that Stallman says will cause a “major setback” to the development
of the free database if the acquisition is allowed to go through.

Under the GPL, the copyright holder (usually the author) has special
privileges that no one else has: they can use the code in a proprietary
product. In an open letter to the European Commission, Stallman admits
that revenue from this proprietary licensing is necessary to fund
development for the free version (emphasis added):

MySQL uses the parallel licensing approach to generate revenue to
continue the FLOSS development of the software. If Oracle acquired
MySQL, it would then be the only entity able to release the code other
than under the GPL.... As only the original rights holder can sell
commercial licenses, no new forked version of the code will have the
ability to practice the parallel licensing approach, and will NOT EASILY

The letter was signed by Richard Stallman and representatives from
Knowledge Ecology International and the Open Rights Group.

Stallman’s position is exceptional when viewed against his long history
of evangelizing Free (as in speech) software as the “morally correct
choice” that trumps all other considerations. Compare the letter above
with this sermon on his web site:

Proprietary software developers have the advantage of money; free
software developers need to make advantages for each other. Using the
ordinary GPL for a library gives free software developers an advantage
over proprietary developers: a library that they can use, while
proprietary developers cannot use it.... Proprietary software
developers, seeking to deny the free competition an important advantage,
will try to convince authors not to contribute libraries to the
GPL-covered collection.... But we should not listen to these
temptations, because we can achieve much more if we stand together.

We free software developers should support one another. By releasing
libraries that are limited to free software only, we can help each
other’s free software packages outdo the proprietary alternatives. The
whole free software movement will have more popularity, because free
software as a whole will stack up better against the competition.

Even if MySQL were owned by Oracle because of its purchase of Sun, the
database would still be Free Software. Anyone could use the source code,
build their own version, and distribute it to others. But finally
Stallman has recognized that may not be good enough because somebody has
to pay for this stuff. Score one for pragmatism over purity. Hallelujah.

(Photo illustration by Zack Whittaker)

Ed Burnette is a professional developer and author of several articles
and books about computing including Hello, Android: Introducing Google's
Mobile Development Platform. For disclosure of Ed's industry
affiliations, click here or to view his full profile click here.

Email Ed Burnette"


(GNG is a derecursive recursive derecursion which pwns GNU since it can 
be infinitely looped as GNGNGNGNG...NGNGNG... and can be said backwards 
too, whereas GNU cannot.)

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