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[LMAO: Brian "Krow" Aker's Idle Thoughts] RMS, GPL, The Peculiar Instit

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: [LMAO: Brian "Krow" Aker's Idle Thoughts] RMS, GPL, The Peculiar Institution of Dual Licensing
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 2009 14:30:00 +0200

"RMS, GPL, The Peculiar Institution of Dual Licensing

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Oct. 22nd, 2009 | 11:28 am

I am going to take the words of my colleague Tim Bray to explain my own
position regarding the acquisition of Sun by Oracle:

[Disclosure: I have no non-public information on any of the
aspects of the Sun/Oracle transaction, nor on the current anti-trust
and I am not speaking for anyone but myself.]Just to further add to
this, I am one of the main contributors to the largest community driven
and contributed fork of the MySQL server, Drizzle.

>From Richard Stallman:

MySQL is made available to the public in two parallel ways. Most users 
obtain it as free/libre software under the GNU General Public License 
(GPL) version 2; the code is released in this way gratis. 
MySQL is also available under a different, proprietary license for a
This approach was able to provide (1) an attractive platform for 
developers looking to use FLOSS, and secured MySQL enormous 
mind share, particularly in supporting content rich web pages and 
other Internet applications, and (2) the ability for paying clientèle to 
combine and distribute MySQL in customizations that they do not 
want to make available to the public as free/libre software under the
With excellent management and considerable trust within the user 
community, MySQL became the gold standard for web based FLOSS 
database applications.

What I find sad is Richard's commitment to the expansion of more close
source software by the means of a "Robin Hood" sort of philosophy. Dual
Licensing is nothing more then the creation of yet more software, where
the end result is the creation of not more open source software, but the
creation of yet more closed source software.

The GPL's approach is to provide a stick or carrot. If you are open
source, then you don't pay, assuming of you are "the right" sort of open
source. If you are close source or pick a license which is not
compatible with the GPL you are forced into paying for use of a
commercial license. When you "pay" for open source the freedom that was
originally offered to the end user is removed. In the case of
incompatible open source licenses you too are forced into the position
of removing the freedom granted both and possibly the freedom you
granted to your own work. Take any current distribution of a linux
distribution and do the research on licenses within it. The tangled mess
that is found will confuse anyone. MySQL itself was only able to solve
some of this by offering a "FLOSS Exception" to the portions of the code
it owns.

Dual licensing is anti-open source. I have no issues with this per-se,
but I find his support of a "peculiar institution" a bit head

At the heart of dual licensing is "ownership rights", which inevitably
come into conflict with the nature of open source. Open Source projects
that preserve the ability to do dual license come into conflict with the
developers who contribute the code. For the project to continue it must
ask the original developer to give up their rights to the code via
copyright assignment (there is some debate on whether copyright can be
held in joint, but this is often disputed by lawyers). Thus dual
licensing forces any developer who wishes to contribute into a position
of either giving up their rights and allowing their work to end up in
commercial software, or creating a fork of the software with their
changes. In essence it creates monopolies which can only be broken via
forking the software.Forking software over small changes is for the most
part unviable because of the cost of keeping a fork of the software up
to date, but it is not impossible.

I, being one of the main contributors of the largest of the MySQL forks,
Drizzle, can tell you that this is no simple task but is quite
achievable. Our reward has been that in our single year of operation we
have achieved a larger base of contributions then MySQL achieved in its
decade long existence. Community contribution at the expense of
proprietary extensions is a small price compare if you consider the
value that surrounds us by releasing that opportunity.

The conflict inherent in trying to reserve rights, and take the rights
from others, leads to conflict.

If you wish to observe this in action, take a look at the list. Watch the jockeying and counter posture
attacks that go on between Sun, MontyAB, and other groups. Each group
trying to take rights and create position within the MySQL codebase.
None of this does any good for the ecosystem surrounding MySQL. Users
lose out in the end as bug fixes and enhancements are lost over an
attempt to hold eventual rights that will be reserved for proprietary
software, and at the same time creating a monopoly for the single party
who gains "rights" control over the project.

What I find sad about this is Richard's own lack of imagination when it
comes to the opportunity he has at hand. Here is an opportunity for him
to influence Europe's main body and push forward the concepts of
co-operation and community that surround open sources, and he wastes it
for the opportunity to preserve the "peculiar institution" of dual
licensing and furthering monopolistic intentions.

Preservations of the rights of end users, linking issues, open source
license compatibilities, the rights of open source developers to
continue their work... there are a plethora of concepts and actions he
could be investigating.

Richard's advocation for dual license is in conflict with the concept of
the nature of the free exchange of ideas and concepts within the open
source community. His attempts at being an open source advocate on the
point in question?


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(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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