Subject: Miles Davis Tribute (was Re: so waht? Re: WG: MSFT and GNU questions)
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2001 10:14:53 -0700
Mon, 11 Jun 2001 10:14:53 -0700
on Sun, Jun 10, 2001 at 10:45:52PM -0700, Ian Lance Taylor ( wrote:
> Angelo Schneider <> writes:
> > The GPL and LGPL are arguable the oldest "free" or "open" licenses.
> > Slighly followed or even older, by MIT/BDS licenses.
> There was free software out there before the GPL.  Arguably that
> software typically didn't have a coherent license.  I just took a look
> at a couple of old programs (B news and Timothy Stoehr's rogue), and I
> couldn't find any explicit license.

No explicit license, with no clear statement of intent, means
unlicensed.  Thought there may be a tradition of making such code
generally available, there is no guarantee that this will continue to be
the case.  This is at the heart of issues such as the pine mailer, some
of the djb projects, pgp, the BSD IPFilters code, and others.  And
explicit license is insurance for the user.  Absense of a license means
that copyright law governs.  As enforcement is largely up to the author,
the question then becomes whether or not the author wishes to pursue

Most free software licenses contain essentially three components:

  - A rights grant.
  - A liability disclaimer.
  - An obligations statement.

There is more to it than that, of course, but each component serves a
purpose.  Without the rights, users and downstream modifiers have no
legal basis to copy, modify, and distribute a work.  Without the
liability disclaimer, original and contributing authors face a potential
liability risk often with no attached revenue stream.  The obligations
are the "hook" of free software -- this is the (usually) nonpecuniary
reward sought by the authors of free software,  

> > Thats no wonder that there is more software published under that
> > license.
> I disagree.  By the time free software development got to 1/10 of what
> it is today, the GPL, the BSD/MIT, and the Artistic licenses were all
> well-established.  I don't think there is any bias toward the GPL due
> to its arguable age.

Not its age directly.  However, it's fairly well conceived, and to the
extent it lapses, it's well understood.  It's also tenacious -- code
based on GPL used as the basis of other projects pretty much mandates
use of the GPL.

> I think that if it is indeed true that the GPL tends to dominate, that
> the explanation is simple: Linux uses the GPL.

Chicken, meet egg...

Karsten M. Self <>
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?       There is no K5 cabal

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