Subject: Re: Artistic License Essay
From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2001 15:38:30 +0200

On Wed, Aug 01, 2001 at 05:09:16PM +0200, Norbert Bollow wrote:
> > Not only viral, in my opinion (and countless others), but a one-way 
> > license. What I mean by that is: I can release software under a 
> > "proprietary" license, change my mind later on and open source it, or 
> > even GPL it. If I GPL my software, am I not stuck with it? Am I not for 
> > all eternity forced to allow others to modify and redistribute *my* 
> > work?
> If you own the copyright of the project, you are free to
> re-release it under a different license later.  You can
> re-release under a proprietary license.  If you program is
> popular, it is likely that someone will fork it at that stage
> and continue maintaining a GPL branch that is based on your last
> GPL'd release.
> I you want to, it is possible to give up your freedom to
> re-release under a proprietary license.  That is usually done by
> assigning copyright to the FSF.  Your benefit from this is that
> the FSF will take action to enforce the license if necessary.
> (Whether or not you want that benefit, that is your choice.)

except that releasing copyright to the FSF may no be legal in some
countries, like France.  For two reasons:
  - moral rights can never be released (although that rule is not so
strong for software, more for artistic work).
  - and a unilateral contract is not binding... i.e. you can always
change your mind later.

   as a consequence, in France it seems that (according to some legal

   GPL is OK because you exchange your rights for possible improvement
by the community.
   BSD type licences have no legal value since the other party
(users/modifiers of your software) are not bound to give anything

  Interesting, isn't it ?

  BTW... if GPL is viral, than proprietary licences are deadly ... if
you use the code, they kill your project.
  More seriously, the word viral should be avoided because of
connotation ... given that some people out there are not our friends.

> > There is a lot of talk about freedom coming from the FSF and, while I 
> > don't wish to knock what it has done, in my estimation the GPL can be 
> > just as (if not more) freedom resticting than a proprietary license.
> The GPL does not restrict the freedom of the copyright holder in
> any way.  Neither does a proprietary license.
> The GPL gives the users of the program much more freedom that
> proprietary licenses do.  That's why I and many others like the
> GPL: We want to give a lot of freedom rights to the user of the
> softare.

Freedom is something that needs permanent fight and protection ... it
is not just the absence of rules...  no one needs long studies in
philosophie to learn such basic truths....

   Bernard Lang

         Non aux Brevets Logiciels  -  No to Software Patents
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