Subject: Re: [open-source] [Fwd: [icecast-dev] announces Vorbis Beta 4 and the Foundation]
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001 08:56:21 +1100
Wed, 28 Feb 2001 08:56:21 +1100
on Tue, Feb 27, 2001 at 08:08:36PM +0100, Stefano Mazzocchi ( wrote:
> Richard Stallman wrote:
> > 
> > The GPL is not an end in itself; it is a measure to protect our
> > freedom.  In general I would rather see software copylefted, which
> > is one way of defending users' freedom against one particular
> > danger.  In the case of Ogg/Vorbis, there is a bigger danger from
> > another direction: the danger that people will settle on MP3 format
> > even though it is patented, and we won't be *allowed* to write free
> > encoders for the most popular format.
> > 
> > To overcome the inertia that supports MP3 format will require
> > strenuous effort.  Even if we do our utmost to encourage everyone to
> > replace MP3 format with Ogg/Vorbis format, it is not certain they will
> > do so.  Consider how long we have been trying to replace GIF with PNG.
> > 
> > Ordinarily, if someone decides not to use a copylefted program because
> > the license doesn't please him, that's his loss not ours.  But if he
> > rejects the Ogg/Vorbis code because of the license, and uses MP3
> > instead, then the problem rebounds on us--because his continued use of
> > MP3 may help MP3 to become and stay entrenched.
> > 
> > Thus, my agreement with the idea of a lax license in this special case
> > is just as pragmatic as my preference for the GPL in most cases.  In
> > both cases it is a matter of how we can attain freedom.
> Richard, I'm very happy to read your wording on this.
> It occurs to me that your reasoning could well be applied in many of the
> ASF projects where we try to protect our "freedom" by making sure that
> open standards remain so and don't get "polluted" by lock-in.
> In one article (sorry, don't remember where), you make an example on how
> the kerberos system was "polluted" by Microsoft and you suggest that the
> use of the GPL would have prevented this from happening.

I don't recall an article by RMS regarding this.  Evan Liebovitch (sp?)
ran a series of two or three articles through a ZDNet pub on the issue,
possibly a year or so back.  I and several others noted that licensing
and standards compliance are orthogonal -- certification mechanisms,
such as certification marks, are a far better tool.  I've had
discussions with RMS in which he's indicated a similar conclusion.  I
find it difficult to believe RMS is advocating GPL as a standards
compliance tool, that's not its purpose.  It's a software freedom (for
FSF definitions of free) tool.


> I disagree: I'm sure Microsoft has enough work-power to rewrite every
> piece of software they want and the GPL doesn't prevent the creation of
> clean-room implementations with proprietary enhancements.
> The ASF's main focus is to keep the web "free" and avoid proprietary
> lock in. We do this for the HTTP protocol, and we do this for the XML
> language, for XSLT, FO, SVG and all a bunch of other open standards.

Different tack.  AFS does for a *protocol* what FSF does for *software*.
Good aim, good goal, good work.  Different objective.


> Why am I saying this to you? well, your opinion on the BSD license is
> notorious and normally indicates that the BSD license is, somewhat,
> less-free than the GPL. While this might be the case for lots of
> software, there are cases where BSD means more freedom than GPL.

The BSD-Apache license is incompatible with the GNU GPL.  I believe this
is the primary objection RMS has to it.  Non-advertising clause BSD
(released by UC Berkeley with the assistance of SIMS Dean Hal Varian,
~summer 1998 or 1999) bypasses this issue.  I haven't heard RMS comment
on the revised BSD license other than to note that it's:

  - Free software
  - Non-copyleft
  - GPL compatible

...which tend to be RMS's primary concerns.


> But people should not be scared-away from the BSD license just because
> the concept was not invented by the FSF.

You're misrepresenting the position of the FSF.  It cites licenses which
are acceptable within its own objectives.  BSD-Apache isn't.  MIT and
BSD-revised are.


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

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