Subject: Re: Successful FSBs
From: Lynn Winebarger <owinebar@free-expression.org>
Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 02:12:17 -0500

On Saturday 28 September 2002 01:17, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> Tell that to Bill Perry and Beopen.com, who preferred Qt on technical
> grounds, but were forced to use GTK, when they enhanced XEmacs.  Or to
> NeXT, who apparently made a legal misjudgement in planning their C
> compiler product.
> 
> The GPL, like all[1] IP licenses, is inherently coercive once accepted.
> And don't tell me that "you could have written a new Emacs from
> scratch."  Exactly the same argument applies to the "Microsoft tax"
> (and in fact to all of Microsoft's predatory practices that I know of).

   There's nothing in the GPL that irrevocably binds a "user" to it.  
What might bind somebody is their own unwillingness to rewrite 
the software from scratch, but that is, again, not the fault of the 
GPL, the FSF, or RMS.  And surely NeXT had some lawyers.
Perhaps they thought they could just ignore their clear legal
obligations? (or is that the legal misjudgement you're referring to?)
   And I will suggest that if it's that big of a problem they can 
rewrite Emacs from scratch.  What makes your comparison to
M$ so outrageous is that with Emacs, you can know exactly how
the innards work.  AFAIK, the FSF doesn't claim any rights over
algorithms, or make the claim that writing code after having studied
theirs must result in a derivative work (which would be akin to saying no 
academic can publish a paper on a subject after reading someone
else's work without violating copyright).  Neither of these can
be said of M$ and reading their published works (and they are 
published literary works, no matter what chicanery M$ may wish 
to perpetrate with state contract law).
   Why is it the biggest proponents of free markets always seem to be
the first to cry about having to take responsibility for the choices they
make (in these licensing arguments, at least)? 

Lynn