Subject: Re: Open Content woes
From: "William C. Cheng" <>
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 10:44:05 -0400

Richard Stallman <> wrote:

  > This week, when giving a speech, I asked the audience whether they
  > considered "viral" a term of praise or condemnation.  Only a handful
  > raised their hands for praise; most of the room considered it
  > condemnation.
  > Since the word remains a term of insult, describing the GPL that way
  > remains a kind of hostile name-calling.  (It is also, in my
  > experience, usually based on a misunderstanding of what the GPL does.
  > I think that is the case here.)

I am teaching a undergraduate data structures class and the class
project is submitted in parts.  I wrote up a solution to part (2) of
the project and post it to the class newsgroup.  I also put the code
under GPL so the poor students who screwed up part (2) of the project
can start afresh for part (3).  I also mentioned that they can use the
code if they follow the licensing terms of the code.

Of course, the next day in class, a student asked me about GPL (only
5-10% undergrads in my class have heard of GPL, or those who heard of GPL
don't like to raise their hands) and what does the licensing terms mean
exactly.  As I was explaining, I said... "If you use GPL'ed code, your
code must be licensed under GPL...  You know, it's like a (...pause...)
virus! ..."

Actually, I had another choice term in mind (since it's on TV all
the time these days).  Anyone want to guess?  Anyway, I think Richard
should be happy that people are not calling GPL an STD!

The problem with the "viral" description is that it's a pretty good
description!  Well, I couldn't come up with a better term in class
(I only have worse ones -- now flesh-eating bacteria comes to mind).

  > You have a right to call the GPL nasty names if you wish,
  > but are you sure that is what you wish to do?

A threat!?  You got to be kidding!

Bill Cheng // <URL:>