Subject: Re: brands, trademarks, and the GPL
From: "L. Peter Deutsch" <>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 23:08:10 -0700

> If you keep on developing Ghostscript, you can switch to whatever new
> license you care with each new version.

Unless I specify the GPL version, I cannot prevent FSF (or anyone else) from
unilaterally licensing GNU Ghostscript with any future GPL version.  That is
my point.

> I you don't, it may be that you no longer care, and may as well want to
> leave decisions to some organization committed to evolve the license to
> adapt to the need of open source community. But the decision is to be made
> on your last version.

Ghostscript is currently supporting 6 full-time people (including me).  I am
not willing to put those people's future in the hands of an organization
that has clearly demonstrated that it cares about the rights of software
users, packagers, and adders-on, but not those of original software

> Do you seek to bind possible ghostscript contributors who would make
> significant contributions before you lose interest yourself, and gather
> enough follower to get some control ?

If I understand your question correctly, no.  In my opinion, if someone
wants to add to Ghostscript, they should have the right to license their
contribution under any terms they want -- but not to license mine under
their terms.  The GPL currently forbids the former and potentially allows
FSF the latter; by specifying a GPL version I can mitigate the latter.  Now,
there are Open Source licenses that allow the former, and no Open Source
license that I can think of other than the GPL allows the latter (later
changing of the license terms by someone other than the copyright holder),
so if it hadn't been for a promise I made to rms when I started working on
Ghostscript 13+ years ago, I would probably choose an(other) Open Source
license over the GPL.

> You have to think in the future:
>  - either you still care when GPL-v3 comes out, and you can do something
>    about it (if you dislike it), since you still develop.

If Ghostscript uses the "or any subsequent version" language, anyone will
have the right to apply GPL v3 to Ghostscript, and I will have no say in the
matter.  I can, of course, develop new software that isn't GPL'ed, or
specifies GPL v2, but it will be too late for Ghostscript.

>  - or at the time, you are no longer caring, and leave the proper decisions
>    to others (a choice that you have to make now, since you will no longer
>    care)

As I pointed out before, if I don't make the right choice now, others will
be able to make decisions that may have ramifications far beyond their own

>  - or you prefer to block any future evolution with your present decision,
>    even though you will no longer care, though the landscape may change.

I am happy to see future evolution of the GPL.  If I like a future version,
I will be happy to use it.  What I do not want to do is decide *now* to
entrust that decision irrevocably (for a given version of Ghostscript) to
FSF.  FSF did not write Ghostscript; FSF did not pay for the thousands of
programmer-hours that went into writing Ghostscript; FSF does not own the
copyright of Ghostscript; FSF is not using and will not use Ghostscript to
create or sustain a successful software licensing business; FSF has no
apparent interest in whether such a thing is possible, and in fact is if
anything hostile to it.  I don't doubt rms's sincerity or good intentions,
but his goals are different from and at times incompatible with mine.


L. Peter Deutsch         |       Aladdin Enterprises ::::
203 Santa Margarita Ave. | tel. +1-650-322-0103 (AM only); fax +1-650-322-1734
Menlo Park, CA 94025     |