Subject: Re: [ppc-mobo] Re: GPL-like hardware design license?
From: "John Metzger" <>
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 16:15:55 -0700

>     ``If you will make your software free, you can use this code.''
>     How about, "you can use this code, if we can use your software for free."
> No thanks.  If I don't have the freedom to share and change your
> program, I don't want it even if you pay me to take it.
> The GPL is designed to promote those freedoms.  It's seems that the
> reason you are unhappy with the GPL is that you don't like that goal.

I have nothing against that goal. But not at the price of loosing support
for complex new hardware like a Firewire port that may require a proprietary
driver mixed into the free Linux kernel (or any of the other examples I've

> You want people to give up their freedom,

No, that's what you want. You want people to give up the freedom to do as
they please with so-called "free" software, because it isn't what you want
to do and may not promote your goals. So you force people to accept a
restrictive license, the GPL on a take it or leave it basis, which is no
different than MS's attitude about their license. And it's your right and
MS's to do that. But it's rather disingenuous to talk about GPL as if it is
the only path to freedom when it restricts some freedoms.

There is no free beer or a free lunch and the terms to the GPL which are
designed to promote your concepts of software freedom are the loss of other
freedoms and other software possibilities.

What I want is the ability to ship a hardware product that can utilize Linux
and your concept of freedom as far as is practically possible. But I do not
want to pay the price of dropping support for all proprietary code, my own
or someone else's, and inhibiting all the good products those combinations
can lead to.

> so as to use your
> proprietary software.  You say it is ok for people to be subjugated,
> as long as they accept subjugation "voluntarily".  And you want to use
> my code to help tempt them into giving up their freedom.

I'd like us all to get USB and Firewire supported what ever route it takes,
ASAP (not 15 years down the road).

But yes, in some cases the price I'm asking customers to pay is to give up
the ability to see inside the black box if they want the product because I
haven't found a way to give you (the customer) a way to look inside and keep
competitors from seeing inside as well and preventing them from using the
information to destroy my ability to deliver the very product you and others
are willing to buy.

You don't want to pay that price. That's your choice, but you don't even
want to allow others to make a choice about paying that price.

> Well, I voluntarily decline to contribute my code to such a project.
> I express this decision by using the GPL.
> The GPL offers you a deal for how to use my code: you can use it if
> you will make your package free software.

I have no package of software to make free. It's hardware. Combined with
other proprietary (black box) stuff (which happens to be implemented in
software... but could be implemented in hardware.)

> In effect, you can use
> our community's code if you contribute your work to the community.

My work is to create a hardware product. And that's the contribution to your
community. Superior hardware for your software. That product has to have
software to support it. You like to use that very software. But I can't do
the best job possible because I can't take third party, close, proprietary
stuff and mix it with the open stuff in a general way. I don't write any of
this code. I combine your free code with somebody else's non-free code so
everybody can use it (with some restriction applied to the non-free stuff).
You don't like the restrictions. Others may be willing to accept them.

> If you won't accept this deal, that's ok, we can't win 'em all.  The
> deal is accepted often enough to achieve its goal, which is to help
> build up the free software community.

Make that partially free.

>  If you don't want to
> contribute, that's ok; other people do.

In some cases that's correct. I won't contribute. In some of those cases
it's a matter of I can't because I don't own the code I'd like to use. In
others it's because of the nasty old problem of having to sell something to
make money.