Subject: Re: Who holds the copyright? (was Re: The merger: a user's perspective)
From: "Bradley M. Kuhn" <>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 23:34:01 -0500

Russell Nelson wrote:
> Stan Shebs writes:
>  > (Bradley M. Kuhn) writes:
>  > 
>  > > There is no guarantee nor requirement that they ever release the software as
>  > > free again if they hold the copyright.
>  > 
>  > True, but it doesn't hinder parallel development of new versions based
>  > on the already-freed sources, which I thought was your original
>  > concern about hostile takeovers.
> It's even a reasonable way to make money from free software.  Write
> some good software, GPL it, get a lot of people using it, then sell
> your company to someone who wants to create a proprietary fork.
> For extra credit, show how the world is harmed by this.

(I always couldn't resist the extra credit assignments.  :)

The world can be harmed by this.  It is not a certainty, but if the the
proprietary software company uses the software to make great advancements
and builds a great system upon it (all proprietary) than that proprietary
fork has been a catalyst for the creation of much proprietary software.

(Of course, I am working on the assumption that you believe the existence of
 lots of proprietary software without free equivalents hurts the world as a

Sometimes, pragmatically, if a programmer is put between *never* making the
software free and dual licensing (free and proprietary to some company),
then it's much better to pick the latter.  But this is a compromise and can
stil do harm.  But, it does some good if at least part of the software is
made free at some point in time.

It's a comprise between the goals of freedom and the pragmatic fact that it
is *so hard* to make a living writing free software.

         -  -  Bradley M. Kuhn  -  -