Subject: Re: Artistic License Essay
From: Craig Brozefsky <>
Date: 02 Aug 2001 11:34:58 -0500

Glen Starchman <> writes:

> On Wednesday 01 August 2001 07:08, Guido van Rossum wrote:
> > But the GPL *is* viral -- it contaminates other software that comes
> > in sufficiently close contact with your software.
> >
> Not only viral, in my opinion (and countless others), but a one-way 
> license. What I mean by that is: I can release software under a 
> "proprietary" license, change my mind later on and open source it, or 
> even GPL it. If I GPL my software, am I not stuck with it? Am I not for 
> all eternity forced to allow others to modify and redistribute *my* 
> work?

This is not true.  You can re-license the software under whatever
other license you want.  If you had accepted patches from others into
your code base and they submitted them under the GPL, or otherwise
caused you code base to trigger one of the other clauses of the GPL,
then you would have to resolve that issue specifically before you
could release that code under a non-GPL compatible license.  That
resolution could be simply asking the contributor to assign copyright
to you, or removing the dependency on other GPLed code from your code

You cannot rescind the copyright license on the files you distributed
tho.  This doesn't mean you can't re-release them under another
license, but that you can't send out email to the world saying "stop
using the code I released under GPL, cause I wanna change the

> > I know the FSF doesn't like these words, so you may want to propose
> > other words, but the GPL is designed to have this property which goes
> > well beyond persistance.
> There is a lot of talk about freedom coming from the FSF and, while I 
> don't wish to knock what it has done, in my estimation the GPL can be 
> just as (if not more) freedom resticting than a proprietary license.

I agree that the GPL is not free in an ideal sense.

However, true freedom is not an absolute ideal.  It operates in many
different dimensions, which often conflict with one another, and what
is a restriction on freedom in one dimension can open up an entire new
realm of freedom in another.  Freedom is also historical, it has a
past, a present and a future, it should not be judged outside of its
place in time.  True freedom is situated within reality, not
theoretics about absolute rights and morals.  

The GPL was created with this understanding of freedom.  Its past was
a time when contributions understood to be for the community at large
were privatized and then lawyers used to take those resources away
from the community.  It's present is a time when such actions are
socially unacceptable.  It's future may go either way.  If we evaluate
it in the current environment, or totally divorced from it's
historical context, then its requirements appear unwarranted and

Craig Brozefsky                             <>
The outer space which me wears it has sexual intercourse. - opus