Subject: Re: EROS license
From: craig@jcb-sc.com
Date: 26 Jun 1999 19:15:06 -0000

>I am not arguing that this is immoral or unethical or unfair.  I am
>arguing that I, for one, am less likely to contribute to a project
>under such a license.  I don't mind letting other people use my code,
>but I'm not comfortable if they get to use it in ways that I can't.

Permit me to add a bit of "precision" to Ian's comments -- which express
sentiments with which I totally agree -- in case anybody gets confused.

Anytime you contribute code to a GPL code base (same with at least some
other OSS-licensed code bases), you do, of course, allow other people to
use that code in ways that you can't.

For example, I can take any arbitrary recent patch submitted to the EGCS
project and use it in a proprietary *unreleased* product, e.g. make it
part of a server on the net, or whatever.  The contributor of that patch
cannot use that code in the same way, because I might have mixed it in
with code to which he does not access (such as my own, unreleased code).

However, I can always *invite* the contributor of such a patch to work
on the code, if I choose -- neither I, nor the contributor, is denied this
opportunity (for us to work together) by the GPL.

What I believe Ian is concerned about, and what certainly is a concern
of mine, is the case where a *third party* ends up with a product containing
his publicly contributed code, but he can't access it *even assuming that
third party wants him to*.

In other words, the problem isn't the transfer of code from A to B without
A having full access to all B's uses of the code, because B can always
invite A in to work on those uses.

The problem is that if B can subsequently transfer A's code to C *without*
also transferring the freedom B has to invite A in to work on the code,
then both A and C "lose" -- C and A can agree to have A work on C's
uses of A's code *only* if B agrees to that arrangement.

I believe that's the essential problem with dual-use licenses, where
contributions default (or are required) to becoming the property of
the copyright holder.

(The Free Software Foundation (FSF) serves as a copyright holder on
core GNU products, of course, so, in the abstract, it could turn all
those products into proprietary distributions, thus realizing the same
unwanted scenario.  I believe that's extremely unlikely to happen,
given the agreements the FSF and code-contributors signed to transfer
code "ownership" over to the FSF, plus the protections that pertain to
charities such as the FSF under the US legal system.  I'd start worrying
about it only *after* we saw things like lumber companies take over
charities like the Audubon Society, Greenpeace, and the Sierra Club,
converting those charities' natural assets, such as forests, to
commercial use.)

        tq vm, (burley)