Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: "William C. Cheng" <william@cs.umd.edu>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 17:48:31 -0400

Alessandro Rubini <rubini@prosa.it> wrote:
  | William Cheng:
  | > Are you free to sell your product without making your source code
  | > availabel to your customer?  Clearly, you can't if your code contains
  | > GPL'ed code!  So, using GPL'ed code limits my freedom as opposed to
  | > using some other free liecneses.
  | 
  | This is being repeated over and over. It's the "anti-gpl" leit motif,
  | as already outlined.

I'm not anti-GPL.  I think GPL is quite nice in many situations.

  | But there's nothing new in what you say: it's
  | written in the GPL itself:
  | 
  | 	  To protect your rights, we need to make restrictions that
  | 	forbid anyone to deny you these rights or to ask you to
  | 	surrender the rights.  These restrictions translate to certain
  | 	responsibilities for you if you distribute copies of the
  | 	software, or if you modify it.

Why will this give me (as the recipient of the code) more freedom as
compared to the case where the code is put under another free license?

  | > How is it possible to argue that I received more freedom when I
  | > chose to receive GPL'ed code instead of code under another free
  | > license?
  | 
  | The *author* chooses the licence. If you, as author of tgif, think
  | this way, than I'm very happy to choose the GPL for it instead of the
  | current non-free license.

(Tgif is a bad example because it uses a non-free license.  I think
Richard was comparing free licenses.)

Compared with other free licenses, does GPL gives the *author* more
freedom?  Certainly not.  The author is free to choose any license.
Does GPL gives the recipients more freedom?  I don't believe I've seen
a convincing argument for it!

  | Disclaimer: I don't attack who uses non-free licenses for his/her
  | software (although I wanted to write you anyways to talk about the
  | tgif license), so this is *not* an attack against your license. I am
  | just disappointed to hear an author of non-free sw arguing so strongly
  | against the GPL in name of freedom.

As I mentioned before, I think GPL is quite nice in many situations.
Although I don't think it's suitable for tgif, I don't think it
disqualifies me for talking about it.  I have spent great efforts
considering GPL for tgif.  This includes reading GPL numerous times,
following newsgroups and mailing list discussions, prepared a GPL
release of tgif and discarded it, talking to my lawyer to discuss
the pros and cons about using GPL for tgif, etc.

I'm not against GPL, I'm simply against the claim that GPL gives
people more freedom than other free licenses!
--
Bill Cheng // bill.cheng@acm.org <URL:http://bourbon.cs.umd.edu:8001/william/>