Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: "R. Brock Lynn" <>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 19:51:34 -0500

Russell Nelson wrote:
> Brian Behlendorf writes:
>  > On Thu, 27 May 1999, Richard Stallman wrote:
>  > >     Yup, and it's hard to get "more free" than BSD.
>  > >
>  > > That depends on how you measure freedom.
>  >
>  > Richard, this is FUD.
> Time for the usual reminder (directed more towards myself than anyone
> else, so please don't take offense anybody) that this is the free
> software business mailing list.  License discussions, which are
> perennial and intractable, should be done from a pro-business
> viewpoints.  There are other venues for other viewpoints; people who
> wish to hear them should go there.

Yes, And I have the sincere gut feeling that the GPL will do more for business
than any other free software license. In fact, without the GPL the CYA factor is
lost. :)

Think about this situation:

There are a few GPL'd software systems or projects that are written to do
"diddlysquat" more or less. For each system there are several
"coding/service/support/training/etc." companies that do bug fixing, coding for
additional features, etc. 

And there are insurance companies that spring up as well to provide risk
management in addition to any additional warranties that the coding companies
also provide above and beyond the duty of the GPL.

So we have competition at the system level (i.e. the software project level.
This would be equivalent to having another free software OS rival to Linux for
example... HURD would be a good example.) [The Debian project is working to make
HURD and Linux as close to drop-in replacements as possible.]

Then for each project, you have competition to see who can maintain the buglist
the best, or code additional features the best, or offer the best warranties, or
offer the best training, and who can also cooperate with the other competing
service companies as well, so that openly developed standards can be achieved...
and due to the GPL it would be very hard to create closed standards.

The GPL allows for a very hard to get around CYA factor. :) This model is also
terrific for coders, as they will be sought after and pampered by the various
"coding/service/support" companies who are competing for their "mind share" or
"dedication share"... It would be a new world for coders, they would finally
have CHOICE of where to work, and still be able to work on the *exact* same
project... *gasp*!

And on top of it all, the company can allow for the additional boost to
productivity that "egoboo" can provide, otherwise known as "giving credit where
credit is due." They can allow for this by letting the coders keep ownership to
their own copyrighted material. And then under contract they can require that
all copyrighted material must be licensed for use under the terms of the GPL,
and thus they get another layer of CYA, (i.e. if the coding employees left, they
couldn't take their code and close it off from the company due to spite) at the
same time the coders can get egoboo from their peers for their good code
because, 1) the code is available for perusal, and 2) It has their copyright
notices left intact. In fact, as I mentioned earlier it's better to have
multiple owners of the copyright to protect that the license is never changed.

At least I hope that current copyright law requires ALL joint owners to decide
to change the license, and that only one dissenting joint owner can thwart the
whole thing. But still, even if the process is governed on a "majority" vote,
having joint ownership would make more sense. For example FSF could become joint
owner of almost all GPL'd software out there... but then does this mean that
joint copyright owner also means joint profit share???

Points to Ponder...

--Brock Lynn

---------------------  PGP key ID: FED76A3D <> 4 / 5 / 1999

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