Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: 31 May 1999 18:59:33 -0000

Ben Laurie writes:
 > I absolutely don't understand (or agree with) this view that publishing
 > something under BSD can somehow lead to it being taken away from me.
 > How? Show me the mechanism!

A programmer wishes to build a free software business.  Let's call him
J. Random Tiemann.  He writes a C++ compiler.  Now he has to choose a
license for this compiler: MIT or GPL.  If he puts it under the MIT
license, then when a microprocessor company ports it to their
processor (either by themselves, or by going to Tiemann's
competition), they can choose to keep it private.  Now, Tiemann's
company (call it Sungis) cannot sell support for that version of the
compiler.  Worse, they cannot use that version to build a compiler for
a similar, but competing microprocessor from a different company.

Yes, Sungis still has the original compiler, however their competition
has the full benefit of it WITHOUT any obligation to give a copy back
to Sungis.  I don't care if you want to call that "taken away from me"
or not.  From a businessman's perspective, my code has been used to
give a proprietary advantage to my competition.  That makes the MIT
license completely unacceptable for code written by a free software
business.  Of course, *any* business would like to be subsidized, so
anybody would love a publicly-spirited group to write MIT-licensed
software.  But it's not something I'd build a business model on.

-russ nelson <>
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