Subject: Re: Who holds the copyright?
From: Brian Bartholomew <bb@wv.com>
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 1999 16:00:31 -0500

Russ writes:
> *I* would venture to guess that much competition in and among free
> software businesses is kept down by the large advantage held by the
> creator of the software.  Once that vendor abandons the GPL version,
> not one, but multiple parties will seek to fill that hole.  By way
> of example, I offer qmail.  Dan Bernstein is too busy to support
> qmail, so multiple vendors sell support.  If Dan Bernstein was
> interested in selling support, and could fill the market demand, I
> would bet that nobody else would try to compete.  Look at Cygnus.
> They maintain GCC, and nobody tries to compete with them for selling
> support.

Cygnus/gcc is a better example than qmail.  There is a commercial
version of gcc that behaves proprietarily*, and Cygnus seeks to
distance themselves from the libre version to maintain sales.  The
free community has not forked the libre gcc in righteous anger against
Cygnus.  This is an example contrary to Bruce's contention, that the
last libre version of a newly proprietary product will be picked up by
volunteers against the vendor.  If I understand qmail correctly, it's
an example of an libre version orphaned by the vendor, with no
corresponding proprietary version.  So it's different than the
situation I was talking about.

* Acknowledged point of contention.  The example would be better if
  the commercial gcc wasn't GPL.  I'm eager to see if Red Hat will put
  all of the embedded cpu gcc variants up for ftp.


A member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF) http://lpf.ai.mit.edu
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Brian Bartholomew - bb@wv.com - www.wv.com - Working Version, Cambridge, MA