Subject: Re: Fear of Forking
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 1999 22:50:30 -0500 (EST)

Paul Rohr writes:
 > Paul,
 > getting seriously pissed off

And justifiably so.  Brian, if you mean to pick on "an" AbiSource
(that is, a startup investing money in GPL'ed software), then please
say so.  When you use AbiSource as an example, you give us the
impression that you suspect AbiSource of abusing or intending to abuse
the GPL.

Now, I think it was myself who suggested the business plan of "startup
issues software under GPL with full intention of issuing proprietary
version later and dropping GPL version".  Said hypothetical company
could keep their plans secret.  However, that wouldn't be in their
best interest.  They would *want* to tell outside developers that they
were planning to go private if the product proved successful.  You
see, those developers would have to be bought out -- made into
stockholders.  Some developers wouldn't agree to that, and their
contributions would have to be removed and/or rewritten.

And I haven't yet been convinced that this would be a bad thing.  The
only way it would make sense is if the startup relied on the Open
Source effect.  This means lots of users and lots of external
developers familiar with the code.  IF there was still a free software
business hiding in there somewhere, somebody would find it.  Even if
not, well, as RMS points out, free software does not rely on free
software businesses, free software relies on freedom.

-russ nelson <>
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