Subject: Re: forking the list considered harmful
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 1999 13:37:16 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Brian" == Brian Bartholomew <bb@wv.com> writes:

    Brian> Russ writes:
    >> I'm half tempted to drop the old code, and just start selling
    >> somebody else's free software.  Keep the brand and lose the
    >> code.  :)

    Brian> What value would you be adding?  Marketing?  Pointing out
    Brian> to customers that one of their problems can be solved by
    Brian> one of "your" programs?

This is a valuable service.  What makes you think Russ's customers are
as well-educated in Russ's field as you are, let alone as well as Russ
is?

Or maybe they'd just rather pay Russ on the rare occasions they need
somebody who's handy with "wget http://www.gnu.org/..." and let him
pay for his own retirement, rather than employ somebody who will spend
39 company hours a week writing her Ph.D. dissertation, and have to
pay for her retirement, too?

    Brian> So maybe that's how the "selling gpl'ed programs" thing was
    Brian> intended to work.  To the extent that people want to buy
    Brian> pure marketing, vendors will arise to provide it.  And I
    Brian> thought it was about selling the programs.  It's not.  It's

You _cannot_ "sell a GPL program", unless it's your sole copyright.
That's the essence of the "copyleft hack."

And even then the only purpose for selling the program is so that the
buyer can take the derivatives they write proprietary; if he planned
to keep all derivatives free, he'd just use it under the GPL, no?

All anybody has, or will ever have, to sell, when it's GPL and
intended to stay that way, is what you call "marketing."
Communication, training, bundled services, warrantees, etc, etc.

    Brian> about selling the service of marketing.  Meanwhile, the gpl
    Brian> program remains a purely volunteer production.

Right.  That's the point of the GPL, is it not?  To force you to
volunteer your derivative work back to the community that contributed
the original to you?

Russ didn't say he wasn't going to volunteer some time to make his
code base better (and everybody else's at the same time); he just,
reasonably enough, is planning to get the software assets he needs for
his business---immediately and at the market price of zero.


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