Subject: Re: Sun to free Solaris.
From: <>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 02:08:42 -0800
Thu, 27 Jan 2000 02:08:42 -0800
On Thu, Jan 27, 2000 at 06:31:05PM +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> >>>>> "kms" == Karsten M Self <> writes:
>     kms> Anyway, it seems that the idea of a company's
>     kms> free-software-but-not-GPL'd work getting converted to GPL is
>     kms> somewhat unnerving to, if not a lot of folks, enough in the
>     kms> right (or wrong) places to make companies think long and hard
>     kms> about whether that's something they want to do.
> Please unpack this.  The GPL says "only I have the right to create
> proprietary derivatives."  It is the strongest protection a company
> can have for its intellectual property if it decides to release that
> property as free software.  I don't see why lawyer/management types
> would find the GNU GPL more unnerving than non-copyleft free software;
> rather the reverse.

Well, you've just hit on one of my gripes WRT Sun:  what they're doing
makes no sense in terms of what they've said they want.  Wrong tool,
wrong job.  Very frustrating.

I don't particularly understand the reasoning, I'm just passing along an
observation here.  I've been sitting on an email for about three weeks
responding on just this point.  What several companies appear to be
wanting to do is preserve client/customer relationships in which they
can allow customers to build proprietary product incorporating free
software, without either un-freeing the free stuff, or freeing the un-free
stuff.  This is pretty much 'zactly what the Mozilla Public License was
designed to do.  Apple's PL has a similar cant.  SCSL just plain can't.
IBM licensed you its patent portfolio and threw in some software as a
free bonus.  That's most of it.

Most commercial companies appear to be steering clear of the BSD
license, though it's got its adherents (Sendmail, Apache, several
academic-associated projects).  Essentially the commercial concerns are
as you've stated them.

My own outfit is trying to figure out how to interface with a Perl
library under proprietary license.  We think we'll have to write a
standalone wrapper, itself public domain (my preference -- we've
committed to GPL for any code we license, ergo, if we can't use GPL for
licensing conflicts, and it's just a half-dozen lines of code, make it
PD.  But we can move on that), and do a shell call to it to avoid the
process-space problem.

> What the lawyer/management types generally try to do is put in
> controls that guarantee that downstream contributions revert to the
> owner of the upstream copyright---but with that kind of proviso, the
> software is not free anymore.

Look at this puppy:


> -- 
> University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
> Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
> What are those straight lines for?  "XEmacs rules."

Karsten M. Self (
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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