Subject: Re: Opportunity lost? Challenge declined!?
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Wed, 16 May 2001 12:31:38 +0900

>>>>> "rn" == Russell Nelson <> writes:

 >     rn> Even if the price was zero, you still wouldn't have the
 >     rn> freedom to fork.  If the code is proprietary, then by
 >     rn> definition you cannot make a unlateral decision to fork it.
 > That depends on the license.  AFAICT, the AFPL permits you to fork
 > Aladdin Ghostscript any time you like.  [ You just can't sell it. ]

    rn> But does that make the code proprietary? 

AFAIK the AFPL makes the code proprietary.  It's not _OSD-compliant_
or _free_.  What else defines "proprietary" in this forum?  (Honest
question.  "Not OSD or public domain" is the definition I always use,
but I won't impose it on you if you have another.)

    rn> You could also argue that the GPL prohibits you from selling
    rn> code as well.

Of course it doesn't.  It is always permitted to sell as-yet
undistributed enhancements to GPL software to sufficiently motivated
clients: that's one point of Cygnus's business model.  You cannot do
this without Aladdin's permission in the case of Ghostscript.

I'm sorry to quibble over the details.  The point is that providing
source to _anyone_ is good; providing source to _everyone_ is better.
Allowing forks on _limited_ conditions is good; allowing forks for
_any_ reason is better.  Etc.  Many dimensions.  Some combinations of
these alternatives are defined as "free".  Others are "proprietary."

Within the proprietary set there are better and worse combinations of
license provisions, both from the point of view of social benefit and
the viewpoint of profitability.  These viewpoints are almost certainly
not diametrically opposed!  There are probably highly profitable
proprietary arrangements that nonetheless generate most of the social
benefits.  I believe that the AFPL, in its domain, is one.

I don't think discussion of such licenses is appropriate on FSB as
chartered.  I do think that FSBers have a strong interest in them,
though, as they are partially compatible with our goals.  And FSBers
(that is, the "economist faction"; the "freedom faction" has different
goals) should support people interested in them.  A mailing list for
those purposes would be a good idea.

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."