Subject: Smoke & fury & "free ride" comment
From: "L. Peter Deutsch" <>
Date: Sat, 29 Nov 97 14:09 PST

Some angry private e-mail has led me to realize that my "free ride" comment
was easily misunderstood, so I'll attempt to clarify it.

The GPL has the peculiar property that it gives distributors the opportunity
to profit (on a per-copy basis) from the work of software authors, while
stripping the authors of that opportunity except insofar as they do the
distribution themselves.  The "free ride" comment was a shorthand for saying
that Yggdrasil, Walnut Creek, et al were taking advantage of this provision
-- were basing their business on selling, for profit, valuable software for
which they were paying nothing.  It was not meant to indicate that I thought
this didn't involve any work on the part of the distributor, or that the
distributor didn't have other costs involved in doing the distribution.

I now regret that I used Yggdrasil as the example, since they do have a
clear commitment to "free" software.  Better examples would be DigiBoard and
Bristol Group, which have been shipping GPL'ed Ghostscript with their
otherwise proprietary fax products under the "aggregation" loophole for many


L. Peter Deutsch         |       Aladdin Enterprises ::::
203 Santa Margarita Ave. | tel. +1-650-322-0103 (AM only); fax +1-650-322-1734
Menlo Park, CA 94025     |
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