Subject: Re: Ransom (long) (was: Mandatory donations...)
From: burton@relativity.yi.org (Kevin A. Burton)
Date: 14 Oct 2001 23:31:33 -0700

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

Zimran Ahmed <zimran_ahmed@yahoo.com> writes:

> Sorry, am still not getting it:
> 
> --- "Kevin A. Burton" <burton@relativity.yi.org> wrote:
> 
> > Until someone says: "hey, can I get the source code to your package?" and you
> > say "no, not until the ransom is met".  Then you have violated the GPL:
> 
> no, having GPL'd code does not force you to redistribute. If I took some GPL'd
> software and modified it for my own internal use, I would not have to share it
> with anyone if I didn't want to.

True.  This is Freedom 1:

* The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs
  (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

> Or look at it another way. Suppose you wait until the ransom is met to *write*
> the software (think of the ransom as an advance). Once the software is
> written, you distribute (to everyone) under the GPL.

So how do yous see this working?

I always assumed that ranomed software would require distribution to users for
evaluation.  At this point the user could request the source per the GPL.

I don't see any way to demand a ransom without evidence that you have produced
the software.

AKA "I have written software that can deliver world peace and predict the future
and I want $1000 before I release it."  but with no evidence :(

> > Thus the GPL is viral.  IE if I link to a GPL application and try to ransom
> > the code your resulting application must be GPL.
> 
> yes, that's fine. Think of the ransom as an advance -- developing code in this
> way does not violate the GPL so long as the code, once it's written, is
> distributed under the GPL.

I don't honestly expect this to work.  Do you really see people paying *in
advance* to psuedononymous identities on the internet?

> maybe this is the cause of the confusion: you're not ransoming away
> *individual copies* of the code, just *all* the code. So, until the ransom is
> met, you don't distribute to anyone at all,

whoah.  This would never work :(

> you keep it entirely closed and proprietary and private (as you can under the
> GPL). Once the ransom is met, then *everyone* gets the code under the GPL. I
> don't see where the violation is.
<snip>

Sure... sounds perfect.  We just need to get people to pay for sofware that they
have never seen and for all intents and purposes *may* or *may not* exist.
Heck...  they may not even like it or it may just be plain buggy...

I think the only way this will work is to release under a proprietary license
and then distribute under an Open Source license once the ramson is met.

Kevin

- -- 

   Need a good Engineer?  Hire me!  ( Java | P2P | XML | Linux | Open Source )

Kevin A. Burton burton@apache.org, burton@openprivacy.org, burtonator@acm.org )
  Location: San Francisco, CA Cell: 415-595-9965 URL: http://relativity.yi.org 

Any programming language is at its best before it is implemented and used.
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.0.6 (GNU/Linux)
Comment: Get my public key at: http://relativity.yi.org/pgpkey.txt

iD8DBQE7ynLmAwM6xb2dfE0RAoP8AJ9ZrF0bvWZ0UyaslxCAuHB34QmJhwCfeFf7
MhxXTcIeJGb1BFSzvgo05lU=
=SjHE
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----