Subject: RE: A few here may have an opinion on this
From: "Lawrence E. Rosen" <>
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 08:29:18 -0800

I rise in defense of the word "reciprocal."  The American Heritage
Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, defines reciprocal
as simply "interchanged, given, or owed to each other" and "performed,
experienced, or felt by both sides."  

In a unilateral reciprocal agreement (or contract?) like the GPL, OSL or
MPL, the licensor is giving the licensee free software.  The condition
(I prefer to call this the "consideration," a term of legal art of much
more fundamental importance) is that the licensee must also grant a free
software license to his derivative works, directly benefiting the
licensor to a degree measurable by the value of the modifications.  The
software cannot be made non-free.  

The fact that the licensor is making the same promise as well to third
parties is of no importance; it merely means that the license is
non-exclusive.  I prefer to say that the beneficiaries of the promise
are "all who receive the original work."

This has nothing legally to do with being moral or giving gifts,
although I have no quarrel with those who think it is both.  


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Stephen J. Turnbull 
> [] On Behalf Of 
> Stephen J. Turnbull
> Sent: Monday, October 28, 2002 3:35 AM
> To: Russell Nelson
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: A few here may have an opinion on this
> >>>>> "rn" == Russell Nelson <> writes:
>     rn> Stephen J. Turnbull writes:
>     rn> "Reciprocal", please, not "viral".  Let's not inflame RMS
>     rn> freely.
>     >> "Reciprocal" is unacceptably inaccurate.
>     rn> You want to use GPL'ed source code, you have to let other
>     rn> people use your source code under identical terms.  What's not
>     rn> reciprocal about that?
> The third parties.  Reciprocity is a clause in a (typically 
> bilateral) agreement to treat the other parties to the 
> agreement as they treat you.  The relevant clause of the GPL 
> requires me to give away the store to third parties who need 
> never do anything nice for me, and indeed may be plotting the 
> demise of my business.  On the other hand, your gift to those 
> third parties is of no direct benefit to me if I do not share 
> your moral evalution of free software.
>     rn> In any case, the problem here is not that you're not using
>     rn> reciprocal, it's that you are using viral.
> OK, I'll stop then.  But I really wish someone would come up 
> with an equally accurate and evocative term.
> -- 
> Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     
> University of Tsukuba        
>             Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
>  My nostalgia for Icon makes me forget about any of the bad 
> things.  I don't have much nostalgia for Perl, so its faults 
> I remember.  Scott Gilbert