Subject: Re: Open Source -> Closed Source
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 17:04:10 +0900

>>>>> "Santiago" == Santiago Gala <sgala@hisitech.com> writes:

    >> What makes GCC non-proprietary is not the GPL; it's the FSF
    >> covenants of incorporation and the assignment contracts it has
    >> entered into with contributors.

    Santiago> I can't understand this explanation.

The point of the GPL is to ensure that future versions, as well as the
present one, are free.  But there is a loophole---if you are the
copyright owner.  So why are people so confident that software
monopolized by the FSF will stay free?

Most of it is faith in RMS, of course.  But one important reason for
that faith is that RMS has gotten good legal advice to the end of
tying the FSF's (and any successors') hands to ensure FSF-owned
software stays perpetually free.

So I conclude that if you care about the possibility that a copyright
holder might take _future_ versions private, you shouldn't rely on the
fact that it's currently GPL.  You need to understand the context of
any attempt to change the license.  That applies to organizations like
the FSF, too.  It's just that it's a well-known fact that the FSF
can't (at least, to the extent that RMS and Eben Moglen have been able
to contrive) take its software closed.

-- 
School of Systems and Information Engineering http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.