Subject: Re: Down with the GPL!
From: DV Henkel-Wallace <gumby@henkel-wallace.org>
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 09:33:15 -0700

On 13 May 2005, at 07:54, Chris Maeda wrote:

> Excuse me if I'm being slow, but other than striking LGPL, I think this
> language is entirely appropriate for a proprietary software company.

Chris, those long cold winters have slowed you down.  Come on back to 
California!

> Even if you're not a software company, the language is reasonable if it
> serves to escalate decisions about incorporating GPL software to higher
> levels in the company.
>
> I've done time as a public company software executive and I'm 
> sympathetic to
> the cause.  If you can't make me understand why adopting this language 
> is a
> bad idea for shareholders, you probably won't convince anyone.  So 
> please
> educate me.

The reason I consider this language inappropriate is that the GPL is 
singled out.  The choice of incorporating _any_ third-party code is 
both a technical decision and a policy decision.  A developer can't 
just order an SDK and start developing merrily away if deployment would 
require tracking shipments and ensuring that distribution rules are 
followed.  Such rules could consist of paying royalties, restricting 
sales to certain countries, adding copyright notices to startup 
screens, providing source, etc.

The implication of writing it this way is "GPL bad -- all other good."  
That is a wrong implication.  You can't just include a CSS decoder, or 
ANYONE's MP3 encoder without paying royalties, for example.

(Now on the other hand I will relate a story, which many of you have 
heard so can stop reading now, about a sales call I made to a major 
defense contractor.  They were interested in a royalty-free RTOS.  
Basically their problem was that they were only allowed to charge the 
government for the number of licenses they deployed.  And the license 
for the system they had planned to use allowed them to run as many 
copies as they wanted in a single "system" (the language was 
complicated).  As the customer related it to me: "Our problem is that 
at deployment and up through launch time it's a single system.  But 
when it reenters the atmosphere it will be multiple independent 
systems, and so at that time more royalties might be due.  SInce the 
systems will be deployed in multiple locations we don't fit into  a 
"site license" either.")

So that's the "educating" -- but is it convincing?

Cheers,
-g