From: Patrick Maupin on
On May 9, 1:03 pm, Steven D'Aprano <st...(a)REMOVE-THIS-> wrote:
> On Sat, 08 May 2010 13:05:21 -0700, Patrick Maupin wrote:
> [...]
> > certainly the
> > risk of discovery if you just use a small portion of GPL code and don't
> > distribute your source must be very small. There are certainly fewer
> > companies getting away with MIT license violations, simply because the
> > license is so much harder to violate.
> Do you really think it is harder for copyright infringers to copy and
> paste a small portion of MIT-licenced code and incorporate it into their
> code than it is for them to do the same to GPL code?

No, but there is less incentive for them to hide their tracks.

> > If I produce something under the MIT license, it's because I
> > want to give it away with no strings.
> A reasonable position to take. But no strings means that others can add
> strings back again. You're giving people the freedom to actively work
> against the freedoms you grant.

Only on modified versions. The internet is a wonderful thing. A
smart user can certainly find my original package if he is
interested. A dumb user -- well, maybe I don't want to support them

> This is very similar to (e.g.) the question of tolerance and free speech.
> In the West, society is very tolerate of differing viewpoints. Does this
> mean that we should tolerate intolerant and bigoted viewpoints? Does
> tolerance for other points of view imply that we should just accept it
> when the intolerant tell us to change our behaviour? Perhaps some people
> think that tolerance implies that we should quietly acquiesce whenever
> the intolerant, racist, sexist and bigoted demand we give up our
> tolerance and free speech in the name of tolerating their hateful
> beliefs. I prefer David Brin's philosophy:
> "We have to go forth and crush every world view that doesn't believe in
> tolerance and free speech."

Okaaaaay, but I think, given most current fair use interpretations,
most software licensing doesn't implicate free speech concerns. In
any case, GWB's attempt to impose tolerance and free speech on the
rest of the world shows that going forth and crushing may not, in some
cases, be the best policy, especially when the crushing involves
trampling the very rights you are trying to promulgate.

> If you value tolerance, then tolerating the intolerant is self-defeating.

Possibly, but you need a measured response. We don't patrol the roads
to make sure that nobody driving down them is a KKK member. We deal
with KKK members according to their words and/or actions. If you
value personal responsibility, you let people make bad choices and
then suffer the consequences of their own actions. (Like letting me
license my stuff under MIT :-)

> And if you value freedom, then giving others the freedom to take freedoms
> away is also self-defeating.

As I wrote in an earlier post in this thread, a lot of the discussion
gets down to the age old question about whether someone is really free
if he is not allowed to sell himself into slavery. This is a very
interesting philosophical question that has had many words written
about it. I personally don't think the answer is black-and-white, but
then I'm not much of a religious fanatic about anything.

> In the long term, a free society may come to
> regret the existence of MIT-style licences -- to use a rather old-
> fashioned phrase, these licences give comfort and support to the enemy
> (those who would deny freedoms to everyone but themselves).

Or in the long term, a free society may come to realize that the
license incompatibilities pioneered by the FSF and embodied in the GPL
set free software development back by two decades by making an
incremental approach difficult. Or it may be that the way things are
going is the normal chaotic market approach that actually speeds
things up and is actually the optimum way to get there from here. The
future is very difficult to predict, and even, in a few years, with
20-20 hindsight, it will be difficult to accurately speculate on what
might have been.

> But in the short term, as I have said, one can't fight every battle all
> the time, and MIT-style licences have their place. It's certainly true
> that an MIT licence will allow you to maximise the number of people who
> will use your software, but maximising the number of users is not the
> only motive for writing software.

I think we're in violent agreement that both permissive and GPL
licensing have their place. Certainly, the GPL is a more comforting
license to some people, and any license that encourages more good free
software to be written is a great thing. A developer ought to be able
to license his creation under a license of his choosing, and from my
perspective the whole purpose of the debate in this thread is to make
points for and against various licensing schemes to help the OP and
others in their decisions.

> > If I'm
> > going to use any prebuilt components, those *can't* be licensed under
> > the GPL if I want to deliver the final package under the MIT license.
> An over generalisation. It depends on the nature of the linkage between
> components. For instance, you can easily distribute a GPLed Python module
> with your application without the rest of your application being GPLed.

I agree that's probably true. However, if you read and parse Stallman
and Moglen very carefully, they don't *want* it to be true and in some
cases deny that it's true. The fact that a lot of people who use the
GPL take their word for this and also believe it means that it may be
morally wrong to make this sort of software combination even in some
cases where it is legally permissible, so in general I assume that if
someone distributes something under the GPL (as opposed to the LGPL)
then their intention is that any system that uses their software as a
component is also GPL.

> > To me, the clear implication of the blanket statement that you have to
> > use the GPL if you care at all about users is that anybody who doesn't
> > use the GPL is uncaring.  I think that's a silly attitude, and will
> > always use any tool at hand, including sarcasm, to point out when other
> > people try to impose their own narrow sense of morality on others by
> > painting what I perceive to be perfectly normal, moral, decent, and
> > legal behavior as somehow detrimental to the well-being of the species
> > (honestly -- ebola???)
> In context, you were implying that "freedoms" are always a good, and that
> more freedom always equals better. I provided a counter-example of where
> more freedom can be a bad. What's so difficult to understand about this?

Well, for one thing, it was not my intention to imply that more
freedom is always good. I was answering the phrase "Unless you place
such a low value the freedom of your users" which is, IMHO, somewhat
inflammatory language, with equally inflammatory language. Obviously,
the truth is somewhere in the middle.

From: Patrick Maupin on
On May 9, 1:02 pm, Paul Boddie <p...(a)> wrote:
> On 8 Mai, 22:05, Patrick Maupin <pmau...(a)> wrote:
> > On May 8, 2:38 pm, Steven D'Aprano <st...(a)REMOVE-THIS-
> > > No, you don't *owe* them anything, but this brings us back to Ben's
> > > original post. If you care about the freedoms of Cisco's customers as
> > > much as you care about the freedoms of Cisco, then that's a good reason
> > > to grant those customers the same rights as you granted Cisco.
> > But I *do* grant them the same rights -- they can come to my site and
> > download my software!!!
> Of course they can, but it doesn't mean that they can run that
> software on the Cisco equipment they've bought, nor does it mean that
> the original software can interoperate with the modified software,
> that the end-user can enhance the original software in a way that they
> prefer and have it work with the rest of the Cisco solution, or that
> the data produced by the Cisco solution can be understood by a user-
> enhanced version of the original solution or by other software that
> normally interoperates with the original software.

I agree, and those people who will develop more software if they
aren't lying awake at night worried about whether Cisco or some other
big corporation is going to misappropriate their precious creations
should certainly use the GPL. More people building more free softare
is a great thing, and to the extent the GPL encourages this behavior,
it is a great thing.

> People often argue
> that the GPL only cares about the software's freedom, not the
> recipient's freedom, which I find to be a laughable claim because if
> one wanted to point at something the GPL places higher than anything
> else, it would be the "four freedoms" preserved for each user's
> benefit.

Well, I don't think you saw me arguing it that way. I will say, just
like anything else, that there is a cost associated with using GPL
software, and it is not necessarily a cost that I want to impose on
users of all my software.

> Really, copyleft licences are all about treating all recipients of the
> software and modified versions or extensions of the software in the
> same way: that someone receiving the software, in whatever state of
> enhancement, has all the same privileges that the individual or
> organisation providing the software to them enjoyed;

Sure, and for a major work I think that's great, especially if it
helps attract developers. Sometimes I see people GPL little 100 line
libraries (of often not very good code quality) in a clear attempt to
have the tail wag the dog, and that's laughably pathetic.

> those "four
> freedoms" should still apply to whatever software they received. That
> this is achieved by asking that everyone make the same commitment to
> end-user freedoms (or privileges), yet is seen as unreasonable or
> actually perceived as coercion by some, says a great deal about the
> perspective of those complaining about it.

Well, I *do* think it's, maybe not unreasonable, but certainly
unrealistic, for the author of a small library to attempt to leverage
control over several potentially much larger works by placing the
small library under the GPL, so in general I don't do it. I also
happen to believe that there are a lot of people (perhaps like Carl
Banks if I understand his post correctly) who make money delivering
small customized solutions to sit on top of proprietary software
solutions. If I can save one of these guys some time, perhaps they
will contribute back. If I use the GPL, I will have insured that one
of these guys cannot possibly link my software to, e.g. Oracle, so he
has to reinvent the wheel. So, for some use-cases, I sincerely
believe that the GPL license creates unnecessary, wasteful friction.
But the tone of your last statement and some of your statements below
make it abundantly clear that you've made up your mind about my morals
and aren't at all interested in my reasoning.

> >                                   So, that gets back to my argument
> > about what I like to see in a package I use, and how I license things
> > according to what I would like see.  For me, the golden rule dictates
> > that when I give a gift of software, I release it under a permissive
> > license.  I realize that others see this differently.
> Yes, but what irritates a lot of people is when you see other people
> arguing that some other random person should license their own
> software permissively because it's "better" or "more free" when what
> they really mean is that "I could use it to make a proprietary
> product".

I'm not telling anybody what to do. I'm just explaining why I usually
use the MIT license for things I write, and will often not consider
using a library licensed under the GPL. What irritated me enough to
comment on this thread was the IMHO sanctimonious and inflammatory
"Unless you place such a low value the freedom of your users".

> > To me, the clear implication of the blanket statement that you have to
> > use the GPL if you care at all about users is that anybody who doesn't
> > use the GPL is uncaring.
> Well, if you want the users to enjoy those "four freedoms" then you
> should use a copyleft licence. If you choose a permissive licence then
> it more or less means that you don't care about (or have no particular
> position on the matter of) the users being able to enjoy those
> privileges. I believe you coined the term "uncaring", but I think Mr
> Finney's statement stands up to scrutiny.

I personally don't think that RMS's "four freedoms" are the last word
on the best way for society to develop software, no. But using
"Unless you place such a low value the freedom of your users" is truly
an inflammatory statement, because it was given in a context where the
GPL had not yet been carefully parsed and discussed, and did not make
it clear that the "freedoms" being discussed are a particular set of
"freedoms" and not, for example, those freedoms enshrined in the Bill
of Rights. (And as Steven has carefully pointed out, not all freedoms
are necessarily Good Things.)


From: Patrick Maupin on
On May 9, 1:42 am, Paul Rubin <no.em...(a)nospam.invalid> wrote:
> Patrick Maupin <pmau...(a)> writes:
> > I certainly agree that RMS's language is couched in religious rhetoric.
> I would say political movement rhetoric.  He's not religious.  He uses
> the word "spiritual" sometimes but has made it clear he doesn't mean
> that in a religious sense.

Oh, I agree he's not religious. OTOH, I don't think bin Laden, or
most of the Ayatollahs, or priests who molest little boys, or Mormon
polygamists, or Branch Davidians are religious either.

But what these people have in common (and also have in common with
some _real_ religious people) is a fervent type of language and style
of speaking and writing, designed to attract religious followers, and
the ability and desire to frame disputes in black-and-white,
moralistic terms. (And here in the states, at least, it's getting
increasingly hard to separate religion from politics in any case.)

This is not necessarily a bad thing -- it's what the religious leaders
exhort their followers to do that makes them good or bad. As I have
discussed in other posts, I think the GPL is a good license for some
software and some programmers. In a perfect world with no proprietary
software, it might even be the only license that was necessary, except
then it wouldn't even be necessary. But in the messy real world we
live in, I
don't personally believe that it is the best solution for a large
class of software licensing problems.

Personally, I think the LGPL is a much better license for those who
are worried about people giving back, but the FSF has now, for all
practical purposes, deprecated it -- not directly, of course, but
implicitly, by changing the name from "Library" to "Lesser" and
damning it with faint praise by actually encouraging people who write
library components to try to help the tail wag the dog by using the
GPL instead of the LGPL.

From: Martin P. Hellwig on
On 05/09/10 18:24, Stephen Hansen wrote:
> <cut>
> Wait, what? Why shouldn't I profit repeatedly from the "same work
> already done"? *I* created, its *mine*. I put blood, sweat and tears
> into it and perhaps huge amounts of resources, risking financial
> security and sanity, and you're arguing I shouldn't have the right to
> sell it after its done?
Of course, but what do you do if you find out that your potential
customer already has your software without paying you?
> Exactly how do you imagine I'm going to make money off of it? How the
> existing system works is that I sell... multiple copies of it. Maybe
> hundreds or thousands before that investment is recouped. At that
> point, do I no longer get to sell multiple copies? Or do I have to
> find someone to retroactively pay me some kind of salary? What does
> "pay for work" even mean?
As a simple developer I do not think my craft is more special than any
other craft like carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrician etc.
And as I see how other crafts get paid I think is reasonable for my
craft too, I am either employed and paid by the hour or take more risks
and do projects, commissions, etc. etc.

Of course if I would be in the construction business and I build a house
I can either sell it or let it, but then I do take the risk that the
occupant uses my work beyond what I expected and eventually end up with
a huge repair costs.

I am sure you can imagine the rest of my comparison arguments between
construction and software development.

> What's wrong with software copyrights? Don't lump intellectual
> property issues together, they're not comparable. Copyrights have
> nothing at all to do with patents which have nothing at all to do with
> trademarks. Each is a very different set of law.
Very true and in my opinion they all share the same trait, although they
are once made to make sure the original author gets credit and profit
for his/her work they are primarily used now to profit beyond
reasonableness and actually encumber future development and good use,
IMHO they actually hinder the intellectual development of the human race.

> Sure, there's some nutty corner cases in copyrights, which need to be
> addressed-- including things like fair use and DRM. But on the whole,
> copyrights aren't really all that broken. Its nothing like the
> situation with software patents, which are just sort of crazy.
Okay so what do you actually do if you find out that in another country,
which do not share the same legislation (about the other 80% of the
population) brakes your copyright or does not uphold the patent
If your big like Microsoft you might try to convince that particular
government that their citizens should pay you, otherwise good luck (even
for Microsoft as they seem to fail more often than succeed in that notion).

They are broken because by definition restrictions need enforcement to
uphold them, if there is no enforcement it will not work. Perhaps a
better solution would be to find a way that does not need any
enforcement (or limited amount of it), say like the economy worked prior
to patents and copyrights minus kings and tyrants.
> For those who say it can't be done, sure it can, all you have to
> do is nothing, it takes effort to enforce policies.
> And an entire industry ceases to exist overnight, with countless new
> homeless people showing up on the streets.
I have the opposite opinion but neither of us have given any facts or
proven research papers on this so shall we call this quits?
> You can believe in the Free Software movement (I'm not saying you do,
> this 'you' is impersonal and metaphorical)-- and if you do, good for
> you. You can believe in "morality" with regards to "freedom" and the
> "essential rights" of the users. I find it all nonsensical. But good
> for you if you believe in it. But the Free Software movement exists
> *because* of copyrights. Copyright Law is what makes the GPL even
> possible.
I don't believe in a system which is based on enforcing rules and where
breaking of this rule at most results in a hypothetical loss of income.
Some enforced rules are of course necessary, like not going on a
pillage/killing/raping spree (except of course if this is your job but
then your still governed by the rules of Geneva -- yeah I know bold
military statement, but I have been there too, the military that is). I
rather like to find a way where minimal rule enforcing is necessary to
make a living.
> But I fail to see what's fundamentally wrong with that system.
I hope I have further explained my point of view and hope that you agree
with me at least from my perspective, I do understand though that your
point of view is perfectly valid and reasonable. It is just that I am a
sucker for seeking alternative ways to improve systems even if they only
show small amounts of defects. So you could argue that I have my sight
set for an Utopia while you rather remain in the reality, if you can
find yourself with this than at least we can agree on that :-)

From: Patrick Maupin on
On May 9, 12:08 pm, Paul Boddie <p...(a)> wrote:
> On 9 Mai, 09:05, Carl Banks <pavlovevide...(a)> wrote:
> > Bottom line is, GPL hurts everyone: the companies and open source
> > community.  Unless you're one of a handful of projects with sufficient
> > leverage, or are indeed a petty jealous person fighting a holy war,
> > the GPL is a bad idea and everyone benefits from a more permissive
> > licence.
> Oh sure: the GPL hurts everyone, like all the companies who have made
> quite a lot of money out of effectively making Linux the new
> enterprise successor to Unix, plus all the companies and individuals
> who have taken the sources and rolled their own distributions.

So, people overstate their cases to make their points. That happens
on both sides.

> It's not worth my time picking through your "holy war" rhetoric when
> you're throwing "facts" like these around. As is almost always the
> case, the people who see the merit in copyleft-style licensing have
> clearly given the idea a lot more thought than those who immediately
> start throwing mud at Richard Stallman because people won't let them
> use some software as if it originated in a (universally acknowledged)
> public domain environment.

No, you appear to have a kneejerk reaction much worse than Carl's.
You have assumed you fully understand the motives of people who point
out issues with the GPL, and that those motives are uniformly bad, and
this colors your writing and thinking quite heavily, even to the point
where you naturally assumed I was defending all of Apple's egregious

As far as my throwing mud at Stallman, although I release some open
source stuff on my own, I make a living writing software that belongs
to other people, and Stallman has said that that's unethical and I
shouldn't be able to make money in this fashion. Sorry, but he's not
on my side.

> P.S. And the GPL isn't meant to further the cause of open source: it's
> meant to further the Free Software cause, which is not at all the same
> thing. Before you ridicule other people's positions, at least get your
> terminology right.

And, again, that's "free" according to a somewhat contentious
definition made by someone who is attempting to frame the debate by co-
opting all the "mother and apple pie" words, who is blindly followed
by others who think they are the only ones who are capable of thoughts
which are both rational and pure. I'm not saying everybody who uses
the GPL is in this category, but some of your words here indicate that
you, in fact, might be.