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Does GPL v3 Alienate Developers? 430

Posted by Zonk
from the get-thee-hence dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Via Wired, a blog post in which BMC Software's Whurley and Google's Greg Stein agree that the GPL v3 is currently on a path that will alienate developers. Stein has an interesting theory called 'license pressure' which is similar to 'pricing pressure'. 'Due to pressure from developers, all software is moving towards permissive licensing" translation, the GPL and developers are moving in opposite directions ... Developers care about the licenses on the software they use and incorporate into their projects, they like permissive licenses, and they will increasingly demand permissive licenses.'"
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Does GPL v3 Alienate Developers?

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  • Impression (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zironic (1112127)
    I was under the impression that the GPL license is mostly meant for "hobby" developers that want to make sure no one abuses their code to earn money on time they donate for the good of mankind. Not industry developers that want to earn money from their code. I might just have gotten it all wrong though.

    Any developers willing to comment on what they want out of a license?
    • Re:Impression (Score:5, Informative)

      by jimstapleton (999106) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:11AM (#19423869) Journal
      Not quite - it's designed so that any contributions to it, if the result is distributed, are given back to the community.

      I think this also includes contributions that would allow non-GPLed software to access it.

      Selling the non-GPLed + GPLed = make money off of other peoples work.

      Though, to my knowledge, there isn't an OSS license out that prevents making money off of other peoples work.
      • Re:Impression (Score:5, Informative)

        by epiphani (254981) <<ten.lad> <ta> <inahpipe>> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:40AM (#19424281)
        This is partly why I've tried to convert my projects to BSD licenses. I have a substantial amount of code that I've written GPL, and after working with people on these projects for several years, its hard to remember who wrote what. As a result, I don't use that codebase in any work that I do for my company that may be distributed.

        I'm proud of the code I write, and a lot of it is portable - I know it inside and out - but other people have fixed, added on, improved and optimized my code. As a result of that happening under the GPL, I can't use that for other closed-source projects I work on. It's frustrating, I don't feel comfortable using my own code because its GPL'd.

        Anything I work on in the last few years goes out BSD licensed, and I'm trying to convert my existing projects to BSD licenses as well. GPL has its place in core utilities, but I won't be GPL'ing my own code again for some time. BSD licensing is the way to go, imo.
        • Re:Impression (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Znork (31774) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:59AM (#19424597)
          "This is partly why I've tried to convert my projects to BSD licenses. I have a substantial amount of code that I've written GPL"

          As long as you're the copyright holder you can change the license when you wish. Or put your contributions to a GPL project under revised BSD or even in the public domain.

          "its hard to remember who wrote what."

          Ah, there's the rub. That's hardly the GPL's fault tho, is it? That's copyright law and your failure to do what copyright makes it necessary for you to do. Join the crowd and work for copyright abolition if you dont want to bother with that part.

          "I don't feel comfortable using my own code because its GPL'd."

          You dont feel comfortable using _their_ code because it's GPL you mean. You could have asked for copyright assignment if you wanted to accept the patches in that case. This is not a GPL problem, this is a situation you've put yourself in.

          Of course, if the license were not the GPL, or you required copyright assignment, then maybe those contributors wouldn't have contributed. I sure know I wouldn't contribute anything non-trivial under a non-copyleft (preferably GPL) license.

          "BSD licensing is the way to go, imo."

          Nah, seen too much BSD code get proprietarized and used to screw end users. Not with my code they dont. They can write it all on their own if they want power over others that bad.
          • Re:Impression (Score:4, Insightful)

            by epiphani (254981) <<ten.lad> <ta> <inahpipe>> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @12:06PM (#19424703)
            You dont feel comfortable using _their_ code because it's GPL you mean.

            Well, yes. But at what point does a piece of code become tainted in that regard? Lets say I have a function that I put out, and then someone else fixes a few little bugs - an improperly initialized variable here, a null pointer check there... How does that impact the licensing of that code? Is that code now co-owned? Do I have to remove their fixes if I want to use it? They fixed bugs, things that I may have found over time. How does that legally impact that code?

            If someone else releases some code, then I spend a few days fixing bugs in it, do I have copyright on those fixes?

            The line is not so clear as one would like to think. And I tend to err on the of caution when it comes to these things.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by huckamania (533052)
              I can tell you at what point you violate copyright... when a judge says guilty and the gavel bangs. If I were ever sued for something like this, I would definately have a jury trial. From my one time on a jury and code inspections past, I think I'd have better than pretty good odds of beating the rap.

              I think General George Patton said it best "Software licenses are a monument to the stupidity of man!" or at least he would have. I think the main purpose of the GPLv3 is to keep RMS and company in the pu
        • Re:Impression (Score:5, Insightful)

          by B'Trey (111263) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @12:04PM (#19424669)
          I'm proud of the code I write, and a lot of it is portable - I know it inside and out - but other people have fixed, added on, improved and optimized my code. As a result of that happening under the GPL, I can't use that for other closed-source projects I work on. It's frustrating, I don't feel comfortable using my own code because its GPL'd.

          Horsefeathers. You can use your own code for any purpose you like, under any license you like. Releasing it under the GPL places obligations on others who acquire the code under that license. It doesn't place any obligation on you, nor prevent you from releasing your own code under multiple other licenses simultaneously. What you actually appear to be saying here is that you're no longer sure what code is actually yours in project X, and you're afraid of using other people's code, which they released under the GPL, in a closed source application. The real solution to that issue is good record keeping and an effective version control system, so you know what code is yours and what is not. Changing to a different license is a way to avoid the particular issue you're facing, but it's neither the only one nor necessarily the best one. If you've truly gotten lots of outside assistance on a project, the first question I'd ask is if the same level of assistance would have been available under another license. I can't speak for anyone else but I'm quite willing to help advance a project knowing that my efforts are protected by the GPL. I'm not so willing to pitch in and help out if I suspect that you're going to take the product of my hard labor, stick it in a proprietary application, and stuff the money you get for my labor in your bank account.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by WGR (32993)
          You are missing the essential strength of the GPL.

          When I, as a commercial developer, license software under the GPL, I am assured that my competitors will not take it and develop improvements that I cannot use. The GPL is much more corporate friendly than BSD exactly because it guarantees that the code remain open over any improvements. It means that the developments of any contributor remain available for all so that the software "evolves" and does not become proprietary and unavailable for the original co
      • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:46AM (#19424379) Homepage Journal
        Correct. Further, GPLs v2 and v3 have clear statements saying that it's ok to sell covered software.

        Enabling businesses to be built up around free software is essential for the progress of the free software movement. Our licences just have to ensure that those companies cannot harm the movement (neither intentionally nor under pressure from MS).

        So if you distribute the software, you can't hide the source, and you can't sue the users for patent infringement, and you can't put it on a device that is set up to allow you to continue to modify without also giving the recipient that freedom. (Boo-hoo, you lose the "freedom" to screw others.)

        And in the other direction, there is a warranty disclaimer so that distributing the software doesn't put people's business at risk.

        Here's a summary of what's new in GPLv3:
        http://fsfeurope.org/projects/gplv3/brussels-rms-t ranscript [fsfeurope.org]

        As is typical of this type of FUD article, the author talks nothing about the actual content of the licence, and instead just gives baseless summaries and gossipy predictions.
      • Not quite - it's designed so that any contributions to it, if the result is distributed, are given back to the community.

        Not quite. It's designed so that recipients of the code receive the same rights that the person who created the modified version received from the person who wrote the original.

        You don't have to give changes back to the community, you just have to give your customers the FSF's Four Freedoms. You can sell GPL'd code, and a few authors of bespoke software do; they base their code on GPL'd projects, add some value, and sell their customers the derived work. Their customers pay them because a big part of

    • Re:Impression (Score:5, Informative)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:14AM (#19423915)

      I was under the impression that the GPL license is mostly meant for "hobby" developers that want to make sure no one abuses their code to earn money on time they donate for the good of mankind.

      Most hobbyist do choose the GPL from what I've seen, but I doubt they make up the bulk of GPL developers.

      Not industry developers that want to earn money from their code. I might just have gotten it all wrong though.

      Well, there are 50-100 developers in my office today and most of them work on GPL code at some point, paid by the company. I don't think we're unusual in that regard. When commercial developers release code as open source they do so with a motive of making money. You're not going to make money directly from OSS. You make money using OSS and getting free improvements from others and interoperability with other tools is the main benefit. The GPL insures you get those improvements and the competition does not grab all your code, and start a closed fork of it. The only time we use BSD licenses is when it is a vital infrastructure component we're trying to get widely adopted as a standard. In those instances, getting people to use and integrate it into closed software is more important than getting the improvements back.

      Any developers willing to comment on what they want out of a license?

      I think I just did. This is the situation as I see it and I think it has been stable for quite a while. I see more OSS development happening lately, but if anything it is code that old school people would release as BSD, now being released as GPL (and often failing to be adopted widely as a result). I guess I have to disagree with the article on that point (sort of). I see more code being released as GPL (both code that would otherwise have been less permissive like a closed license and code that would have been more permissive, like a BSD license). I see more LGPL code, which is a bit more permissive, I suppose, but I see that more as increased granularity rather than a move towards more permissive licensing in general.

      • by fsmunoz (267297)
        Your post focus two points I consider important quite well.

        "Business doesn't like the GPL": true when they are on the receiving end, but false when they are on the giving end. It makes all the sense for a company to realease its internal work as GPL and no, say, BSD, since they can always leverage any improvements made by others and avoid having other companies using their base code to get an edge.

        "Not everything has to be GPL": quite true. Your example is dead-on: the FSF itself have recommended the us
        • Re:Impression (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Znork (31774) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @12:10PM (#19424789)
          '"Business doesn't like the GPL": true when they are on the receiving end, but false when they are on the giving end.'

          I'd change that to "true when they are in the middle". Business on the recieving end _loves_ GPL code. It means they dont have to worry about a supplier going bellyup, it means they can change providers, it means they can hire outside help with the code, it means the software isnt going to fork into a bazillion proprietary incompatible versions and it means it's there long term, and that invested time and money isnt going to vanish.

          It's the middlemen, who want to recieve freedom but not give it to anyone else who dont like the GPL.

          That's something I can live with.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      The FSF seems pretty clear that there's no problem with people selling free software or profitting from it in any way that doesn't restrict the freedom of others. Quite a lot of people use the code commercially. IBM has teams of developers improving it because they don't make their money on software.

      Speaking for myself - I just want my code to be used. If I let people use it for free, there's still a decent chance that they'll offer any improvements back to the community. The free software concept is
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The GPL is designed to avoid this scenario:

      1 - Community writes one million lines of code and release them publicly: everyone benefits.

      2 - Corporate developer writes 100 lines of code, adds them to the community work and releses a closed product, actually taking credit and money, for a work consisting of mostly open source.

      This is exactly why you see around many wifi routers and firewalls using Linux plus some closed source wifi card driver whose producer gives nothing back to the community that helped them
    • I was under the impression that the GPL license is mostly meant for "hobby" developers that want to make sure no one abuses their code to earn money on time they donate for the good of mankind. Not industry developers that want to earn money from their code. I might just have gotten it all wrong though.

      Yes, you did get it "all wrong". The GPL has nothing to do with preventing others from getting rich off the free labor of hobbyist developers. In fact, anyone who objects to someone else making money off

    • I was under the impression that the GPL license is mostly meant for "hobby" developers that want to make sure no one abuses their code to earn money on time they donate for the good of mankind. Not industry developers that want to earn money from their code. I might just have gotten it all wrong though.

      Any developers willing to comment on what they want out of a license?


      Yes. I could be said to work professionally in software. My job isn't as a developer as such, but the software is a (well, the only) means
  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:02AM (#19423741)
    Because as a developer we can always choose. GPL2, 3, BSD, Mozilla, MIT whatever we want. We are the ones in control. It's the users that can get annoyed when a package they could normally use can't after a license shift.
    • by Goaway (82658)
      Only if you are the kind of developer who write everything from scratch.

      If you're looking into reusing code somebody else wrote, or contributing to somebody else's project, you're stuck with their license.
      • by Lockejaw (955650)
        Unless it's a BSD/MIT-style license, where you only have to credit the developers for their work, but can do pretty much whatever you want with derivative works (even make them closed source).
    • Because as a developer we can always choose. GPL2, 3, BSD, Mozilla, MIT whatever we want. We are the ones in control. It's the users that can get annoyed when a package they could normally use can't after a license shift.

      That's true only as long as you don't link to any other libraries or use any other programs as part of your work. As soon as you link your software to other software on the system, you are affected by the licenses on the other software. So, unless you're developing truly standalone soft

      • Thought linking to libraries or other components was fine as long as you where dynamically linking. The only time the license became an issue even for commercial work was if you statically linked the code into your application. Difference being dynamic you call and ask for something, static the other code becomes part of your binary.

        Perhaps this linking scenerio is a "hole" that was plugged in GPL 3, but I dont know but would like to find out if anyone here does know.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by aardvarkjoe (156801)

          Thought linking to libraries or other components was fine as long as you where dynamically linking.

          The GPL says no. Here's a quote from the LGPL (which does allow dynamic linking):

          When a program is linked with a library, whether statically or using a shared library, the combination of the two is legally speaking a combined work, a derivative of the original library. The ordinary General Public License therefore permits such linking only if the entire combination fits its criteria of freedom. The Lesser Ge

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jellomizer (103300) *
      So if the GPL is to Developer Unfriendly then Developers will not use GPL 3. Thus the Users will not benefit from GPL 3, because little software will be made using GPL 3. RMS needs to realize that Developer and User Rights needs to be balanced in order for it to succeed. If the users have to much rights then the developers looses their rights, so Developers will not go in that direction. If the Developers have to much rights then the Users loose out and will not use the developers product.

      I know good inte
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Simon80 (874052)
        For the purpose of this discussion, there are two kinds of developers, the initial authors that pick the license, and the developers reusing that code under license. The second kind obviously would prefer to have as much freedom as possible to do what they want with the code, so if they got to choose, the license would be more permissive. On the other hand, the first group may not want the second group to take their code and sell it, or deploy it on a device like Tivo, so the GPLv3 might be exactly what t
        • For the purpose of this discussion, there are two kinds of developers, the initial authors that pick the license, and the developers reusing that code under license

          I think this is a false dichotomy. I write Free Software, but I don't write everything from scratch. I use libraries written by other people. Some of the code I've released is in the form of libraries that will be used by others. Which kind of developer am I? I pick the license for my own code, but I have to ensure that the libraries I use are licensed under compatible licenses.

    • Re:Nope (Score:4, Interesting)

      by burnin1965 (535071) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @12:09PM (#19424773) Homepage

      It's the users that can get annoyed when a package they could normally use can't after a license shift

      I haven't noticed many users posting blog articles or sending letters to the U.S. Congress complaining about a software license. It appears to me that the GPL, due to its popularity and the massive amount of code released under it, has generated rants, propoganda campaigns, and even a letter from a CEO to the U.S. Congress explaining how it will be the end of the free world [groklaw.net], and why? Before the arguement was always that it wasn't as free as it should be, at least in this latest rant the truth is used, because its not as permissive for businesses and software developers who would like to take the GPLed code, use it, and not have to give anything back.

      I agree, developers are in control, and far from being idiots choosing a license under peer pressure and in dire need of direction from lawyers, CEOs, or even Congress, we use a license because it serves our needs.
    • Trasnslation (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @12:22PM (#19425013) Homepage Journal
      Here's the story in translation: We want gifts from you developers, and we don't want to share! GPL3 alienates us because we want free gifts and we don't want to share! GPL3 bad, BSD good, we want you to use BSD so we don't have to share! If Free Software were a forest, we'd want to clear-cut it, because that leads to PROFIT FOR US and screw everyone else! Who the hell cares if there's nothing left of the forest when we are done with it! So, give us stuff, now!

      Sorry for the flaming, but I hope you can see it's easy to lose patience with this sort of thing. And I lose patience with Slashdot for running this story over and over again.

      Bruce

  • by scribblej (195445) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:04AM (#19423769)
    I'm a developer, and I like it more than the GPL2. It seeks to do the same things, but it does them better. If I had a philosophical problem with the GPL I'd use a BSD license instead. I think it's vital that both types of license are out there.
    • If I had a philosophical problem with the GPL I'd use a BSD license instead. I think it's vital that both types of license are out there.

      Same here. I have no idea what all the controversy is about concerning the GPL. If people don't like it then they shouldn't use it. There are open source licenses out there to fit everyones needs. And if a developer doesn't like what's out there they can make up their own. The only reason I can think of for all the attacks on the GPL is that there must be some desire to pu

  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpc.yahoo@com> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:08AM (#19423827) Homepage
    That is not to say I don't think that there is a place for other OS licenses. But like most of the laws (whether administrative, statutory, or case) here in the United States, there is still an overriding set of rights written into the Constitution, and in many ways I consider the GPL including amendments like the "constitution" which supports Open Source.

    As an "open source" developer for some time now, I disagree. In fact, once I am ready to release I doubt it will be under any version but the GPL v3. Why? Consider one question: Does the FSF and EFF back most or indeed any of the other versions of an OS license?


    Because only the GPL has the full faith and backing of the FSF and the EFF. In the era of expensive patent and "anti patent" litigation, I want those organizations on my side for the same reason that --though I consider myself quite conservative in most political positions --, I don't automatically dismiss the ACLU as a leftist liberal organization. They have a good track record of protecting the important parts of our "electronic civil rights."


  • Pffft. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:08AM (#19423839) Homepage Journal
    So what you're saying is that people with a vested interest in making money on other people's code are demanding that code move to a more 'permissive' license like BSD instead of GPLV3? Because I've seen more projects move in the opposite direction -- moving away from BSD-like and into GPLV2 rather than the other way around. But, for the most part, projects that have BSD-like licenses and those with GPL-like licenses tend to either stay with the same license or move to a dual-license scenario. OTOH, I see more new projects going with GPL-like licenses over BSD-like licenses.

    Whatever. I don't see GPLV3 causing any major shift in the open source/free software community

    • Re:Pffft. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fsmunoz (267297) <<fsmunoz> <at> <member.fsf.org>> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:17AM (#19423947) Homepage
      Exactly. It's the permanent whinning of those that are only favourable of "open source" when it means that they can reduce the headcount by using it. I am still waiting to hear someone who actually used the GPLv2 come up with this kind of speech: until now the only voices against the GPLv3 are from quarters that are against copyleft and are scared that the loopholes will be closed. They disliked the door in the first place and now their complaining about the fixing of the holes with vague talks about "the developers want this and that". It all translates into

      We would really like to get all the code with no strings attached so we can add our own strings to it. We dislike the GPL as is and really dislike the new one since it focus on fixing some clever ways we had of bypassing the spirit of the licence. Ideally we would like to get all the code - doesn't matter that we didn't wrote it or that we don't share it ourselves. GPLv3, BAD!
    • Re:Pffft. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DaveCar (189300) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:23AM (#19424051)
      "Developers are still the heart of the open source community"

      Well, this guy is clearly talking about the wrong community. I think in the free software community it will get a lot of support from developers.

      If you want an Open Source license, then use one. If you want a Free license then use one of those instead.

      Crisis averted.
    • So what you're saying is that people with a vested interest in making money on other people's code are demanding that code move to a more 'permissive' license like BSD instead of GPLV3? Because I've seen more projects move in the opposite direction -- moving away from BSD-like and into GPLV2 rather than the other way around.

      Isn't a lot of the movement from BSD, etc., to GPLv2 to enable incorporating existing GPLv2 code? Whether that kind of pressure exists to move to GPLv3 is going to depend on how popular

    • by prelelat (201821)
      I don't understand I thought that if you didn't like the GPL v3 you could still use the older version. I thought v3 was for people who wanted something different like between a BSD and GPLv2?
    • Re:Pffft. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @12:31PM (#19425147) Homepage
      Because I've seen more projects move in the opposite direction -- moving away from BSD-like and into GPLV2 rather than the other way around.

      Perhspa something to do with ease? BSD to GPL:
      1. Start including GPL code. Done.

      GPL to BSD:
      1. Make a complete list of all your contributors, ever
      2. Try to contact everyone, moved, missing, dead, whatever
      3. Pray really hard everyone will want to relicense
      4. Check all libraries and see that they're not GPL
      5. Whatever code and libraries you can't relicense, rewrite

      Of course, the BSD camp will take this as proof that BSD is "freer" than the GPL. And the GPL camp will take it as proof that exactly what's wrong with BSD/free is how easy it is to make it not BSD/free. To me it seems counter-intuitive to promote the ten freedoms [opensource.org] of open source as means when the ends typically is software that has none (i.e. proprietary, source-less derivates). It's like a living tree that spawns dead branches, does that make sense to anyone?
  • by fsmunoz (267297) <<fsmunoz> <at> <member.fsf.org>> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:10AM (#19423859) Homepage
    Quite. Whishful thinking on the part of those who are scared of the GPLv3. If it will "allienate" developers (who exactly nobody knows since ratio of bitching about the GPL is always inversely proportional to the actual coding in free software projets) then it will be great, nobody will use it, there are other licences out there and everything will be perfect for the anti-copyleft camp.

    The "problem" with the GPLv3 isn't that it will allienate developers, it's exactly the opposite: most people against the underlying principle of the GPL - and especially those who have been relying on loopholes created by the changes in technology and society - are scared that it will actually be adopted - which I think it will, replacing the GPLv2 in new projects as the "de facto" copyleft licence. Don't like it, don't use it, but especially don't bitch about others using it, fell free *not* to use the code in the first place.
    • I really only have a few things to complain about:

      * license proliferation and incompatibility (can't change Linux)

      * that selfish anti-Linux ("GNU/Linux") rant in the preamble

      * the stupid gname! "GNU" isn't gnice, it's moronic

      * "consumer product" definition doesn't involve a fair chance to negotiate a contract

      I wish we could move everything to GPLv3. Right now, every downloadable ISO image with GPLv2 binaries is in violation unless that site is also supplying the source. It's not enough to point people to th
  • Projection (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:12AM (#19423883) Homepage

    I'm sure certain companies would like GPLv3 to be alienating open-source developers, but frankly I don't see that happening too much. The only people it's alienating are people who would never use the GPL anyway. I've heard this tune sung before, when GPLv2 was being introduced: all those unrealistic, idealistic, totally unneccesary changes RMS was introducing would completely destroy the license and developers would abandon the GPL as unworkable. We can see how accurate that prediction was.

    • The only people it's alienating are people who would never use the GPL anyway.

      False. TiVo. And any GPL-based entity that wants to do a Novell type deal in the future. (You may not agree with either, but they are people who are using the GPL.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        TiVo is not a GPL-based entity. Just because they use Linux as the base OS of their otherwise closed-source, proprietary, DRM-encumbered, locked-down product, it doesn't mean that they have a business model based on GPL. The next thing you'll say is that Microsoft is a GPL-based entity because they provide GPL code in Services for Unix [zdnet.com].
        • TiVo is not a GPL-based entity.


          TiVo, since they in fact use the GPL, is not, an entity that wouldn't use the GPL anyway.

          Since the claim was that the only people driven off would people who wouldn't use the GPL anyway, TiVo is a valid counterexample which disproves the claim.
      • They do not use the GPL except when forced by the GPL.

        They haven't written anything original, new, fresh, unencumbered by prior licenses... and then decided to use the GPL.
  • The GPL is an attempt to license behavior and mitigate the natural greed factor in humans (corportations?). Legal minds have worked diligently over the last decade to bypass as many of the greed restrictions in the GPL as possible to commercialize open source software. In response GPL drafters are trying to contain the greed factor and keep open source from being constrained. Are they (corporations with money and patent portfolios) trying to box open source in? Is Google and BMC spreading FUD like Micro
  • Yeah, it does alienate me.

    My drive is in writing code, and being able to look at other code that has what I want, plain and simple. In that sense, the GPL made it easy to do those two things: all technology is driven by convenience. PHP isn't popular because of its "enterprise-class frameworks", it's popular because it's easy to grab code from elsewhere, easy to write code in. Windows is easy because it comes with your computer. The GPL made it easy to be open-source.

    In the past few years it seems everyone
    • by fsmunoz (267297) <<fsmunoz> <at> <member.fsf.org>> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:26AM (#19424091) Homepage
      I think it's great you have chosen to release your work with a BSD/MIT licence (really). But from reading your post it's apparent that you don't really seem to view the current GPL as suitable, so the GPLv3 will not change that. Every complain you have about the GPLv3 can be applied to the GPLv2.
      • Exactly. I pick (3 clause) BSDL for most of my code (a few snippets under MITL or public domain), but if I had to choose between GPLv2 and 3 I would pick 3. They both support the aims of the FSF, which I agree with, but the new version does it better.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)
      Right on. I used to feel -exactly- as you do. After all the ugliness in the last couple years, though, I tend to look on the LGPL with a bit of favor, even if I still intensely dislike the GPL (2/3/whatever) itself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mateo_LeFou (859634)
      "No Visions, no Causes, no lawyers, no Compliance and papers-please-style-development"

      I understand where you're coming from but would like to point out that acceptance of the status quo is *not ideologically neutral. The status quo was created by ideologues who didn't like the previous status quo.

      That doesn't mean you have be up in arms, or a "zealot" as people like to call anyone who talks about values. But be intellectually honest, and say that the prevailing Vision/Cause (and I guess lawyers) are, in su
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      It's easy to use code and to release code. No Visions, no Causes, no lawyers, no Compliance and papers-please-style-development. Just some guy on the internet putting his code up for use.


      Why not simply release your code to the public domain?
    • by CoughDropAddict (40792) * on Thursday June 07, 2007 @12:29PM (#19425127) Homepage
      On one hand I sympathize with your position, because I tend to favor MIT/BSD as well.

      But the GPL isn't just about visions and causes. It's about defenses against predatory behavior. The only reason that Microsoft hasn't gone after Red Hat demanding royalties for patent violations is because GPLv2 prohibits it:

      Now that Microsoft had identified the infringements, it could try to seek royalties. But from whom? [...] One possibility was to approach the big commercial Linux distributors like Red Hat and Novell that give away the software but sell subscription support services. However, distributors were prohibited from paying patent royalties by something whose very existence may surprise many readers: FOSS's own licensing terms.

      [...]

      "Any free program is threatened constantly by software patents," Stallman wrote in a 1991 revision to the GPL. "We have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all." This restriction became known as the "liberty or death" clause.

      --Fortune Magazine, May 14 2007 [cnn.com]
      If Linux and the GNU project had taken your attitude of "hey, I'm just a guy putting up my code," then the community would be in a very different position today wrt. Microsoft's patent aggression.
  • Straw Man (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FranTaylor (164577)
    It looks like someone's borrowed a theme from politics: the straw man. Take something that doesn't exist (this hypothetical band of developers and their even more hypothetical 'license pressure') and spin and pound your fist, and maybe noone will notice that you've created what appears to be a good argument out of pure nothingness.
  • GPL is working (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:20AM (#19423987) Homepage
    I am about to release a small project "DS Dictionary" which is a dictionary app for the Nintendo DS, under the GPL. I was forced to do so because I used the GNU GCIDE dictionary and two other GPL libraries. I contacted the author of those libraries, and they are GPL because the author in turn used another GPL library. The GPL is working today, and spreading, exactly as it was intended to do. And there is a large and ever-growing base of GPL software.

    In this case, I'm very glad. I wanted to base my application on another project which was very similar to my own. But that person chose not to release the source to their application, so I was forced to go this route. It doesn't matter - this was a free tool and a useful experiment in learning to code for a new device. And the GPL source made it take 1/10th as long. I'm actually frustrated at the people who write code and horde it, so in some ways, I'm glad the GPL is forcing things to open-up.

    Of course, I'll change my tune next week when I have an app I want to write where one library is GPL and the rest is not, and I'll have to go rewriting things.
  • It's silly to think that one license fits all. For something like the Linux kernel, a license like GPLv3 makes sense. For projects sponsored by companies, Apache 2 is a better choice (in fact, I consider Sun's use of GPL+commercial for Sun Java to be bad). What Stein's specific beef with the GPLv3 is, I don't get, since GPLv3 is largely GPLv2 with the Apache v2 patent provisions.

    In any case, people like Hurley shouldn't spend time worrying about the future of the FSF. The FSF has been in this business f
  • Yes. (Score:3, Informative)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:21AM (#19424013) Homepage Journal
    It does me. I am actually considering taking over a FOSS project that lost it's maintainer. I was thinking about moving it to GPL but now it will stay BSD.
  • LGPL allows me to reuse the code that I've written as open source, in my boss' projects. I distribute it free because I feel it'll be useful to other developers out there.

    I have the tendency to write software libraries, because they allow me to reuse my code in several different projects. The executable programs are just a wrapper. So, the LGPL suits me.
    Good examples of LGPL projects are the FFMPEG library, which the LGPL ensures it can be used for both commercial and non-commercial projects.

    And if that's not enough, there's the wxWindows (wxWidgets) license, which is GPL + exception.
    • by dotwaffle (610149)
      It's your code that you've written. GPL it, then re-licence it for your boss to use. Nothing stopping a dual-licence. LGPL allows others to do things "less free" with it.
    • Does your boss know that he must distribute the resulting executable under a license that allows the end-user to modify it?

      Not many people realize this. But if you use a LPGL licensed library, you don't have to release your product under the LGPL, but you do have to release it with a license that allows modification.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by One Louder (595430)

        The LGPL basically says that you have to provide a "linkable" version of the code, so that someone can modify the LGPL components and recombine them with the non-free components - it doesn't mean that the non-free components must be modifiable.

        You're correct that the combined work must be released with a license that allows this, and that many people don't know that they need to do it. It's one of the most common misconceptions about the LGPL - most people think they only have to publish the source to the

    • by flonker (526111)
      If it's code you've written, you can do whatever you want with it. The licenses doesn't apply to you, as you already have the right to distribute copies of your own code in in any form you desire.

      You do not need a license to distribute code to which you own the copyright. The license gives permission for other people to be able to use and distribute the code to which you own the copyright, including derivative works.

      Hence, LGPL doesn't allow you to reuse the code that you've written. You can reuse the co
  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:31AM (#19424141) Homepage
    the disconnect isn't between people who want GPLv3 to be "Less permissive" or "more permissive", it's between people who think GPLv3 is "more permissive" vs people who think GPLv3 is "less permissive". Both sides want more permissive licenses, they just disagree on what constitutes "permissive". Some say "you won't let me take permission away from others, so it's less permissive!", others say "we won't let anyone take away permission, ever, so it's more permissive."

    GPLv3 really just seems to be an attempt to make things explicit which were implied in GPLv2. Personally, I think that's a step in the wrong direction, because the moment you enumerate which things you can or can't do, as opposed to just blanket saying: "you can't, in any way, distribute this software if you, in any way, prevent others from distributing this software", people will say "oh, you said "patent", not "Billy's Intellectual Voucher Certificate", so my way of restricting use /is/ allowed!"
    • Exactly. The GPL grants you a lot of rights, provided you grant the same rights to anybody you distribute to. It's symmetrical.

      The GPL isn't very restrictive (hey, it includes a patent license, BSD doesn't have that). But that automatically also means that anybody using that code has to be unrestrictive downstream as well. Symmetry.

      Most of the opponents of the GPL want a license to be less restrictive towards them, but still they want to be more restrictive themselves. Well, those people never were in the

  • Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NatteringNabob (829042) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:31AM (#19424149)
    We would like to make a profit from open source software and not return anything to the community.
  • While it's undoubtedly true that some developers will be alienated by GPLv3, I don't think that it matters in the longer term, because *all* free and open source software contributes to the building of the GPL'd community pyramid, in one way or another.

    In the long run, the boundaries between code written under different FOSS licenses tend to get fuzzy, because all the best ideas from old software (and code, where allowed) tend to make a new appearance in software created under the latest license. It's just
  • by cthulhuology (746986) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:37AM (#19424235) Homepage
    As we all know, the BSD license has pressured people into not using the GPL at all. Given the greater freedom to the end user it gives, it makes the market for GPL software utterly untenable. That's why Linux has switched to BSD licensing. The public domain, however, is so compelling, given its great degree of freedom and complete removal of all boundaries on use, Microsoft has placed all of Windows in the public domain. In fact, the only thing that stood between Microsoft and total world domination was their licensing which prevents certain people from using their software as they see fit!

    Joke Joke!

    There's an old rule of marketing which states "You can charge too little for a product". Just look at most people's gut reactions, GPL'd software is more valuable than public domain software. For developers and corporations like IBM, GPL'd software is more valuable than BSD software because of the GPL's additional sine qua non provisions. The spirit of fairness that is at the basis of RMS's 4 freedoms has value to developers and coporations. For most developers, protections against corporate profiteering preserve their personal ability to profit from their labor. The only people alienated are freeloaders.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:37AM (#19424241) Homepage
    (or at least never understood it) so I doubt they'll be bothered by the details of what GPL3 actually says either.
    • MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      It's amazing the number of people who post on Slashdot with blatant misunderstandings of the GPL (you can't sell it, you have to give changes back to the community, etc). I can't help wondering where they got their information from, since it wasn't the GPL itself.

      My objection to the GPL is the Theo De Raadt test: If you need to be a lawyer to fully understand the license, it's not friendly to developers. That's why I release my code under the 3-clause BSDL; it's short, simple, and to the point. Any deve

  • by ComputerSlicer23 (516509) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:38AM (#19424253)

    Right now, there are roughly 3 types of OSS licenses.

    • Do what you want, but I own the copyright. (BSD, Apache 1 & 2)
    • I share my code, if you do anything with this you have to share yours the same way I share mine. (GPL)
    • I share my code, and if you re-use it you have to use it you have to tell people mine exists and thing you add you can pick the license. (Numerous licenses, including the CPL, EPL, LGPL).

    The article states "look at the proliferation of licenses", as a sign that the GPL isn't filling a need. The simple facts are that the first two licenses are pretty much in the bag. Nobody writes new licenses that attempt to the accomplish the first two. Pretty much to a person, everyone uses Apache 2, BSD or the GPL to accomplish those goals. If you start looking down the list of other one-off licenses that are for OSS. Those are all about filling the need in the third item. If anything, it could be said that the LGPL is "failing". It isn't the "one true license" to accomplish the task. Essentially the proliferation of license's is about finding a "share and share alike" that can exist in a corporate environment. Where the core technology can be shared and developed by many folks, while the extensions and non-core pieces can be value-adds that are solve for money.

    Greg Stein's a brilliant guy, and one hell of an engineer. But I think he's living in his own little world here. Lot's of folks like and enjoy writing software under the premise of the second type of license. Some folks do it under the first. In the end, the collaborative effort will virtually always win out. So in a lot of ways it doesn't matter if you use a license from the first or second group. That's why Apache has never been taken and had a closed competitor that is more used. Sure some commercial products are based on it, but none of them will ever quash Apache out of existence because they are so popular.

    All the action is how to have an open source commercial license. The LGPL has a few terms that are a bit harsh on business, and have little to say with respect to patents or trademarks. In this day and age a license must address those.

    Kirby

  • Makes no sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @11:41AM (#19424305) Homepage

    This just makes no sense. The difference between GPLv2 and v3 is negligible compared to the difference between the GPL and other licenses.

    It's basically the same license, it's just that it's written in a more legally robust way, more explicitly enforcing the things that GPLv2 is already supposed to enforce.

    It's also had the most thorough community review process ever, for these sorts of things. Every word of GPLv3 has been debated by everybody who bothered to get involved, including all the major commercial users.

    All news like this is just FUD.

  • This guy seems to have an opinion (or maybe an agenda) concerning licenses, but can't be bothered to know the difference between open source and free software. It is hardly something worthy of mention on Slashdot.

    My mom doesn't know the difference either. Should I get her to write an essay and submit it?
  • I, like many other people, develop commercial software. I can't use anything with a GPL license in our projects. That means my employer devotes $0 towards GPL projects.

    On the other hand, we do occasionally use MIT or BSD licensed projects. When working with those we put in a lot of QA time (something most open source projects are severely lacking in!) and we put in some engineering time as well to fix problems we find or extend the project to do things it currently doesn't. That means my employer devote
  • by Caspian (99221) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @12:02PM (#19424639)
    If this person thinks that the GPL 3 is "less permissive", then he's right-- if one is speaking from the perspective of a corporation eager to use GPLed code as a "free ride" and profit off of it, whilst locking it away on proprietary embedded devices and never letting users hack on them (Tivo, I'm looking at YOU!).

    The GPL is "more permissive" from the perspective of free software coders, in that it gives them the freedom-- and thus the permission-- to release code without wondering if it will end up going to line the pockets of some rich embedded device maker.

    There's a saying in some circles in America: "Don't be so 'open-minded' that your brain falls out". Likewise, the goal of the GPL3 is to "not be so 'permissive' that coders get screwed".

    If someone tried to smack you across the face, or rape you, or otherwise assault you, and you said "NO" and defended yourself, I suppose the attacker/rapist could complain that you were "not being permissive enough". But that's your right. Likewise, it's the right of developers to not fear that corporations will use their code as a free meal ticket, whilst the original coders get nothing in return. If you don't care if people lock derivatives of your code away forever, release it under the BSD, or into the public domain. The GPL is about freedom to hack on things, freedom to change and update and distribute and reverse-engineer-- not freedom to find sneaky ways to proprietarize open code for financial gain.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07, 2007 @12:13PM (#19424867)
    Because:

    Tivo wants to use GPL code but prevent users from installing modifications to the GPL code on their boxes.

    Google wants to use GPL code and add modifications that others are prevented from using or modifying by using software patents and lawsuits.

    If you want to use free code and hide your changes, and further restrict users, BSD is the way to go.

  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @12:44PM (#19425359) Homepage Journal
    The original article reads just like a Microsoft public relations release. So who are these people, anyway? A few minutes spent with Google reveals that BMC is a pretty large software company - with multiple facilities. Geez, their Houston offices cover 1.5 million square feet.

    So what possible interest could this large multi-national software company have in GPL software? "Boo hoo, we can't steal code from the internet."

    Their assertion that the GPL is unfavorable to developers is questionable at best. Unfair to their developers because they have to write the code instead of stealing it? Or is it unfair to other developers because - I don't know, some other reason that you have to drink the MS kool aid to understand.

    Really, now - a company that makes monitoring and management software for several Windows versions - and Linux - issues a release in which they speak of "developers!" and spread FUD about the GPL. Coincidence?

  • by pjrc (134994) <paul@pjrc.com> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @12:48PM (#19425431) Homepage Journal
    I have a couple projects I'm working on right now, waiting for the final GPLv3 before I made the code available.

    As a developer, though admittedly a small-time developer (under 100k lines of source published under GPLv2 over the last several years), I see the GPLv3 much like a version upgrade of a library or operating system. The new one may have a few minor quirks, but they're well worth it for bugs fixed in the new version. As a developer who releases under the GPL, I especially see the "tivo" issue as something like a security hole, and I'm glad it's getting fixed!

    The thought process behind all this wishful thinking seems to be that "developers" (proprietary leeches who want to use the code but not share their own additions) are somehow customers, and what they want matters. That would be true if they were paying customers. But the truth is, every time I publish any GPL code, I never expect to make a dime (other than perhaps people find me and want consulting on their projects). So all these "developers" who want more permissive, BSD-style terms don't factor into my decision making process. I want to share the code, and since I don't expect to make any money, it's only fair that anyone who uses it must share theirs too.

  • Why I Rolled My Own (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ajs318 (655362) <(sd_resp2) (at) (earthshod.co.uk)> on Thursday June 07, 2007 @01:00PM (#19425621)
    I wrote my own licence for my own projects, which is reproduced below.

    The GPL would have been nice, but it's a bit too politically-intensive. And the problem with BSD-style licences is that (unless you remove the second clause, to permit distribution only in Source Code form; which is actually fine for stuff written in interpreted languages) it doesn't guarantee to preserve Freedoms One and Three (I know I'm borrowing these terms from GNU; I happen to agree with their manifesto, I'm just not convinced that a notice of permission for acts above and beyond the Fair Dealing provisions of copyright law needs to reproduce a political manifesto) for posterity. I know that's just me being lazy -- I could always get off my backside and write my own Free competitor if some upstart tried to make a non-Free fork -- but I figured that said non-Free competitor would be just as guilty of "just being lazy" by using my hard work (which I intended to be for the benefit of all of humankind) for their non-Free project rather than writing their own from scratch.

    I did at one stage have a section restricting translation of the program to other languages (the English text permitting translation was to be replaced with a section forbidding further translations when the program was translated; the intention being to preserve the integrity of the program and its documentation by guarding against multiple translations) but dropped this requirement as being unworkable and possibly non-DFSG.


    COPYRIGHT
    0. This program is copyright $DATE $AUTHOR. You are authorised to copy and distribute this program, and create Derivative Works based upon this program (in respect of which you will hold copyright on the portions you have modified), strictly in accordance with the terms of this licence and on the understanding that the same terms will be imposed upon the recipients. This licence originates from the copyright holders, not necessarily the person from whom you have obtained the program. Nothing in this licence is intended to be construed as prejudicing your Statutory Rights, which may include a limited right to make copies ("fair dealing" or "fair use") for certain purposes.

    TERMS OF DISTRIBUTION
    1. Any distribution in Source Code form (the preferred form for making modifications to the program) must include this licence and warranty disclaimer (or at your option, a warranty underwritten by you).

    2. Any distribution in binary executable form must include the complete Source Code, the necessary instructions to render the Source Code into executable form ("Build Instructions"), and this licence and warranty disclaimer (or at your option, a warranty underwritten by you). If the program is made available for electronic download, the executable and Source Code + Build Instructions need not be included in the same archive file as long as both are available for download from the same place.

    3. Any distribution pre-loaded into an appliance must include the complete Source Code and Build Instructions, the necessary instructions to replace the version of the program within the appliance with a modified version ("Modification Instructions"), any applicable warnings regarding cessation of warranty protection and/or regulatory approval as a consequence of modification, and this licence and warranty disclaimer (or at your option, a warranty underwritten by you).

    DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY
    4. We warrant that this program, when run unmodified on a computer which is operating properly, will do what the source code says it will do. NO OTHER WARRANTY IS MADE IN RESPECT OF THE PROGRAM, NOT EVEN OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. If you are in any doubt about the suitability of this program for a particular application, you are advised to consult with a programmer who is familiar with the language in which this program is written and whom you trust before proceeding.


    As far as I can see, it guarantees to preserve Free
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07, 2007 @01:42PM (#19426145)
    I don't feel comfortable releasing under GPL v2 because of the potential for abuse; abuses that the GPL v3 will fix. Thus, I eagerly await the final release of the GPL v3. It will encourage me to create MORE software, not less. Maybe TFA is right. Maybe there exists somewhere a horde of developers who absolutely hate GPL v3 and will never use it. I don't begrudge them their choice; hopefully they won't begrudge me for mine.
  • by cabalamat3 (1089523) on Thursday June 07, 2007 @02:46PM (#19427249) Homepage
    I've just checked and 56.82% of projects in Freshmeat use the GPL (24436 out of 43001). Another 3449 projects (8%) use the LGPL.

    Reports of the GPL's demise therefore seem exaggerated.

  • by dwheeler (321049) on Friday June 08, 2007 @11:24AM (#19437947) Homepage Journal
    I like the GPLv3 in its "final draft" form. I expect to switch my GPL'ed projects to it (which will be easy, since they already say "GPLv2 or later"; just change "2" to "3"). Obviously others like GPLv3 too. So many people will use GPLv3, and thus GPLv3 will be a success. For those who wanted a different outcome: Sorry.

    Clearly people who don't like GPLv2 won't like GPLv3, but why would you expect anything different? And those who have been most outspoken against earlier drafts of GPLv3, like Linus Torvalds, seem to be much happier with the latest version (they might not use it, but it's hard to claim they're alienated). And kernel developers are certainly not uniform (in anything!); Torvalds didn't like earlier drafts, but Alan Cox has spoken very positively about the GPLv3. The Apache License 2.0 compatibility and internationalization are enough reasons all by themselves to upgrade. And I don't have any trouble with the new "must be able to change the software" rules; if I start a project, I want to be able to use arbitrary later versions extended by others, and I can't without these new GPLv3 clauses for anti-Tivoization and anti-DRM. Yes, in some cases there are other conditions I want more instead, but in those cases I'd use a different license.

    I don't license everything under the GPL, because I have different motives for different projects. Indeed, over my lifetime I've licensed stuff under the GPL, LGPL, MIT, and proprietary licenses, depending on my circumstances. But if you're trying to make sure that you get to use future versions of a project you start or contribute to, the GPLv3 is a pretty good way to get there. It certainly isn't "alienating" me. Instead, I now have a new choice, one that better reflects my goals when I choose to release code under the GPL.

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