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RE: [ba-unrev-talk] GPL?

There is nothing in the GPL that prevents anyone from charging a fee for
support, for value-added, for anything.  There is a restriction about
charging for compilations, as I recall, but I haven't gone back to check.
Generally, there is no limitation on commerce in GPL'd works.    (01)

"Free" is not used in the sense of at no expense.  People are free to trade
in GPL'd works.  That isn't the viral quality.  Likewise, there is no
limitation on reselling, any more than you are restricted from selling your
used textbooks to someone (including the bookstore, that then resells them).    (02)

I think the viral quality arises in two regards.  First, you must always
make the original source available (i.e., tell people where they can get it
if you don't include it in your distribution).  And you can't restrict that.    (03)

Secondly, if you make a *derivative* work, and distribute it to others, it
must be licensed under the GPL with exactly the same conditions.  You can
sell your derivative work, but it must be GPL'd.  Which means the source
code must be available and readily accessible.    (04)

Now there is lots of cyber-lawyering on what "derivative work" means.  Those
who fear the GPL think it would taint things like the operating system you
run it on and scripts that link to it or bind the GPL'd work into other
things.  Microsoft makes scare statements about that sort of thing.
Stallman has made statements that suggest he holds that view too.  But
Stallman is not a Federal judge, nor are the anti-GPL wonks at Microsoft.
The LGPL (designed for libraries and components of others) is available and
clearly does not cause an "using" work to be a "derivative" work.  That is
the fundamental difference between the GPL and the LGPL, the limitation of
the sense of derivative work.  I find the LGPL defective in other respects,
in that it is too specific about what it means for something to be a
library.  It's a technical definition and what's needed is some kind of
court-identifiable principle.  (And IANAL nor a Federal judge.)    (05)

This strong GPL sense of derivative work has never been tested in court.  It
is mostly speculative as far as I can tell.  It does leave people concerned
that they could be in violation or that they could be accused of violating
the spirit of the GPL if not the letter of it.    (06)

There are non-GPL open-source licenses that are more like quit claims with
respect to the copyright holders exclusive right to create derivative works.
The BSD-flavor licenses are of this kind.  That is, there is no limitation
on the making of derivative works, and a completely-proprietary derivative
could be created.  Now as it happens, this only makes the new portion of the
copyrightable subject matter proprietary.  The new copyright claim simply
doesn't apply to the borrowed part.  There is no reverse-virality with
regard to taking open-source and making it someone's property, thereby
misappropriating the original work.  Copyright doesn't work like that.    (07)

I favor the BSD-style approach with one additional proviso -- anything that
is derived from the work needs to disclose its heritage and tell people
where to find the original work, even though the derivative is not
distributed with the same license.  Also, on projects that involve
middleware, there might need to be a non-confusion clause and an agreement
to honor agreed integration requirements before a derivative could be
offered as a substitute for the original work.  But that has to do with
preservation of an integration and interoperability agreement.  Generally,
BSD-style is fine, and when developing derivatives of a GPL work (e.g., a
Python Wiki that I want to convert to Javascript and ASP) the thing to do is
honor the license.  Or not use the original work.  It is really, at bottom,
very simple.    (08)

-- Dennis    (09)

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-ba-unrev-talk@bootstrap.org
[mailto:owner-ba-unrev-talk@bootstrap.org]On Behalf Of Eric Armstrong
Sent: Monday, September 30, 2002 13:27
To: ba-unrev-talk@bootstrap.org
Subject: Re: [ba-unrev-talk] GPL?    (010)

Chris Dent wrote:    (011)

> ... I'm in favor of the GPL exactly because it restrains
> downstreams developers from turning my goodwill contribution to the
> commonweal into a profit generating system that benefits only them.    (012)

My first inclination is to agree. And just as Gosling sees no problem
if people want to give something away, there surely can be no problem
in giving in such a way that the gift remains free.    (013)

For example, if I ever get that land-for-farming foundation started, the
land could be sold for a $1, if there were a way to write the deed so
it could never be resold for more than that, no matter who gets it.
That's the only way to eventually turn off the heat on the economic
pressure cooker.    (014)

On the other hand, if bolts were free, what would be wrong with
charging for something that was constructed using bolts? Or if it
were hammers that were free, with charging for a house that was
constructed using the hammer? Or, if I toss aside an umbrella, what's
wrong with GoodWill fixing it up and selling it?    (015)

  Label: Part of
  Situation: A GPL word processor and spreadsheet are available
                 separately, for free. An entrepreneur puts them both
                 together into a single downloadable package, and
                 charges for it.    (016)

   Label: Part of, with improvements
   Situation: As above, only the entrepreneur uses the keystroke
                  definition facility to create a common interface for the
                  individual packages.    (017)

    Label: Constructed with
    Situation: A GPL tree library is used in the construction of a
                   knowledge repository.    (018)

    Label: Constructed with, after modification
    Situation: A GPL tree library is heavily hacked and modified, and
                   then used in the construction of a knowledge repository.    (019)

I don't see anything wrong with someone adding a charge, in these
scenarios. One can even see could that could come of it, in each
case. (In the first example, the ability to market the items could
greatly hasten the adoption curve.)    (020)

So I wonder what the GPL aficianados will have to say...    (021)