Re: [unrev-II] Lucid Thinking

From: Jack Park (
Date: Tue Sep 25 2001 - 12:13:13 PDT

  • Next message: Jack Park: "Re: [unrev-II] Lucid Thinking"


    Your comments on this post will be of great value.

    At 10:52 PM 9/24/2001 -0700, Steve wrote:
    >I still recommend the GPL for all software.
    >I suggest you borrow the structured links from Lucid, the ranking system and
    >semi-automatic softlinks from everything2, the chronological history from
    >weblogs, the universal purple anchors from, the graphical
    >layout from TouchGraph, the WAP interface from ToughtStream, the personal
    >"views" from your own design document, the document abstraction layer from

    Things I personally like very much about GPL and which, I think, cause
    others to like it as well (quoting from the license itself):

    " The licenses for most software are designed to take away your
    freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the GNU General Public
    License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free
    software--to make sure the software is free for all its users. "

    " Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software
    patents. We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free
    program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the
    program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any
    patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all."

    Wonderful goals, those. Keep in mind that it should be *very clear* that
    the term "licenses for most software" does not and cannot apply to anything
    written in the *open source* arena. I read that to be a comparison between
    commercial software and GNU, implying that GNU is the *only* so-called
    "free" software available.

    Showstoppers, at least for me (again, quoting from the license itself)

    " b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
         whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any
         part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
         parties under the terms of this License."

    " 0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains
    a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed
    under the terms of this General Public License. The "Program", below,
    refers to any such program or work, and a "work based on the Program"
    means either the Program or any derivative work under copyright law:
    that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it,
    either verbatim or with modifications and/or translated into another
    language. (Hereinafter, translation is included without limitation in
    the term "modification".) Each licensee is addressed as "you"."

    My analysis:

    Section 0 tells me that I cannot simply transliterate Lucid's PHP code into
    Java and escape the GPL license.

    Subsection b tells me that if I use *any* code (which I interpret to
    include snippets) from Lucid, my code must fall under GPL as well.

    Why these points are a problem for me.

    Firstly, I hear all the GPL friends speak of *freedom* (chest thumping
    sounds in the background). I'm all for that (sounds of marching bands in
    the background). Whose freedom, I ask. Mine as a software
    developer. That's clear. How about Rod Welch's freedoms? Rod wants to
    build a proprietary implementation of his SDS system and maybe he'd like to
    use a bit of my code in his project. I'd like that. Maybe he'd pay me to
    import my code into his project. I'd like that too (sounds of clapping
    hands in the background). If I chose GPL, however, I'd have to negotiate
    some backroom special license for him to be able to do that. If I chose
    Apache (or any BSD-like license), I don't have a thing to worry
    about. Plus which, Rod's applying some of my source code in his SDS in no
    way limits my freedoms as I presently enjoy them (thunderous applause is
    heard by all).

    Secondly, I am aware that viral infections are all part of life. I just
    don't need to think that my software products contribute to that state of
    affairs. I am pleased with my work. I am particularly pleased when
    someone clones and mutates my work and thus contributes to the software
    gene pool that makes the web what it is. Unless someone can show me how
    that process interferes with my freedoms, then I cannot accept the
    implementation of the GPL premises that is the GPL license. From my point
    of view, GPL restricts the freedoms of others while it is protecting my
    freedoms. I'm not convinced that this is a reasonable tradeoff.

    But wait! What about Linux, you ask. GPL, in my extremely humble opinion,
    does have its place in our lives. Given that I never do anything but make
    calls to the GPL'd kernel, my software is in no way infected by that
    license. With respect to Lucid, I am in no way advocating that Lucid
    change its license. I am saying, however, that I cannot expend what
    limited intellectual horsepower I have left on a code hacking mission that
    will result in a GPL'd product. Thus, my argument is to start over, and to
    do so in an environment in which I am most productive, which is not
    PHP. BTW, however, and this is an important point worth making here: I am
    very impressed with how little PHP code it took to do all the stuff Lucid
    does. Almost makes me want to climb the PHP learning curve.

    In the meantime, I have noticed that many users of the GPL are now
    dual-licensing their work. As a matter of fact, I believe I just read that
    Mozilla now has added GPL with their BSD-like license just so GPL users no
    longer need to worry. I wonder where that will go. It strikes me that a
    literal read of GPL implies that if you modify a GPL version of Mozilla,
    then those mods cannot be applied to the nonGPL versions. Freedom, indeed.


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