BSD, Gav, LGPL, Jeremy, and business

Brett Glass brett at
Sat Feb 16 11:04:54 CST 2002

At 09:22 AM 2/16/2002, Patrik Stridvall wrote:

>> >> Their place, and purpose, has been stated by Stallman.
>> >> (Not in the licenses themselves, which are designed
>> >> to be deceptive, but in Stallman's words in his more
>> >> candid moments.) It is to turn publicly available
>> >> software into a weapon in his lifelong, personal
>> >> vendetta. Again, he has stated this explicitly
>> >> himself, and it is also well documented by third parties
>> >> such as Levy.
>> >
>> >Please, now you are fear mongering again.
>> No, I am stating historical fact.
>A tool is a tool. As every tool it can be use for good or evil.
>The purpose of the creator is irrelevant in the real world.

Not so. When one is reverse-engineering a virus or Trojan horse, 
for example, it helps a great deal to know what the creator 

And the GPL is, in many ways, a Trojan horse. (It's viral, too,
but that's another issue.) 

Programmers see the rhetoric at the top claiming that the license 
will promote "freedom," and place it upon their code -- whereupon 
its terms and conditions promote Stallman's agenda instead.

If users are fully informed about what a Trojan horse REALLY does, 
they may think twice about "running" it.

>Therefore I have a half serious question to you:
>Do you believe that the GPL is like the One Ring that
>answers to his master Stallman alone, and corrupt
>everybody else to evil?

You're being overly dramatic (and a bit silly) here. 

>> >I care not whether I support Stallman or not.
>> >I care ONLY about what is good for Wine.
>> Ethics, consumer choice, and the future of programming
>> as a profession all matter as well. It is not ethical
>> to focus only on the interests of one project.
>Ah, perhaps I shouldn't have formulated myself better.
>What I meant was that just because somebody is "evil"
>supporting _some_ of the things they support doesn't
>make you "evil" or unethical.

Alas, by using Stallman's licenses -- which are designed
to further his agenda to some extent no matter WHERE
they are used -- one is promoting something unethical.
One may not be doing so intentionally (just as one is
not being unethical if one votes for a corrupt politician 
whom one does not know to be corrupt). But if you know
that you're supporting unethical activities and continue
to do so, then you are yourself not acting ethically.

>Hitler supported building new autobahns (motor ways).
>I support build new autobahns (motor ways).
>However this doesn't make me "evil".

I could invoke Godwin's Law here, but I won't. ;-)

In the analogy above, suppose you find out that the
autobahns in question won't actually go anywhere that 
citizens (including you!) want to go, but are designed 
to support military invasions of other countries in
which many innocent people will be needlessly hurt
or killed. Do you still support them?

>No license can deny fair use. 

Yes, it can. You can forfeit your fair use rights via
a contract. And the FSF licenses are profferred contracts.

>I don't think they will have much luck though,
>they have already tried to stretch the boundaries
>of copyright law with the GPL, 

This is another reason why the GPL is likely to be
ruled invalid. An attempt to use copyright law to
do anything beyond the purposes stated in the US
Constitution can be invalidated as "copyright abuse."
(This argument has been made in the Napster litigation
and Judge Patel has taken it quite seriously.) Certainly,
"turning copyright on its head" (these are Stallman's own 
words for what a "copyleft" license does) would qualify
as copyright abuse. Hence, all "copyleft" licenses are
probably invalid and unenforceable.


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