The GPL: Intellectual Protection or Intellectual Theft?

The GPL: Intellectual Protection or Intellectual Theft?

Post by Devlor Nakart » Thu, 13 Jun 2002 08:43:03

Quote:>They don't have a problem with the GPL

>Prehaps your lawers where working for MS?


Especially  since MS 'shared source' licence DOES require that products of SS
programs be SS.

Or so it was as I read the license.  Too much control so I stopped shortly

Or maybe he works for MS....
Version Zero:
Less than one full revision in over two years.  Is it a good program,
or slow developers?  Or was it as I've always suspected?.... Version
numbers are totally meaningless.

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The GPL: Intellectual Protection or Intellectual Theft?

Post by matga.. » Thu, 13 Jun 2002 08:56:54

No, SS is more:

"Contribute to the project, but don't expect to make a buck off it".

Where as GPL:

"Here is some code, and changes must be made public, and oh, you CAN make
a buck off it if you wish".

Matthew Gardiner


The GPL: Intellectual Protection or Intellectual Theft?

Post by Geoff Lan » Thu, 13 Jun 2002 13:28:18

> No, SS is more:
> "Contribute to the project, but don't expect to make a buck off it".
> Where as GPL:
> "Here is some code, and changes must be made public, and oh, you CAN make
> a buck off it if you wish".
> Matthew Gardiner

Lewis Caroll says it best, "Everybody has won, and all must have prizes."

/\ Geoff. Lane. /\ Manchester Computing /\ Manchester /\ M13 9PL /\ England /\


The GPL: Intellectual Protection or Intellectual Theft?

Post by Martha H Ada » Thu, 13 Jun 2002 14:53:50

I think this ongoing conflict about software resembles what we see in
history of technology.  People who want to make secret and profit from
certain knowledge, vs those who try to make it a part of the social
and technical environment.  And those who restrict and hide knowledge
in order to profit from it, only do so at a heavy or even terrible
social cost.  

Examples are the Renaissance that ended the Dark Ages, not
coincidentally with the introduction of movable type around 1455.  Or
recently, the encryption technology the American government classified
as "munitions" and tried to keep secret; but it turns out, certain
applications in *space cannot work without the privacy encryption
yields.  Hiding naturally public information hurts progress and dark
things grow in the dark spaces so created.

(Rant on this topic omitted; but I mention such recent historical
items as Senator Joe McCarthy; the Steve Jackson raid; and still
ongoing, the use by the Catholic Church of secret deals to try to hide
a long history of *ly perverse attacks on children.)

Just because we are now in Today, does that mean everyone has Learned
Better?  Not that I can see.  I'm seeing serious questions here about
what Microsoft puts in their hidden source code for their own
convenience and for the use of Government snoops.  Aside from the
apparently well-documented bad quality of their OS; and, the
provisions they seem to include from time to time just to cause their
competitors software to crash but their own doesn't.  Those many
people who run Microsoft-free systems and offices have got something

So while I realize writing new software can be a lot of work, I feel
*society cannot afford private secrecy in software that gets public
use.*  Much of the discussion around this topic, all the friction and
copy protection stunts and etc, could be avoided by recognition of
this simple and undeniable basic.  If someone wants to sell software
privately for specific application; and the buyers are willing to
accept the uncertainty and unreliability and errors to be expected
from code that very few eyes see, well, that's OK by me.  Business is

But software that goes out public, that is something else.  The source
has to be public.  So let's just accept that reality and move on to
getting some more work done.

Cheers -- Martha Adams


1. The GPL: Intellectual Protection or Intellectual Theft?


Consulting for several large companies, I'd always done my work on
Windows. Recently however, a top online investment firm asked us to do
some work using Linux. The concept of having access to source code was
very appealing to us, as we'd be able to modify the kernel to meet our
exacting standards which we're unable to do with Microsoft's products.

Although we met several technical challenges along the way
(specifically, Linux's lack of Token Ring support and the fact that we
were unable to defrag its ext2 file system), all in all the process
went smoothly. Everyone was very pleased with Linux, and we were
considering using it for a great deal of future internal projects.

So you can imagine our suprise when we were informed by a lawyer that
we would be required to publish our source code for others to use. It
was brought to our attention that Linux is copyrighted under something
called the GPL, or the Gnu Protective License. Part of this license
states that any changes to the kernel are to be made freely available.
Unfortunately for us, this meant that the great deal of time and money
we spent "touching up" Linux to work for this investment firm would
now be available at no cost to our competitors.

Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our lawyers advised us that any
products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to
its source code released. This was simply unacceptable.

Although we had planned for no one outside of this company to ever
use, let alone see the source code, we were now put in a difficult
position. We could either give away our hard work, or come up with
another solution. Although it was tought to do, there really was no
option: We had to rewrite the code, from scratch, for Windows 2000.

I think the biggest thing keeping Linux from being truly competitive
with Microsoft is this GPL. Its draconian requirements virtually
guarentee that no business will ever be able to use it. After my
experience with Linux, I won't be recommending it to any of my
associates. I may reconsider if Linux switches its license to
something a little more fair, such as Microsoft's "Shared Source".
Until then its attempts to socialize the software market will insure
it remains only a bit player.

Thank you for your time.

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