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Peter Rock

I'm just amazed that you got the topics of the GPL, abortion, and "Intellectual Property" all in one short post. :)

mtg

Shoot, I forgot again that using IP and GNU GPL was forbidden in the same post!

Next time I'll post about death penalty, pornography or religion just to stay on the safe side of polemics. :-)

Daniel Thompson

Legally speaking the GNU GPL does *not* extend copyright. If is purely permissive and allows you to perform an activity that copyright would otherwise deem illegal.

You don't even have to agree to the license to use the software (which is why misguided people who put the GNU GPL into Windows click through installers are wasting their time).

The only time the you fall under the clauses of the GNU GPL is when you distribute something, licensed under GNU GPL that you would otherwise be prohibited from so doing. Even then you don't *have* to accept the GNU GPL but you would be guilty of copyright violation if you did not.

The fact that the conditions for releasing GNU GPL software are more difficult to meet than, say the BSD license does not mean it extends copyright. It permits you to do something that copyright would otherwise prevent and interferes in no other way with your activities.

PS In contract most software EULA do 'extend' copyright because they purport to restrict rights that you would ordinarily have under copyright (e.g. freedom to disassemble).

mtg


Daniel,

Good catch. I changed "copyrights" by "copyrightability" in my post.

Thanks.

Sid Boyce

I don't much get the notion that the GPL is not understandable, as the same people will perfectly understand the EULA and follow it to the letter. I think they just don't want to understand. They see something valuable that can significantly shorten their development efforts but don't see why anyone else should have the benefit of their own changes and extensions.
Tough Luck! They'd never think of asking a proprietary software outfit to loosen their license in order to have and make use of that outfit's code, yet they never belly-ache about using such products. Somehow they think the GPL should accord them the selfish rights they want.
The GPL will exist and thrive against all their ill-judged and futile moans.

Sid Boyce

I don't much get the notion that the GPL is not understandable, as the same people will perfectly understand the EULA and follow it to the letter. I think they just don't want to understand. They see something valuable that can significantly shorten their development efforts but don't see why anyone else should have the benefit of their own changes and extensions.
Tough Luck! They'd never think of asking a proprietary software outfit to loosen their license in order to have and make use of that outfit's code, yet they never belly-ache about using such products. Somehow they think the GPL should accord them the selfish rights they want.
The GPL will exist and thrive against all their ill-judged and futile moans.

renoX

You know I'd be really happy if 'contagious illness' were as 'contagious' as the GPL is: using GPL's code is a *choice*, being infected by 'contagious illness' isn't.

So saying that the GPL is contagious is FUD.

mtg

@renoX

One cannot address fear by just denying that people are experiencing it.

A better question is why do people have this perception and how to fix it.

In order to succeed, the non-sense, the lawyer speech encumbrance, the Open source political correctness has to stop.

The initial heroes of open source were ready to sacrifice themselves and that was the necessary condition for starting it all.

But now FOSS is going mainstream. It's time for the community to fess up to its success and to grow up.

In some sense, it's much harder to live humbly for a cause than to proudly sacrifice yourself to it.

The Times They Are a-Changin' :-)



stanly

You are falling in your own trap by forgetting the main purpose of IP. Which is? Do you remember? Does anyone?
Anyway, i'll tell you, the main purpose is not the money (no matter that they are important), is not even the "property", to OWN something. It is the intellectual progress. That's why we have copyright/copyleft. Because we wanna to find the ball ans between the progress of the single human being (the inventor), and the progress of the whole human race (the one, "paying" to the inventor).
When we forget this, we are becoming slaves of some "inventors", and of course, the progress is frozen.

stanly

And yes, the "copyleft" is even more "resident evil" in some sense, by forcing you to be free. Did you notice something strange in my previous sentence? Yes, it is the word "forcing", can someone explain me why "forcing" is not "free as a freedom"?

FreeBooteR

The reality is that people who rail against the GPL are people who want to be able to take and give nothing back. They don't understand the ideals behind the free software movement and don't want to understand.

Instead of using free software under the GPL, use software that uses a license your more comfortable with. Why is that so hard? You don't have a problem understanding M$ licensing.

I think the reality is it's time for YOU to grow up.

Swashbuckler

"because fundamentally intellectual property doesn’t lend itself to any sort of limit."

Sure it does, they just aren't limits that you like.

Swashbuckler

"I don't much get the notion that the GPL is not understandable"

Define "derivative work".

Example 1: If a program invokes a GPL'd program with specific options is it a derivative work of the GPL'd program?

Example 2: If a program parses the output of a GPL'd program is it a derivative work of the GPL'd program?

Example 3: If a GPL'd work implements a standardized interface, is something that uses that standardized interface a derivative work? What if it links dynamically to the GPL'd work?


The GPL is not nearly as clear as some people would like to believe.

Joe Buck

You write:

"The GNU GPL purposely extends copyrightability in both time (copyleft/derivatives) and space (assimilation/contagion) so that to foster the growth of GPL-covered code and to provide enough stability for nomadic communities to build upon it."

This statement reflect profound ignorance of copyright law. Copyright gives the copyright holder, and only the copyright holder, permission to create derivative works. Most copyright holders forbid it entirely, or else require hefty payments for the privilege.

The GPL, on the other hand, grants permission to all to create and distribute derivative works, provided that certain requirements are met. Some people find those requirements to be unacceptable. That's fine. All it means is that the GPL code can't be used.

Because the GPL only adds permissions, while not taking any away, it can't be said to extend copyright. People who don't get this are comparing GPL'ed work to public domain work. But most of the best GPL code today is produced by people who work for a living, and are paid for their work. They then offer that work in exchange for others to offer their own work (that is, license their extensions in the same way).

Those who reject this deal and don't complain have my respect. Those who whine about it are freeloaders: many want to incorporate GPL code into their own proprietary work, and sell that work, giving nothing at all to the people who produced the work.

Proprietary software isn't evil; I disagree with RMS about that one. But proprietary software and product developers who whine that they can't use GPL code except according to the license see a free lunch and object because they want a free dinner as well.

mtg

@joe

I'm showing you the moon and you're looking at the tip of my finger.

Copyleft increases your freedom yes, but only when compared to simple copyright.

As compared to say public domain, copyleft (or any copyright for that matter) restrains you.

And I'm not discussing the value of such strategy here , just why people are perceiving it this way.

They see "free", they think about what's roughly equivalent to Public Domain then they read the GPL and they read restrictions and constraints. They don't realize that those constraints are actually LESS restrictives than traditional copyright.

But they do understand that the code they thought was free (in the Public Domain sense the mistakenly gave to Free software) cannot be freely incorporated and distributed.

So the question is: how do we do, as a community, to explain people that this apparent restriction is actually a freedom?

Well, we do extremely poorly and those comments testify for it. Whenever somebody try to go to the crux of the issue, this person is answered: you have a BAD understanding of the law.

This has 2 effects: it makes people feel bad and it deters everybody not only to really understand the GPL but also the open source people to understand why the GPL is so often misunderstood.

renoX

@mtg, I complained that the blog's tittle used a misleading word to qualify the GPL.

This is totally unrelated to wether the GPL is mainstream or not, so you're answer is less than interesting..

I would define the GPL as a 'reciprocal' license: if you want to reuse GPL code, you have to release your own code.

reciprocal != contagious, one is chosen wilfully the other not..

So instead of focusing on whether using misleading word is FUD or not, you'd better try to use correct definitions, otherwise you give a bad impression about yourself..

mtg

@reno

Well if you want to talk about cats it's better to tell people upfront what you're talking about. This is a post about a controversial issue and that's exactly what's conveyed by the title.

Willful/contagious:
If people understand poorly the GPL any consequence of its use cannot really be qualified of "willful".


renoX

[[Willful/contagious:
If people understand poorly the GPL any consequence of its use cannot really be qualified of "willful".]]

Except that I bet that only a very, very small percentage of developers used GPL's code by mistake (even less so if commercial products)
It's not as if the GPL was a brand new license..

But hey keep writing in bad faith, I don't care.

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