Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

The GPL is not open source.

Author:Brett Glass
Posted:8/23/2000; 11:29:19 AM
Topic:Next survey: Are you an open source developer?
Msg #:19981 (In response to 19977)
Prev/Next:19980 / 19982

One of the first things we must do when defining "open source" is recognize that the GPL, or GNU General Public License, is not an acceptable open source license. It does not even meet the criteria laid out, in plain English, in the Debian DFSG and the Open Source Definition, because it discriminates against a field of endeavor: the development of commercial software. If one understands the history of Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation, one knows that the GPL was designed, intentionally, to destroy commercial developers' markets and prevent them from making use of publicly available source. This violates point #6 of both definitions by discriminating against this field of endeavor. It also has more insidious problems: it drives a wedge between the developers of commercial and non-commercial software and prevents them from working from the same code, thus hurting standardization.

A true open source license should not limit what you can do with the code, but only what you can do TO the developer (e.g. you should not be able to sue over bugs). The GPL fails this test; its "poison pill" is intended to prevent creative people from being compensated for their creative work. The BSD and MIT X licenses pass the test for true open source licenses; so does the Artistic License, under which Perl is published. The GPL does not. So, the first step in framing a new open source definition is to make this explicit.

--Brett Glass

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