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

Re: Its a trap with red flags to let you know where it is.

Author:William Crim
Posted:8/23/2000; 5:15:47 PM
Topic:Next survey: Are you an open source developer?
Msg #:20026 (In response to 20011)
Prev/Next:20025 / 20027

Dude, if you don't like Open Source or Free Software or whatever then don't use it. Your entire argument seems to be that you can't make any money off of code that has been GPLed, because noone will buy your code if they can get it for free. If this is the case, then don't use free code. This isn't a hard thing to grasp.

First, the existence of the GPLed version of the code effectively reduces the market value of its functionality to zero. Anyone can get that functionality for free. Thus, if a commercial developer pays money to license GPLed code, s/he is paying for something which has no market value to end users. This puts the commercial developer who buys a license to use the code "in the hole" from the start. This is precisely the sort of sabotage contemplated by Stallman, author of the GPL.

A piece of software that is Open Sourced retains full value for the end users. It has limited sale value for the developer, but since users aren't in the habit of useing software just so a developer can sell them something, it is of little matter to the user.

You can't go "in the hole" by releasing freely what you have already developed. You might have more problems getting back into the black, but you can't go backwards.

As for sabotage, it can't be sabotage to explicitly TELL someone what will happen(as the GPL clearly does) if they use the code, then follow through on the terms of the license.

Second, the GPL provides for a few "loopholes" and workarounds which allow the author's potential licensees to use the code without licensing it. (For example, Metrowerks's development environments invoke GCC, the GNU C Compiler, as a separate program.) So, in many cases, the potential licensees can find ways to avoid licensing the code for money, and the author loses.

The author can't lose, because the author put the code under GPL in the first place, expecting things like that to happen. It isn't a loophole. The GPL is designed to "contaminate" any program you include GPLed code in. It isn't designed to "contaminate" all code and programs in general. If you want to use GPLed code, you must abide by the terms of the GPL. Just as if I want to buy your software, I have to abide by the terms of your license agreement. If you don't want to abide by the GPL, then don't.

The GPL(or any other Open Source license) can't just sneak up and bite you in the ass. You have to actually place your ass in its mouth, either on purpose, or by not watching where you stick your ass.

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