Even The Open Source Community Gets Overly Restrictive At Times

from the stop-worrying-about-the-freeloaders dept

Reader Brad sent in a fascinating post from a little while back by Steve Streeting, a software developer who created an open source 3D rendering engine called OGRE. In the post, Streeting describes his evolving view on open source licenses. He basically points out that that open source licensing -- the kind that forces anyone who uses the code to open up and contribute back their code -- is actually creating an unnecessary restriction on developers as well, and it often doesn't make sense to have such restrictions. It's really quite a fascinating post, that brings up a number of issues I hadn't really thought about too much. For example, he points out that the restrictions aren't very helpful for code, because the best code contributions are from those who are contributing code willingly anyway -- so the restrictions are meaningless for them. Separately, he points out that the restrictions on licenses, such as the LGPL, simply are too complex and too restrictive for some developers, and the end result is fewer developers, which is the last thing you should want:
It was at this point that I realised that my previous opinions about permissive licenses not providing enough safeguards against exploitation for an open source project were off-base. In practice, open source projects don't really need protection, because their best contributors are going to be there regardless (yes, I realise the GPL provides more protection to end users who want to get at the source code, that's not what I'm considering here). 'Freeloaders' -- people who use or modify the open source project for their own ends but give no code or community contribution back -- are always going to exist; even under the GPL it's easy to freeload, if you make your money from hosting services for example, and thus license choice has little impact on the scale (if not the nature) of the freeloading. Besides the annoyance of 'that guy took my work and made some money out of it' -- which you have to accept as an inevitable outcome of going open source, so stick to making proprietary software if that bugs you -- freeloaders have little negative effect on an open source project, and actually their use can contribute positively to [publicity for the project]. The key is to recognise that in practice you can really just ignore freeloaders, and instead concentrate on maximising the positive contributors in your community.

So, if we acknowledge that the people whose contributions we actually want are those who contribute voluntarily, regardless of license, we quickly come to the conclusion that all that really matters is the size of the community. It's a fair assumption that for a given project there is a relatively stable percentage of users who will choose to contribute back (the percentage itself varies per project, but is fairly stable per project in my experience), therefore the easiest way to increase your contributors is to just increase your user base. Forget about trying to coerce people into being 'good' members of the community, just trust that the percentage will be there and will track your overall numbers.

One way in which to attract more users is to make the licensing simpler and more easier to understand. Programmers hate legalese, and a simple, clear license is bound to be more attractive than our LGPL (with static link exclusion), plus OUL option. It's for this reason that from OGRE 1.7 we're switching to the MIT License.
I find this fascinating on a number of different levels. The argument he's making -- within the open source world -- pretty much mirrors the arguments we make to copyright maximalists: that focusing so much on "freeloaders" is pointless, they're going to exist. Instead, focus on building your overall community, adding value, and setting up a model that works for those people. It's amazing to think that the excess restrictions in some open source licenses creates something of a parallel world, with parallel issues.

Once again, it all seems to come down to the same thing: restricting what others do is rarely a good strategy. Let people do what they want, and focus on providing the most value for the largest community that wants to be a part of what you're doing.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Steve, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 8:29pm

    Well, it should be noted here that he's talking about the GPL specifically, which forces any changes that are then used in deployment to be made available. Not all open source licenses are that way, BSD being the biggest alternative.

     

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    chris (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 9:16pm

    this was settled long ago

    it breaks down like this: bsd licensed code is free code for use in software. the GPL is code for use in Free software.

    even the GPL is not without it's exceptions. using changes made to GPL code used internally to an organization don't have to be released. same with Software As A Service.

     

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    Pitabred (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 9:24pm

    The GPL has a purpose

    The GPL is more of a tool of fighting copyright than keeping code free. The article also glosses over the fact that it guarantees the users have freedom. If you're a company you can use GPL software and know that you will ALWAYS be able to support it. I've run into too many underhanded companies that will sell mostly open-source software with a few tweaks to execs that don't know any better, and then disappear. What do you do then?

    Until the legal climate changes, the GPL has a very valid place.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 10:00pm

    People who are doing the work for free shouldn't be too worried about freeloaders. Seems sort of self evident, no?

     

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    Brad, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 10:26pm

    Re: this was settled long ago

    There is no argument what each license does. The whole point of the post and mike's writeup was talking about the differences between different open-source licenses and what the differences mean to the project. Steve was saying that if he 'forces' people to contribute back their changes (LGPL) it actually ends up being a weaker community and then in-turn less developers actually contributing back quality code.

    I think you totally missed the topic here.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 10:28pm

    It's about user freedom, not developer control

    The purpose of the GPL isn't to facilitate software development, but to ensure user freedom. The only "restrictions" on the license are against restricting freedom. Though, the open source approach tends to focus more on developers rather than users.

    Ultimately, though, the GPL is just a tool to combat restrictive copyright (like Pitabred points out). Sometimes, it's not the "best" tool (if the goal is to facilitate software development) and other licenses make more sense.

    But... you also end up with different software. With permissive licensing, you get things like Android -- "Open Core" software, where the end product is actually tied up with proprietary code. (Why should you have to jailbreak an "open source" phone?) With the GPL, generally speaking, you know what your getting is entirely available for you to build on.

    I think the freeloader argument is a bit misleading. It might be why some people turn to the GPL, but it's not the reason the Free Software Foundation publishes the GPL.

    The GPL is not about making sure that developers contribute back code (i.e. about stopping developer freeloaders) -- that's looking at a free software license from an open source perspective. The GPL is about making sure that developers don't restrict users' freedom to use, share and modify the software.

    If developers are using the GPL to "coerce people into being 'good' members of the community," that's a silly case of worrying about freeloaders. But the GPL uses copyleft not to coerce developers into being good community members, but to keep software free for users.

    Still, sometimes more permissive licensing makes sense (hence LGPL as a "weak copyleft," and other non-copyleft non-FSF licensing options).

     

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    Dohn Joe, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 10:36pm

    This Article is Nonsense

    The purposes for the GPL's "restrictions" are well founded and thought-out.

    This fellow is a very short-term thinker in his arguments and would quickly realise his folly if he switched licenses. Let's take his OGRE game development framework released under a BSD license as opposed to the GPL as an example. The first thing that would happen is you would have game development companies adding their own changes to the code, but not distributing this with their games. Upstream patching would begin to suffer and you would start to have hundreds or thousands of variants of the OGRE software, each maintained separately. Eventually one of these companies would dominate the market and, in the worst case, use changes to the OGRE API to leverage their monopoly position against competitors. Either way the codebase would be of poor quality because coding decisions would be made for political reasons (to hurt competitors, implement DRM, for promotional deals, etc...) and would not be subject to the usual "ruthless technical selection" of the community since the code is not being shared. The code quality would suffer and it would not serve the interests of the most important group: it's USERS.

    This is a proven result and this cycle has happened time and time again with non-free development.

     

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    Laura, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 11:25pm

    You lose credibility on this one

    Distorting GPL provisions don't help your argument. And now I wonder how much loose rhetoric is distorting your other posts.

    Kids smell bullshit.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 11:28pm

    Wait a second? Someone does something for free on the internet?

    Well, good luck with that kind of digital socialism. Like all socialist endeavours it will ultimately fail. I'm sure Microsoft is running scared! I give it two, three years tops.

    Please understand that I have been in a coma for the past decade.

     

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    Some Guy, Oct 23rd, 2009 @ 11:43pm

    Development is not hindered by free licences

    he points out that the restrictions on licenses, such as the LGPL, simply are too complex and too restrictive for some developers

    This seems like a particularly asinine line of reasoning. None of the free licences restrict anyone from actually writing code. The GPL shows its mettle when that code comes to be distributed: ensuring that it remains free is the best thing for users.

    I know this blog likes to focus on the profitability of free culture, which I'm generally in favour of, but you're missing the bigger picture in this instance. Free software, like free culture, is more than just a commercially viable tool. It is something that truly groks the human desire to share and create.

    Cutting corners for the sake of the profits of a few freeloaders doesn't have to be tolerated. The concept of software freedom is analogous to freedom of the press: everyone agrees that freedom of the press is important and vital, even if you aren't a journalist. We should be encouraging more of it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 12:21am

    Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "Upstream patching would begin to suffer and you would start to have hundreds or thousands of variants of the OGRE software, each maintained separately."

    Oh please. This happens with ANY open source license. It's called forking. Even when patches are contributed, the maintainers are under no obligation to accept them.

    "This is a proven result and this cycle has happened time and time again with non-free development."

    [citation needed]

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 12:54am

    Look At The Evidence

    Techdirt is all about looking at the evidence, not simply relying on preconceptions that might seem “obvious” or based on “common sense”, is it not? So look at the evidence.

    There have been a whole lot of open-source licences around, dating from both before and after the introduction of the GPL. Developers wanting to do open-source projects are free to choose from any of them, or even (shudder) make up their own. Yet we see that something like half to two-thirds of all the open-source software out there has gravitated to the GPL. No-one forced the developers to use it, Richard Stallman and the FSF have no power to hold guns to anyone’s heads. It became the most popular because the greatest number of people thought it was a pretty good choice.

    There have been open-source Unix-type systems (the *BSD family) before Linux came on the scene. Yet it managed to leapfrog them in terms of user popularity, in terms of sheer breadth of hardware support, in terms of developer community—by just about any measure you care to name. Why is that? Perhaps one factor is that it is released under the GPL, which prevents freeloaders from spawning proprietary derivatives and sucking off energy from the development community.

    Some people try to claim that the GPL is not “business-friendly”. But the evidence of the sheer number of commercial companies benefiting from, and contributing back to, GPL’d projects like the Linux kernel, the GCC compiler suite, the SAMBA networking stack, the MySQL database, the Asterisk telephony server and so on, shows what a complete load of nonsense such a statement is.

     

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    Fred McTaker (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 1:19am

    Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "Let's take his OGRE game development framework released under a BSD license as opposed to the GPL as an example. The first thing that would happen is you would have game development companies adding their own changes to the code, but not distributing this with their games."

    The point being made, that you missed entirely, is that this is precisely the scenario that is keeping most potential contributors away from the OGRE code in the first place. Why should any game developer want to be forced to release their entire codebase for their game to the public? They aren't even willing to spend the lawyer-time cash to see if the LGPL can get them around complete sharing!

    Game companies are highly competitive over their AI and control routines, and even if they are using middleware or an externally developed engine, they don't like the idea of having to release all their code just to get one small part of their codebase for free. Epic, Valve, Havok, and iD make >$10K's for each of their licenses for this very reason. For a lot of money, you get full access to their engine code, without any obligation to share your own. That is far more cost effective to most commercial game companies than using OGRE under GPL. OGRE under MIT will change that cost comparison entirely.

    MIT licensing doesn't stop the same companies from sharing back selected pieces of code or improvements to OGRE. It just makes them MUCH more likely to use OGRE in their game in the first place, and vastly increases the base of developers who are in a position to give back improvements. They just don't want to be forced to give away their whole game, and want to be more selective about how OGRE can benefit from their feedback. The "free rider problem" is the lesser of OGRE's distribution problems, precisely because they are making a game engine, and game companies don't like being forced to give away their games for free.

     

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    Fred McTaker (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 1:24am

    Re: Look At The Evidence

    Yes, please do look at the evidence. List how many profitable video games are GPL licensed. Now list how many are not. How do those numbers compare?

     

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    Fred McTaker (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 1:31am

    Re:

    Be careful with "BSD". The first version of the BSD license actually had an advertising requirement that was untenable for most software developers, and could create a situation where the required ad text would smother any potential advertising when multiple BSD license sources were used. The BSD license everyone uses now is called "Modified BSD" with the advertising requirements stripped. The MIT license is even simpler than BSD, and a good choice for OGRE in my opinion. If you need the kind of user support GPL is designed for in a video game, that game has already failed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 2:39am

    LGPL.

    I don't think the guy understand what the open source really is and he admits to that.

    Open source licenses are there to prevent people from taking things away from the knowledge pool and slapping patents and copyrights on it and consequently trying to restrict access to that knowledge in the future. Is not about freeloading, which I find a curious comment since freeloading is often encouraged to the point of being ridiculous and people thinking that open source is about free goods when it is about free knowledge and that free knowledge needs protection from people and institutions that otherwise would take that knowledge and box it negating access further down the line. It happened a lot before and it happens even today. People get something that is common knowledge and patent it and others cannot use it after that happens.

    Open source licenses are restrictions as are all others licenses and as such they achieve what they got out to do and that is negate people from taking knowledge away from people.

    And example is the code to make photo-mosaics, it have plenty of prior art but it was patent by someone that guy(Robert Silvers) goes around and threats everybody that tries to make a photo-mosaic app is just ridiculous but the guy have patents, trademarks and other things and nobody can do nothing about it until the patents are reviewed. This was before opensource exploded in use. But there is still people who do it to others and companies that take things from the public and make a commercial version and then go after the original creators. That is what open source licenses protect from not freeloaders those are welcome as long as they don't try to claim property over the knowledge.

     

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    Tor (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 2:53am

    Re: Look At The Evidence

    "Some people try to claim that the GPL is not “business-friendly”. But the evidence of the sheer number of commercial companies benefiting from, and contributing back to, GPL’d projects like the Linux kernel, the GCC compiler suite, the SAMBA networking stack, the MySQL database, the Asterisk telephony server and so on, shows what a complete load of nonsense such a statement is."

    MySQL is an interesting example. According to the MySQL webpage it's quite clear that if you produce a closed source web solution that uses MySQL as a backend-server and sell it to a customer who hosts it on his server (i.e. distribute it to the customer), then you need a commercial license. So basically anyone who hacks together a couple of php scripts that rely on MySQL and sells these without disclosing the source to someone else needs a commercial license. Now, how many of these small players do you think actually bother to get such a license? The proportion is probably extremely small.

    So what would happen if Sun decided to go after these developers or if they decided themselves to respect these limitations? What would that do to the popularity of MySQL? There's no doubt in my mind that these developers would then quickly turn to PostgreSQL instead which in many areas are more fully featured and happen to be licensed under the more liberal BSD license.

     

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    Chris Maresca (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 2:54am

    This is not a new argument

    It's not a new argument in the open source world. This whole discussion about open vs restrictive has been around for at least 10 years. One of the huge ironies is that restrictive licenses like the GPL create really good commercial models...

    However, I would say that choosing the MIT license is one of the WORST things you could possibly do. It's a terrible license as it does nothing to protect developers from liability and it's wording/terms/provisions are dated. The Apache license would have been a MUCH better choice.

    Anyway, I could probably write a book on this subject having spent much of the last 10 years working on making open source viable in commercial environments....

    Chris.

     

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    Chris Maresca (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 3:00am

    Re: It's about user freedom, not developer control

    'open core' is a marketing term. People have being wrapping open source into commercial products for 30 years (cf. SunOS, Sendmail and GRASS, just to name a few). Nothing that Apple is doing is new, it's just an extension of what other large systems companies have been doing since the 70s (when software was free with your expensive hardware).

    And the GPL forces 'lock in' in all sorts of sneaking ways, with GPLv3 taking things even further (cf. patent granting provisions).

    Finally, I'd point out that open source exist on a continuum that starts with public domain and ends with the Affero GPL license. From complete freedom to heavy restrictions, and, ironically, from no commercialization potential to very good commercial drivers...

     

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    Devonavar, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 3:02am

    I don't get it

    I thought a large part of the GPL's restrictions are there to ensure that there *can* be freeloaders. I must be missing a key part of the way the GPL works in practice, because I never thought it was intended to prevent freeloading.

    It also seems strange to ignore the end users here, since, as someone else mentioned, the entire purpose of the GPL is geared towards freedom for end users.

    I think it's also missing that the GPL isn't really designed for building businesses; it's designed as a political statement. Hence, the split between "open source" and "Free" software. I can well believe that there are better licenses for business because that's not what the license was developed for. By all means, use what works for you, but not everything comes down to business and money. The political dimension of the GPL is important in its own right.

    I'm also not sure I agree with the "all restrictions are bad" attitude. We build structures with limitations and restrictions all the time because those limitations help us focus and simplify what we're working on. A system with the *right* limitations gives us a solid foundation of certainty on which to build things. Without limitations, it's impossible to define any sort of coordinated project. Sorry this is so abstract ... I'm trying to paint a picture of a general principle. Hopefully it's somewhat visible here.

     

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    Tim Chase (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 3:41am

    last thing I want?

    he points out that the restrictions on licenses, such as the LGPL, simply are too complex and too restrictive for some developers, and the end result is fewer developers, which is the last thing you should want

    This seems an attempt to dictate the definition of value. Just as "free is not a business model" is an attempt to dictate that the value is in the selling of a good instead of the larger market, "fewer developers...is the last thing you should want" attempts to dictate that project value comes from developers. For some developers, the value is in the freedom afforded to the and users instead of amassing developer following. Those developers usually choose a GPL variant (LGPL, GPL2, GPL3, AGPL3) in accordance with their values and intent.

    -Tim Chase

     

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    jacmoe, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 4:12am

    You are doing it wrong

    It seems like most of you missed that Ogre used the LGPL, and that Steve Streeting isn't exactly an Open Source newbie.
    The Ogre project has been around since 2001. :)

    GPL is a perfect choice for applications, like Firefox, etc.
    It doesn't fit a library.
    LGPL is supposed to be the Free Software Foundations answer to that.

    But what about the Open Source Initiative?

    It seems to be more practical, and less political.

    So in the end, it's a choice between a political and a practical license.

    More and more developers favor permissive licenses, like MIT, BSD and the Apache license.

    No one has said that the GPL is a wrong license.

    But a practical, no nonsense license is a perfect match for Ogre.
    It's a library, used by developers.

    I am fairly certain that the switch from LGPL to MIT will make the adoption of the Ogre 3D rendering engine library even wider, the community bigger and lead to an increase in contributions.

     

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    cc, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 4:27am

    The GPL is a way to say to the man "keep your paws off". It's what the entire Linux community is based on. If it wasn't for the GPL you couldn't have any competition with other commercial OSs, as they'd just take whatever they wanted. The same principle has been carried through to all the other software that uses the GPL. If anything, that's many peoples incentive for contributing code, not something that would scare them off.

    As for the LGPL being too restrictive for OGRE, it probably is. Game companies would be only too reluctant to give up fully tested, supported and documented commercial *game* engines to pick up a free *graphics* engine and do everything themselves (remember, games usually get budgets in the order of millions, but only a couple of years to get the entire game done).

    The MIT license is a step in the right direction for OGRE (though there are better licenses out there), however I doubt there's anything they can do to attract more commercial devs without actually becoming a company in themselves (a similar business model as codeweavers, who make CrossOver/wine, for example).

     

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    Designerfx (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 6:51am

    the point is simple to me

    preventing MS from abusing monopoly powers via GPLv3 sounds pretty good overall. Otherwise they would simply break compatibility even further.

    aka, samba lawsuit?

    I mean lets face it, open source programmers don't do what MS does in general.

     

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    senshikaze (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:18am

    Re:

    Wrong kind of freeloaders.

    A user using software for free and never giving back to the project is *not* a freeloader. A Free loader is either someone who takes the code, modifies it a bit without sending code upstream, then releases as their own work, or sells it as their own work. Either way, that is against the GPL. You can use and modify code all you want as long as you don't release it as your own. Open Source is built off the idea that we as people should help each other.

    It requires a special kind of person, but i think the software world is all the better for it. We have too many Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in the software world.

     

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    b0rsuk, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:51am

    How much freedom do we actually want ?

    I like to compare BSD-style licences to anarchy, and GPL to typical western society.

    Some people argue that all restrictions are bad, and people would be better off in anarchy. Myself, I believe *some* restrictions are good and can stabilize situation. Some sort of government and laws, even if imperfect, tends to stabilize things. Without enforced laws there are constant wars and turmoil. Trade, cooperation and science suffer.

    I think most of us agree freedom of one man ends where freedom of another starts. You should be allowed to do anything as long as it doesn't interfere with freedom and well-being of others. Anarchism (lack of restrictions) doesn't care about that. Is it a coincidence that anarchism has failed to produce anything of value ? I would love nothing more than to be pointed to a successful modern anarchistic society.

    You live in a society where your personal liberties, freedom, and property are protected by laws. They are *restrictions*. Restrictions of this kind have proven so beneficial that they are seen all over the world, and we take them all for granted.

    What about labour law ? Child labour, working conditions, minimum wage, working time and more - you owe these great *restrictions* to socialists. Again, you take these for granted and there's no denying they have proven beneficial to society as whole.

    Back to GPL, and BSD-style licenses without copyleft. It is my belief copyleft is to code what basic laws and rules are to society. I think copyleft is a very sane and beneficial restriction. Oh, there's no denying BSD licensed code can create successful companies and corporations. That's great ... if you happen to be a corporation. I'm sure Microsoft is very grateful for that TCP/IP stack. Any minute now. But corporations, especially big and monopolistic, are notoriously bad at benefiting little men. Also notoriously bad at sharing knowledge, and creation of common knowledge pool. Did you know the wonderful invention - zero - has been invented independently by many cultures, and lost ?

    GPL strives to benefit individuals, and to benefit society. BSD-style licenses grant you freedom - nice word juggling there ! Freedom to murder or steal could also be called a freedom. Not contributing and spawning commercial forks are enabled by this freedom. Also selling software (which is like selling math).
    I think these 'freedoms' are simply harmful to society as whole. Hopefuly history will prove me right, and in a couple of years you'll take copyleft for granted, the way you enjoy personal liberties and labour law.

    Saying GPL fails to create successful games misses the point. GPL software is tool which can be used for work. Expertise, smarts, experience can't be copied the way software can. You still need skilled workers to use that GPL software. Because GPL-ed software is available free of charge, anyone with a computer can learn to use it. There are working proffesionals specializing in single pieces of GPLed software, such as jBoss. Try that with an expensive commercial suite of software like Photoshop. Gaming libraries and tools are not yet there, but they will.

    The frontline will simply move to a higher level. Even with GPL-ed software, magically good games won't appear out of thin air. Whatever your business model, even if the game is going to be given away for free, you'll need money to pay people to listen to you and keep your direction. The problem with GPLed games is not lack of talent, skill, ideas or money !

    GPLed games (and free, open games in general) have a *leadership* problem. Most such projects are comprised of people who are more less equal to each other. To make something happen, you need common vision. Common vision is easy to enforce in a company based around money, where few people can force others into making the game into particular shape. No matter how weird or seemingly pointless. Commercial games *are designed*. By contrast, GPLed games tend to *grow*, evolve, because they are managed in democratic way.

    **Design is not a democratic process**. Democratic design produces one of two common outcomes in games:
    1) Frankenstein (Nethack, lots of random ideas with serious design and balance problems, no vision)
    2) Plain, bland and safe game, which pleases no one and excites no one (countless GPLed games like Nexuiz, Hedgewars, Wesnoth. What do they have in common ? Each is a clone of a highly successful and popular commercial game)

    Wisdom of crowds is great for determining facts and truth. It sucks for design. Votes become vetoes. This article is very inspiring:
    http://blog.asmartbear.com/ignoring-the-wisdom-of-crowds.html

    So, are GPLed games doomed ? Certainly not ! They only have to realize what is it that holds them back: poor management. They need *sane* moderation of ideas and patch contributions. "Frankenstein" occurs when *too much* is accepted. "Plain" clone games occur when *not enough* is accepted - any radical, innovative, interesting idea is shot down by people who want a safe game.

    I can give an example of a GPLed game project which I think is doing good job so far. It's my favourite roguelike game, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. It started as a fork of an abandoned GPLed roguelike. Within relatively short time it rose into high popularity (at least within lovers of the genre). I think I know what sets it apart - good leadership. The design comitee is fairly small and there's rough consensus. The project has philosophy, rough design guidelines which govern what kinds of features are going to be accepted and why. There's still a lot of work ahead and rough edges to polish, but the project is thriving so far.
    http://crawl-ref.sourceforge.net

     

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  27.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    Why shouldn't they release source? Every argument I ever see doesn't make much sense.

    "Because competitors can see it."

    They can also reverse engineer your program. So what?

    "Because customers can avoid buying from you and just compile their own."

    Well, assuming that most people even know *how* to compile from source, you also are under no obligation to give your source to a non customer under the GPL. Hell, you don't even have to provide it unless asked. Just because the Linux devs and others release their source to the world, technically the GPL only says you have to provide it to customers who ask for it for three years. Average Joe doesn't even know what source code is much less to ask for it.

    I'm not a big fan of proprietary software, but i know i am in the minority on that.

     

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  28.  
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    jacmoe, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 8:33am

    GPL evangelist crap

    It's amazing - I guess none of you GPL crusaders actually read the article by Steve Streeting, nor do you care.
    All you want is spread Free Software gospel.

    Free Software and Open Source is two sides of a coin.
    One side is political (almost religious), the other one is practical.
    The GPL and the MIT license serves very different purposes.

    One thing I've noticed over the years is that more and more open source projects uses more permissive licenses.
    Especially - and listen carefully envangelists: libraries.

    Not operating systems or free software like GNU Emacs, Firefox, OpenOffice.

    It's ->
    Libraries. :)
    Frameworks.
    Toolsets.

    There's no one size fits all.

    You got that?

    Good.

    Now go and *read* the original article.

    Maybe the Open Source movement is maturing?
    Could be.
    But IMO it's common sense to treat Open Source not as one thing, but as many things in one.
    And then choose the right tool (read: license) for the job.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 8:36am

    "Besides the annoyance of 'that guy took my work and made some money out of it"

    I disagree that this is necessarily an annoyance. The person who released his work under a specific license that allows their work to be used for commercial purposes probably doesn't mind others using it for commercial purposes. Under the GPL, for example, it's perfectly ok to sell his/her work and make a profit, they just can't stop anyone else from freely distributing the work. It's also perfectly ok for people to "freeload" by modifying the work for personal usage and not releasing it, the authors of the GPL INTENDED for it to be that way so that those writing code who don't mind can release their code under that license. If you don't like it release your code under a different license.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 8:40am

    Re: this was settled long ago

    "using changes made to GPL code used internally to an organization don't have to be released."

    Exactly, and this is what the authors of the GPL intended. Those who release their code under the GPL are people who don't mind others using the work internally and not releasing it, otherwise they wouldn't use that license. The GPL is about freedom but in order to grant freedom it must take away the freedom of others to take away your freedom. The GPL is a great license IMO, it represents very good principles.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re: this was settled long ago

    "Steve was saying that if he 'forces' people to contribute back their changes (LGPL)"

    But I see nothing wrong with that. First of all if the person wants to make changes and not release them then they don't have to contribute them back. But if the author of the software wants to allow others to only use a piece of software provided they contribute any modified released code back I see no problems with that. The person using the GPL software understands the terms ahead of time and if s/he doesn't like it then s/he doesn't have to use software under those terms. However, as copyright maximists would argue, the person who is modifying the GPL code is not entitled to use the original code free of charge. The person who made the code initially didn't even have to make it and if they didn't then the person modifying the code would have to use some other code regardless. They chose to make it under the conditions that the GPL be followed and as such those terms should be obeyed. Otherwise there may not be such code to begin with.

    Also, others may not want to contribute to the GPL code if they know that others can take the code, make some changes, and not release the code for improvement. The GPL is about building and improving previous code not hiding code to prevent improvements.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: It's about user freedom, not developer control

    "And the GPL forces 'lock in' in all sorts of sneaking ways, with GPLv3 taking things even further (cf. patent granting provisions)."

    If you don't like it then DON'T USE THE LICENSE. Just release your code under a different license. and don't use code released under that license. But you have no right to tell others what they want to release their code under just because you want to write code and not allow others to compete by writing and building their own code.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 9:02am

    Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "and would not be subject to the usual "ruthless technical selection" of the community since the code is not being shared."

    Uhm ... under the GPL if one wants to release the code they MUST share it. Otherwise just don't release it.

    and your scenario is worse than what, closed source software like Microsofts windows where the code is never shared?

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "The point being made, that you missed entirely, is that this is precisely the scenario that is keeping most potential contributors away from the OGRE code in the first place."

    But that code exists in the first place because those who contribute to it contribute under the expectations that its terms will be followed. Otherwise that code may not even exist and those who stay away from it won't be able to contribute to it regardless. If those who don't like such GPL code don't want to contribute they are free to use other code or write their own licenses. But don't freeload off of GPL code that you got for free without at least having the courtesy to follow the license. Under existing copyright laws those who did contribute to that code don't even have to allow you to use it freely to begin with so if they're going to be nice enough to let you use it the LEAST you can do is follow their terms. Or just don't use the code.

     

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  35.  
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    vyvyan, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 9:09am

    To Mesnick, What usually prompts this discussion most of the time is that people take if fore-granted that anything that is open source could be used anywhere. I think, since you wrote this article this amazed you aswell, this times or somewhere in the past. The easiest way to understand this is, there are not two three major types of license. 1. Copyright : Where the source is not open to public. This includes all proprietary softwares, freewares like foobar2000, sharewares, adwares etc. 2. Free licenses: like BSD, apache, public domain etc where not only the source is available but you can develop your software based on that and released it in license where you don't even disclose the source code. 3. Copyleft: GPL, LGPL, CC-SA and likes where source is available and you're free to modify it; but if you want to distribute it, you will have to release it under similar license. You can not start selling it as proprietery software. This happens to be most liberal side. Copyleft is restrictive which is a fact most people don't understand, but it's very vital to keep such restrictions to keep development work available to public. I know someone will start pointing out intricacies in my defn. above. I'm not stating those to be really complete, but on a wider terms this is how one can start to categories them. Thereafter you will have to look into license compatibilities when you start to change license of modified software. These restriction in copyleft licenses have played vital role in propagation and evolution of free, as in speech, softwares.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "The point being made, that you missed entirely, is that this is precisely the scenario that is keeping most potential contributors away from the OGRE code in the first place."

    BTW, I hope you're not an intellectual property maximist/copyright maximist. If you are a copyright maximist/intellectual property maximist then your position is one of utter dishonesty if you think that it's OK for someone to release their code and charge as much as they want for it or to not allow anyone to use it at all (or to pick and choose who can and can't use it or who can use it for what purposes) and not think that they should be allowed to release their code under the GPL and have those terms followed.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "The "free rider problem" is the lesser of OGRE's distribution problems, precisely because they are making a game engine, and game companies don't like being forced to give away their games for free."

    Then game companies can make their own game engines.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "The "free rider problem" is the lesser of OGRE's distribution problems, precisely because they are making a game engine, and game companies don't like being forced to give away their games for free."

    Those who make GPL code don't like game companies stealing their code, making some slight tweaks, and making monopoly money off of it. They want their code and any modifications to be shared with everyone for free so that game companies don't disproportionally benefit from code that others worked hard to make.

     

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  39.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 9:39am

    Terminology clarification

    Mike, you don't have the terminology quite right there. The "Open Source" and "Free Software" licenses include the more permissive ones that permit proprietary redistribution (e.g. BSD, Apache, MIT).

    The ones that Streeting is complaining about are the "Copyleft" licenses (e.g. GPL, LGPL, AGPL*) that impose restrictions on the redistributors of the code.

    Both kinds of license provide the four freedoms espoused by the Free Software Foundation:
    * The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
    * The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
    * The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
    * The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

    The *only* difference between the copyleft and non-copyleft licenses is in the obligations they impose on developers that want to *redistribute* parts of the code. The copyelft licenses requite that redistributors also respect the four freedoms. The non-copyleft licences let redistributors largely do whatever they want.

    And on that front, OSI won the practical argument a long time ago - the difficulty and overhead involved in maintaining a private fork means that many heavy users of an open source library or framework eventually become contributors.

    Accordingly, for quite some time, the choice of GPL/LGPL/AGPL over BSD-style licensing has been more a statement of principle than one of engineering practicality.

    In some cases, it is done to enable a dual licensing model - those that want to maintain private forks are given the option of paying for a more permissive license, while a free version is made available under a copyleft license.

    In other cases (as appears to have been the case with Streeting), someone has selected a more restrictive license without properly recognising the implications of their choice (i.e. they're prohibiting something that doesn't actually matter to them, thus creating unnecessary complications for everyone).

    In still other cases, it is a conscious decision to exclude proprietary forks that are then redistributed. Streeting explicitly acknowledges this point of view in his article, and it is the fundamental split between the goals of OSI and the FSF - the former just wants to encourage good collaborative software development practices, while the latter is trying to encourage increased software freedom.

    Does the choice of a copyleft licence limit the kind of redistributors you're going to get? Yes it does - but if promoting the ideals of software freedom is one of your objectives, then making it clear that you only welcome other contributors that are at least willing to tolerate that goal isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    The major difference between this argument and that of copyright maximalists though is that neither camp (copyleft and non-copyleft) is trying to restrict the behaviour of ordinary end users of the software. If you aren't modifying and then redistributing the code under a different licence, you simply don't need to care about any of these details.

    *A quick note on the GPL variants:
    GPL - full copyleft licence that allows redistribution that would normally be prohibited by copyright law only if the four software freedoms are respected for both the GPL code and any linked application. Violations are typically remedied either by ceasing redistribution or by coming into compliance with the license (i.e. respecting the four freedoms as required)
    LGPL - Library (or Lesser) GPL that applies only to the LGPL code itself with no restrictions on the linked application.
    AGPL - the Affero GPL is a relatively new variant that closes the "software as a service" loophole by applying the downstream licensing restrictions when the application is hosted by the vendor rather than being run directly by end users.

     

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  40.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 9:57am

    Re: Terminology clarification

    "... Streeting is complaining about ..."

    Whoops, I meant to go back and change that phrasing before posting. Streeting wasn't complaining - he was just pointing out that the additional copyleft restrictions won't make any practical difference for most projects (and, in some cases, may actually be harmful).

    I believe the copyleft licences do have their place as an educational tool in bringing traditionally closed source vendors into a more collaborative environment for genuinely large scale projects (e.g. I personally suspect that without the GPL to enforce the rule of "play nice or go home", Linux would have suffered the same proprietary fragmentation problems that afflicted Unix in the past).

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 10:06am

    Re: Re: It's about user freedom, not developer control

    "And the GPL forces 'lock in' in all sorts of sneaking ways, with GPLv3 taking things even further (cf. patent granting provisions)."

    This is just another example of the dishonest nature of intellectual property maximists. You want to be able to restrict the use of your work or to deny others to use your work or to charge them what you want and to control your work in a way that's most profitable to you but then you want to use other peoples work for free without following any restrictions that they want you to follow. The hypocrisy.

     

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  42.  
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    Tor (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 11:22am

    Re:

    I find it quite funny that you address Mike Masnick by misspelling his name and then start lecturing him om the very basics that I'm sure everyone with the most basic insights in copyright matters already knows. No offense, but it seems a bit silly ;)

    "Copyleft is restrictive which is a fact most people don't understand, but it's very vital to keep such restrictions to keep development work available to public."

    But the whole point of the post is that if some derivative works are kept from the public that doesn't matter if the overall contributions increase thanks to a larger user base attracted by a more liberal license. The goal is (normally) not to minimize free-loading but rather to maximize the contributions and the vitality of the project.

    Like others have already pointed out there is no size that fits all, but I still think every open source project leader should consider these things.

     

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  43.  
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    Victor V., Oct 24th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    Re: This Article is Nonsense

    You speak the truth. Still, if instead of a BSD license you released under a license that states the developer can only release the application without the code IF IT IS FREE and WITH NO COMMERCIAL PURPOSES AT ALL.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 12:30pm

    Re:

    "Well, good luck with that kind of digital socialism. Like all socialist endeavours it will ultimately fail."

    There is nothing socialist about the lack of intellectual property. The lack thereof is capitalism and free markets. The GPL is an attempt to alleviate the lack of free market capitalism that the government imposes on the masses.

     

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  45.  
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    Chris Maresca (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: It's about user freedom, not developer control

    Well, that's not my point. Let me make my point abundantly clear, since you failed to parse the complete statement:

    -- Because the GPL enforces locking in all sorts sneaking ways, that creates a lot of commercial opportunity. --

    Talks about unintended consequences.... And, believe you me, every corporate counsel in the US (and abroad) knows this very, very well.

     

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  46.  
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    Chris Maresca (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: It's about user freedom, not developer control

    Well, that's not my point. Let me make my point abundantly clear, since you failed to parse the complete statement:

    -- Because the GPL enforces locking in all sorts sneaking ways, that creates a lot of commercial opportunity. --

    Talks about unintended consequences.... And, believe you me, every corporate counsel in the US (and abroad) knows this very, very well.

     

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  47.  
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    Fred McTaker (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Terminology clarification

    Excellent analysis here! The only thing I have to add is that MIT is GNU GPL Compatible, meaning using OGRE under MIT will not prohibit games made with OGRE from being at least partially GPL licensed:

    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/license-list.html#GPLCompatibleLicenses
    (Listed here as the "Expat License")

    Any change from the MIT license base to a more restrictive license (including GPL) will affect downstream forks based on the game as a whole, but would not affect OGRE-only changes upstream.

    So to all those complaining that making OGRE non-GPL will make all games that use it non-GPL, that is simply not true. MIT licensing leaves it all up to the game developers, which is exactly the aspect that will allow OGRE to open up its base to contributors of all stripes: commercial, non-profit, or open community.

     

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  48.  
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    Fred McTaker (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "BTW, I hope you're not an intellectual property maximist/copyright maximist."

    I am actually against IP in most forms. You can look at my past TechDirt and Against Monopoly comments for proof. Just hit my Profile link here.

    The only valid form of media protections that I think are viable are Trademark (excluding dictionary and common words -- I don't think a TM like "Monster [Product]" is ever valid) and attribution rights (i.e. "authored by [Name]" must be printed with all copies). Related to attribution rights, I am against plagiarism, which I see as a consumer transparency/fraud issue rather than any "author rights" issue, similar to Trademark. I think patents are too rarely valid or novel to be of any real use, and software patents are especially farcical given the original Constitutional intent.

    The only protection I left out of that list is Trade Secret, because I view it as a sort of "natural" protection that requires minimal government oversight. I think Registered Trade Secret should replace patents. The trade-off is that Registered Trade Secrets are easier to defend against industrial espionage with the government's help, and the Registration expires and thus goes public domain after a decent "limited time", let's say the same 20 years as patents are now.

    With those definitions in play, I view the MIT license as the ability to keep Trade Secrets if you want to, but also the freedom to contribute back to the public domain if you want to. GPL forces all involved to give back to the public domain, whether they like it or not, which is the primary roadblock to game developer adoption. They may well decide they don't mind releasing their game code, either after the game is done or a few years after release (like iD has done with Doom and Quake). The point is they are given the freedom to decide their level of openness vs. Trade Secret at any point, and it is not imposed on them through OGRE's license. This makes them much more likely to try out OGRE, and contribute back if they like it.

    To further clarify, I don't view copyrights on hidden code as valid, in contrast to assertions made by the 1996 Copyright changes. I don't think you should be able to copyright or claim attribution right on something you never publish in any form. The binary output you do release is what is copyrighted, and everything else should be Trade Secret status. What I am actually arguing here is the ability of game developers to select their own Trade Secrets vs. attribution vs. public domain. Unfortunately, the reality of current copyright-maximist laws skews the end result, which can't be seen as a fault in any OSI license.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Re:

    Free markets? Sounds like more socialism to me. Nothing should ever be free.

    Not even people.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "The only protection I left out of that list is Trade Secret, because I view it as a sort of "natural" protection that requires minimal government oversight. I think Registered Trade Secret should replace patents. ... and the Registration expires and thus goes public domain after a decent "limited time", let's say the same 20 years as patents are now."

    Minimal protection after 20 years? That doesn't sound so minimal.

    What about if someone independently invents the same thing, can they then be sued for trade secrets? and what are the litigation implications of trying to prove that they came up with it independently? and if a product is released to the public others can reverse engineer it, is that a violation of trade secrets? I don't think government enforced trade secret is a natural right.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 3:14pm

    Why bloggers should be required to employ qualified editors

    Much of today's "journalism" by way of what's commonly referred to as the "blog-o-sphere" is riddled with terrible writing and absolutely no shortage of commentary articles about articles. Unfortunately this article is no exception. Under no circumstances would a competent writer conjure up an introductory paragraph which includes the level of first person subjectivity provided in this article nor the redundancy of notion. Not only does the above author introduce this "article" with the term fascinating and then make it the sole subject of the 4th sentence of the introductory paragraph as well, but it is the definitive closing statement of the article.

    Please, for the sake of preservation of the English language, everyone go buy a newspaper and leave the function of relaying information to those who will garner some respect for the art of communication. It is inevitable that this form of so called journalism will have a negative net impact on the education and communication skills of generations to come.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 3:46pm

    13 Amazing New Windows 7 Features That Microsoft Forgot To Mention

    1. Multitouch Monitor no longer made in facility that processes peanuts.

    2. Keep an eye on your inner self with Microsoft's new "Wireless Windows 7000 Mood Mouse"

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    12. Startup noises now Clarence Carter's "Strokin'" in full Stereo.

    13. Two words: Monster Cables

     

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  53.  
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    Pitabred, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    How do you fork when the code isn't available?

     

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  54.  
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    jacmoe, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Why bloggers should be required to employ qualified editors

    So, just leave the writing to the professionals?
    Sod off.
    Anonymous Coward. :)

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: It's about user freedom, not developer control

    "Talks about unintended consequences"

    The assumption that you're making is that those consequences are unintended.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: It's about user freedom, not developer control

    "Because the GPL enforces locking in all sorts sneaking ways, that creates a lot of commercial opportunity."

    The intention of the GPL is not to disallow anyone from making money.

    "Talks about unintended consequences"

    You are assuming to know the intent of the GPL and those who contribute to it. and this is your mistake, unless you can read their minds then I say you are in no position to tell me their intent.

     

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  57.  
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    Eldakka (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    But that code exists in the first place because those who contribute to it contribute under the expectations that its terms will be followed. Otherwise that code may not even exist and those who stay away from it won't be able to contribute to it regardless.

    I think you are missig the point entirely.

    Many of the regular contributors to a project do so because they want to, not because they are forced to. And if the 'forced' cotribution requirement was removed, those people would still be contributing.

    For example, lets say OGRE has 10000 users of the software. Say there are 50 regular cotributors, and anoher 250 occasional contibutors. Of those, 30 regular do so because they 'have' to, and 150 of the occasional also only do it beause they 'have' to.

    If we remove the forced contribution, make it entirely vountary, and due to that OGRE now has 100000 users of that software. Well, we have now lost the 30 forced regular and 150 forced occasional contributors. But now we have increased by 10 times (the article points out that the percentages are fairly constant), no, lets be pessimistic and say a 10x increase in users only triples our voluntary contributors, well we now ave 60 regular and 300 occasional contributors. So we've gained 40 regular voluntary contributors and lost 30 forced ones for a net gain of 10 regular contributors. That's an overall plus isn't it?

    Sure, you now have a huge numer of freeloaders. But whats better? is 100 @ 100% return better or worse than 1000000 @ 1% return?

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "Many of the regular contributors to a project do so because they want to, not because they are forced to. And if the 'forced' cotribution requirement was removed, those people would still be contributing. "

    But those people who contribute with the assurance that any modifications of their code would be released do so because they would rather contribute under THOSE terms. Otherwise they are free to choose other terms. If those people would rather contribute without the terms of the GPL no one is stopping them. They can create or find some other license to contribute to. and as for those others who don't want to release their code, no one is forcing them to contribute to GPL code. They can just as well choose other code.

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "Of those, 30 regular do so because they 'have' to, and 150 of the occasional also only do it beause they 'have' to. "

    They do not have to, they are free to find other code that's not released under the GPL and to modify and release it. No one is forcing them to contribute anything. With all these alleged contributors that contribute to the GPL that don't like the terms there are plenty of people that can easily start their own project using a different license. No one is stopping them. If the vast majority of contributors don't like the GPL license then they are free to start completely new software under a different license and they will have more contributors with more code and a better product. Your argument doesn't make any sense, if the vast majority of people who contribute to the GPL don't like the terms you are arguing that they are contributing simply to use code made by a minority of people who like the code and hence use the GPL? I find that hard to believe. Very hard to believe. Your argument is very counter intuitive, it makes no sense. If the vast majority don't like the terms they would simply start new code with a new license leaving the small community of people who do like the GPL free to create their own code under the terms they like instead of dissuading them from creating code under different terms.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    The mistake you make is that these people are "forced" to contribute. They are not. The majority of the people simply will not be forced to contribute against their will, they will start their own code under their own license and leave those who like the GPL to contribute to it on their own while those who don't like the GPL will operate under a different license and will have a larger user base as a result.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    but what you want is to force those that want to contribute code who VOLUNTARILY contribute under the GPL (NO ONE is forced to contribute) to contribute their code under terms that allows YOU to freeload from that code and release that code under terms that are disproportionally favorable to YOU.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Free markets? Sounds like more socialism to me."

    No, free markets are the opposite of socialism. Free markets dictate that market forces, without government intervention, sets the prices.

    "Nothing should ever be free."

    So people shouldn't contribute to charity? The air you breath shouldn't be free?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:46pm

    Re: Why bloggers should be required to employ qualified editors

    "It is inevitable that this form of so called journalism will have a negative net impact on the education and communication skills of generations to come."

    Uhm... apparently the form of communication that you are used to does not teach you anything because, if you know anything about the human brain, as people practice things they get better at them. The best way to improve a skill is to practice and what better venue to practice effectively communicating with others a message that you want to communicate in the real world (ie: beyond the mere formalities of writing an essay to a teacher where the communication is not being communicated to an intended audience outside of academic circles and in the true marketplace of ideas) than a venue that allows us to practice communicating issues with others in the real world. Reading a newspaper is not the same thing and does not give the same practice of learning how to make your views more clear to a wider audience than communicating directly to a wider audience does, which is a practice that this blog enables (and more practice means better skills).

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:50pm

    Re: Why bloggers should be required to employ qualified editors

    "Why bloggers should be required to employ qualified editors"

    How about this: Why morons like you should be banned from the Internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 7:58pm

    Re: Re: Why bloggers should be required to employ qualified editors

    "It is inevitable that this form of so called journalism will have a negative net impact on the education"

    It is inevitable that comments like this are a waste of everyone's time, storage space, and bandwidth and have a net negative impact on the Internet and society at large. They also have a net negative impact on education and human knowledge as well because the time that it takes someone to realize the stupidity of your comment and ignore it is time that could be better used to read more meaningful and educational information that they could learn from.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    Me, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 8:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Be careful listening to yourself, as you're an asswipe. Everyone refers to the Modified BSD license when they say BSD. The advertising clause has been gone for over ten years, and still prancing around warning people about it makes you a fool at best.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 8:20pm

    "Once again, it all seems to come down to the same thing: restricting what others do is rarely a good strategy."

    While I generally agree with this the point I want to make is this. If copyright allows people to add the restrictions that it allows others to add to their work then it should also allow someone to add the restrictions that the GPL adds to his/her work. It would be an act of hypocrisy to allow copyright to give someone permission to dictate who can and can't use a piece of work or how much someone must pay to use it while not allowing that person to release their work under the GPL or some similar license.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 11:21pm

    Re:

    This is terrible interpretation of the purpose for open source licensing... and frankly Mike is way off on this entire post (as is his source).

    The purpose of licensing open source software, and specifically the GPL, is to prevent commercial gain without contribution; it is not about controlling who gets code for free. Preventing commercial profits from open source code without contributing back to the community is important not because we want to coerce contributions out of companies (who can contribute poor code just for the sake of doing it), but rather it is to prevent companies from taking only the best and giving back only the worst! If they must make all changes open source when compiling that code with other GPL code... it forces them to contribute quality code or not use it. The point made in the post that the best code comes from the willing is exactly the issue here... because anyone willing to use GPL code and comply with the license is willing to contribute quality code.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 11:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Saying 'everyone' does anything is quite ignorant. There is no one thing that everyone does... this includes being born (Adam and Eve) and dying (Elijah).

    It is very reasonable for Fred McTaker to warn people about this when the article clearly does not use the correct terminology... the BSD license is not and never will be the Modified BSD license, and getting yourself into a legal battle over it just because you did not know there was a difference would be asinine to say the least.

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2009 @ 11:39pm

    Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    Well that is kinda silly... what possible reason could exist for releasing an application without code "IF IT IS FREE and WITH NO COMMERCIAL PURPOSES AT ALL." There is no reason I can think of that code wouldn't be released in that case since all benefits of keeping code back from the community could be construed as intended to provide future commercial gain.

     

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  71.  
    icon
    isthisthingon (profile), Oct 24th, 2009 @ 11:46pm

    Re:

    Well said ac.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Bob, Oct 25th, 2009 @ 1:06am

    Re: Re:

    The BSD license everyone uses now is called "Modified BSD" with the advertising requirements stripped.

    Both the original and modified versions are "BSD licenses". When used without further specification it is usually taken to mean the later version but, when it is necessary to differentiate between the two, the terms "original" and "modified" may additionally be used to specify one or the other.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    icon
    senshikaze (profile), Oct 25th, 2009 @ 5:12am

    Re: Re: Look At The Evidence

    not the point. The GPL is bad for things like games. Noone ever said that it was great for that particular application, all he said is that people do benefit from GPL code.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    jacmoe, Oct 25th, 2009 @ 8:02am

    You are the reason people are moving from the GPL to more permissive licenses

    Can you, and all the people like you, please stop this GPL evangelism?
    You are only contributing to the death of the GPL and the free software movement.

    In the real world, in live open source projects, we tend to favor Apache, BSD or MIT.
    Primarily in the software library/framework/toolset segment.

    Licenses which you can read and understand without consulting a lawyer.

    You keep harping on and on about the GPL..

    And you claim that Mike and Steve Streeting is way off?
    Way off what, exactly?

    Of course, you posted this anonymously, because you are just a random topic evangelist.

    Those of us believing in a free choice - also the freedom to choose a license which actually fits the bill. :)

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    jacmoe, Oct 25th, 2009 @ 8:41am

    Allow me to point out that Ogre 3D is a rendering engine, not a game engine.
    It is middle-ware.

    It was licensed under the GPL initially, but shortly after the license was changed to the LGPL.
    Because Steve believed it to be a license which balanced freedom of use with protection for the project.
    Because the LGPL will ensure that changes made to the library gets contributed back.

    Well, the insight is that all contributions are voluntary, and will happen regardless of license, and realising that the benefits of moving to a more permissive license far outweighs the eventuality of people just running away with the code and tout it as their own creation (which they would have done anyway, regardless of the chosen license).

    Now people can link to the Ogre rendering engine library however they want (statically as well as dynamically).
    Commercial actors will find it much easier from a legal standpoint to contribute changes back.
    And believe me, they will: contributing a change back to a library means that they don't have to patch up locally every time the Ogre library gets updated.
    That has nothing to do with license, it's just practical.

    Consoles and the iPhone is now within the reach of every Ogre user, not just purchasers of the Ogre Unrestricted License (which was needed with the LGPL'ed Ogre).

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    jacmoe, Oct 25th, 2009 @ 8:51am

    So, realising that the LGPL is not the right license for Ogre (and developer middle-ware in general?) does not mean that the GPL and the lesser GPL are bad licenses.

    Ogre is not alone on this.
    Take Bullet physics library, Crazy Eddie's GUI, most of Googles open source developer libraries/toolsets, the Zend Framework, and lot's of others.

    The Linux kernel, GNU software, OpenOffice and other free software uses the GPL, and that's perfect.
    Let's hope that kind of software stays free.

    But let's also respect that the definition of freedom is not universal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    identicon
    kaden, Oct 25th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    FWIW, these comments are w-a-ay more entertaining when read using the Comic Book Guy voice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78.  
    identicon
    jacmoe, Oct 25th, 2009 @ 2:42pm

    Re:

    Kaden, you're right :D
    If you're after entertainment, try the Git versus Mercurial, or the Ruby on Rails versus Php topics. :)
    I only bothered replying because of my involvement with the Ogre project.. :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2009 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes. Was that so hard?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    icon
    Fred McTaker (profile), Oct 25th, 2009 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: This Article is Nonsense

    "Minimal protection after 20 years? That doesn't sound so minimal."

    When I said minimal government oversight for Trade Secrets I meant as they exist today. Registered Trade Secrets (RTS) don't exist -- they're just an idea I have for replacing the patent system with something that wouldn't be mired in invention timing, novelty, or obviousness tests. The whole point of it is to avoid the cases where independent invention occurs, and one creator "beats" the other to getting a patent. I think such cases prevent innovation rather than fostering it. If the "invention" is instead protected only via its Trade Secret status, where the Registration only helps the government prove direct copying or industrial espionage vs. independent works, there should be no fear of retribution in any case except where someone licenses a RTS and then refuses to pay to use the secrets revealed in the license. It would be really more of an extension of existing contract law and anti-theft laws, where the only new aspect is the expiry of the Trade Secret and automatic placement into the public domain after a limited time, in my example 20 years. Current Trade Secrets are indefinite -- they last as long as the company successfully keeps the secret (see Coca Cola history).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Oct 25th, 2009 @ 11:22pm

    Entirely bogus and was settled long ago.

    No. It's just that no one with any clue buys into the
    idea. The whole reason that the GPL was "invented" to
    begin with was that RMS had problems with developers
    getting upset when their work was coopted into commercial
    products. The GPL and the LGPL are licenses that ensure
    that people who contribute code with charitable intentions
    won't end up being un-paid corporate employees.

    The GPL is generally not a problem for anyone that doesn't
    have a toddler's sense of entitlement to the work of others.
    The LGPL exists specifically to allow for libraries to be
    used without triggering the more restrictive definition of
    "derivative work" that's in the GPL.

    Even Oracle and EA can take advantage of "GPL" works. What
    they can't do is treat those works as their own personal
    property. They don't really need to.

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    JEDIDIAH, Oct 25th, 2009 @ 11:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Look At The Evidence

    The GPL is perfectly fine for things like games. Or rather the LGPL is perfectly fine for things like system libraries that happen to address functionality relevant to games.

    Use of SDL did not force Alpha Centauri or Sim City 3000 to be GPLed.

    Common infastructure (like WOLAPI or Battle.net) can be readily shared between games without the games themselves being "forced into openess". Using LGPL game libraries is no more hazardous for crass game programmers than DirectX is.

    People that want to steal other peoples work (in the classical sense rather than the BSA usage) are really the only people that have any reason to object the L/GPL. Everyone else benefits from a "level playing field" that comes from the libraries being freely available and subject to publication for any changes.

    EA gets no advantage to tweaking the library that everyone else spent so much effort building.

    The L/GPL is actually VERY business friendly because of this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83.  
    identicon
    Pete Austin, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 2:10am

    Welcome to the Freetards

    What OP is saying is, "Information wants to be free".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Oct 26th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: this was settled long ago

    Steve was saying that if he 'forces' people to contribute back their changes (LGPL) it actually ends up being a weaker community and then in-turn less developers actually contributing back quality code.

    and i am saying that there are two distinct communities: one GPL and one for everything else.

    the GPL started as a way to ensure that software remained free (the "free riders" argument), but now that there are so many other open source licenses, the role of the GPL is to serve as a kind of seal, or brand, that marks a given application or package as free to be used for stuff you are using other GPL stuff for.

    personally, if a given license isn't GPL i'm really not that interested. i'll make exceptions of course (mozilla for example) but for the most part it's GPL or GTFO.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85.  
    icon
    senshikaze (profile), Oct 26th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

    Re: 13 Amazing New Windows 7 Features That Microsoft Forgot To Mention

    I have to say, for spam/trolling that was the funniest thing i have read all day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86.  
    icon
    senshikaze (profile), Oct 26th, 2009 @ 12:09pm

    Re: GPL evangelist crap

    Same could be said for proprietary licenses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87.  
    icon
    Daz (profile), Oct 26th, 2009 @ 4:04pm

    Sorry Mike, you seem to have missed the point on this one

    What if you contributed code to a project, then a company took it, used it to create a product and make money out of it (ok so far, and permitted under the license mentioned), and then sued anyone using the original project and/or any other derivatives? (not ok) You compare it to the music industry - well, its like someone covering someone else's song and claiming exclusive rights over the song. The freeloader argument is just a red herring designed to throw you off the really important issue - how to protect what the community has built from the interests of big, litigious, anti-competitive business. (Disclosure: I am both a musician/songwriter and code developer). If patents were not allowed on just software (as they shouldn't be because they are mathematical algorithms which are non-patentable) a lot of this problem goes away, but unfortunately that is not the case.
    I can agree that you can probably ignore the freeloaders the way they are characterised in the example - but there are some massive companies out there with big legal teams that unfortunately you can't ignore and can't trust to do the right thing, and would love to get rid of the GPL because it protects their main competition.

     

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  88.  
    identicon
    Nick Coghlan, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 6:27pm

    Re: Sorry Mike, you seem to have missed the point on this one

    The GPL doesn't have a termination provision for a downstream user being a jerk (there are open source licenses that do have such provisions, including some of the more permissive ones like the Apache license).

    Opening the door to allow termination of redistribution rights for downstream users that start suing people in relation to an open source project was actually one of the major changes between GPL v2 and GPL v3 (the GPL itself still doesn't have such provisions, but it is explicitly declared to be compatible with other licenses which include them).

    To put a less software specific slant on it, a popular Creative Commons license variant is "CC-BY-SA". This license allows derivative works that follow two conditions:
    - acknowledge the creator of the original piece (Attribution: BY)
    - the derived work must be similarly shareable (Share Alike: SA)

    The original creator's reasons for imposing the SA condition are typically going to be complex, and often the originator themselves is going to have a hard time articulating them. The key point that differentiates it from true copyright maximalism is that it *only* applies to creation of derivative works - simple redistribution of the unmodified original is covered solely by the attribution clause.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89.  
    icon
    jendelui (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 12:50am

    Re: Re: Sorry Mike, you seem to have missed the point on this one

    Thankyou for that information, Nick. I still think that there's a bit of red-herring involved, in that contributors to code have no restrictions because of the license, contribute away - its only "restrictive" to the ones who want to use those contributions - and even there the "restriction" is just that you can't restrict it! And as others have pointed out much more succinctly and accurately than I could (including you), there are other licenses available if thats too restrictive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90.  
    icon
    cofiem (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 3:37am

    Interersting points all

    The article's idea that you shouldn't worry about freeloaders, and just concentrate on the contributors (connect with fans and all that) is interesting. I'm not convinced one way or the other. I can certainly see the logic behind it, but I'm not sure it would work out in practice, especially with much smaller projects.

    As a developer myself, I certainly appreciate simpler licences.

    The concerns over large companies coming in and using the software for themselves may have some merit. Perhaps it's time to stop worrying about contributions back to the project, and just make sure that the credit goes where it's deserved? Recognition and reputation are after all separate (or should be) from copyright and legal concerns.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91.  
    icon
    The Mad Hatter (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 4:52pm

    The GPL is my preference

    If you want to use my code fine. If you modify it, the cost is you contributing the code back. I think that this is reasonable payback for my work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92.  
    icon
    zcat (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:45pm

    Re: Re: Look At The Evidence

    I think the mysql people might be taking a pretty optimistic view of what constitutes a 'derivative work'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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