minor but semi-triumphant thought on gpl v3

More thoughts on gpl v3 later, but a quick thought from skimming through some of the online comments:

The licenses for most software and other practical works are designed to take away your freedom to share and change the works. — the second sentence of the license, emphasis mine

I don’t understand the word “most” on the preamble. Is it really true that most software has non-free licenses? When the preamble was originally written this made sense, for sure, but now it sounds unnecessarily pessimist. — a comment

I’m not quite as optimistic as the commenter (a majority is probably still proprietary), but man… the GPL has come a long way that he can say something like that and not be completely out of his mind.

Replacing ‘most’ with ‘many’, or even just ‘proprietary’, would be a wonderfully appropriate way to capture and celebrate the change that GPL v2 has wrought over the past 16 years.

8 thoughts on “minor but semi-triumphant thought on gpl v3”

  1. This was well noted in the previous draft by fheinz.

    It seems there is a preference for ‘most’, but then again, maybe the entire preamble needs rewriting.

    noted by fheinz on 2006-08-03 at 20:50 EDT:

    It’s not just the negative rethorics… it is also putting ourselves in the odd position: we’re saying that “most software” is non-free, and Free Software is some kind of exception. This was certainly true when GPLv2 came out. It may still be true now. Will it continue to be true throught GPLv3’s life cycle?

  2. [It is with great fanfare that I announce that this blog has adopted a no assholes/no trolls rule. Ed.]

  3. For the way how the comment was phrased, my apologies. That was inappropriate. The argument stays however.

    It is just this thing that I belong into the power of endogenous motivation over any other ways of coercing people into other directions of action. Call me naive but the way GPL works it also destroys some things that are potentially extremely fruitful and good for all the parties and there are better alternatives. Fighting fire with fire is appalling.

  4. Thanks for returning and contributing constructively despite my quick nuking of your earlier comment.

    I do see your point; but… gah, I disagree, but explaining why in detail would take a long time :) It boils down to not being able to rely on trusting people’s endogenous motivations, particularly where ‘people’ often means ‘large corporations’. I might trust most the endogenous motivations of the BSD community, and you’re right that using a license to compel specific behaviors does have impact on that community. On the other hand, getting stripmined by Apple also compels specific behaviors. Given the choice between those two options, I’ll take the GPL’s limited impact over the broad impact of leaving yourself open to large-scale exploitation by corporate actors.

  5. There’s a balance with Apple. Once they deviate too far from the trunk they got to commit back (barely enough to be somewhat compatible again to benefit from the trunk’s development again). The result isn’t perfect but it happens generally because of the Apple’s internal decisions – not any outside force. They could choose otherwise as well. They must have people tracking all that constantly (I would, the platform is important. In fact it’s pretty much the time to renew their BSD environment runtime for their microkernel.. I mean that at least they should, the age is showing already.).

    I had a talk (actually, I interviewed him…) with the equivalent of RIAA’s CEO in my own country. He said that I wouldn’t want to steal anyone’s brand new Mercedes either. Do you notice the apparent flaw in that argument?

    Why is it off the open source people if someone makes money with software? It could be, in some situations, but in most of the simple cases it is not. However many people seem to take that stance automatically. Why then not defend only against those a few really damaging cases? What GPL does is really, really wide and sloppy in that sense. It’s imho M.A.D. That loss of freedom most likely is strangling some awesome innovation.

    I wouldn’t feel any triumphant over anything that has got anything to do with GPL.. It’s like having to settle with plain adequate solution without anything actually good.

    Personally, I’d be just glad if for instance Microsoft used my software. After all, it’s just software. There’s a lot more into it than just couple silly lines of code. I wouldn’t myself worry about patents either because their idea is pretty justified (the implementation is not, but more than just one can play those games if required).

  6. I have no problem with people making money off of open source; I was one of those people trying to make money off of open source for many years, and I hope that I will be again in the not-too-far future. I was comfortable with doing that because I knew that making money would also benefit the community. Needless to say, I don’t think Apple’s literally billions of profits on OS/X have proportionally benefited the BSD community.

    I’ll try to rebut the rest some other time; I’m really swamped now, sorry.

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