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Weblog:   Software Choice vs. Sincere Choice
Subject:   Coercion and elimination of choice
Date:   2002-09-29 19:53:53
From:   brettglass
Response to: Alas, Bruce is hypocritical.

You write:
<blockquote>Just because the GPL isn't as free as the BSD or Apache style licenses, or the Artistic license, doesn't mean that it's wrong.
The GPL is not unethical because it is less free than the BSD license, etc. It is unethical because:

a) It is intentionally and wantonly misleading. It claims to make software "free" when in fact it does just the opposite.

b) It was created for, and accomplishes, the unethical purpose of destroying the livelihoods and businesses of people who have done no harm themselves.

c) It is coercive and confiscatory, in that it compels hard working and creative people to forfeit rewards for their hard work.

Note the Bruce, in particular, has practiced deception when promoting the GPL by failing to explain or acknowledge its destructive effects.

The only coercion I'm concerned about is external to licensing terms. My objection to Microsoft's licenses has always been the fact that, as a monopoly, certain terms that might be acceptable in a small company's license (which the customer can walk away from) become coercive when the licensor has such market power that they can dictate terms. Add that to Microsoft's past abuses of power, and you have a problem.

The GPL is intended to garner the same abusive market power. Witness Stallman's claim, in The GNU Manifesto, that a goal of the GNU project is to "remove operating systems from the realm of competition." The ambitions of Stallman and the FSF GPL are no more honorable than those of Microsoft.

The GPL might be considered a coercive license if the FSF had such market power that people were forced to accept it.

They already are. I, for example, would very much like to run a UNIX-like operating system distribution that contains no GPLed code. However, I cannot, because even the BSDs are bundled with GPLed utilities. There's already no choice. Tim, if folks like you don't take a stand against the cancer, it will be too late to stop it.

--Brett Glass