ESR: "We Don't Need the GPL Anymore"
Subject:   Where is the proof?
Date:   2005-07-04 11:52:47
From:   Corbeau

I can understand that ESR find the GPL useless and even embarrassing: to stand behind his position of opensource superioty as a development process, it has to answer such questions as "If FOSS process is so great, why you need the viral clause in the GPL?" To stay coherent, he has no choice has stating such thing taht the GPL is not need in his agenda. I can easily imagine the doubt toward such an answer from his listeners which, for me, explain why he considers the GPL as being an obstacle to FOSS adoption. Seen as such, yes it is, but in my opinion, this is more a educational concern and stating that the GPL is no more need and harm opensource just give credits to people that consider the GPL as a cancer or a treat to innovation.

Whatever the point of view on the question, I find that the argument that the GPL is useless and have no teeth still need to be proved. There was a lot of project that have passed under the GPL without even a lawsuit, and I'm pretty sure that a lot of software and patches will not have been released without it. Personnaly, my clients will most of the time doesn't allow me to release source code of their products or even the tools they used if it wasn't necessary by the license. That's included some patch from web site engine, browser and compilers. The concern of GPLv3 authors regarding this is not fake paranoia: lot of codes aren't redistributed back to the community inside our more and more services-oriented market.

And for examples of where the opensource approach as failed, there can hardly be any example available for free, by definition. We simply know that a lot of improvement in the bsd flavours never get release, and we had to wait very long for an ssl plugin under apache, since most people where using the fortify fork before an apache-ssl patch was released. Being apache available under the GPL and may be will you have get far sooner. But this can be regarded just as hypothetic as ESR statements; you have to make your own opinion on this issue. Personnaly, I prefer a pragmatic defense which doesn't release any value to my stuff, instead of a naively idealistic approach that's just try to prove the superiority of one process method over another. I need more and more free softwares because I believe in the basic freedoms they give me. I will not bid my rights under them just to prove to unbeliever that opensource process is superior to their way of doing it.