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Article:
  The Strange Case of the Disappearing Open Source Vendors
Subject:   Essay sidesteps the demonstrable corrosive effects of some licenses
Date:   2002-06-29 15:12:04
From:   jdepner
Response to: Essay sidesteps the demonstrable corrosive effects of some licenses

OK. I didn't really want to get drawn into this but I just can't help myself. Brett, thanks for pointing out the problems inherent in the GPL. This type of license is usually embraced by young idealists (or old lifelong socialists). You hit the nail on the head when you said that a programmer cannot even look at GPL'ed code without risking a lawsuit. This tactic has been employed many times by companies that produce proprietary code. Microsoft is in the process of trying to do so again by opening some of their code (SAMBA programmers close your eyes).


There are two points that I want to make here. First, even though I agree with most of what you've said, I must point out that no company has a "right" to survive. I have seen, in one instance, a college kid writing code that he released for free put a small company out of business. Why? His product was far superior to the commercial offering. His code wasn't GPL'ed but it easily could have been. My point here is that some people have the attitude that ALL free software is bad because "hey, I'm trying to make money here, you can't just give away that code". No company has an inalienable right to make money. If you can't compete, tough.


Second, Richard Stallman is one of the brightest, most perceptive visionaries on the face of the earth. But, in my humble opinion, he's about three sigma west of strange. I really like the fact that Linux is open source because it is a reliable OS, as opposed to Microsoft Windoze. It's great that some people want to write code that they give away. I'll use whatever they want to give me. But thinking that everyone should give away their code isn't very realistic. I keep hoping that there will be some sort of middle ground. Heck, I've even bought Microsoft Office so I could run it on Crossover Office (work's great by the way).


Bottom line - GPL always seemed to me to be a case of someone writing a piece of code that he is either too lazy to sell, doesn't know how to sell, or is too altruistic to sell, saying to the rest of the world "I wrote it and I didn't make money from it, so you can't either". Sort of reminds me of the kid who takes his ball and goes home. But remember, if you're running a company, and you can't make a better tool than something that is GPL'ed, and you can't write your own code without looking at the GPL'ed code then you probably don't need to be in business.


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  1. Essay sidesteps the demonstrable corrosive effects of some licenses
    2002-06-29 17:55:00  brettglass [View]

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