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On Being Pro-GPL

Jul 22

just_another_sean writes: Christopher Allan Webber, recently returned from OSCON, shares his thoughts on the GPL and why he dislikes people pitting one type of software license against another. He says, “I am not only pro-copyleft, I am also pro-permissive licensing. The difference between these is tactics: the first tactic is towards guaranteeing user freedom, the second tactic is toward pushing adoption. I am generally pro-freedom, but sometimes pushing adoption is important, especially if you’re pushing standards and the like. But let’s step back for a moment. One thing that’s true is that over the last many years we’ve seen an explosion of free and open source software… at the same time that computers have become more locked down than ever before! How can this be? And notice… the rise of the arguments for permissive/lax licensing have grown simultaneously with this trend. …The fastest way to develop software which locks down users for maximum monetary extraction is to use free software as a base. And this is where the anti-copyleft argument comes in, because copyleft may effectively force an entity to give back at this stage… and they might not want to. … Copyleft’s strings say, ‘you can use my stuff, as long as you give back what you make from it.’ But the proprietary differentiation strategy’s strings say, ‘I will use your stuff, and then add terms which forbid you to ever share or modify the things I build on top of it.’ Don’t be fooled: both attach strings. But which strings are worse?”


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