Re: 'GPL encumbrance problems'

Tim wrote:
Mike McCarty:

OTOH, going to court might well mean revealing the source, and
demonstrating that none of the code is actually derived kills any
trade secret status of the code, because it has been revealed.

Is it *really* a killer of a product if the source is available?  We
know how a car is built, but that doesn't put Ford out of business
because Holden can do the same thing.  How something is built isn't the
be-all and end-all of it's existence.

I'm not an expert on these matters, but I think it probably has something to do with getting venture capital and/or selling stock, when you have to go before the venture capitalist, or go to the board of directors, both of whom are probably completely clueless with regards to what software really is or how it is produced, and then try to extract money from them to start a company, or start a project, when you eventually wind up telling them that you're going to give it all away. (At least that's what it sounds like to them.)

Not to mention just how difficult it can be to make sense of someone
else's coding.  ;-)

This I certainly second.

In any case, companies are unwilling to risk going to court
in order to use Linux, when other OS with more interpretable
licenses exist, and which are as cheap as Linux when you factor
in the support issues which come with the "cost free" Linux

Which harks back to my point, do you really care about also coding for
this OS as well as all the others?  Do you make enough money in other

I don't have any *personal* stake in Linux at all, either way. I just don't care. But if you do, then you care, because people like me, talking to lawyers like I did, make decisions about what OS to use.


Some people seem to *like* the idea that they are suffering in some
way, and like to enjoy it being because "other" people are "greedy".

Well, the world is full of masochists and sadists...

I stopped a lot of my suffering by moving to Linux. ;-)

That has not been my experience.

As an abstract concept, I can't really think of a way of making masses
of money out of selling fancy writing paper, and aren't concerned that

I don't understand what the allusion is.

If I can see that *something* isn't a way to make a living, I don't
attempt it, I do something else.  I don't demand that I can make a

Well, AFAICT, you are reiterating what started this whole thread, which is that a lot of people do not develop for Linux, or include Linux in their products, precisely because so much of it is actually GNU, and using the GPL is detrimental to making a living. The statement you just made, coming from Joanne, Les, me, and perhaps a few others sparked a heated reply.

living from something just because I want to.  More to the point, I
don't demand to change the nature of something so that I can exploit it.

I haven't seen anyone do this, though I have seen several statements like the one you just made, which seem to imply that someone here is doing that. I have seen no one demand that GPL be changed, or that people not use GPL. I have seen people claim that they do not and will not develop for GPL. Which seems to be what you are recommending.

I tend to view Linux like many other things that are hard to define
their worth in dollar terms, but it's existence is worthwhile.  Not
everything in life should be about money.

Hmm, you may be one of the "some people" I mentioned above.

Eating is often about money, and is something I like to do
on a regular basis. I love creating software, and I want to
have a job doing what I love to do. So long as the GPL applies
to GNU (and "Linux" is mostly GNU) then GNU will not be a target
of my efforts.

Fair enough.  For various reasons, I also don't see Linux as somewhere
where many people will be able to make a living out of it.  There's an
ethos about it that's it's open-source, people expect it, and chose it
because of that.  If you're hoping to extract money from people who
chose and OS because they wouldn't have to spend much on it, you're
trying to create a market where there isn't one.

I don't "hope to extract money" from people, and object to the use of the term wrt me.

I worked for quite some time as a watchmaker, apprenticed to my father.
From him I learned a number of things, one of which was how to work
in retail. One of the things I learned from him is "Your job is not
to repair watches. It is to make friends of everyone who comes in
that door, because you don't make money off your enemies, you make
it off your friends and relatives."

The term "extract money from people" does not imply a friendly act.
Doing business *should* be a friendly act.

It's a bit like hoping that you can make a living from selling luxury
cars to hippies.  You know they don't want them, aren't willing to
splash out the cash.  So you concentrate on some other demographic
(Linux isn't the only computer OS around, there's plenty of others that
you can earn a living through, so you do that).

I only saw three real points being made here and objected to: (1) all versions of GPL are antogonistic to making a living from software development (2) I need to eat, so I don't develop for Linux/GNU (3) Linux might profit from some injection of proprietary software

I recall (3) mostly coming from Les.

I do not, for the life of me, understand why there could possibly
be any contention over (1) [though just look at this thread]
when it is *obvious* that it is the intent of all versions of GPL.

Part (2) has been stated, but then there are angry
reactions (which I also don't understand) demanding that
people who don't like GPL and its variants should just
not develop for GPL areas!? [Isn't that what I just said?]

I'm not so sure about (3). I think that many *users* of Linux
have a philosopical bent such that, they are willing not to
have the latest and greatest hardware, in return for what the
IRS calls "intangible benefit".

I spent years working in schools, I taught all sorts of things to people
who asked me how something worked.  I wasn't a teacher, I was just
there, and enjoyed that aspect to helping out, while doing other things
(e.g. while you're there to fix the PC, someone asks you how it works,
and you explain the basics).  Doing so didn't stop other people from
being paid to teach the same thing.  I wasn't going to demand payment
for every little thing that I did; it smacks of prostituting yourself if
you turn anything and everything that you can do into a pay as you go
activity.  So I can certainly appreciate an OS that is more communal in
nature than commercial.  It's a part of computing that gives back, where
the others take.  It (nor GPL, et al) doesn't prevent the others from
being successful.

This at least is sane, understandable, and even congenial. Doesn't put food on the table, though. And I disagree that "other OS" take, but don't give.

Apropos of the retail analogy above, there were many
little things I did free of charge when I was a watchmaker, like
replacing broken springbars (the little bars which hold watchbands
on the watches) without even charging for the springbar itself. I was
taught that retail is a *service* for which one gets paid. If one
treats customers in a friendly manner, provides curteous service,
and doesn't charge for every act one *could* charge for, then
in the end one benefits financially. I was taught not to try to
make a profit on each sale or other transaction. I was taught
to build up a loyal clientele who trusted me not to try to gouge
them for every penny I could. I was taught that one does not make
profit on any one sale, but on repeat business.

As I said above, business dealings *should* be friendly acts.

Those things I wish to contribute to others, I don't do by
hamstringing them with the GPL or even LGPL. I do it by
putting them into the public domain. Then it really is free.
GPL and LGPL are, IMO, not the way to contribute to a free
effort. I am philosophically opposed to them, as well as
practically opposed to them.

I don't have too much of a problem with them, because they're not the
only way of doing things.  You don't like them, you use another model,

Why does this exact statement, coming from the mouth of one who actually applies it to himself, result in recrimination, angry replies, and argumentation?

Joanne, Les, and I make these statements in the form "I find that GPL
does not suit my needs, so I don't use it, and don't develop for it,
because it makes it hard for me to make a living doing what I like
to do." and the response is "You are vile. You are a parasite on the
back of GPLd software because you take but do not give back. GPL doesn't
mean what you say, and so you *should* develop for Linux. You owe
a Gift Debt". (I saw that actual term "Gift Debt" used in this thread,
or in its clone.)

You make that statement, and AFAICT, the "Linux community" doesn't
complain. I wonder why?


Going the other way (imposing conditions on users), I find EULAs highly
despicable.  They put ridiculous burdens on you.   Whenever there's some

Not so. There are good EULAs and there are bad EULAs. I don't participate in bad EULAs any more than I have to. I recall when "copy protection" was so popular back in the '80s. I refused to use "copy protected" software. I recall taking software back on a few occasions and demanding my money back because there was a special floppy with a burnt spot on it to prevent me using the software without the original floppy.

Now we have the same thing on music CDs and DVDs. We can't even
make an archival copy of a DVD even though copyright law in the
USA specifically states that the publisher/owner of a copyright
*must* permit that to be done for any published work. It's a
felony in this country to manufacture and/or sell machines which
can duplicate protected DVDs without a special license.

sort of contract imposed on something, there's always going to be some
disadvantage.  But enough people don't object to GPL for it to continue
on.  Let those who like the idea use it.

That is also not so. Contracts are *supposed* to be beneficial for all parties. You seem to think like a Marxist. Are you married? Are you aware that marriage is a contract? Do you think that marriage is inherently beneficial to one party, and detrimental to the other? Many feminists think so. Marxists believe that in every transaction there is an exploiter and an exploitee. I happen to believe that transactions can be beneficial and profitable to all parties involved. And I try to make sure that my contracts benefit all parties involved.

You know, if you use Fedora Core, you have an EULA. In fact, the GPL is
itself an EULA, I think.

For those who live in the USA, I recommend investigating Benjamin
Franklin's position on patents. He was opposed to having a patent
office in these USA, and failed. He therefore indeed got patents, and
promptly put them into the public domain, because he was
philosophically opposed to profiting from something that could benefit
his fellow man.

It's a concept that I have sympathy for. I have no sympathy for

I do, too. One reason some of my software is in the public domain.

*rampant* profiteering. A case in point is/was wheelchairs; their

Hmm. Emotionally charged phrase "rampant profiteering". Please define it. Somehow, when I try to pin it down, it becomes elusive and vague. Something along the lines of "making a lot more money than I do, because I'm not a rampant profiteer." The problem is that people in Africa or Latin America may have a different opinion of what "rampant profiteering" is from yours. I suspect that there are quite a few people in this world who would consider you to be a rampant profiteer.

design was patented, so the only way to get one was to pay an
exhorbitent amount of money for them.  Some couldn't afford to.  We

My girlfriend happens to be paraplegic, so I have some personal experience with this matter. Mostly, the high cost of wheelchairs (and repair labor on them, which is even higher) is due to lack of market, not "patents". Another thing to bear in mind is that they must be very durable, but also very light. This places special constraints on the materials used in their construction, which materials are generally difficult/expensive to work, not to mention expensive in themselves. As a result of knowing her, I am gradually becoming a wheelchair mechanic, just as when I owned a motorcycle I was perforce something of a motorcycle mechanic, due to the cost, and for the same reasons. Lack of large market (by comparison with automobiles).

could get (essentially pointless) computers for disabled kids without
any dramas (it was trendy to give grants for that), but we couldn't get
wheelchairs for some who needed them (no budget for it, way too

I think patents are a bit too different than GPL, though.

I agree that copyright and patent law are significantly different.

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