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Why the GPL Licensing Cops Are the Good Guys

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the they've-got-a-good-track-record-too dept.

Open Source 233

Reader rtfa-troll writes: "'GPL enforcement by Software Freedom Conservancy puts electronics makers on notice, leaves business users untouched,' says Infoworld, going on to explain 'You are several orders of magnitude more likely to be raided by your proprietary suppliers, in the form of the Business Software Alliance, than to ever hear from SFC, let alone face any action. License compliance is a major and costly issue for proprietary software, but the case concerns an end-user license agreement (EULA), not a source license.' The article gives a good summary of why having GPL licenses enforced helps everybody, except for 'hardware manufacturers — typically those creating low-cost consumer and business electronics' who need to verify that they pass on the same rights to others as they received with the original code."

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Oh, yeah! (-1, Offtopic)

snappyman (2653559) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200899)

Nearly four months ago, I noticed that my internet connection was very sluggish. Eventually getting fed up with it, I began to seek out software that would speed up the gigabits in my router. After an hour of searching, I found what at first appeared to be a very promising piece of software. Not only did it claim it would speed up my internet connection, but that it would overclock my power supply, speed up my gigabits, and remove any viruses from my computer! "This is a fantastic opportunity that I simply can't pass up," I thought. I immediately downloaded the software and began the installation, all the while laughing like a small child. I was highly anticipating a future where the speed of my internet connection would leave everyone else's in the dust.

I was horribly, horribly naive. Immediately upon the completion of the software's installation, various messages popped up on my screen about how I needed to buy software to remove a virus that I wasn't aware I had from a software company I'd never once heard of. The strange software also blocked me from doing anything except buying the software it was advertising. Being that I was a computer whiz (I had taken a computer essentials class in high school that taught me how to use Microsoft Office, and was quite adept at accessing my Facebook account), I was immediately able to conclude that the software I'd downloaded was, in fact, a virus, and that it was slowing down my gigabits at an exponential rate. "I can't let this insanity proceed any further," I thought.

As I was often called a computer genius, I was confident at the time that I could get rid of the virus with my own two hands. I tried numerous things: restarting the computer, pressing random keys on the keyboard, throwing the mouse across the room, and even flipping an orange switch on the back of the tower and turning the computer back on. My efforts were all in vain; the virus persisted, and my gigabits were running slower than ever! "This cannot be! What is this!? I've never once seen such a vicious virus in my entire life!" I was dumbfounded that I, a computer genius, was unable to remove the virus using the methods I described. Upon coming to terms with my failure, I decided to take my computer to a PC repair shop for repair.

I drove to a nearby computer repair shop and entered the building with my computer in hand. The inside of the building was quite large, neat, and organized, and the employees all seemed very kind and knowledgeable. They laughed upon hearing my embarrassing story, and told me that they saw this kind of thing on a daily basis. They then accepted the job, and told me that in the worst case, it'd be fixed in three days from now. I left with a smile, and felt confident in my decision to leave the computer repairs to the experts.

A week later, they still hadn't called back. Visibly angry, I tried calling them countless times, but not a single time did they answer the phone. Their negligence and irresponsibility infuriated me, and sent me into a state of insanity that caused me to punch a gigantic hole in the wall. Being that I would require my computer for work soon, I decided to head over to the computer repair shop to find out exactly what the problem was.

Upon entering the building, I was shocked by the state of its interior; it looked as if a tornado had tore through the entire building! Countless broken computers were scattered all about the floor, desks were flipped over, the walls had holes in them, there was a puddle of blood on the floor, and worst of all, I saw that my computer was sitting in the middle of the room laying on its side! Absolutely unforgivable! I soon noticed one of the employees sitting behind one of the tipped over desks (the one that had previously had the cash register on top of it); he was shaking uncontrollably and sobbing. Despite being furious about my computer being tipped over, seeing him in that state still managed to make me less unforgiving. I decided to ask him what happened.

A few moments passed where the entire room was silent and nothing was said. Eventually, he pointed at my computer and said to me, "The virus... it cannot be stopped! Cannot be stopped! Cannot be stopped!" Realizing that he was trying to tell me that they were unable to repair my computer (the task I'd given them), I flew into a blind fury and beat him senseless. Not caring about what would happen to him any longer, I collected my computer, ignored the bodies of the two other employees that had committed suicide, and left the building. After a few moments of pondering about what to do and clearing my head, I theorized that their failure to repair my computer probably simply meant that they were unqualified to do the job, and decided to take my computer to another computer repair shop.

I repeated that same process about four times before finally giving up. Each time I took it to a PC repair shop, the result was the same: all the employees either went completely insane, or they committed suicide. Not a single person was able to even do so much as damage the virus. I was able to talk some sense into one of the employees that had gone mad and got them to tell me how they were attempting to fix the problem. They told me that they tried everything from reinstalling the operating system to installing another operating system and trying to get rid of the virus on the other one, but absolutely all of it was to no avail. Having seen numerous attempts by professionals to remove the virus end in failure, I managed to delude myself into believing that my first failure was simply a fluke and that I was the only one on the planet qualified to fix the computer. With renewed vigor, I once again took up the frighteningly dangerous task of defeating the evil, nightmarish virus once and for all with my own two hands.

In my attempts to fix the problem, I'd even resorted to buying another computer. However, the virus used its WiFi capabilities to hack into the gigabits of my new computer and infect it. Following each failed attempt, I grew more and more depressed. I had already beaten my wife and children five times in order to relieve some of my stress, but even that (which had become my only pleasure after failing to remove the virus the first time), did nothing for me any longer. That's right: my last remaining pleasure in life had stopped being able to improve my mood, and I had not a single thing left that I cared about. I sank into a bottomless ocean of depression, barricaded myself in my room, and cried myself to sleep for days on end. Overcome with insanity, vengefulness, and despair, there is not a single doubt that if this had continued for much longer, I would have committed suicide.

One day, it suddenly happened: while I was right in the middle of habitually crying myself to sleep in the middle of the day, I heard a thunderous roar outside, followed by the sound of a large number of people screaming. When I peered outside my window to find out what all the commotion was about, the scene before me closely resembled that of a God descending from the heavens themselves! I gazed in awe at the godlike figure that was descending from the heavens, and so did the dozens of individuals that had gathered in my backyard. For a few moments, everyone was speechless. Then, they started shouting predictions about what they thought the figure was. "Is it a bird!?" "Is it a plane!?" But, despite not ever having seen it before, I knew just how inaccurate their predictions were, and began to speak the name of the heroic figure.

However, my sentence was cut off when, like a superhero coming to save the unfortunate victim from the evil villain, MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] flew into my house and began the eradication of the virus. MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] was able to completely eliminate in minutes the exact same virus that over ten PC repair professionals were unable to remove after weeks of strenuous attempts! Wow! Such a thing! I simply couldn't believe that MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] was so miraculously efficient that it was able to destroy the virus in less than 500 milliseconds! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally, completely, and utterly saved me from a lifetime of despair!

My wife's response? "MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My husband's computer is running faster than ever! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colours where no one else could! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my husband's system, and increased his speed! I highly, highly recommend that you use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] !"

After witnessing just how wonderful MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is, I insist that you use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] when you need to fix all the gigabits on your computer! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] will completely eradicate any viruses on your computer, speed up your internet connection, overclock your gigabits and speed, and give you some peace of mind! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is simply outstanding!

But even if you're not having any visible problems with your computer, it's highly likely that you're still in a situation where MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] could help you. MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] will get rid of any viruses or wireless interfaces that are hidden deep within your computer's bootloader. MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] will also speed up your computer to such a degree that it'll be even faster than when you first bought it! You must try MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] for yourself so that you can be overclocking your speed with the rest of us!

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Is MyCleanPC GPLv3? (1, Interesting)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202117)

troll feeding mode: The real question is - is MyCleanPC licensed under GPLv3? You see, I'd like to see the source code to this available, so that if it is, as one suspects, a virus, one can alter it to become a real anti-virus and release it that way. And if any virus-authors get hold of it and want to make a virus out of it, they can do it, but they must release the source code to this baby. It should also not be on any locked-down hardware - freedom 3 of GNU - the freedom to modify and distribute the changes - should be there. Assure me that MyCleanPC is completely GPLv3 liberated software, and I'll be more than happy to look @ it. /troll feeding mode

My, what a wonderful bootysnap you have there! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200913)

A few weeks ago, I foolishly ran a strange executable file that one of my acquaintances sent me by email. As someone who doesn't know much about computers, at the time, I thought nothing of it. "Why would my acquaintance want to hurt me?" Following this line of thought, I ran the file without question.

How naive I was. Despite having what was supposedly the best anti-virus software out right then, a virus took over my computer and held it hostage. It was pretending to be a warning from Windows telling me to buy some strange anti-virus software I'd never heard of from a company I'd never heard of to remove the virus.

This immediately set alarm bells off in my head. "How could this happen? My anti-virus is supposed to be second to none!" Faced with this harsh reality, I decided to take it to a PC repair shop for repair. They gladly accepted the job, told me it'd be fixed in a few days, and sent me off with a smile.

A few days later, they called me and told me to come pick up my computer. At the time, I noticed that they sounded like whimpering animals, but I concluded that it must just be stress from work. When I arrived, they, with tears in their eyes, told me that the virus was so awful and merciless that they were unable to remove it. "Ah," I thought. "That must be why they sounded so frustrated and pathetic over the phone. Their failure must have truly ruined their pride as professionals." I later found out that two of them had committed suicide.

After returning home, I tried to fix it myself (despite the fact that even the professionals couldn't do it). After about a day or so, I was losing my very mind. I stopped going to work, stopped eating, was depressed, and I would very frequently throw my precious belongings across the room and break them; that is how bad this virus was.

That's when it happened: I found MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] ! I installed MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] , ran a scan, and let it remove all the viruses! They were removed in precisely 2.892 seconds. Wow! Such a thing! I can't even believe this as such never before! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My computer is running faster than ever! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colors where no one else could!

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my system, and increased my speed! If you're having computer problems, or even if you aren't having any obvious problems, I recommend that you use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . As a user, it did more for me that any so-called "professional." It'll even boost your PC & internet speed!

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Your side is always the good guys. (0, Troll)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200941)

The people who support your ideal are the good guys, the people who don't are the bad guys.
The issue I have always had was the double standard that a lot of people in the Open Source Community have. It is OK to pirate Closed Source tool, but if a company breaks a rule in the GPL they should be fully punished. That is the most damaging part, because in order for the GPL to be respected the GPL community needs to respect the other Licenses out there.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (-1, Offtopic)

snappyman (2653559) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200957)

A few months ago, I accepted what at first appeared to be a very simple job: remove a virus from someone's computer. Given the fact that I owned a PC repair shop (and I still do) and had over 15 years of experience, I was confident that I could complete the job in a timely manner without any complications along the way. Little did I know, however, that accepting this job would spiral my life into a nightmarish den of anguish and uncertainty.

First, I tried booting up the PC. When Windows finally loaded, it became apparent that this was no ordinary virus; it was a merciless monstrosity of a virus that would stop at nothing to ruin your entire life. However, despite this, I bravely pressed on and attempted to combat the virus. "I absolutely will not let a mere virus scare me off!" I thought.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts at removing the virus and after exhausting every single option to combat viruses that I had, I finally realized that the situation was absolutely devoid of hope. This was a virus more fearsome than any other, and it was simply impossible for someone with my abilities (skilled as I was) to fight against it alone. Even reinstalling the operating system completely didn't help. I quickly sank into a pit of depression and despair.

Being that I was extremely stressed due to my numerous failures, I began verbally abusing my wife and kids a few days after I received the job. This situation soon worsened when I began resorting to physical abuse in order to relieve some of my anger. Eventually, after not being able to withstand my daughter's constant moans and whines any longer, I locked her in the basement in order to retain an ounce of my sanity.

That's when I had a stroke of genius: "If I can't fight this nightmare alone, then why don't I call in the World's Greatest Minds?" I immediately contacted the World's Greatest Minds and pleaded that they examine the computer. To my delight, they accepted the proposal, collected the computer, and began their experiments.

After weeks of trial and error, numerous experiments, and many failures, the World's Greatest Minds had at last reached a conclusion. They contacted me by phone and told me that this, being no ordinary virus, called for extreme measures. They quite vehemently recommended the use of MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] to combat the virus and destroy its very existence once and for all. "MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] will completely eradicate the virus without a single problem," they enthusiastically told me.

As soon as I got the computer back from the World's Greatest Minds, I installed MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] , ran a free scan, and then sat back and watched in awe as it totally eliminated the very same virus that I had spent weeks trying to get rid of in mere seconds! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] had accomplished a feat that nothing else in existence could have accomplished! I was positively astonished by MyCleanPC's [mycleanpc.com] miraculous performance.

What was my daughter's response, you ask? "MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My dad's client's computer is running faster than ever! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colours where no one else could! I recommend that you use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] right this minuteness to fix all of your problems!"

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my client's system, and increased his speed! As a computer repair professional, I highly recommend that you use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] to fix all of your problems. That's not all: The World's Greatest Minds also recommends MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] for all of your computer repair needs. By using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] , you're ensuring that your gigabits will be running faster than ever, that all viruses will vanish off of your computer in seconds, and that you'll be overclocking with the rest of us!

Even if you're not having any visible problems with your computer, I still wholeheartedly recommend that you use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . After all, you could have a dormant/silent virus on your system. Additionally, MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] will speed up all of your gigabits to levels you could never imagine! You'll be overclocking in no time thanks to MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] !

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (4, Insightful)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200985)

As far as I know, no serious GPL advocate actually says that infringing others' copyrights is good. They mostly say "use the free alternative".

Yes, there are a few debacles like some people accidentally (or on purpose for that matter) taking say BSDL code and making it GPL (you're allowed to make your modifications GPL, but not the original code itself, if I understand correctly). But nobody advocates piracy.

so the avg slashdot commenter (-1, Troll)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201037)

is not a serious GPL advocate? because if you scroll back through every story on pirating websites like pirate bay, the issue of music copyright, film copyright, etc, the typical argument is 'we are robbing those evil studios so its ok'.

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (1, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201053)

How do you know those are GPL advocates?

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201201)

Also the merits of any given argument are not invalidated by the company in which they are held by individuals.

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (0)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201067)

And follow-up: how do you know those few dozen "commenters" that post in a single story are average /. "commenters"? Maybe pro-file-sharing advocates are more likely to post in file-sharing stories...

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (5, Insightful)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201091)

I think the double standard come from the simple fact that no "serious" GPL advocate has ever tried to sue or extort money from mere users of GPL programs. On the other hand, the "evil" studios or their henchmen (army of lawyer types) appear hellbent on making every freeloading downloader pay. Typical targets of GPL "threats" tend to be companies not individual users.

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (1, Insightful)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201415)

I think the double standard come from the simple fact that no "serious" GPL advocate has ever tried to sue or extort money from mere users of GPL programs. On the other hand, the "evil" studios or their henchmen (army of lawyer types) appear hellbent on making every freeloading downloader pay. Typical targets of GPL "threats" tend to be companies not individual users.

The GPL is not a EULA (End User License Agreement) which is funny because I have seen several GPL'ed products display the GPL on the installation screen. What am I supposed to do with that license? The installer does not install the source code and I am not compiling anything. The GPL is a "source" license, not an end user agreement. While the GPL might try to impose conditions on the original compiler and distributor of the binary derived from that code base, I am under no obligation to follow the GPL since I will not use the source code. I think it's fine to include the GPL as a separate file and references to the GPL in the program about screen but it is not an agreement that I should have to agree to on the installer wizard.

I may have a compiler on my computer and know how to use it but GPL advocates should pretend that any recipient of a binary has no interest in the source code.

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (4, Informative)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201543)

That screen is for information. In fact, several rights (and duties) are conferred on you when you accept the GPL. It's not only a source license - you received a binary of the software, and in that action, you received certain rights to the software. You should be informed of your rights and obligations under the GPL, same as under any other license.

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (3, Interesting)

TinyLittleMend (2653839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201141)

the typical argument is 'we are robbing those evil studios so its ok'.

No, that's just a straw man. I suspect most people here wouldn't even call it "robbing." And there are people who are against copyright in general but believe that as long as copyright should exist, so should the GPL. I know simplifying the matter makes it easier to attack your opponents, but do lay off the straw men.

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201283)

There was a time when it was common for most slashdot readers to be GPL advocates who wouldn't touch Windows with a 10 foot pole. That was long ago. Now, there are many, many Windows users. Some of them are GPL advocates, and others hate Linux. Nobody knows what the split is, since the vast majority of Slashdot readers don't post very often if at all.

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201287)

is not a serious GPL advocate?

Oh my god, is it really that hard to write an entire sentence in one place? It's a massive interruption to the reading process to have to think "what the fuck is he trying to say there?" for several seconds until you realise that the first half is hidden away in the subject line.

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (1)

zidium (2550286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202363)

Yeah, seriously! What a nub!

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (4, Interesting)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201297)

Well, the "average Slashdot commenter" is a fictional entity - an average between trolls, spammers, real commenters, with massive variation in how informed they are. There are all kinds here - conservatives, liberals, die-hard anarchists, windows users, mac users, linux people, and most importantly for this discussion, supporters of every single license ever made by man or troll!

If you could show a statistical correlation between the people here (or elsewhere) who advocate GPL and those who advocate infringement of proprietary software, I'd accept your point. Until then, it's hearsay and borderline slander.

Anyway, by "serious", I meant people like Stallman and Eben Moglen, who are actually doing the advocacy in a long-term, sustained manner.

Most importantly, the people running this operation are SFLC, FSF and others, who are definitely in the "use free alternatives, don't pirate" camp.

Piracy not disavowed (0)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202179)

While it's true that the FSF and the SFLC have advocated 'Use liberated alternatives', don't pirate has never been explicitly urged by any of them. In fact, in one of his essays (which I reproduced from the GNU website in a recent GPL thread on /.), Stallman clearly says that if your neighbor asks your for a software that you use, it would be wrong not to give it to him, under the 'help your neighbor' pretext. Nowhere does her ever urge people to stick to the terms of any agreement - he only argues on whether those agreements are ethical in the first place or not.

Re:Piracy not disavowed (3, Insightful)

FrangoAssado (561740) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202317)

Stallman clearly says that if your neighbor asks your for a software that you use, it would be wrong not to give it to him, under the 'help your neighbor' pretext.

Yes, he does, but you missed the point. That's his reason for never using proprietary software: if you do, you're put in the position where you must either do the wrong thing and deny helping your neighbor, or do the wrong thing and break the license of the proprietary software.

Re:Piracy not disavowed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202383)

While it's true that the FSF and the SFLC have advocated 'Use liberated alternatives', don't pirate has never been explicitly urged by any of them.

I imagine they've never publically stated "don't rape and murder" either, so does that mean they support rape and murder?

Re:so the avg slashdot commenter (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202395)

Slashdot has a large community of posters, but a community does not hold double standards, only individuals may do so. So, Slashdot has a (fairly large) set of community members promoting the GPL and similar licenses, and Slashdot has a set of community members advocating copyright infringement. But since we do not have any information about whether these sets overlap or not, we cannot accuse anyone of holding double standards.

The sets may be completely disjoint (i.e. have no common members), or they may overlap to an unknown extent. But even if they overlap, there is no "average poster" that can be accused of anything, all you have is a set of individuals holding double standards. Only if those sets are almost the same, you can reasonably accuse the "Slashdot GPL advocates" of double standards. But since we have no such information, no conclusions can be drawn, and there is no point in continuing this discussion until someone actually collects and compiles the positions held by a large number of Slashdot posters, so that we have some real data to discuss.

Re:Pirated Win XP Partition (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201903)

EVERY time I've encountered an ostensibly rabid anti-"M$" Linux/GPL proponent, they always - without fail - have a pirated Win XP partition, for that "one thing" they need it for.

Re:Pirated Win XP Partition (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202407)

Did you ever consider that this partition may be what remains of the operating system shipped with the computer?

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (5, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200995)

The "double standard" is because EULAs are designed to restrict what you can do with a piece of software over and above what copyright does to restrict you. The GPL and other FOSS licenses give you rights you don't already have.

I respect the GPL because it recognises one thing that EULAs never recognise -- the unlimited right to run the program.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201277)

Personally, I think the BSD is more practical and GPL is more idealistic, but GPL is still very useful and is the ultimate goal.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202203)

Only if making one's livelihood of selling software is something that should be made next to impossible. Freedoms 2, and to an extent, Freedom 3 of the GNU - the 'help your neighbor' clause - pretty much prevents a software creator from restricting distribution only to paying customers. If that ultimate goal is ever achieved, the only people writing software will be those who are doing it as a hobby.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (5, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201355)

To expand upon this...

If someone's primary justification for decrying GPL violations is that its wrong to violate copyright, then it would indeed be hypocritical to support piracy of closed-source software. More generally, if the moral argument is that intellectual creation endows people with some intrinsic 'control' or 'ownership' of their creative works, then this moral argument applies equally to open-source and closed-source creations.

However, that is not the only argument in favor of respecting open-source licenses. In fact it may not be the most prevalent. Many people support open-source software because they fundamentally believe in the particular freedoms that are espoused by open-source licenses: that end-users should be unrestricted; that end-users should in fact be empowered to completely control their hardware, which means having the ability to see and edit all source-code; that sharing should be encouraged. Under the moral axioms of 'sharing is good' and/or 'users should be unrestricted' it is not inconsistent to encourage people to respect open-source licenses while simultaneously not respecting restrictive closed-source (or all-rights-reserved) copyrights/EULAs/etc.

My point here is not to promote any particular viewpoint. Rather, I'm responding to OP's assertion that it is hypocritical to support open-source licenses while simultaneously decrying closed-source licenses (or even going to far as to violate them). It may be hypocritical, or it may be consistent. (There's no lack of hypocrisy in this world, Slashdot included.) Many things look hypocritical only because one is making an assumption of the moral precepts that should be followed (normally, one thinks people are hypocritical because their morals are different from your own).

Liberated s/w vs open source vs piracy (0)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202341)

Stallman makes it a point to argue that the GPL is not about 'open-source', but rather, about the liberation of software. As in the 4 GNU freedoms. Your conflation of the GPL w/ open-source misses the point about why a lot of people - not just businesses, but non commercial software projects, want nothing to do w/ the GPL, even if they are convinced and have embraced the principle of open source.

On this one issue, even though I think they're being anal, I agree w/ Stallman and the FSF. Open Source is not so much a philosophy, as much as it's a development methodology, described @ length by ESR in 'The Cathedral and the Bazaar', so that a software project can leverage all the external help that it can get, in terms of peer review and what not, and ultimately release a software using terms and conditions it feels are most suitable to its goals. Some of the assumptions are over-optimistic, such as the 'millions of eyes' argument, since more often than not, the only people reviewing the source code of a program are the project members themselves, and maybe a handful of downstream users most interested in it. Otherwise, every open source program out there would be as excellent as Mozilla used to be. But the goal of the Open Source movement is just that - to ensure that source code accompanies the binaries of all software that changes hands. Now, whether the hands have to be changed or not, or whether the creators can impose other restrictions on the software not having to do w/ source code release - that's a different issue altogether.

What the FSF and Stallman advocate, and what the GPL protects, is something they misleadingly call 'Software Freedom', but which I more accurately describe as the 'Liberation of Software'. In Open Source, you can have licenses that restrict the distribution of software downstream, which most businesses that make their money from it would likely want to do, even if they like using Open Source while developing their apps. However, under the GPL, there's no way one can do that, since that would run afoul of Freedom 2 of the GPL, and even Freedom 3. Similarly, on the issue of 'Tivoization', Open Source doesn't have a problem w/ a company making a device in which the software is locked down, as it is in the case of Tivo. However, the FSF does have a big problem w/ that, which is one of the reasons they changed the GPL to come up w/ version 3, since it violates Freedom 3 of the GNU.

On the issue above of whether it's hypocritical or not to respect FOSS licenses while disregarding proprietary ones, the argument that the OP of this thread was making was if the GPL people cannot respect proprietary licenses and stay off software that uses licenses that they dislike, then they have no business complaining when other people violate the GPL while distributing GPLed software.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201375)

The "double standard" is because EULAs are designed to restrict what you can do with a piece of software over and above what copyright does to restrict you. The GPL and other FOSS licenses give you rights you don't already have.

I respect the GPL because it recognises one thing that EULAs never recognise -- the unlimited right to run the program.

The unlimited right to run the program is never what people object to about the GPL.

If you're making software gratis that you intend to make the world a better place and encourage the progagation of butterflies and rainbows, then yea, all free software is probably a good thing. But in the world that includes not only butterflies and rainbows but also the ability to feed my children, it can be too much of a good thing. Because if I'm a programmer, my livelihood depends on my ability to sell the product of my work for money. There are a few ways that can happen:

  1. Work for a non-software company that needs special software developed to handle something that can't be adequately addressed by FOSS software already available or by affordable closed-source software. For example, porting software to their new machine so the the new machine becomes easier to sell, solving problems that are peculiar to their business, etc.
  2. Work for a company that sells software.
  3. Form my own company to sell software.

In the latter two cases, you need to use copyright to control the distribution of the software. If you don't control the distribution, the price you can get for the software is zero or damn near that and your kids are going to starve.

So you need to use software licenses for any FOSS you use that allow you to use their compilers, tools, operating systems and whatever other tools you need in addition to the unique elements you develop on your own to produce a saleable package that customers will be willing to buy, without giving up any right to control copyright of your own work. I think we're all fine with conveying the license to the FOSS software that's included in our packages to the end user without restriction. You want to use the Linux distribution that's included in my package for stuff I didn't envision? Go ahead. I never owned that anyway and I don't care what you do with it as long as you don't drag me into liability issues for your modifications. I just don't want you to copy the elements I made without paying me for each installation.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (5, Informative)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201439)

So you need to use software licenses for any FOSS you use that allow you to use their compilers, tools, operating systems and whatever other tools you need in addition to the unique elements you develop on your own to produce a saleable package that customers will be willing to buy, without giving up any right to control copyright of your own work. I think we're all fine with conveying the license to the FOSS software that's included in our packages to the end user without restriction. You want to use the Linux distribution that's included in my package for stuff I didn't envision? Go ahead. I never owned that anyway and I don't care what you do with it as long as you don't drag me into liability issues for your modifications. I just don't want you to copy the elements I made without paying me for each installation.

Fud fud fud!

It's perfectly legal to build proprietary apps on top of Linux, glibc, and other friends. What you have to do is to provide the source to any modifications you make to the FOSS tools or packages, and convey the license to the user.

The elements you made which are not under GPL/similar, you can do whatever you want with them. The author of the GPLed package on the other hand, intended that you give back, as payment for his having built something you can use for free, any modifications you make. Are you saying that I should respect your right to your own license, but you won't respect mine?

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (-1, Flamebait)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201717)

So you need to use software licenses for any FOSS you use that allow you to use their compilers, tools, operating systems and whatever other tools you need in addition to the unique elements you develop on your own to produce a saleable package that customers will be willing to buy, without giving up any right to control copyright of your own work. I think we're all fine with conveying the license to the FOSS software that's included in our packages to the end user without restriction. You want to use the Linux distribution that's included in my package for stuff I didn't envision? Go ahead. I never owned that anyway and I don't care what you do with it as long as you don't drag me into liability issues for your modifications. I just don't want you to copy the elements I made without paying me for each installation.

It's perfectly legal to build proprietary apps on top of Linux, glibc, and other friends. What you have to do is to provide the source to any modifications you make to the FOSS tools or packages, and convey the license to the user.

The elements you made which are not under GPL/similar, you can do whatever you want with them. The author of the GPLed package on the other hand, intended that you give back, as payment for his having built something you can use for free, any modifications you make. Are you saying that I should respect your right to your own license, but you won't respect mine?

No. I just want clearly drawn lines between what is considered a modification that must be shared back, what is considered licensed use and what I have a right to control in a product that includes GPL controlled programs and libraries along with programs and content that I wrote. It takes a programmer and two lawyers just to figure out what the hell GPL3 means.

If it takes a lawyer to figure out what the GPL means, it may be without charge but it's not free. So I have to be very careful how I use it. I'm much more comfortable using BSD because they seem a lot less prone to sue.

That's not to say that commercial end-use agreements are any better. It takes three lawyers and a federal prosecutor to figure out what they mean and it's never good and always absolves the seller from all responsibility while subjecting you to serious legal liability.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (3, Informative)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202491)

That's not the only point here. If you look @ the GNU project website, they define their 4 freedoms, which are

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Most businesses, like yours, would have no issues w/ Freedoms 0 and 1. Freedom 0 is the very idea why they're selling it in the first place. Like you might be selling a spreadsheet, but your customer might be using it as a database. You wouldn't care - you've got your payment, and are happy. Similarly, let's say that you wrote a C compiler, which your customer wanted to tweak in order to include support for OpenRISC. You are more than happy to let him do it, and since you don't have other OpenRISC customers, you're fine w/ them using it in-house.

It's w/ Freedoms 2 and 3 that you run into problems. Let's say you priced your software - based on your business plan - @ $50.00, when people can start giving away copies of your software to their neighbors, instead of sending them to buy it from you, it devalues your software. So you might decide that okay, all my paying customers will get the source code w/ it, but they're not allowed to 'help their neighbor'. At that very moment, the GPL is not for you. You then have to scour for unLiberated Open Source licenses, or write your own. Then there is the question of what if you deliver your software on a locked down box, like TiVo does? Sometimes, Freedom 1 & 3 cannot be respected either, or else, the content providers could have problems w/ the device and refuse to support it, making it totally unviable in the marketplace.

It's not a mere question of how many lawyers do you need to figure it out. It's that 2 of the 4 very fundamental assumptions on which the GPL is built is completely unsuitable for business - at least business that requires selling software.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201955)

as far as I'm concerned, an EULA is not even large enough to wipe your ass after a healthy shit becuase "I" didn't agree to it under the doctrines of "First Sale". Most times I purchase either Software or Hardware at retail, meaning that the only one that could have agreed to such an EULA is the Wholesaler that purchased it from the manufacturer. Sorry but simply put, I'll treat every EULA as an Attempted "Contraact of Adhesion" and if needed, will pursue that matter in a court of law as California Does Not by Law, recognize any EULA's as being legal or binding. So GTFO My lawn punk or I'm gonna shoot your with a load of rock salt, then spray lemon juice all over your ass.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201017)

I agree that the good guys are the people who support your ideas. As for doule standards it exist on both sides. They want their license respected but don't want to respect the gpl..

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201087)

This. I support GPL license enforcement, if only because whoever released their software under the GPL must have thought hard about what why they wanted to use that license, so users are both legally and ethically obligated to respect their terms. If that's considered "software freedom", fine.

  The point is that those are legally binding conditions. The same applies to proprietary software, except for the "software freedom" part. Sorry, I don't think the fact that Richard Stallman has spent the last 40 years talking about freedom makes this distinction legally significant, except as a set of explicit conditions in the license that must be followed by users of GPL'd software. Mr. Stallman does not make the copyright laws.

TFA (by the way the link in the summary is to page 2) seems to anticipate this comparison with the BSA (and by extension, the RIAA and MPAA) and offers a semi-apology to GPL enforcement:

- most ordinary users of GPL software will never have to worry about it
- those who modify and redistribute GPL software may have to hire a compliance officer and do some code audits, but hey, that doesn't cost much
- the real focus of the SFC (presumably the compliance arm of the FSF) is on electronic makers who embed GPL software in their devices, modify and expand that code and then don't "give back" to the community. I think we can agree that these people are just silly, greedy bastards who probably kick puppies. Not a bit like you and me

In other words, the difference between the SFC and BSA is a matter of degree, not kind. If you want to keep thinking of the BSA as the henchmen for corporate greed, go ahead. But the SFC is there to protect the efforts of a worldwide community of free software developers and users from callous exploitation!

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201233)

... these people are just silly, greedy bastards who probably kick puppies.

Ah, yes: edisons.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201257)

- those who modify and redistribute GPL software may have to hire a compliance officer and do some code audits, but hey, that doesn't cost much

Or they could just modify and release BSD software and not worry about it. Saving the salary of a compliance officer, paying for audiditg time, and extra worry about lawyers is a nice benifit of the BSD license.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201293)

Big companies like IBM and Microsoft still worry about BSD-license software, especially from smaller projects (e.g., single developer). The problem is that it's hard to know whether the developer lifted the code from a proprietary or GPL'd source without doing a lot of vetting. For example, they might be using algorithmic code from the book Numerical Recipes [amazon.com] , which is notoriously NOT free for redistribution.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (2, Interesting)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201339)

The danger with BSDL is that since there's no incentive for a company to give back, often critical pieces get closed off, reinvented and you can't really share code. In other words, you just saved the salary of a compliance officer, but didn't gain the advantage of community testing/improvement of your code, unless you release your code back, in which case you still need a compliance officer and code audits (to ensure that you don't accidentally release something you want to keep proprietary), anyway.

In general though, I prefer the BSDL/LGPL for libraries - the choice isn't that important in most cases, and GPL for any community-developed end-user applications. You get to develop closed-source frontends, but don't ever think of closing our frontends.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202467)

"The danger with BSDL is that since there's no incentive for a company to give back"

In the same way Opensource software isn't secure because the bad guys can see the source code. Go spread your FUD somewhere else, troll.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (2, Insightful)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201105)

The people who support your ideal are the good guys, the people who don't are the bad guys.

This is moral relativism patronization. Didn't these kind of theories get debunked a few years ago? And can you give a concise view of how exactly this applies to the current situation and not just some shit you're flinging on the wall to sound oh so hipster cynical cool?

The issue I have always had was the double standard that a lot of people in the Open Source Community have. It is OK to pirate Closed Source tool, but if a company breaks a rule in the GPL they should be fully punished. That is the most damaging part, because in order for the GPL to be respected the GPL community needs to respect the other Licenses out there.

This is so far in the camp of oxymoron as to be a caricature. You cannot be a serious GPL supporter and advocate infringing proprietary software. Of course Slashdot stopped being an Oasis of common sense long ago so I fully expect your FUD to make it to +5 and me to get modded to oblivion.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (3, Insightful)

TinyLittleMend (2653839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201199)

You cannot be a serious GPL supporter and advocate infringing proprietary software.

Sure you can (No True Scotsman there). "I don't want you violating the GPL, but I don't mind you violating the copyright of proprietary software." It's simply a preference. And because they're two different things, a contradiction doesn't exist. Call it a double standard if you wish, but it's entirely possible to believe that.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201241)

Bull-fucking-shit. While you're playing semantic games and using that particular logical fallacy to try to derail the GP, just replace serious with rational or whatever word it takes to satisfy your mental model of lexical precision you fucking prick. You get the idea and pedantic little puss ants like you are why decent discourse can't take place in the Internet now. Fucking punk ass.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

TinyLittleMend (2653839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201281)

"rational"? I see nothing irrational with the above mentality. As I said, it's mere preference, and there is nothing inherently illogical about preferences. Other than that, your comment had virtually no actual arguments.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201335)

Dude, picking "flaws" in someones argument when you good and well what the person meant is a form of trolling because you aren't picking real flaws in the argument itself just some small detail in how it was presented. I don't expect you to understand the distinction though as most trolls aren't smart enough to as if they didn't they wouldn't have to resort to trolling in the first place.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201471)

Presenting an argument in an understandable way, is often a good thing. Pointing out logical flaws isn't trolling (though it may be a logical flaw in itself). I found the GP's argument is quite unclear, actually. Apart from a few F-bombs and insults, I can't really make out what the argument is. I think it may be supporting my position, but I can't be sure!

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201525)

What the GP (or whatever) did was trolling actually. And right on cue, the distinction is lost on the typical person here. Most people here aren't English majors and this is not a PHd thesis. When you understand someones point and what idiot didn't understand Oakgrove's point, yet you pick minor flaws in how it's phrased rather than the argument itself then you are engaging in an ad hominem (at the risk of anthropomorphizing a group of words). Like I said, you and 85 percent of Slashdotters won't get it. Congratulations, you're in the 85 percent. Now go occupy 4chan or something as thats an appropriate place for you.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201599)

I don't expect a thesis here, but that argument was impossible to follow, between all the cluster F-bombs and insults, I could hardly make out the actual argument, until I read it several times. And even then, I'm not too sure.

The previous poster (TinyLittleMend) did have an argument (which I disagreed with), and I posted on that too. A little clarity, a little less name calling, and a few organized thoughts is all I ask.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201885)

Are you saying that Oakgrove's argument is impossible to follow? Oakgrove said that you can't be a "real" GPL advocate and also support infringing the copyright of proprietary software. Mend-whatever goes off on the one true Scotsman tangent when it is plainly clear that the unstated part of Oakgrove's sentence was can't be a real GPL advocate and "rationally" disregard copyright of proprietary works as copyright is what protects both pieces of software. That is a classic troll debating strategy which is to purposely misconstrue a statement based on grammar, spelling, wording or whatever to try disprove it. It is trolling because in order to cover all possible bases in any particular argument would require quite possibly the sum total of all human knowledge and theory in the particular domain which is utterly ridiculous. Yes, we are on the dame side but you fell for his trick hook line and sinker.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (1)

TinyLittleMend (2653839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202021)

when it is plainly clear that the unstated part of Oakgrove's sentence was can't be a real GPL advocate and "rationally" disregard copyright of proprietary works as copyright is what protects both pieces of software.

"plainly clear," huh? I see. Then you have my original comment all wrong. I didn't really do any of the things you accused me of doing. I meant something completely different, and it is plainly clear what I meant. Clearly!

Whether or not he meant "can't be a real GPL advocate and "rationally" disregard copyright of proprietary works as copyright is what protects both pieces of software," that makes no difference to my original comment. Whether copyright protects both or not, you can be an advocate of only protecting the GPL. His original statement made no sense to begin with.

No true GPL advocate can rationally disregard the copyright of proprietary works!

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202035)

Shut the fuck up, jackass. What is plainly clear is you're a troll and you know you're a troll. I guess this is that awkward moment where we Bo know you're being intellectually dishonest yet you keep doing it anyway.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

TinyLittleMend (2653839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202087)

Attacking me won't disprove anything I say. From my perspective, you're the troll.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (1)

TinyLittleMend (2653839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201507)

Dude, picking "flaws" in someones argument when you good and well what the person meant

But I don't know what he meant. I can't read minds. Whether he meant "rational" or "serious," it makes no difference to what I said above. I don't believe what he said makes any sense.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201513)

I think that No True Scotsman doesn't really apply here. I think the original argument that every or at least, many GPL advocates also advocate infringement of EULAs. This argument is a fantastic setup for No True Scotsman, because you're reducing a whole host of different viewpoints to a single one, namely, "GPL advocate".

In other words, this argument is not engaging the proposer of the original idea, ie SFC, and instead, takes aim at an averaged "GPL advocate" who's setup as a straw-man. If a specific GPL advocate made that double standard, call them out on it. But accusing every single GPL advocate, especially the SFC who's most definitely not an advocate of infringement, is a fallacy by itself. I think it would be Tarring With the Same Brush...

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (2)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201215)

"It is OK to pirate Closed Source tool,"

No, it isn't.

"but if a company breaks a rule in the GPL they should be fully punished."

Of course it has to.

But even if you are not so 'dura lex sed lex' as I am, just an example about why it might be good to break some laws but no others:
It is good to unslave people even if slavery is legal.
It is still good to make sure taxes laws are applied on slave plantations.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (2)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202053)

I'd put it a little differently:

It is illegal to pirate.

But, it may not be immoral or unethical to pirate.

It certainly is completely impractical to forcibly prevent or punish piracy. Even extreme measures such as monitoring every packet on the Internet, or just shutting it down altogether could not stop piracy. There is always sneakernet. Two people could swap flash drives with a quick handshake.

GPL is very much a matter of hoisting copyright extremists in their own petard. If they've played hardball with copyright and patent law, then they have no grounds for complaint when they are caught in a GPL violation. If they weren't complete hypocrites, they'd admit they erred and do their best to make amends. Instead, we often see them trying to deny they did anything wrong, using laughably weak arguments to make their case.

Re:Your side is always the good guys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201755)

It is OK to pirate Closed Source tool...

can you say 'straw man'

Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (4, Interesting)

Bookwyrm (3535) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200981)

Out of curiosity, If APIs cannot be copyrighted, does this mean they cannot also be covered by the GPL? This would seem to be a fairly major implication of the Oracle vs. Google case. (Speaking strictly about API definitions/header files.)

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200999)

Most probably, yes.

There's not really any question that GPLed APIs are not under copyright. The whole viral effect stems from the linking stage, which FSF claims will include the GPLed code into the non-GPL program, which the license doesn't allow. IIRC, there are judgements on this too, probably dating back to the Unix wars.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (4, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201117)

For a loooooong time the MySQL team were claiming that any library which implemented the API required to talk to MySQL also fell under the licensing terms for MySQL - you didnt have to link to anything provided by MySQL, you just had to use the same structures and names.

Then they quietly stopped claiming it and all traces vanished from the MySQL website.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201181)

I remember that back when MySQL AB was an independent company, they made a considerable effort to monetize their code by making it hard for users to roll out MySQL into large-scale production use without buying a proprietary license. I'm not sure that that's still the case now that the company has changed ownership a couple times.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201197)

Yes, the point of their claim was so that you couldnt write a proprietary library and use that to talk to MySQL, you had to use their licensed libraries - which meant that for a commercial proprietary app, you had to license their commercial offering rather than just use the GPLed library.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201245)

"For a loooooong time the MySQL team were claiming that any library which implemented the API required to talk to MySQL also fell under the licensing terms for MySQL"

I've been around here quite a long time and I don't remember such an assert. Can you provide any link?

What I *do* remember is that MySQL position was that if you wanted to *link* code to their GPL-provided libraries, such a linked code should be under the GPL too.

Which, AFAIK, it the FSF position too.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201161)

Most probably, yes.

There's not really any question that GPLed APIs are not under copyright. The whole viral effect stems from the linking stage, which FSF claims will include the GPLed code into the non-GPL program, which the license doesn't allow. IIRC, there are judgements on this too, probably dating back to the Unix wars.

But (dynamic) linking is done by the end user, as a necessity or running the program. And haven't we heard that the GPL does not even pretend to restrict your right to run the program?

That said, it's not clear that just because the Java package API's are not eligible for copyright, that no other (more "private") APIs could ever be.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201371)

As I said, I'm not sure of the legal precedent, but apparently it exists for dynamic libs too. That's why LGPL was written - to clear up the ambiguity, more than anything else.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201229)

The whole viral effect stems from the linking stage, which FSF claims will include the GPLed code into the non-GPL program, which the license doesn't allow.

That's why nearly anything you'd want to link to is LGPL - that way, you can link to the library in question without being a derivative work under GPL definitions. For instance, you can write anything you want on top of glibc, and it won't have to be GPL'd.

The whole "viral effect" of the GPL is to prevent somebody from taking a useful GPL'd application, adding a few bells and whistles to it, and then pawning the whole thing off as their own. Linking to an LGPL library does not do that. If you want the functionality of GPL'd code in your code, but don't want to make your stuff GPL, then you have to write that functionality yourself or license it some other way.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201327)

I suppose that would depend on whether the linked code was covered by the GPL or LGPL [wikipedia.org] . The former does not allow linking by non-GPLed code whereas the latter does. As the linked Wikipedia article states, its a matter of strategy: Do you want to carve out an advantage for GPL apps? Or do you want to attract vendors (with other licensing policies) to your platform?

The no copyright for APIs decision might make this issue moot. If proprietary APIs can't be copyrighted (to impose proprietary licensing restrictions on apps) then GPL libraries probably can't keep non-GPL progs from calling them. And the playing field is even. The whole 'include GPL libs into non-GPL progs' is probably a non-issue for dynamically linked libraries. They do not become a part of a distributable package, they get their own text space in memory and the linking doesn't persist after the application's use. This protects the end user. My grandmother doesn't have to worry about libraries, licensing, the BSA knocking at her door, etc. when she uses Ubuntu. Let the developers fight that out.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201163)

Out of curiosity, If APIs cannot be copyrighted, does this mean they cannot also be covered by the GPL?

The GPL is a copyright license. Anything that is not covered by copyright can therefore not have the GPL applied to it.

It bothers me that you could not figure this out for yourself and had to ask.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201275)

Can't see any other way, copyrights are copyrights. And I don't think the GPL has ever implied that it can cover the APIs.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (3, Informative)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201659)

Out of curiosity, If APIs cannot be copyrighted, does this mean they cannot also be covered by the GPL?

The GPL exists within copyright law, so yes, that's what it means.

This would seem to be a fairly major implication of the Oracle vs. Google case. (Speaking strictly about API definitions/header files.)

The judge's decision about API non-copyrightability merely continues the status-quo that has been in place for decades, and is little more than a footnote in computing history; a footnote that reads: "Nothing new happened. An evil company was unable to change decades of standard practice to fit its own warped agenda."

The GPL continues on as it always has.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201941)

Out of curiosity, If APIs cannot be copyrighted, does this mean they cannot also be covered by the GPL? ... (Speaking strictly about API definitions/header files.)

IANAL but my understanding is that it's well settled that facts are not copyrightable, so all Judge Alsup did was merely affirm that API function names, parameters and data types are not copyrightable.

However a particular arrangement of API function names, parameters and data types may be copyrightable. That is you can't just rip-off someone else's API definitions/header files, but you can copy the API function names, parameters and data types within it.

The classic example is a phone book. You can't just photocopy someone else's phone book and distribute it, but the names and numbers in it are just facts. So you can copy those names and numbers and make your own phone book and distribute that.

Anyway, just my take on Judge Alsup's decision, IANAL, YMMV, AM&FM.

Re:Oracle vs. Google and the GPL -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202465)

Out of curiosity, If APIs cannot be copyrighted, does this mean they cannot also be covered by the GPL? This would seem to be a fairly major implication of the Oracle vs. Google case. (Speaking strictly about API definitions/header files.)

correct, I could use libagar and some macros and wrapper code to emulate the gtk api that would allow you to compile gtk apps against libagar, while maintaining a bsd license. For that matter you could implement anything with anything so long as you don't directly copy the internal code, only the function names and parameter and return types.

Easier Solution - BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201009)

No licensing cops necessary. End of story.

You're welcome.

Re:Easier Solution - BSD (2)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201183)

Maybe, but I'm sure there are hardcore people out there who would break even the lax license of FreeBSD [freebsd.org] . Surely someone is on their team to give the legal equivalent of "lol GTFO" when a user decides to e.g. offer it stripped of the copyright notice or try to claim a nonexistent warranty.

Re:Easier Solution - BSD (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201261)

Please point out the many instances of this that show that it is an issue.

Hint: it's not.

BSD is an easier solution.

Re:Easier Solution - BSD (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201377)

And no benefit to the community either.

Thanks but no thanks.

Re:Easier Solution - BSD (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201479)

Certainly there are benifits to the community. Microsoft used the BSD TCP/IP stack when they first released Windows NT. BSD users were very happy for that. It ment that the large number of new machines coming online with a new MS OS would be using a tried and tested TCP/IP stack that played well with others on the net.

Re:Easier Solution - BSD (2)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201573)

Now, supposing MS made some fantastic improvement to the BSD stack, and didn't contribute those changes back... Which they may have done, but we'll never know.

The community benefits are demonstrably less in this case.

Whereas, if it were under the (L)GPL, MS would be forced to pay back into the community, for the service that they received in the form of not having to reinvent their own TCP stack, or buy it from someone else.

Essentially, it's a Free Lunch for them. Some creators or authors may be fine with that, but I, personally, am not.

Re:Easier Solution - BSD (2, Informative)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201723)

You are ignoring the fact that the community did benifit. Which you previously said did not. And MS got to get the stack out without worrying about lawyers hassling them about the license, which was a benifit to them.

  You are quite free to license your own software under as restrictive a license as you want, no one said otherwise. Just don't spout off that the BSD license doesn't benifit the community.

Re:Easier Solution - BSD (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202403)

The specific benefit to the community is not the one we want, maybe.

The original post, however, was a one-line snark. I responded with another one-liner.

More importantly, this is about enforcing the GPL. It would be the same for the BSDL. How many companies actually comply with all three clauses?

Re:Easier Solution - BSD (1)

Magic5Ball (188725) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202271)

The alternative to BSD is not necessarily GPL.

MS could have implemented their own stack, or bought out Trumpet Winsock, or taken any number of alternative paths where (L)GPL could have no effect.

What is 'THE COMMUNITY'? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202549)

Define 'community'. 99% of all software is proprietary, and so if anybody has the statistical right to use that term, it'd be people like Windows users, OS-X users and so on. People who use GPLed software are an asterisk - and even the overwhelming majority of Android users, which is what gives Linux their numbers, don't care about source code. Or 'software freedom'. When someone can show statistical data that demonstrates that a majority of computer users know programming or people who do and want access to the source code for anytime they'd want something fixed, then start talking to us about the 'community'.

If you want to keep control. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201039)

Then any cops you pay for are the good guys. It all boils down to control. And trying to keep control while releasing your 1's and 0's to the world.

I support violating software in any way shape or form you can imagine.

Your pattern of 1's and 0's deserves no special protection no matter what license you use.

Sometimes chaos is simpler and more acceptable.

Wrong link (5, Informative)

mrsam (12205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201041)

Another job well-done, by the alleged editors. That link goes to the second page of a two-page article.

First page [infoworld.com] .

Re:Wrong link (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201255)

My bad. Sorry. I even spotted it during submission but seem to have copied the wrong link over the one I got right. I guess it proves that I really am the RTFA-troll though. If the editors had read the article they would have noticed :-) :-)

Re:Wrong link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201291)

Why the fuck aren't the single page print versions [infoworld.com] ever TFA link?

Re:Wrong link (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201521)

I think it's a courtesy to the linked-to site, which makes a lot of its money based on ad views and clickthrus. They helped us out (providing the content), we'll help them out (directing readers to the pages with ads).

Effects (1, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201247)

When you use laws to advance your agenda, you will find that the effects are not what you intended. These "good guys" appear to believe that enforcing the GPL would result in more mobile devices with all software on them open sourced. But that, of course, isn't going to happen. If a company does not want to release the source code now, it will not release the source code in the face of legal sanctions either. It will simply stop shipping the product. Then it will purge all GPL software from any future devices. Linux is not the only OS available, you know. Thus the end result of GPL enforcement is not more open source devices, but fewer. It is true that none of them will be "stealing" the work of GPL programmers, but is that really of any concern to anybody but them? The result for users is fewer available choices, each running on a proprietary OS with weird UIs. Is that what you are really after?

Re:Effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201483)

The head of the Linux kernel project has explained in many interviews why he chose the GPL v2 license (and incidentally why GPL v3 was rejected).

Russian proverb: If you do A, then you must do B.
A = assign license
B = enforce license

Re:Effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201539)

But there's also a proverb that says something along the lines of: the strictness of Russian laws is counteracted by their lack of enforcement.

Re:Effects (3, Informative)

inglorion_on_the_net (1965514) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201527)

When you use laws to advance your agenda, you will find that the effects are not what you intended. These "good guys" appear to believe that enforcing the GPL would result in more mobile devices with all software on them open sourced. But that, of course, isn't going to happen. If a company does not want to release the source code now, it will not release the source code in the face of legal sanctions either. It will simply stop shipping the product.

Got any numbers to back up that claim? I know of several cases where vendors have, from the get-go or after legal action, made source code available. At least some of those vendors still ship devices + GPL code (DLink is an example of a vendor that initially resisted, but now provides access to the source code). I don't know of any vendors that have stopped shipping GPL code when made to comply with the license. But that's just what I know. If you have data that shows there is a significant trend in either direction, please share.

Re:Effects (3, Informative)

magic maverick (2615475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201559)

If they don't want to follow the simple rules, then they don't have to use the product. Sure there are other OSes, but few are as cheap, widespread, and as easy to use as the GNU/Linux and BusyBox/Linux combinations.

In fact, I would love for all the people who don't want to follow the GPL when it comes to Linux, BusyBox and the GNU tools to stop using them. Start using costly alternatives like QNX, or whatever. If the products are better, people might buy them. But the cost of the OS will make the cost of the hardware go up.

Re:Effects (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201735)

These "good guys" appear to believe that enforcing the GPL would result in more mobile devices with all software on them open sourced. But that, of course, isn't going to happen.

[citation needed]

If a company does not want to release the source code now, it will not release the source code in the face of legal sanctions either. It will simply stop shipping the product.

If the company depends on the success of the product and it will otherwise go out of business it will release the source and then sell the product. Otherwise, you are correct. Not my problem, or yours either.

Thus the end result of GPL enforcement is not more open source devices, but fewer.

No, and also no. The end result of GPL enforcement is more open source devices, because some of them will release the code, whereas without the enforcement, none of the offending parties will release the code, and thus the source remains closed.

It is true that none of them will be "stealing" the work of GPL programmers, but is that really of any concern to anybody but them?

Who is "them" in this case? Try harder.

The result for users is fewer available choices, each running on a proprietary OS with weird UIs.

[citation needed]

There's lots of companies "making" hardware without doing any R&D at all. They license designs, or they steal designs. Then they contract someone to build the parts, assemble the devices and so on. When it comes time to assemble a software stack they're looking for whatever is going to enable them to make the most profit. If the hardware supports Linux and they think their market will embrace Linux then it's a no-brainer; the software stack is free. They customize some graphics, and offer the source from their website for at least as long as they hope to have it on the market, or as long as the company is in existence which is sometimes even shorter. More and more cheap Linux-based devices are showing up all the time in spite of your assertions and in spite of ongoing GPL enforcement efforts. Your statements are thus utterly unfounded.

Re:Effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201839)

It will simply stop shipping the product.

Thats the point. They should stop shipping the product if they don't comply. They should use these other Os's you know.

If the result of doing that is 'running on a proprietary OS with weird UIs.' then I hope that the competition the brings products to market using linux and being in line with their responsiblities to the GPL will push s out of business companies the can't produce the goods.

"is that really of any concern to anybody but them?"

Damn straight it is.

The contradictions are lost on them (0, Flamebait)

DavidinAla (639952) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201911)

It's hilarious that the people in favor of forcing "freedom" for software on everybody else define freedom to mean that everyone should do things according to THEIR rules. If code is truly free, release it in the public domain. Of course, THAT would mean that you can't control what people do with it later -- and control is what the GPL is all about, despite the pretensions of its fans. They care about getting the outcomes they want, not about individuals having freedom to do whatever they choose.

Re:The contradictions are lost on them (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202211)

It's almost as ridiculous as people calling this a "free country" when you're not even allowed the freedom of owning slaves, right?

Re:The contradictions are lost on them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202379)

Nonsense. The GPL controls one aspect: The those who receive a compiled piece of software from someone also have the right to receive the source code used to create the binary, the required patent licenses to use the software for free, and that they may change and redistribute this source code freely. No further control over the code is enforced by means of the GPL. In fact, the GPL is even incompatible with discrimination against specific uses.

I'm so stupid. (1)

steve.cri (2593117) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201977)

I never quite understood why many hardware producers do not provide linux drivers, or at least the means for third parties to write them. They simply have to conceal the fact that they are stealing from the open source community!

Failzor5... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202337)

fly...don't fear to survive at all project returns the project is dying and its that should be fact came into irc Network. The and has instead (7000+1400+700)*4
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