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Seminar On Details Of The GPL And Related Licenses

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the share-and-share-alike dept.

GNU is Not Unix 171

bkuhn writes "Given the recent confusion about LGPL on slashdot, and the concern it raised for those convincing corporate legal departments to adopt to Free Software, perhaps your readers might be interested in FSF's legal seminar on the GPL and related licenses. The first one is in Silicon Valley, and if it is successful, we hope to hold others in the next 8 months in New York City and Tokyo." Since the FSF and the GNU project have long created and fought for software that's shareable, Free, and Not UNIX, what's taught at these seminars will probably differ sharply from what you can hear at next Monday's SCO conference call on the "IBM lawsuit, UNIX Ownership and Copyrights."

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hot pussy for you faggots (-1)

trollofdoom (647425) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474277)

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Re:hot pussy for you faggots (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474310)

I love that slut.

SCO! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474345)

Give her clothes back!

God fucking damnit she's hot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474352)

Still waiting for michael's firing, by the way.

I tell you, nothing beats that missionary position.

Regards,

Hank Kingsley

Wrong (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474364)

Too thin, too polished, too big breasts.

Not really a woman but a sculpture.

Re:Wrong (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474473)

Hear, hear. I like geek women [ibarakijets.org] with glasses and a normal body.

you got that right (1)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474531)

As slashdot posters, we're all getting laid so much that we're free to pick and choose.

NOPE! I'M STILL GAY! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474397)

Does nothing for me.


Love,

Michael

LOL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474409)

Excellent. Thank you.

senior_troll is that you? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474408)

Or did you blatently rip him off [slashdot.org] ?

I never get tired (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474280)

....of frosty piss! yum!!!

Re:I never get tired (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474343)

....taht piss waint frosty yr fool....you phai1 ti..

TOASTY!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474288)

toaster,toaster toaser, do you have toast in you yet i think [rowdyruff.net]
so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Im not a toaster!!!!!!!!!!And one more
thing........YOUR A TOASER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND A COOKIE WITH MILK SOAGE
MILK!!!!!!!!!!AND A BUTT WITH POOP IN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DEAR SIR (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474508)

Compliments of the season.Grace,Peace and love to you.I hope my
letter does not cause you too much embarrassment as I write to you
in good faith.Please excuse my intrusion into your business life.

My name is James Mulu,the elder son of Mr.Dennnis Mulu from the
Republic of Zimbabwe.During the current war against the farmers in
Zimbabwe from the supporters of President Robert Mugabe,in his
effort to chase all the white farmers out of the country,he ordered
all the white farmers to surrender their farms to his party members
and his followers.My father,was one of the best and successful farmers
in our country and formerly the Finance Minister of Robert Mugabe
administration,but he did not support the idea of dispossessing the white
farmers of their land.Because of this,his farm was invaded and burnt by
government supporters.In the course of the attack, my father was killed,
and the invaders made away with a lot of items from my father's farm.
And our family house was utterly destroyed.My mother died too,out of
heart attack.Before the death of my father,he drew my attention to the sum
of US$22.MILLION,Which he deposited with a security company in Amsterdam
during his tenure as the Finance Minister of Zimbabwe.
Blah blah blah, give me money.

SCO/FUD (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474314)

Well, if you call the FUD conference line, you'll get FUD. It should come as no suprise.

Re:SCO/FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474789)

Well, if you call the FUD conference line, you'll get FUD. It should come as no suprise.

There ought to be a clever way of turning this into a comment about Slashdot and crap instead of conference line and FUD, but I'm too tired to pull it off. Anyone?

Summary. (-1, Troll)

Vanieter (613996) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474315)

All licenses excepted the [L]GPL are GNU/unworthy.

Never could understand (5, Interesting)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474316)

Why there's any confusion myself - it's pretty straightforward to me. OTOH, it's good to see the FSF giving their official explanations, maybe I'll learn something.

Could someone here tell me what's so hard to grasp about the GPL? or LGPL? Not trolling, just wondering. Maybe its just completely different world views or something. *shrugs*

Re:Never could understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474337)

It e.g. allows different forms to distribute the source. Each of those forms is hard enough. Altogether the confuse some people.

All your acronyms, and you forgot GNU/HURD (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474375)

IANAL, but...

What about SCIPOPS? Or BLITZSHIT? Or FATPERLHACKER?

I'm a little punchy. It's Friday, I'm home early, and the word on the street is MICHAEL'S GONE!!!

Re:Never could understand (0, Offtopic)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474468)

How is this redundant? Its the 3rd post!

Java (4, Informative)

siskbc (598067) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474616)

Could someone here tell me what's so hard to grasp about the GPL? or LGPL?

Did you miss the Java thing over the last few days? The assumption was that when developing java stuff, you could link to something that's LGPL'd without *GPL'ing your project. But the linking timeline is pretty convoluted, and it resulted in some people getting a bit of a surprise when they discovered the projects they're working on would be *GPL'd, which they had thought not the case.

So some clarification is a good thing.

Re:Java (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474814)

Ok, thanks for the info. Actually, I *did* miss that one. I'm not into the Java scene at all, but I can imagine the various scenarios would be a nightmare.

Re:Never could understand (1)

Elladan (17598) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474642)

The main thing that's hard to grasp with the GPL is total control of the software. Big companies don't like that. :-)

Re:Never could understand (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474896)

Sorry, but I truly missed the humor in that. MSFT perhaps? Whatever.... I just don't see where the GNU licenses exert total control (as oppopsed to, say, WinXP, let alone the service packs...)

Re:Never could understand (1)

The J Kid (266953) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474689)

You're right, we're slashdotters.
We know this stuff, right?

Re:Never could understand (4, Interesting)

Arandir (19206) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474704)

Was it straightforward to you before you were told by someone else what it means? After all, there is still a great deal of disagreement over what some clauses mean.

Remember the KDE fiasco? The situation was hunky dory, until Redhat came along and issued a white paper saying that KDE was illegal. Then Debian got in on the act, and before you knew it, there was this completely new interpretation of the GPL coming from the FSF. Do you really think that none of the KDE developers read the license? Of course they did!

Then there was the Corel LinuxOS fiasco. They had a "private" beta, and everyone jumped all over them. Do you really think that none of the lawyers at Corel bothered to read the license?

And consider the latest fiasco with Java and the LGPL. People have been using the LGPL with Java for years. Not once did anyone every complain. Then suddenly someone at the FSF offered up a contrary opinion, and all hell broke loose.

Notice I used the word "fiasco" with all of the above examples. That's because the GPL is a complicated and hard to understand document, yet everyone thinks they know what it means. The LGPL is even worse, because everyone thinks it's simpler, when in fact it's more complicated.

Re:Never could understand (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474861)

Actually, I *did* understand it after a few reads; nobody else explained it because nobody else I knew had heard of it. I'm starting to think that my view was too limited; I tried the creator vs distributor scenarios, and it all seemed OK. I didn't consider things like KDE/Qt or Corel Linux, because they weren't invented yet. Actually, I never considered linking against anything other than glibc or LessTif. So, my thinking is probably now way outdated, and I need to re-do it. I still maintain that it's pretty clear regarding distribution and granting others the same freedoms; so maybe the larger question is "How does this apply in a mixed environment?" I'm actually running a mixed environment right now; the nVidia driver in my linux kernel is a closed-source binary with a kernel wrapper. Any ideas?

Re:Never could understand (4, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474707)

The main problems are that people don't understand, or are confused by:

a) The references to derivative works - what exactly is a derivative work? How can you tell?

b) The meaning of redistribution.

The whole Java/LGPL thing was a storm in a teacup caused by people who didn't understand the wording or the spirit of the license.

I sometimes wonder if it's due to the nature of the people involved. Programming is sometimes an sexact and inflexible science - literality is important. The law on the other hand is anything but those things.

So, for instance, I've seen people wrangle and argue over exactly what is and isn't linking, without realising that this is beside the point - the LGPL is very clear that if you use the code in your program, the user should be able to drop in a replacement they compiled themselves - otherwise, what is the point of having the source (for the user) if they are powerless to use it to improve their own apps? In standard C or C++ apps, static linking prevents the user from doing that, so you can't do it (or rather, you must offer a version that uses dynamic linkage). In Java, all linkage is dynamic, so as long as the user can drop in a new jarfile, or set of classes, you're set. In Python etc, you're almost always compliant even if you embed the code direct into the source files, because the user can still go in an edit those parts. At least, that's *my* interpretation.

Likewise, I've seen people say you can't link GPLd code with anything other than a GPLd program - also rubbish. Any GPL compatible license will do.

Basically people forget that licenses are agreements between the author of the code, and themselves. The author expresses their wishes for how the code can be used, and you must abide by those wishes. The GPL/LGPL/BSD and so on are just useful boilerplates to save people reinventing the wheel. You can always ask the copyright holder to grant you a commercial license if you want to use some GPLd code - they may so no, but also they may not.

SCO update (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474333)

So they'll try their best to make the news again I see. Hope some critics get online to foul their scheme up.

Meanwhile, they're all selling. Sean Wilson [sec.gov] (Sr Vp Corp Dev) is just the latest in a long row [sec.gov] .

Erm, Timothy?? (4, Insightful)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474335)

What the hell does SCO have to do with GPL? I mean really this just seems like a way to jab at SCO for something completely not on topic.

Lets see, GPL, GNU not UNIX, so lets mention SCO? Where the hell is the logic, just seems like you wanted to post a link that might cause a little slashdotting to SCO's site. One might infer this as particularly malicious.

SCO has never once said anything against the GNU, in fact the GNU actually semi-support the SCO standpoint, if code was not given by the author than it violated the codes original copyright.

I do believe making this thread appaling to the commentors because of a mention to SCO is pretty tasteless and definantelly offtopic.

well... (2, Funny)

ed.han (444783) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474361)

like superdug, i gotta wonder why the obligatory M$ jabs are being supplanted by gratuitous SCO jabs. i mean, remaining moderately on topic wouldn't be such a bad thing...

ed

Re:well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474396)

The whole news entry in its entirety set the topic. So now SCO is on-topic and no, there's nothing odd or tastless about talking about SCO in a story about licenses> .

Re:Erm, Timothy?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474436)

Maybe because SCO does not seem to understand the GPL. In addition to the circumstances described in this article [eweek.com] , SCO distributed Linux under the GPL while simultaneously claming that it violated their copyright, something which is not allowed by the GPL.

Taco responds... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474447)

Do Editors Moderate?
The Slashdot Editors have unlimited mod points, and we have no problem using them. Our moderations represent about 3% of all moderation, and according to Meta Moderation, the fairness of these moderations are either statistically indistinguishable from non-admin users, or substantially better. The raw numbers are: 95.1% of non-admin upmods are fair, and 94.7% of admin upmods are fair. 79.1% of non-admin downmods are fair, and 83.6% of admin downmods are fair.

The editors tend to find crapfloods and moderate them down: a single malicious user can post dozens of comments, which would require several users to moderate them down, but a single admin can take care of it in seconds. This tends to remove the obvious garbage from the discussion so that the general population can use their mod points to determine good. Otherwise, a few crapfloods could suck a lot of moderator points out of the system and throw things out of whack.

You can argue that allowing admins unlimited moderation is somehow inherently unfair, but one of the goals of Slashdot is to produce readable content for a variety of readers with a variety of reading habits. I believe this process improves discussions for the vast majority of Slashdot Readers, so it will stay this way. If you don't like it, well, I don't care. This is my sandbox, those are my rules, and until someone takes this site away from me, what you see is, ultimately, what I want you to see.

Answered by: CmdrTaco Last Modified: 4/12/03

Re:Taco responds... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474624)

Even more offtopic, but:

83.6% of admin downmods are fair...The editors tend to find crapfloods and moderate them down: a single malicious user can post dozens of comments, which would require several users to moderate them down, but a single admin can take care of it in seconds.

That's where I always lose track of Taco's reasoning. Admins are supposed to be deleting penis birds and Linux Gay Conspiracy posts -- sorry, I'm showing my age -- GNAA and ASCII tubgirl posts, not infinitely moderating discussions. The percent of fair downmods should be in the high 90s, not slightly above that for regular mods. Either metamoderation is essentially worthless or editors are rampantly misusing mod points.

Besides, most of the complaints involve sporadic cases where negative posts in stories by one particular editor get suddenly slammed with five simultaneous downmods. There's no way they would show up in the super-big picture of M2. The real answer is to flag editorial mods as such, but that'll never happen.

Re:Erm, Timothy?? (1)

sulli (195030) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474460)

I do believe making this thread appaling to the commentors because of a mention to SCO is pretty tasteless and definantelly offtopic.

Making the thread appalling is what slashdot is all about.

Why SCO is not tangential (4, Informative)

rdewald (229443) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474496)

Those who follow discussions concerning the arguments being prepared for the SCO lawsuit are betting right now that the GPL will be among the targets of that action. They may be right, they may be wrong, but references to that action are relevant to any discussion about software licensing these days.

Re:Erm, Timothy?? (1)

JoeBuck (7947) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474543)

It is claimed by the FSF that the fact that SCO shipped the Linux kernel to their customers under the GPL means that they have given their customers, and by extension the general public, license to use everything in it under the GPL, even if some of the code was originally theirs.

Re:Erm, Timothy?? (1)

Homology (639438) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474594)

What the hell does SCO have to do with GPL?

What do you think would happen if SCO was found out to have violated the GPL? The kernel Linux is, after all, under GPL.

SCO has never once said anything against the GNU, ...

Of course SCO is very careful here, or they risk having a legal conflict with FSF. Perhaps SCO is hoping that by "taking care of" the Linux kernel, their litigation might be extended to GNU. After all, at GNU's Not Unix! [gnu.org] we find the following written :

Variants of the GNU operating system, which use the kernel Linux, are now widely used.

Relax - it's much better than a separate SCO story (2, Interesting)

gnuber (605327) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474661)

> this just seems like a way to jab at SCO for something completely not on topic.

Chill out. They are probably getting flooded with submissions about the SCO conference call, which is the first "news" out of SCO since the Japan Trip (I don't think their ballyhooed July 9 conference call ever happened). But SCO announcing a Monday conference call is certainly not worth its own story, and there is no point waiting until the next Slashback. So Timothy stuck it in a mildly-related story to stop the submissions and so that people who are interested in the SCO case can follow the link and investigate/comment. Sounds reasonable.

tokyo? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474339)

we hope to hold others in the next 8 months in New York City and Tokyo

Tokyo doesn't have many communist hippies that care about GPL do they?

KISS (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474348)

How about a license that's simple enough that you don't need seminars to be trained on all the subtle implications, nor an army of lawyers to ligitate the fuzzy edges?

The BSD license is pretty simple. And it's equally simple to rule out for-profit use of your code, if that's your beef.

The complexities of the GPL stem from its attempt to be "viral" and enforce the FSF's philosophy on other people. It's easier just to stay away from it altogether than to fuss about with all the niggling details. If you have nothing to do with GPL code, then it's easy to be sure you're not violating the license terms.

Unfortunately, this tends to cause harm to OSS in general, as many people just slap the GPL on their code because it's a popular "free" license, without really understanding or considering the consequence. And thus, it becomes easier "just to stay away from" lots of OSS code that might otherwise get used in more contexts were the license less murky -- or if another license altogether became popular.

Re:KISS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474524)

If what you say is true, then why is Linux a success and why is BSD a failure? Surely if what you say is true, then the free software landscape would be the opposite of the way things really are. Maybe you better rethink your ideology. There is a serious flaw in your conclusion as demonstrated by what the free market has chosen as more desirable.

We call it "hereditary" (4, Insightful)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474542)

I have no moderation points, so i'll bite the troll.

How can a voluntarily adopted license "force" anybody? As you say, you just have to reject the use of GPLed software if you don't like it. And remember that the GPL must only be accepted if you redistribute another's program, not just if you use it. A programmer should be aware of the terms in which the code she relies upon is licensed, right?

The whole point of the GPL is to build a community of people freely sharing code and donating it to each other. The license is tuned and tweaked to do just that, and do it really well.

If someone want to use the GPL for a different purpose (like, say, earning some money), hey, the code it's free! They can do it, but they should be very aware that the license is not intended to do that. So, it's not the FSF fault if they got it wrong, as their goals are cristal clear [gnu.org] .

Re:We call it "hereditary" (4, Insightful)

JoeBuck (7947) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474908)

There are good arguments to use the GPL, even for business-minded folks who disagree with RMS's idea that all software must be free.

The GPL is quite usable for making money. Consider TrollTech, the providers of QT. Their use of the GPL/QPL combo (though the GPL alone would work just as well) got the product of a small Norwegian company known all over the world, and the fact that proprietary developers don't like the GPL means that Troll Tech can sell developer licenses at significant cost.

BSD fans who accuse GPL fans of communism have it backwards: giving work away completely for any purpose, from each according to his ability, to each according to his need, is a hallmark of the BSD license. As Russ Nelson (of OSI) has said, "When I write proprietary software I expect to get paid". By choosing the GPL instead of a non-copyleft license, the author is in a sense insisting on compensation for his work, either in the form of changes that get contributed back, or with the possibility of selling someone a license to use terms other than the GPL.

What might really harm the BSD folks is the growing practice by holders of software patents to license those patents for use in GPL code, but not in non-copylefted code. IBM is doing a lot of this: they've made some of their patents available to both the Linux kernel and GCC. I would prefer to see no patents at all, but don't see a way of letting the BSD folks use the patents without effectively giving the patent away to all. They could say, OK, BSD folks, use of the patent is OK as long as full source is provided for the whole app, but did you notice that these conditions are effectively a copyleft, like the GPL (if you use it you have to give the whole source away)?

Re:KISS (1)

fredrikj (629833) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474663)

How about a license that's simple enough that you don't need seminars to be trained on all the subtle implications, nor an army of lawyers to ligitate the fuzzy edges?

No matter how much we want to, we can't replace bureaucracy with common sense as long as bureaucracy is in power and some people remain unwilling to play fair.

Re:KISS (2, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474757)

The BSD license is pretty simple. And it's equally simple to rule out for-profit use of your code, if that's your beef.

No it's not. Various licenses have tried to rule out "for profit" use, but the term is so vague as to be useless. Pico was rewritten to nano so it could have a free license, for reasons like that iirc.

The problem is, where do you draw the line? IF you use the software in a charity, that gets more donations this month than they spend because of efficiencies gained from using your software, is that them making a profit from your work? How about indirect profits?

The complexities of the GPL stem from its attempt to be "viral" and enforce the FSF's philosophy on other people.

I wonder if it's a troll, but am too tired to really care. The GPL is very simple, it's people who make it complex. If you actually read the damn thing, maybe some of the supporting essays as well, instead of relying on random Slashdotters or IRC dudes take on it, you realise that a lot of the things said about it, are simply untrue.

Unfortunately, this tends to cause harm to OSS in general, as many people just slap the GPL on their code because it's a popular "free" license, without really understanding or considering the consequence

Dude, I think implying that the GPL is popular because often extremely smart coders are sheeple is pretty damn rude. Has it ever crossed your mind that maybe most of these people actually know what they're doing, and decided that a copyleft license was the way to go?

And thus, it becomes easier "just to stay away from" lots of OSS code that might otherwise get used in more contexts were the license less murky -- or if another license altogether became popular.

You equate popularity of the code with success. Such thinking led to serious issues with the X consortium, and when considering the total value gained to society, the picture is not so clear aynmore.

Re:KISS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474928)

The complexities of the GPL stem from 1) complex copyright law; and 2) folks who insist on SMEARING what the GPL says whenever they have the chance.

Cripes, what harms OSS (and a lot of other fringe groups, look at the mess RSS is in right now for example) is folks like you trying over and over again to amplify insignificant differences and insert personal agendas. People on the outside just don't care and they get turned off from the whole thing.

Folks like me just want Free software whenever possible. That means 1) use for any purpose, 2) make any private modifications, 3) get the source code 4) able to make and distribute unlimited verbatim copies.

That covers 99% of use of Free software. Some folks also want it to be zero cost. Some other folks don't care about #3. Other folks will never need #2, and so forth.

Now, take a look at this "murky" GPL and the BSD license. From this point of view, they are THE SAME. The are both Free software licenses.

The GPL also has a copyleft that kicks in when you distribute modified copies.

The Free Software Foundation is interested in Free software. Not "copyleft" software. So although they prefer the GPL, obviously, they aren't going to complain if all software is put out under the BSD license. Because it serves user's needs in the EXACT same way.

Can we for ONCE just try and focus on the differences between, say, the Microsoft EULA and free software licenses, rather than the differences between free software licenses???

Is there any goddamn point to all this? Do you folks just hate RMS? What is the deal with this constant BS? Can we please move past this and concentrate on free documentation licenses and free music licenses and maybe giving two shits about the users on the outside of this community?

Seminars and useless information (0)

jared_hanson (514797) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474351)

It seems to me that you should be able to glean the intended meaning of a license by reading it and filtering it through a lawyer-speak sieve. Which is not as hard as it sounds really.

However, being as they make the big bucks, other, competing lawyers, seem to like to play games and find obscure definitions or wording loopholes so they can slip through contractual obligations. No matter what you learn from this seminar, this will continue to happen and you will still have to deal with these issues. That is the first point you should commit to memory.

Can't read the page?!? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474363)

Whole web page is just a bunch of little boxes.

you are not using a proper browser (2, Funny)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474503)

You are not using RMS-approved browser. Please download emacs www functionality right now or else.

Oops, wrong FSF... (4, Funny)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474380)


The seminar will cost $500 per participant.


That would definitely be from the Free Software Foundation and not the Free Seminar Foundation...

Re:Oops, wrong FSF... (1)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474480)

That would definitely be from the Free Software Foundation and not the Free Seminar Foundation...
Think free speech, not free beer... Wait a sec, that doesn't work here

Re:Oops, wrong FSF... (5, Interesting)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474498)

If you think that is bad the FSF's Deluxe Software Distribution set costs $5000. Clearly the FSF really means it when they say that it is Free as in Freedom and not Free as in Free Beer. Cheapbytes probably sells the same package for $10 + s/h.

$500 is actually a ridiculously low price for what is offered in the seminar. Heck, the State Bar of California has approved this program for 7 hours of MCLE credit, for crying out loud.

Re:Oops, wrong FSF... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474632)

MCLE

Microsoft Certified Law Engineer?

Re:Oops, wrong FSF... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474636)

You don't buy the deluxe distribution for the software, you buy it to support the FSF. Charityware I guess.

Licenses....PISH (-1, Flamebait)

Mshift2x (686015) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474385)

We would have no need for this garbage if we lived in a communist world....too bad it doesn't work in practice...darn productivity and animal farm like behavior.

(L)GPL advocates please read (1)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474410)

Uninformed (L)GPL advocate: "Sure you can release your software under GPL without releasing the sourcecode. Just link to binary libraries. We'd rather have you not doing that, though, because we feel that source code should be free."

Informed (L)GPL advocate: "Unreleased source code is EVIL. If you don't publish software under GPL you are EVIL, too. Producing software under GPL and breaking the spirit - if not the letter - of the license by nasty binary links is an abomination. SOURCE CODE MUST BE FREE OR OUGHT TO DIE FOR PRODUCING IT!"

In other words: if you want to produce free code (ie. no restrictions to anyone), do NOT release it under "Free Software" license. Use any of the "Open Source" licenses instead. That way other people can benefit (=really, economically benefit) from your code too.

Re:(L)GPL advocates please read (1)

JoeBuck (7947) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474566)

The criteria for whether a license is "free software" or "open source" are identical: the Open Source Definition was originally called the Debian Free Software Guidelines. The cases where the OSI says something is an open source license and the FSF says it's a free software license are boundary cases, much like two baseball umpires might rule the same pitch a strike or a ball if it's right on the line. The OSI says the GPL and the LGPL are open source licenses, and the FSF says that the BSD license is a free software license.

Re:(L)GPL advocates please read (1)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474629)

"free software" or "open source" are identical

I dare you to claim that in front of RMS.

Re:(L)GPL advocates please read (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474655)

That's pure metaphysics (i.e. bullshit). What's more free, the freedom to take away the other's freedom or the prohibition to do it?

The "Free software" license is intended to build code that will always stay free, and the "Open Source" licenses that you advocate simply don't guarantee that.

Re:(L)GPL advocates please read (1)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474722)

What's more free, the freedom to take away the other's freedom or the prohibition to do it?

How about one's freedom to choose the license even if we assume for the argument's sake that a bad choice would mean less freedom? Should RMS get his way, there would be nothing but "free" software. Freedom to choose from one candidate is no freedom at all and any ideology that strives towards such a perversion of freedom is to be resisted at all costs.

Re:(L)GPL advocates please read (2, Insightful)

Arandir (19206) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474882)

What's more free, the freedom to take away the other's freedom or the prohibition to do it?

I will agree with you that the previous poster was spouting metaphysical bullshit. But you are making the mistake of confusing freedom with privilege.

Privilege belongs to a few, freedom belongs to everyone. There is no such think as the freedom to take away the freedoms of others. You are confusing this with the privilege of taking away the freedoms (or privileges) of others. Please understand the difference.

Freedom is based upon the respect of property (with 'self' included as a property). I am free to do whatever I want with my own property, within my own domain. But I am not free to do anything at all to your property within your domain without getting your permission first. The reason my freedom to swing my fist ends at your nose, is because your nose is not my property to do with as I wish. The reason I cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater is because that endangers the property (lives) of others.

Everyone has (or should have) the freedom to do whatever they want with their own software that they have written. But when you start dealing with the software that other people have written, then the firm respect for property is critically important to preserve freedom. The BSD license is free because it recognizes this. It says "this is my property, do with it as you wish." The GPL is free because it says "this is my property, and you can use it if you follow my rules". The biggest difference between the two licenses is that the GPL strenously asserts its property rights over the work and its derivatives, while the BSD license absolves all but the most trivial property rights over the work and its derivatives.

If you like the GPL, then proudly assert that you are in favor of strong copyrights and software ownership, and people may only use your property in according with your demands. But don't go asserting that other licenses are less free just because they don't wave the legal cudgel of copyright in everyone's faces.

GPL /LGPL means RMS/GNU can sue you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474416)

and prevent your software from being released or extract money from your company.

RMS is like IBM obtaining thousands of patents so that it can prevent others from developing anything remotely similar to an IBM research patent.

BSD: A Better License (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474427)

Since the FSF and the GNU project have long created and fought for software that's shareable, Free, and Not UNIX

Hey Timothy, how about praising and pushing the BSD license, instead of the GPL, which is free, but not as free as the BSD?

A lot of all this confusion and trouble could be avoided if people knew more about the BSD license, and used that.

Context for comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474778)

You are somewhat disingenuous. Some context would be nice. Since you failed to provide any, allow me to pick up the slack.
  • BSD license - this license is designed so that free software can be turned into proprietary software by a producer where the source code remains secret from the consumer. This license provides the greatest protection to producers of proprietary software.

  • GNU license - this license is designed to favor the software consumer. It is designed so that a producer of software who distributes his work to the consumer must provide source code on request. The motivation for this license was to give the consumer the freedom to modify and repair his executables.
Which sort of freedom do you favor -- producer freedom or consumer freedom? That is the main practical difference between these licenses. Which license is better (or "more free") depends entirely on one's personal perspective.

Of course zealots for either side often get into lengthy "angels on a pinhead" Utopian arguments over the minutiae of either license. These exercises in futility are usually a waste of time.

GPL: Is It Legal? (1)

jbottero (585319) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474431)

I think it's time that FSF et al actually court a lawsuit to test strength of the GPL out, put an end to backseat sideline quarterbacking on it's legality.

Re:GPL: Is It Legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474461)

You realize that it's illegal to take a case to the courts for the sheer notion of testing the validity of something, right? You can't fabricate the lawsuit, but you can ask for courts to take a look at something and see what they say. IIRC, the FSF did this but nothing really came of it.

Re:GPL: Is It Legal? (1)

jbottero (585319) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474510)

No, I didn't realize, not being a lawyer (and my post was not a troll...)

But a legal case might be useful to the cause!

just find us a sucker (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474580)

The FSF has been hoping for such a case for years. The problem is finding a sucker who'll be willing to take the other side. So far, no one has volunteered. (Note, it'll have to be a legitimate case, because a judge is likely to throw out any case that's an obvious setup.) If you know anyone dumb enough to violate the GPL and take it to court, please let the FSF know.

Re:GPL: Is It Legal? (1)

JoeBuck (7947) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474591)

Why? So far they've gotten every single challenger to back down, without going to court.

Read all about it. [columbia.edu] . People with a strong case don't need to go to court because the other side caves. Disputes only reach court when both sides think they have a good shot at winning.

Re:GPL: Is It Legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474656)

I think I'm going to pirate a copy of Windows to test the legality of the license so that we can stop ruminating about the legality of the EULA.

Re:GPL: Is It Legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474675)

Shit, I used the word pirate in reference to unauthorised copying. Damn it.

They are too scared. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474921)

Look at the case of the Virgin WebPlayer.

An out-right violation of the GPL and the FSF and Linux authors did nothing.

Why?

Because Virgin has real lawyers. Real lawyers with real money scared the FSF into inaction.

Not to mention the average pro-GPL poster here on /. doesn't has the stomach to actually fight for their rights, just post to /.

Oh, please (4, Insightful)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474486)

Since the FSF and the GNU project

Please spare us the editorial comment. In yesterday's [slashdot.org] article, Dave Turner specifically bemoaned the fact that CowboyNeal had not double-checked [slashdot.org] his facts and just went ahead and posted. The story submitter then apologized [slashdot.org] to Dave for going "sensational", which is apparently the only way to get a story through the "editors" nowadays, with the exception of anything that remotely smells of "M$" or the RIAA.

So I think an apology to the FSF (and your readers) is in order.

Re:Oh, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474746)

The story submitter then apologized to Dave for going "sensational", which is apparently the only way to get a story through the "editors" nowadays, with the exception of anything that remotely smells of "M$" or the RIAA.

That's simply not true. Anything about SCO works too.

Re:Oh, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474805)

Yeah, but only if it's spelled "$CO"

Will they address concerns with the GFDL? (4, Interesting)

Bootsy Collins (549938) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474529)


Debian [debian.org] has moved a large amount of documentation licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License [gnu.org] into the non-free section of its software archive, out of concerns [debian.org] that the GFDL is not free, at least as far as "free" is defined by the Debian Free Software Guidelines [debian.org] .

One issue is essentially with the ability of authors to define "invariant sections" of their documents, the subsequent modification of which would violate the GFDL. This conflicts with the requirement of the DFSG that licensing must allow modifications, and must permit the modifications to be distributed under the same licensing terms as the original, as e.g. the GPL does.

Other people have raised the concern [debian.org] that the GFDL's restrictions on the use of "technical measures to obstruct or control the reading or further copying of the copies you make or distribute" -- a restriction that, on the surface, makes sense in that it prevents attempts to limit the freedom others have to read the distributed copies -- could have the unintended consequence of forbidding putting documents covered by the GFDL on devices which are encrypted for personal security.

I'm curious whether FSF folks speaking about licenses plan to discuss this at the seminar(s).

Re:Will they address concerns with the GFDL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474674)

The GPL itself is just *barely* DFSG free!

I don't know whether... (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474705)

...is that one funny or insightful?

US vs. Iraq - Software Business vs. FSF communism (1, Troll)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474550)

I've been truly encouraged by the critical tone of most of the posts so far.

No longer is FSF/Free Software being seen by the /. crowed as the "liberating force" or the next great revolution that would sweep us into a better future.

The underlying zealotry, the undelivered sweeping promises (quality products for free; ha!) and the increased control in the name of freedom (if you license your software under GPL, can you do anything you want with it? No!) are beginning to show.

FSF vs Open TV (5, Informative)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474651)

Actually, the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which monitors the scene and enforces the GPL, says a Mountain View company has been violating the GPL for more than a year. The foundation calls the violations serious and is threatening a lawsuit.

The specifics of the FSF's beef with OpenTV have to do with the company's policies in sending source code to licensees of OpenTV software tools created under the GPL. According to the foundation, OpenTV has either refused to provide the code, or has attached improper conditions on providing it, to several programmers who have every right to it.

OpenTV's intellectual property lawyer, Scott Doyle, says there's been missed communications on both sides but that the company has no intention of violating any legal agreements. He says the company plans to post the code in question online.

But if the FSF is right that OpenTV is violating the GPL, and if this behavior is found to be legal by the courts, the entire free-software and open-source movements could be derailed. Agreeing to share the improvements you make in the GPL-licensed software you've used is an essential part of the larger ecosystem.

Some people I respect say the GPL is a bad idea, period. They say it's too restrictive of programmers' rights, in the sense of forcing them to open what they've done to the world. Fine: If you don't like the GPL, don't create software from code that used it in the first place. Then put different licensing terms on what you've done.

But legal agreements are supposed to matter in our system. Just because the GPL turns the idea of intellectual property somewhat around doesn't make it less valid.

Re:US vs. Iraq - Software Business vs. FSF communi (1)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474652)


the undelivered sweeping promises (quality products for free; ha!)


Actually, GNU products are excellent and free-as-in-beer. They're so good they're usually invisible. When's the last time you had to work around a bug in ls, or gcc?

Re:US vs. Iraq - Software Business vs. FSF communi (3, Interesting)

caluml (551744) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474682)

You know the only weak point in the GPL?

Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation.

So if they go mad, and make version 3 one that allows anyone to do anything they like without having to release their changes....
Of course, there is a little proviso that says:

The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of the General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns.

but that wording is very wooly. What does similar in spirit mean?

Bullshit, trolling, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474748)

or just you can't read properly? you have the option of following [...] either of that version or of any later version So, if the FSF goes mad on version 3, stick to the previous version you prefer.

MY GPL is v3... (1)

bLanark (123342) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474836)

You know the only weak point in the GPL?

Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation.

You know what, I wonder what's to stop me releasing a GPL? Mine would be pretty unrestrictive, I can assure you.

OK, I'm only half serious, but legally, what prevents another organisation from releasing GPL v3 that looks like the artistic licence, for example?

Re:US vs. Iraq - Software Business vs. FSF communi (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474696)

Troll alert!

Nobody promised quality products for free (as in price), not even the FSF. If you don't support the developers of free software, you won't get quality software.

RMS shot that to hell long ago... (1)

sterno (16320) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474800)

They are zealots but I don't think you can say that their promises were faulty. Remember to distinguish between the Open Source folks and the Free Software folks. Free Software is all about making sure that the code is always free as in liberty. They don't care about making money, or code quality, etc, it's about their vision of software freedom. It tries to create a level playing field for all people who use a certain code base, insuring that nobody can make it proprietary. This isn't about free as in beer software, that just tends to be the way it happens.

In fact though, if you license your software under the GPL, you may also license it under a more or less restrictive license. You, as the copyright holder, have the power to release a copyrighted work under multiple licenses. The code you release under GPL will always have the GPL applied to it, but you can alter the direction of your proprietary version and never have to release it to the community.

Re:US vs. Iraq - Software Business vs. FSF communi (1)

fatboy (6851) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474846)

and the increased control in the name of freedom (if you license your software under GPL, can you do anything you want with it? No!)

Ok, guess you are viewing it from a developer's perspective. The GPL is about giving freedom to the USER. You have the freedom as a user to inspect, repair and modify the program as you see fit. With many other licenses you may not even be able to look at the source code. (Think TCP/IP stack in Windows, it's licensed to Microsoft under BSD and then licensed again to the end user)

I'm no zealot, I think other licenses are just fine. But if you don't see that the GPL is designed to help USERS, not developers, you are missing the whole point of Free Software.

What I find confusing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474603)

What I find confusing is the list of incompatible licenses.http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list. html#GPLIncompatibleLicenses [gnu.org]

I understand why the licenses are incompatible, but I don't understand when it's an issue. Since they are listed as incompatible, does it mean I can't use code licensed under them and gpl my application? For example, if I write an application and use xerces (apache license), can I gpl my program? If so, what is the incompatibility list about? Note that my intent is not to re-license xerces under the GPL, but to license my code that uses xerces under the GPL.

Re:What I find confusing (0, Troll)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474667)

If so, what is the incompatibility list about?

It's all about FUD.

RMS never misses a chance to spread out the word that GPL is the only Way, Truth and Life if you want to produce free software.

Re:What I find confusing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6474732)

I recently had someone complaining on a message board that I was using apache and gpl code together. They were probably trying to razz me.

Re:What I find confusing (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474843)

Basically two licenses are incompatible if they say different things.

Let's take your example. You wish to link Xerces into a GPLd program. The Apache 1.1 license is incompatible with the GPL.

Firstly, let's take a look at why this is so. You can read it here [apache.org] . The FSF page says :

This is a permissive non-copyleft free software license with a few requirements that render it incompatible with the GNU GPL.

We urge you not to use the Apache licenses for software you write. However, there is no reason to avoid running programs that have been released under this license, such as Apache.

Exactly what these requirements are is not explicitly stated, but reading the license, it's probably the clause that says:

5. Products derived from this software may not be called "Apache", nor may "Apache" appear in their name, without prior written permission of the Apache Software Foundation.

When you link your program with Xerces, you are creating a derived work. That's because, your app would not function if Xerces was not present. Exactly what happens in the case of plugins, I do not know.

But let's say you linked it and redistributed it. This would cause problems, primarily because the GPL basically says that you can do anything you like with the software, but you must do FOO if you modify and redistribute a derived work.

Being able to do anything you like, includes the ability to have the word "Apache" in the name. For instance, You may want to use it to load level data for an Apache helicopter simulation using Xerces, nonetheless, you would not be allowed to have the word "Apache" in the title anywhere without written permission from one organization - which may, or may not exist when you write this software.

Obviously in this case, the GPL says you can make any changes you like, including to the title, and the Apache license says you can't. So, by combining them together, you are basically telling people two contradictory things.

It's a slightly contrived example, and the Apache license does not cause great problems. But, as far as I understand it, this sort of thing is what makes licenses incompatible.

Choosing a license to release company-owned code (1)

brettw (27391) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474643)

Currently here at the megacorp where I work, a colleague and I are talking with the legal department for releasing some of our code as open source.

We've found that while there are official guidelines for using open source software within the company, we are trailblazing as far as choosing a license to release the code under.

Has anyone else gone through this process? Can you share any information?

Re:Choosing a license to release company-owned cod (1)

acidtripp101 (627475) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474894)

Hrm... it depends on your goals in releasing the code. The BASIC (I'M NOT A LAWYER... I DON'T EVEN PLAY ONE ON TV) breakdown of the common liscences is this:
BSD: Your source code is free to include and modify in any project, but any copyright information that you put in their (who wrote it, etc) MUST stay there. (The best example of this is the TCP/IP stack in windows. It was written by the BSD team, I guess you can still find their copyright info if you look at the binaries)
Benifits of this liscence would include creating a standard (such as TCP/IP) because then everybody can include it in their works (windows, linux, OS X, etc).
GPL: The source code and any derivative works thereof, must ALWAYS (it gets sticky here... technicly you could release the same code under 2 different liscences, one branch would always be GPL the other would depend on its liscence... check out mysql's marketing to see how this might be advantagous for you) be available upon request.
The benefits of this liscence are basicly that once it enters GPL-land... it can never come out (Big Moneygrubbing Company inc. can't come along and steal your work and put it into their product without giving something (in this case, their product source code) back).

I know I'm not 100% on targed, and some BSD/GPL zealot is going to jump all over me... but that's a fairly basic breakdown.
Hope it helped.

This post paid for by my employer... bringing you slacking off since... wait... I'm fired? Damnit!

Re:Choosing a license to release company-owned cod (1)

acidtripp101 (627475) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474915)

Oh yeah, you could always just make your own liscence. Just because you don't use GPL or BSD doesn't mean you can't be open source...

but if you ask me. The two schools of OSS are: GPL and BSD (either it's always open source, or it doesn't have to be; respectivly).

Ability to follow through legally on GPL? (1)

xtrucial (674445) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474865)

Is there a documented case of someone not following the GPL (or a similar open license) and those people holding the licensed software suing (?) to enforce it?

GPL question... (1)

molo (94384) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474945)

Hi. Can someone fill me in about this GPL question? The FSF claims that dynamic linking creates a derivative work and so all libraries have to be GPL-compatible.

What causes them to form this opinion? The GPL section 2 even states the following, which seems to contradict it:

These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works.


This seems to contradict the GPL FAQ, Can I use the GPL for a plug-in for a non-free program? [gnu.org]

Is there any case law that states that dynamic linking creates a derivative work? Some kind of precident? Or is it just a fiction invented by the FSF people?

Thanks
-molo

Free (as in beer) (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 11 years ago | (#6474947)

At $500 a pop, they'd damn well better be giving out some free beer.
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