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GPL 3.0 to Penalize Google, Amazon?

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the fine-print dept.

The Almighty Buck 582

Michael Ferris writes "Is this the start of a shakedown by the GNU folks? Michael Singer writes that Eben Moglen and the folks rewriting the GPL are looking at a proposal where companies would be required to pay money if they use GPLed software, even if they don't redistribute the software." From the article: "The current version of the GPL, which was last updated in 1991, fails to trigger the open source license if a company alters the code, but does not distribute its software through a CD or floppy disk...the [current] rule does not apply to companies that distribute software as a service, such as Google and eBay, or even dual-license companies like Sleepycat."

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Future versions of the GPL (4, Insightful)

caluml (551744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181803)

If I am ever to write something worthy of releasing to the world (and not just something I am playing around with), I will explicitly specify which version of the GPL I am releasing it under.
Call me paranoid, but I wouldn't want even the faintest chance that some nasty corporation managed to litigate itself in the position of being able to release a future GPL version, as in bold below:

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

That's handing control of the licencing of your code over to whoever is allowed to write GPLv1851, if I'm reading it correctly.

Re:Future versions of the GPL (5, Funny)

Dayze!Confused (717774) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181905)

That's handing control of the licencing of your code over to whoever is allowed to write GPLv1851, if I'm reading it correctly.

I'm worried about GPLv1984 myself.

Re:Future versions of the GPL (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181958)

Touche (with an accent (acute? grave?) on the e that I don't know how to do.).

Calm down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181943)

Corporation will be able to do anything they want with your software once its copyright expires and it falls under public domain. On a large timescale, the interval of time where the GPL is active is insignificant. The significant intervals are "software does not exist" and "public domain".

Re:Future versions of the GPL (5, Interesting)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181964)

RMS is a madman. Fortunately, he's our madman.
He needs to be watched closely (to prevent blunders like the GFDL), but, he is well-known to have good intentions.

The problem is, if something bad happens to him, it's possible that whatever members of FSF will have the deciding say will push the GPL in a completely different direction. Whoever controls the FSF, controls the vast majority of GPLed software.

I'm not paranoid enough to label FSFians as possible traitors who would follow whoever shakes the purse, hell no -- I have quite a bit of faith in them. However, they may do any modifications to the licenses of software they don't own the copyright to -- it's a huge power. It's dangerous to leave such power in the hands of people not protected by insanity.

Re:Future versions of the GPL (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182072)

Everyone thinks they have good intentions. It takes the public to stand up to them when they're wrong.

Re:Future versions of the GPL (2, Interesting)

caluml (551744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182086)

I'm not paranoid enough to label FSFians as possible traitors who would follow whoever shakes the purse, hell no

Oh, I agree completely - I don't think they'd do something like that. However, they may be forced to hand over control to another party. It's unlikely, but stranger legal things have happened.

Re:Future versions of the GPL (0)

qewl (671495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181993)

either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version

I think you misunderstand- this is at the option of the code's creator. This is there for the coder's safety and so that the GPL can be enhanced for the benefit of free software not commercialization. Read more. [eweek.com] They want to avoid future legal troubles, not control the code.

*You* misunderstand (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12182051)

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

From the first "you", you learn that "you"="code's user". It's called English reading skills.

They deliver HTML. (5, Insightful)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181806)

the [current] rule does not apply to companies that distribute software as a service, such as Google and eBay

Google and eBay distribute HTML. That HTML is created by software that uses GPL code. So if I modify a GPL Office Suite, would I have to distribute the code if I email someone a document I made with it? Seems like a bad idea, in general.

I guess people could fork the GPL2.0'd code if the software developers switched to GPL 3.0

Re:They deliver HTML. (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181843)

Google and eBay distribute HTML

Hmm. I could swear that the Google appliance in my rack, and the Google toolbar on my desktop weren't just hunks of HTML.

Re:They deliver HTML. (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181892)

the Google toolbar on my desktop

Is it shiny? How much does it weigh?

Re:They deliver HTML. (1)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181960)

Hmm. I could swear that the Google appliance in my rack, and the Google toolbar on my desktop weren't just hunks of HTML.

Google Toolbar - Not GPL.

Google appliance - By the terms of the GPL, they already have to distribute the code if they modify a GPL program. (I'm pretty sure.)

Re:They deliver HTML. (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181990)

No they have to offer you a reasonable way to get the code if they *distrubute* the changes. So under the current version of the GPL if they are shipping GPLed code on the appliance in question they have to offer you a way to get the source.

But you are basically right and the GP is clearly wrong.

Re:They deliver HTML. (5, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182042)

Has it every been proven that the google appliance is a Linux box, because Ive seen one in the flesh and played with it on a network, and it most certainly looks like a unix box of some description (nmap identified it as a FreeBSD 4 server among other things) as of 6 months ago.

Just because they use Linux in the Googleplex doesnt mean they use it everywhere.

Re:They deliver HTML. (1)

Drakonian (518722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182033)

What does that have to do with anything? Do those things use GPL code?

This doesn't sound like a good idea (5, Insightful)

dtolton (162216) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181815)

I think requiring companies to pay is a big time mistake, and to me, it
hails back to the days of the old BSD style licenses. The GPL works
so well now, precisely because it is unobtrusive. My company runs
GPL'd software because we are able to use it and make modification
without either redistributing the source code and we aren't required
to pay for that ability.

Requiring people to open all their changes or pay for them will put a
lot of businesses off when it comes to dealing with GPL'd software. I
don't think that is a good trade off to make, and I don't think it
will be healthy for the open source community in general.

A move like this will make the newer BSD style licenses and / or
licenses like the Python license much more attractive imo. Now that
open source is finally turning the corner, and solid technologies are
finally moving into the enterprise, why would we even entertain making
changes that will certainly hamper open source adoption?

This isn't a consistent position in my opinion. If you are
developing free software, it should remain free. The idea that you
can get someone hooked on software, and then pull the rug out from
under them and start charging them is ludicrous. If this were to
happen, I can honestly see a major fork in the GPL happening.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181857)

Read the article. No mention is made at all of 'paying' for the GPL, monetarily. Just perhaps forcing code distribution for code on a website.

Actually, it sort of does... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181909)

"If you look at the market, Yahoo, eBay, IBM, Amazon, Google have all sunk millions into the GPL infrastructure," Olson said. "Not only are we changing the rules, we are changing them retroactively. With the new way, it lets the customer pay with either their source code or with their wallet."

Re:Actually, it sort of does... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181938)

Darn, hit the wrong button, and bolded too much.
"If you look at the market, Yahoo, eBay, IBM, Amazon, Google have all sunk millions into the GPL infrastructure," Olson said. "Not only are we changing the rules, we are changing them retroactively. With the new way, it lets the customer pay with either their source code or with their wallet."

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181877)

don't be an idiot, who would they pay? the article is about releasing modifications. frankly, the article smells fishy, but whatever.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (4, Insightful)

gclef (96311) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181893)

I'll go farther: This is an incredibly stupid idea. It will only convince businesses that the Linux/free software folks really are the communist, business-hating zealots that they're painted as.

If you're not distributing your work, there's no reason why you should be forced to open your code or pay some silly fee.

I hope this whole story is a troll...I really do.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12182015)

It will only convince businesses that the Linux/free software folks really are the communist, business-hating zealots that they're painted as.

Um, you mean they are not?

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (1)

jjoyce (4103) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182040)

It also seems impossible to enforce.

if i dont distribute the stuff i make with autocad (0)

hildi (868839) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182074)

should i still have to buy a 6000 dollar license for it? you fucking hypocritical douchebag?

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (5, Interesting)

pmike_bauer (763028) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182017)

"The idea that you can get someone hooked on software, and then pull the rug out from under them and start charging them is ludicrous."

These implications of the proposed GPL3 are certainly troubling. How is this different from "evil commercial vendor lock-in"?

I'm not trolling...just hoping that this interpretation of GPL 3 is wrong.

Re:This doesn't sound like a good idea (1)

martok (7123) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182053)

You wrote
My company runs GPL'd software because we are able to use it and make modification without either redistributing the source code and we aren't required to pay for that ability.

I understand what you're saying. However, how does that benefit the open-source community or the author of the GPL software you are using. Though my company uses lgpl software without distributing the code that uses it, when we make a modification to a gpl program, a patch gets submitted to the author even if it is for internal use. It isn't required but it contributes positively to a piece of software in which we obviously have an interest.

commercial freeloaders (2, Insightful)

bug1 (96678) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182071)

The buisness world is on a very good wicket. They are getting us to make the tools they use to enslave us.

Just becasue something is free as in beer doesnt mean it is devoid of all responsability from the users behalf.

If a company's buisness model is dependent on free software then its in their companies best itnerest to be very generous to the programers who maintain the software they require.

It sounds like the GPL v3.0 is trying to make the commercial world a little bit more responsable.

FSF? (3, Funny)

panxerox (575545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181825)

Shouldent that be FAIBFSF? Free as in beer free software foundation?

Re:FSF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181957)

Fascist Software Foundation?
Fiendish Software Foundation?
FUBAR Software Foundation?
Feeble Software Foundation?
Fundless Software Foundation?
Fumbling Software Foundation?
Fudd (as in Elmer) Software Foundation?
Flat-broke Software Foundation?
Foundation-funded Software Foundation?

They just CANNOT STAND IT that anybody makes money on software. Or on ANYTHING related to software, like software as a service. Anybody, any software, anywhere any time.

Re:FSF? (3, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182035)

That's GNU/Beer to you, pal.

Bad, bad, bad! (4, Insightful)

TinyManCan (580322) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181828)

I _REALLY_ hope this idea falls flat on its face. These companies are the brightest hope for Free Software. Screwing them over is incredibly idiotic.

Re:Bad, bad, bad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12182061)

I think this particular idea is a pretty bad idea. But I sure wish Amazon and Google would invest more time and money into the infrastructure they have basically been handed on a silver platter.

From what I know, Amazon keeps one kernel developer on staff, and that's the only Open Source development they do at all. Despite the fact the company is run on Linux and an internally modified variant of Apache.

Who what when where? (2, Insightful)

n1ywb (555767) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181831)

Pay money to whome? When? How?

I think this proposal is crazy. If you use software as a part of running your business, that software is benefiting you and indirectly providing services to your customers, even if they never see it. So where do you draw the line?

Re:Who what when where? (5, Interesting)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181889)

Why you'd pay it to the FSF, of course. They'd administer the money, funding projects as they see fit. Kind of a Politburo for the Software Community.

BTW, when does Stallman's Macarthur Foundation Grant expire?

For the humor impaired: It's a joke son.

Re:Who what when where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181987)

"Kind of a Politburo for the Software Community."

Or perhaps more appropriately, like the Soviet Writer's Union which features in Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita".

Re:Who what when where? (5, Funny)

PHPgawd (744675) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181965)

The payment model could be based on a simple royalty each time each subroutine is accessed. The easiest way to implement this would be an opaque wrapper on all GLPed APIs, which in turn could be easily implmented in a new version of gcc.

The wrapper code could then count the number of calls, the function name called, and the company calling them, and this in turn could append a text file that is stored somewhere and automatically sent once a month to the FSF which will then use the file to send the company a bill. The FSF would then distrubute the money to each of the authors of the given API calls.

I will volunteer to make the necessary modifications to gcc. This of course will require all GPL'd code to call my APIs, which will of course be the first to implement this new system.

Let's get more detailed (4, Insightful)

qewl (671495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181834)

But who gets paid the money and who determines how much? Can rates increase as GPL'd software develops? Is money paid to Richard Stahlman [sic] to distribute through the FSF? Seems an easy way to get around this anyway would just be to have small closed-source scripts that would only be called from the GPL'd code. After all, what's wrong with that? (so long as they're not redistributing their code, just letting use of it as a service)

Im speechless..... (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181837)

"If you look at the market, Yahoo, eBay, IBM, Amazon, Google have all sunk millions into the GPL infrastructure," Olson said. "Not only are we changing the rules, we are changing them retroactively. With the new way, it lets the customer pay with either their source code or with their wallet."

Basically, in any other language: 'Now youve had time to build a good infrastructure on the current rules, prepare to be shafted'. If this comes to pass, then in my mind they are no better than Microsoft changing EULA terms with a service pack. Now that there are major companies with an infrastructure built on GPL software, the FSF are looking to essentially move the goalposts and if this is applied retroactively to current code (which from the articles wording I think it will be) then I personally think that its going to do more harm to the GPL community than benefit it in code donations as companies scramble to move away.

Please someone tell me that they cant do this retroactively, that its impossible under the current GPLv2 terms.

Re:Im speechless..... (1)

maxpublic (450413) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181971)

Please someone tell me that they cant do this retroactively, that its impossible under the current GPLv2 terms.

You can't, at least in the U.S. If you specify certain terms of copyright you have no right in the future to restrict those terms further - period. You can impose stricter copyright terms on new products, or new versions of products, but not on the products released under the older copyright.

Once a copyright is specified, you can only loosen the restrictions, not tighten them. Unless, of course, you have a clause allowing just that in the older copyright (which the GPL does not).

Max

Re:Im speechless..... (5, Informative)

kbmccarty (575443) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181980)

Please someone tell me that they cant do this retroactively, that its impossible under the current GPLv2 terms.

Your wish is my command. If you look at source code to any GPL-licensed program, you will see something like:

// This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
// modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License
// as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2
// of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

Hence any code that was licensed under the GPL before version 3 is released may still be used under the terms of the GPL version 2, at the option of the recipient, not the author. Actually, a number of current projects, including Linux, are licensed GPL-2 only and may be impossible ever to convert to a higher version (permission would be required from too many people to reasonably track down). Hope that helps.

Re:Im speechless..... (1)

kcomplex (414253) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181986)

Code licensed under GPLv2 can be used with the GPLv3 instead, but it doens't have to be so. This isn't like pulling the rug out from everyone as changing a EULA with a service pack is.

Re:Im speechless..... (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181991)

They can't do it retroactively.

The current licenses say, and I quote:

"you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version."

Even assuming every open-source project immediately changes that to "version 3 or later", the source that was available *before* the change is still licensed under version 2. The company won't be able to upgrade to later v3-licensed versions, of course - but they will be able to fork it just before the change point.

This is still similar to changing EULA terms with a service pack, but it's not quite as bad . . . not that most people will see it that way, and rightly so. This is a blisteringly stupid move for any group whose goal isn't "let's force all software to be free". (Which is, of course, their goal.)

One would think (1)

saitoh (589746) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181844)

That if you are interested in seeing the software spread and be used, that you wouldnt do something like this. Kinda like biting the hand that feeds you.

I know that if I ran a company and I was compliant with a license, and the license changed to where I was penalized, I'd be less interested in using that software, but thats me.

(no, I didnt read the article)

Horrible implications. (5, Insightful)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181850)

Just the implication of this terribly and inaccurately worded headline will be devastating to open source. This article is intentional flamebait. Zonk, please try to be a bit more responsible with the articles you post.

Regardless of what GPL 3.0 turns out to be, developers are not forced to use it. They can continue to use GPL 2 if they wish, just as they can choose to use a BSD license, Apache license, creative commons, or any other license of their choosing. Furthermore, software that has already been released under GPL 2 cannot be retracted, it remains available under GPL 2 forever.

Re:Horrible implications. (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182083)

Not exactly. If you haven't explicitly stated that the code is only to be licenesed under version 2, then the licensee has the option to use any later version of the GPL they like based on clause of the GPL that states the licensee has the option to do so.

Yes...PLEASE! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181852)

Such a clause will really ensure BSD never dies.

Re:Yes...PLEASE! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12182057)

Well, the BSD license at least.. it will be the last little reminder.

Ingenous (1, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181854)

Ingenous, charge people who don't redistribute free software! I can't think of anything Microsoft has considered better news in a long, long time. Free software is no longer free. It's sorta free, well could be free, under the right circumstances is free. Ah fuck it, let me get a lawyer....

Just as bad as proprietary document formats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181860)

Think of Google as just one gigantic document that only it controls. I'm very glad the GPL is addressing these large "networks". After all, the "Internet" is all about distributed, interconnected nodes based on open standards and code. Google is violating that spirit. It's architecture is almost identical to the way that AOL federates all its users.

Good idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181863)

Make google pay because they don't do anything good for anyone with that software they use.

Submitter mischaracterises the change. (5, Informative)

vyrus128 (747164) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181873)

The submitter isn't clear about the fact that this would not apply to everyone who changes software for commercial use but does not redistribute. This applies ONLY when "redistribution" of the software sort-of-occurs, because the software is used to provide a service. For example: any open source software Google uses in its search engine interface does not count as "redistributed", even though it _interacts_ with users of Google, because no actualy _binaries_ were shared with those users. For another example, if I modified the GIMP and then let people use my modified version over the Internet, but not on their machines, I would not have "redistributed" my modifications. This is considered by many to be a "loophole" to be closed.

Re:Submitter mischaracterises the change. (1)

argan0n (684665) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181970)

Indeed, This has been my cursory interpretation as well. Not that the most of the knee-jerk reactions around here will take note of it.

Wow...not very free, is it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12182027)

You know, I just have to say it. Following all those conditions and restrictions and trying to determine if I'm violating an intellectual property license or not doesn't seem very "free" to me.

This isn't why I got into OSS. I'm a programmer, not a GPL intellectual property lawyer.

Re:Submitter mischaracterises the change. (1)

zzen (190880) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182062)

Right. So we need to close a loophole in Apache, BIND, Postfix & ProFTPd (provided they were all under GPL, which they are not). Since all these actually interact with the users, right?

Well, if you consider this a loophole, I suggest you go to hell. You are killing the internet community right at it's root.

Re:Submitter mischaracterises the change. (4, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182078)

Right, so for example, a friend of mine works for a financial firm which he reports makes use of (and even contributes to) OSS projects. That firm provides a service based on these products (both electronic and off-line transactions that they perform as part of their core business). If they attempt to make this retroactive, I assure you that the world will come crashing down on the FSF. Thousands of firms around the country will sue them OVER NIGHT, and honestly, I'd be more likely to donate to the defense of those firms than the FSF (regardless of the fact that I'm a huge fan of the GPLv2).

This is deeply irresponsible. Any project that ships software under the GPL is going to be spinning their wheels for months over this, and the Microsofts of the world just got a huge weapon to use against OSS usage. After all, now they can say that using GPL software not only costs you in terms of the usual TCO metrics, but there's a potentially hidden and as-yet-unknown cost that can be applied to retroactively!

Grrr!

Where did this mindset come from? (4, Insightful)

karmaflux (148909) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181875)

Why is everyone always saying "Software should be free, unless you're a business, in which case, get your checkbook"? The GPL shouldn't mandate anything except that code be made available. I think corporations should be entitled to the same rights and privileges as private citizens.

Re:Where did this mindset come from? (4, Insightful)

Bloater (12932) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182000)

> I think corporations should be entitled to the same rights and privileges as private citizens.

Like voting? And do corporations get the same negative sides as private citizens, like going to jail? If you won't send a company to jail, and give it a vote, you can't equate them to private citizens

Netcraft confirms... ummm... (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181876)

... that the BSD-license paranoids might have been right?

Ooops.

Bad idea, Eben. It might make a good optional license (the Greater GPL?) but that's not something for the core GPL.

GPL GNOMES (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181878)

1. Release open source.
2. Change License.
3. Profit!!

And Google will just do nothing. (1)

Raelus (859126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181881)

Nah, planning appears to only be in the preliminary stages at this point. I don't think companies will stand by and let the GPL screw them over. I'll wait until they release something concrete about the new GPL.
Not that it'll stop slashdot's trolls and flamebaiters from making snide remarks.

make it revenue/profit based (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181891)


attached to something like the stock index or currency market to allow for inflation, so basically if you are a multi million dollar company who use GPL to make millions more in profit then you pay for it

this will be a mistake (1)

sfcat (872532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181894)

Is opensource about preventing business? Or is it about making software that comes with the source so bugs can be fixed by smart people? This seems like sour grapes to me. Opensource began b/c people had problems with pieces of software and wanted to fix them. Well what is the difference between someone at google and RMS in the 70's? In my mind, nothing b/c RMS was getting paid (McArthur schoolarship I think) and the guy at google, who is just trying to get his work done, is getting paid by google. This seems simply anti-business to me. It will hurt projects that decide to use this license.

Re:this will be a mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12182031)

You have just figured out that the FSF is anti-business? Where have you been all these years? (And yes, the irony of RMS getting funded by (gasp) a foundation endowed as a result of (gasp) a commercial business, and the crowning irony of the foundation being tax-exempt, and thus subsidized by tax-paying businesses, does not escape me.)

April 1st (1)

G00F (241765) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181902)

Isn't this 7 days late?

I mean, sure, they don't distribute all the work they do, but what they do is a trade secret, and not copywrited.

I think they need to strengthen the GPL more before adding more to it. I mean cisco and lots of other vendors sells products running GPL software (like linux) and there is no way to get the source code.

Call it FUD (4, Insightful)

thephotoman (791574) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181903)

Frankly, I don't think this is even the case. Yes, the FSF has been talking about making a GPL 3.0 for a while now, but the proposal they're offering makes no sense.

The problem is that it infringes on one of the four freedoms, specifically the freedom to use. If such a provision were to find its way into any license that made it so that companies and individuals were not subject to the same terms, the license would be both discriminatory and non-free.

Simply put, this is somebody making FUD about the GPL. Don't buy into it for a second.

The companies first.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181906)

so how long before the consumers is getting charged?

Ex post facto? (1)

ParadoxicalPostulate (729766) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181914)


What about ex post facto [cornell.edu] concerns?

Or are those peculiar to things like state Constitutions?

I think most people understand what I'm trying to say already, but let me elaborate for those who don't:

Suppose the GPL is updated along those lines. What grounds can they find to charge Google and Amazon for past violation?

Or maybe they would charge for continued use in the future?

sounds silly to me (1)

scenestar (828656) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181916)

assuming OS = free, why should devellopers have to pay for the license? Sure , i can understand for an LGPL license, but GPL should stay as it is. Besides, The entire batch of OS licenses need an overhaul.

Sensationalism at its finest (1, Interesting)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181918)

looking at a proposal where companies would be required to pay money if they use GPLed software,

Wow, talk about sensationalism. Or maybe I can't read. But I did RTFA, and no where did I see mention of anybody having to pay anything for using GPLed software.

Instead, what I did find was an article which seems to imply that the FSF is trying to further alienate themselves from the real world by effectively prohibiting GPLed software from being used by for-profit organizations, irregardless of whether or not modified software is distributed. Thank God for alternative OSI-certified licenses that promote the continued development of open source software without the political trappings of the GPL.

Re:Sensationalism at its finest (2, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182001)

This quote from the article:

"If you look at the market, Yahoo, eBay, IBM, Amazon, Google have all sunk millions into the GPL infrastructure," Olson said. "Not only are we changing the rules, we are changing them retroactively. With the new way, it lets the customer pay with either their source code or with their wallet."

SUCKERS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181921)

This is just speculative FUD. RMS and Co are only concerned about the patent nonsense we are having to condent with.

Get a grip you paranoid people!

nothing to see here... move along! (1)

awasim (862787) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181925)

How would people decide how much the changes made to software is worth? What are the chances that someone will try to extort money from companies who use GPL 3.0 software that they wrote? They have a couple of years to iron out those questions, I'm sure they will work out the details. Releasing this article at this point just seems foolish to me.

Free men write Free code... (1)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181926)

free the GPL free yourselves.

It's not in print yet... it doesn't exist (4, Insightful)

Cylix (55374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181936)

I heard the next version of the GPL will require everyone to throw pies at Bill Gates.

At least, that's what I heard anyway.

When whatever changes come up, they will be reviewed and we can rant and rave about it at that time.

Nothing is founded, no concrete written agendas were tossed out by the article and all we have is a hypothetical situation that would be very different from the current model.

Like many have said and will say, it's usually a good idea to specify the version of the GPL in which you release software. Unless you really don't care what kind of changes are made at a later date.

I'm not saying all of this isn't going to come true, but at this juncture we could very well be required to throw pies to comply with the next redistribution agreement.

THERE IS NO MENTION OF MONEY IN THE ARTICLE (0, Troll)

dynamo (6127) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181947)

I would like to think that the story submitter would have read the article, but nope.

Re:THERE IS NO MENTION OF MONEY IN THE ARTICLE (1)

dmh20002 (637819) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182075)

"If you look at the market, Yahoo, eBay, IBM, Amazon, Google have all sunk millions into the GPL infrastructure," Olson said. "Not only are we changing the rules, we are changing them retroactively. With the new way, it lets the customer pay with either their source code or with their wallet."

Hmm... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181948)

Do we want to trust a source that can't even bother to check their articles for typos?

Who is Richard Stahlman???

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12182026)

More like
Richard Stalin

Who is John Galt???

Makes sense to avoid leeches labor (1)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181953)

This is a bad move for propagating linux, but it makes sense. Right now, a company can benefit from Open Source projects without having to give anything back to the community because they do not have to share their innovations as long as they do not distribute the code.

Thus, Open Source code essentially becomes is the product of free labor for corporations.

By altering the license, those who make $ off of Open Source should pay for the otherwise free labor of others.

However, doing this will kill Linux support by companies, just when it is becoming mainstream. In the long run, Linux's success is based on the fact that it promotes innovation through the GPL. If we want Linux to spread like Paris Hilton, we need to make sure this idea is killed.

Don't get Dramatic (3, Insightful)

MattW (97290) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181955)

Moglen has stated: "I do not believe that we will be reach consensus on this front, so I believe the license will have to accommodate options as to the question of Web services, but this must be squared with the ideological pursuit of freedom". [ref. [eweek.com] ]

And frankly, it's not really a loophole. Web services are not distributing software, they're running a service using software. That's obviously open to interpretation, but I haven't ever heard anyone distribute under the GPL and complain about someone using their software as a web service. There has been at least one derivative license which has addressed this issue.

In the end, GPL 3.0 will likely provide an optional provision which will 'trigger' GPL source distribution requirements for a web service, at the option of the copyright holder; that is really the best choice. Rather than getting into an enormous philosophical debate over whether the idea is "good" or "bad" or "punitive" or whatever, let's simply have two clear licenses and give the option to the copyright holders to decide under what terms they will license their property.

communist (1)

kirkb (158552) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181969)

A common criticism of the GPL (and of RMS's philosophies in general) is that it seems so "communist". Modifying the GPL to include a "redistribution of wealth" scheme will probably make it more difficult to argue against such accusations.

Pot meet kettle (1)

KenFury (55827) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181976)

My god, I hate it when HP,MS or whomever does this. Now the GPL goes this way, UGH. It's not the fact that they are changing the GPL, that's bad enough but the fact they are retroactivly changing is what makes it so bad. This is the kind of shit the the bad boys do. I hope this idea goes no where or you can see any the profesional devs go elsewhere really quickly.

Ruins free online games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181978)

Imagine the problems this provision would cause for free online games such as MUDS and MMORPGs. The original DIKU mud license permitted private modifications but prohibited charging for use. GPL presently permits both. Allowing private modifications encouraged implementors to develop their own unique worlds which included special original game code that players could only learn about from within the game. This new provision would mean that anyone playing the game would have to be given access to all of the modified source code. This make cheating very easy and take away much of the fun. Probably noone would use this new GPL to develope a free online game.

Michael Singer's Customer List (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181981)

ka-ching ! ! !
  • Airbus uses Berkeley DB for an application to display aircraft technical data.
  • Akamai uses Berkeley DB in its global content delivery network.
  • Alcatel, one of the world's leading telecommunications companies, uses Berkeley DB in its router and network management services products.
  • Amazon.com uses Berkeley DB as a fast cache for several critical parts of its customer-facing e-commerce website.
  • A9.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, uses Berkeley DB as the foundation for the HistoryServer in its e-commerce search application.
  • AOL uses Berkeley DB for search tool meta-data and other services.
  • Apple uses Berkeley DB in the Mac OS X Panther Server.
  • Ask Jeeves uses Berkeley DB to provide an easy-to-use tool for searching the Internet.
  • AT & T uses Berkeley DB for network provisioning.
  • Autodesk uses Berkeley DB XML in its market leading MapGuide GIS platform.
  • Boeing uses Berkeley DB for its Interim Visualization Tool for aircraft software development.
  • British Telecom (BT) uses Berkeley DB in its popular Rocking Frog search engine.
  • Cambridge Research uses Berkeley DB in its Powerscene 3D visualization technology.
  • Cisco Systems uses Berkeley DB to provide name and address service in its high-performance networking products.
  • Critical Path uses Berkeley DB in its mail and directory services server products.
  • ECHO uses Berkeley DB as the storage engine for its MerchantAmerica payment processing solutions, including check processing for on-line merchants.
  • EMC, the world leader in enterprise storage solutions, uses Berkeley DB in its Celerra and Centera line of products.
  • Enterasys uses Berkeley DB to track device and network state and routing information in their high-performance optical network switches.
  • Ford uses Berkeley DB to authenticate partners who access Ford's Web applications.
  • Fujitsu uses Berkeley DB in its search engine product.
  • Google uses Berkeley DB High Availability for Gmail, Google Accounts and the Google search appliance.
  • Groove Networks, founded by the creator of Lotus Notes, uses Berkeley DB in its peer-to-peer collaboration software.
  • Harris uses Berkeley DB in its broadband wireless access system.
  • Hewlett Packard uses Berkeley DB in several products, including storage, security and wireless software.
  • Hitachi uses Berkeley DB in its directory services server product.
  • Hyperion uses Berkeley DB in parts of its business intelligence platform.
  • Interwoven, an enterprise content management company, uses Berkeley DB in its structured search engine.
  • IONA uses Berkeley DB High Availability across its Orbix, Artix, and Orbacus product lines.
  • Jabber uses Berkeley DB in its instant messaging software.
  • KnowNow, a Kleiner Perkins company, uses Berkeley DB for its real-time application and information sharing product.
  • LogicaCMG uses Berkeley DB within its mobile messaging and gateway products.
  • Lucent uses Berkeley DB for its Messaging Link gateway for voice and email messages.
  • Mercury Interactive uses Berkeley DB in Mercury Quality Center and Mercury Performance Center.
  • Micromuse uses Berkeley DB in its Netcool network services management product.
  • Mitel, a leading Canadian telecommunications supplier, uses Berkeley DB in its enterprise voice over IP routing products.
  • Motorola uses Berkeley DB in the A760 smart phone and its Wireless Network Gateway.
  • Openwave Systems uses Berkeley DB in its messaging and mobile Internet software for communication service providers.
  • RSA Security relies on Berkeley DB for digital certificate management in its Keon product line.
  • Samsung uses Berkeley DB for its digital video recorder.
  • Sendmail, uses Berkeley DB for critical address storage and lookup in its Mail Transfer Agent (MTA), which carries about three quarters of the world's Internet email traffic.
  • Sony Electronics uses Berkeley DB for the Electronic Programming Guide for set top boxes.
  • Sun Microsystems uses Berkeley DB in a broad range of products, including directory, messaging, calendar, portal and identity servers.
  • Symantec uses Berkeley DB in its enterprise intrusion detection and messaging security products.
  • Tellabs uses Berkeley DB in its telecommunications element management system.
  • TIBCO uses Berkeley DB in its publish/subscribe enterprise middleware product.
  • VERITAS uses Berkeley DB in its VEA module for the application framework for storage-related entities.
  • Yahoo! uses Berkeley DB in its Finance property.

Software for the Rest of Us (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181982)

That new constraint would be a totally different principle for the license. The current principle is that if someone gets an executable from you, they also can get the source code, just as you got the source code from which you made your executable. Just using the source code, or customizing it for your own use, doesn't require distributing the source. The new principle would be requiring anyone who customized the source to release all customizations.

This will stop many programmers, many of the best programmers, from using source code under that license. We could no longer keep any of the value of the software we created to ourselves. What is a "web service"? Is my email-processing CGI a "web service"? Any software in the same workflow as any other software under this license would have to be released. So many developers won't make small customizations, because that would force us into the source code distribution business, with all its overhead. Or we might just ignore that provision, or the whole license, en masse.

The GPL is successful because it is a fair contract, even though it's revolutionary. Its enforcement teeth are rarely tested, because it's so close to an equitable agreement among peers. Which has resulted in lots of value contributed by profit-driven organizations, despite the claims of many that the license is anticapitalist. Upping the ante, to require private customizations to be published, could stop the rising tide of acceptance that is pushing GPL to be the default, and any proprietary license to be radical. And then the caution it would inspire: investing in GPL'd software might force acceptance of ever-more demanding licenses, like a GPL4.0 that required redistribution of even software that wasn't changed at all, just to get users "to pull their weight".

The GPL2.0 isn't broken. Let's not "fix it" in a way that could destroy its success, and our chances to benefit from one another's work without onerous burdens.

Effect on personal modifications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181985)

I oppose a change to the GPL which requires modified, but undistributed, code to be bound by the GPL. I am a strong believer in the philosophy that if I legally possess something, be it hardware or software, I should be able to examine, disassemble, modify, and use it any way that I see fit (within legal - not contractual - limits).
Car companies can't prevent me from modifying my car: why should a software company prevent me from modifying my software?

Note the words: (1)

Quixote (154172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181988)

they're looking at a proposal...

They are just looking at it; just like they might be, for example, looking at a proposal to charge $699/CPU (dammit, why does that sound familiar?).

If Google (for example) distributes GPLed software in their Appliance, then that is, by definition, redistribution and hence they must release the source to the customer of the said box.

On the other hand, if Google uses GPLed software to provide a service, then I see no need for them to go about distributing the source too.

All of this uncertainty is just more fuel to Microshaft's FUD-machine, that GPL is baaaaaad.

Just like SCO (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12181989)

Congratulations. The new GPL appears to demand money for free services in a fashion similar to SCO.

Tell me again why RMS's extreme ideals are a good thing for the FOSS movement? This isn't freedom.

I thought we were against intellectual property anyway? In that sense, the GPL doesn't even hold water anyway.

Head...exploding...so many contradictions...

GPL = Free? (1)

boringgit (721801) | more than 9 years ago | (#12181999)

Sorry if I need to put in simple terms what others are no doubt able to express in a far more eloquent fashion.

but...To all intents and purposes..

GPL = Free

This is why people give to it, this is why people use it.

This is a sensitive time, muddy the waters even slightly and the tremendous growth in both use and acceptance of Open Source could be undone overnight. Right now I know that GPL means I pay nothing - if I may have to pay money, I may as well go to M$ - at least I know how much they will charge me.....

not about money (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182002)

The linked article makes no mention of paying money.

The issue is about distributing software changes, not about paying anyone money.

In the Old Days, it was largely true that to use software you or your organization had to have a copy of it. The GPL mandated that if someone gave you a copy, they had to give you source; therefore other then a few outlying cases, if you used GPLed software you had access to source. It's proved to be a smashingly good idea.

But in this brave new world of the internets, it is becoming much more common to use GPLed software without having a copy yourself.

The question is therefore how to update the GPL to promote and preserve people's right to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve [fsf.org] the software.

Consider: how do we preserve your right to keep running the software if the remote service provider can change it, or stop offering the service?

Damn Commies (0)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182005)

This is perhaps the first time I have ever heard something about the GPL that could actually justify the whole "commie" tag it sometimes gets. Communism, forced sharing with the community. I'm pro open source, I'm also a strident anti-communist. The melding of these two things distubs me greatly. Open source has made huge strides in many sectors because of the GPL, that you could take the code and use it. Unless you redistrubeted the code, you could do what you want with it. They want to chage this, they are idiots.

A lot of organizations out there would scrap their entire open source infrastructure in a heartbeat if they thought this would come to pass. From military applications to enterprise systems for banks, it would face wholesale expulsion. What else are they going to try and do with it, force my vote in the next election? Leave politics out of my software licenses please.

I wanna be like SCO (1)

Desert Raven (52125) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182007)

Sounds like the folks at GNU are trying to pick up on Darl's strategy at SCO.

The whole point of OS is to make it a community project. In the case of most big projects, there are so many contributors that compensating all of them fairly would be nearly impossible. So again, the question is asked, who does the money go to?

I've licensed things under GPL before, I did so with the absolute expectation that I would never be monetarily compensated for it, regardless of who used it. I did NOT do it so someone else could profit from it by shaking down end-users.

In my mind, it doesn't matter if Google is profiting by using Linux to provide content on their servers, or if Joe Sixpack is profiting by creating artwork with GIMP on his desktop. They both have every right to do so.

in the end it's always about money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12182010)

even for that commie RMS...

Is information free or not? (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182041)

The entire basis of copyright is that information should not be free and that the creator/owner of information should have the right to charge what they want for copies of their creation. In contrast, the OSS movement argues against this on the basis of moral error (information should be free/not owned), impracticality (technology means that information wants to be free despite owner's wishes), or alternative business model (information is offered for free, but service is not).

I can see that Google and others have gotten tremendous value from the labor of others and GPL would like a cut of the action. But GPL can't have it both ways. Either the information is free (including Google's freedom to earn great profits from it) or information is not free and information has owners who can use copyright/licenses to extract profits from the information.

HTML as derived work? (1)

dmh20002 (637819) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182045)

TFA is a little skimpy, i guess since they are still working the issue. I don't fully understand what it is trying to say.

What does 'distribute software as a service' mean in this context?

Is it that the GPL will say that the HTML/javascript web pages that Google serves up are derived works of the underlying (modified by Google) GPL'ed software? The underlying GPL'ed server binaries aren't sent out to the client. In effect, do they want to say some types of output of GPL software is a derived work?

Or is it more straighforward thing kind of like BitKeeper. You can use our stuff for free as long as the use is noncommercial, but if you make money off of it, you need to pay? Regardless of whether you modify it or not?

Anyone got an explanation?

Pay to whom? (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182047)

I have a small but nice piece of GPL code out there that I do not want to get paid for, neither do I want it to be used by people that give their clients less freedom than I did when I decided to distribute it.

I mean, it's out there for anyone to use gratis, however it does not mean that I am allowing anybody to pimp it, that is why GPL2.

Jihad (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12182054)

I want to see someone defend both this empire-building agressive new GPL license burden, and deny the claims that Linux extremists threaten their own success.

Google already violates the current GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12182059)

The Google Appliance [google.com] I got has a modified flavor of RedHat GNU/Linux including FSF controlled works such as bash and glibc. They provide no written offer of source code and fail to honor any requests for redistribution of the source code.

Before trying to get Google to honor additional requirements, why doesn't the FSF consider enforcing the requirements they already have in the current GPL?

Frist Pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12182064)

Frist Pist
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