Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
Posted Sep 22, 2006 20:34 UTC (Fri) by ajross
In reply to: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
Parent article: Kernel developers' position on GPLv3
I think, though, that a lot of the resistance you are seeing here is
because this sort of logic ("we don't think software licenses should
restrict freedom") sounds very much like what we all heard 8-10 years
ago from the BSD crowd about the GPLv2. A BSD-style license, as we
all remember, is "more free" than the GPL because it doesn't have the
awful "viral" clause.
This analysis failed not only from semantic ambiguity (confusing
the "freedom of action" of a single user with what I guess would be
called the "freedom of opportunity" of the user base as a whole) but
because it was actually wrong in a practical sense. The
freedoms of the more permissive licenses led ultimately to a bunch of
firewalled work behind closed doors to which the community lacked
access (c.f. BSDI, or the vendor-enhanced X servers of the mid-90's,
or all the fancy features of early IP networking hardware). The GPLv2
kept all this stuff on "our" side of the firewall, to all of our
benefit. The end result is that Linux is a much more
successful platform in the world of shipping, revenue-producing
products; which is exactly the opposite result from what the "BSD
freedom" argument predicted.
So I guess the real question (and I swear I'm not trolling here!)
is this: how sure are you that this isn't just a reactionary response?
Are you absolutely sure the "freedoms" you're espousing here are
really the ones that are important to retain, or is it just that you
like what you have, distrust the FSF, and basically fear change?
I don't have a really clear answer myself, but I'll be honest: the
"freedom" to prevent people from running modified software on hardware
I designed to run GPL software I got from someone else doesn't really
sound like "freedom" to my ears. Like most of you, I read RMS's
pronouncements and admonitions and roll my eyes more often than not.
But I read the GPLv3 and like what I see.
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