Busy busy busybox
Posted Oct 18, 2006 11:44 UTC (Wed) by ras
Parent article: Busy busy busybox
> the attempt to address this problem in GPLv3 carries a high
> risk of splitting the development community.
After reading the 400 or so responses to the two GPLv3 articles, you would have to say: "QED". That makes the article unique (for me at least) in one way: the response to it proved its point.
The responses also gave me an insight I didn't have before. I didn't understand why the division was so ferocious. Now I do.
One side is about sharing the end result. Eg, "You can't use my software in anything and that can't be modified like my software can". Tivo, with its DRM restrictions preventing them from changing it by modifying software they wrote and own, is an anathema to them. GPLv2 was always intended to enforce their rights over their code, and the fact that it has been circumvented now by, of all things technology, is a bug - a betrayal by the very thing they were trying to share. The whole point of the "or any later version" clause was to fix bugs like this, and that is exactly what they are going to do.
The other side is only interested in protecting the software. It is all about the software. Its about writing it, but more importantly its about having lots of useful software others have written available for them to use. The GPL created this huge software commons that just gets more valuable to them over time. Whether the software can run on device X or not doesn't effect the benefit they get from it overly - the code written by Tivo is still available, and will still work on other boxes. What is important is that it becomes ubiquitous, so that no-one can economically write software without using the commons and thus will be forced to contribute back to it. The GPLv3 will eliminate an entire class of software that can be contributed back. For better or for worse, its looking increasingly likely that content the public expects to access with their computers can only be viewed with the software that is going to be eliminated. So in one foul swoop the GPLv3 may remove the bulk of the users of the software commons the public, thereby reducing its value considerably. To rub salt into the wound, the "or any later version" means that their code, code that they put their own blood and tears into, will be hi-jacked by this miss-guided enterprise.
Two view points. Both valid. Both protecting something almost sacred to their holders. Yet diametrically opposed.
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