What those "power plays" gave you
Posted Oct 18, 2006 17:59 UTC (Wed) by JoeBuck
In reply to: Freedoms granted by the GPLvX
Parent article: FSF should separate GPLv3 changes (Linux.com)
When Mike Tiemann wrote the first implementation of GNU C++, his employer claimed rights to the code and their lawyers were investigating some kind of "user does the link" trick to allow them to sell the code as proprietary software, even though it was a GCC derivative. The FSF pushed back and let it be known that there would be legal action. The result is that the company gave up and allowed Tiemann to contribute the code to the FSF. If this hadn't happened, there would be no GNU C++ compiler, or there would be a greatly inferior one (to get the compiler in the shape it is in today required hundreds of man-years of paid labor, and that work wouldn't have been done if corporate lawyers had succeeded in undermining the GPL). There would be no KDE.
When Steve Jobs ran NeXT, they tried the same thing with the Objective-C compiler they built on top of gcc; here the user-does-the-link hack was easier since Objective-C adds far less to C than C++ does. Again, thanks to a behind-the-scenes power play, there's a free Objective-C compiler and a GNUstep environment for those who liked NeXT's stuff.
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