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Seriously - the "copyleft prevents forks" is one of the most stupid Open Source myths out there.
Interview with Andrew Tanenbaum (LinuxFr.org)
Posted Nov 18, 2011 15:19 UTC (Fri) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
Just like we have hundreds of forks of PostgreSQL, X.org, SQLite, Vorbis or any other BSD or MIT-licensed software, right?
How would you actually know? That's the point you're missing here.
Posted Nov 18, 2011 17:31 UTC (Fri) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
Should Richard Hipp care about all the sqlite forks embedded in proprietary devices all over the planet? They're not hurting anything.
(note for license anglers: I am not saying that MIT is better than GPL or anything like that. Both have their uses. I'm just wondering why people would want to follow every closed or inconsequential fork of their code)
Posted Nov 18, 2011 23:52 UTC (Fri) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
You can't know. Why would you want to?
You can't know. That's the point. Why would you want to? To put your finger on the amount of effort going into forks that won't benefit the community.
Of course, people can fork copyleft-licensed code - it's the privilege everyone who gets the code has, after all - and in the event of that code reaching the community, it's possible that the community just decides that it isn't worth incorporating, but at least that avenue of potential incorporation of the work exists.
In general, the incentive to maintain forks is dependent on an organisation's size and willingness to collaborate. If you're a small organisation who doesn't want to share your code, you might favour permissive licences, but you're going to be kept busy maintaining your private changes on top of the community's work. Thus, enlightened organisations try and share changes even with permissively-licensed projects that don't insist on such sharing.
In contrast, large organisations who don't want to share can simply pick up a project and outrun the community by throwing developers at the code. When the licence permits the ability to maintain a private fork, a significant fork of the original project is thereby established. And that avenue of potential incorporation is removed, so there is nothing the wider community can do about the situation.
Posted Nov 19, 2011 1:48 UTC (Sat) by elanthis (guest, #6227)
A company using permissively licensed code can either be a good community member or it can be a jerk. A company using GPL licensed code can either be a good community member or it can be a jerk. Hell, a company using non-FOSS software can still be a good community member to the best of its ability (based on the specific terms of the software's license), or it can be a jerk.
If you want to argue that the GPL is important because it guarantees you can get the code to share free copies or make critical fixes or just research implementation, that's cool and makes plenty of sense. If you want to argue that the GPL in any way forces companies to meaningfully contribute back, you haven't paid even the slightest bit of attention to any major GPL-licensed project.
GPL is important because it keeps people honest...
Posted Nov 19, 2011 9:45 UTC (Sat) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
Companies fork the GPL all the time for various reasons. But if something in their fork is interesting and popular then someone else can bring this piece upstream. And this happens quite often (a lot of Linux drivers were created this way: initial awful driver by vendor was redone by someone else).
BSD license gives you no such advantage and GPL license with CLA does not give you such advantage. Ironically enough highly praised dual licensing model works as poisonous pill here. It's not zero-sum game because copies sold under proprietary license at least pay for a development. The worst kind is GPL with CLA and no dual-licensing. That's why even FSF only does this sparingly...
Posted Nov 19, 2011 17:03 UTC (Sat) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
If you want to argue that the GPL in any way forces companies to meaningfully contribute back, you haven't paid even the slightest bit of attention to any major GPL-licensed project.
I didn't argue that it "forces" anyone to do anything. That's why I wrote that an "avenue of potential incorporation" of modifications to a project exists, as opposed to a mechanism to compel organisations to contribute changes upstream.
And much of your response actually restates what I wrote, in fact, which I suppose I should take as some kind of compliment.
Posted Nov 18, 2011 15:28 UTC (Fri) by andresfreund (subscriber, #69562)
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