The value of middlemen
Posted Aug 12, 2004 19:32 UTC (Thu) by mongre26
In reply to: The value of middlemen
Parent article: The value of middlemen
It is not Suse's fault that cdrecord users contact the author instead of him.
I dubious of Mr. Schilling's claim that Suse is in violation of the GPL as the result of the actions of users. Namely contacting Mr. Schilling. Particularly when the GPL itself says there is no warranty.
I have to investigate this more in depth, but I am gathering that there is more here than just people contacting Mr. Schilling for support for versions that are patched by Suse. More specifically that the distributors have had to apply patches (like DVD burning) to their cdrecord because the author has refused to do so himself.
Given it is mentioned in the article that Mr. Schilling actually sells a commercial Linux DVD burning tool based on cdrecord I see a definite conflict of interest here.
GPL and Open Source software is a two way street. Authors produce works, people write patches and submit them back. The system works best when there is two way movement of code. What it looks like from here is that Mr. Schilling has set up a roadblock and only allows those pieces of code to be applied to his version of cdrecord that do not conflict with the functionality of his commerical proprietary cdrecord version. What Mr. Schilling aparently did not realize is that Opensource has a way of routing around roadblocks and this is exactly what has happened with Suse and other distributors.
Since Mr. Schilling was not able to or willing to accept key patches from others to add DVD functionality, nor was he willing to add it himself distributors like Suse acted in a way that is not only acceptable, but is exactly how the GPL is intended to work. Suse modified and distributed their own non-warrantied version under the GPL with improved usability and functionality, or at least as far as they are concerned. Relative evaluations of whether Suse cdrecord is better than vanilla cdrecord is not relevant.
Mr. Schilling is trying to exert a level of control he does not have under the GPL and as someone said in an old movie I saw once "The more you tighten your grip... the more...will slip through your fingers.".
If Mr. Schilling really wants to he can make version 2.0a37 and place it under "All Rights Reserved". His contributions to cdrecord from the communities perspective will cease and the fork will be official.
Even without closing future cdrecord versions though Mr. Schilling has still put out notice that while he may say cdrecord is GPL it is only GPL on his terms. I think he needs to realize it does not work like that. The GPL gives rights to users that you do not usually see with most copyrighted works. That inevitably takes some rights away from authors. This is a key intent of GPL to give these rights to distributors and users, to ensure the software remains free.
Mr. Schillings addition certainly violates the spirit of the GPL, and if there is code in cdrecord he does not hold copyright on he may be violating the letter as well.
In any case I think it is prudent to assume that cdrecord 2.0a36 is not under any license for Mr. Schillings code and may have additional encumbrances. cdrecord 2.0a36 should be avoided.
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