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[Axiom-legal] Fwd: [Axiom-developer] Re: [open-axiom-devel] [fricas-deve
[Axiom-legal] Fwd: [Axiom-developer] Re: [open-axiom-devel] [fricas-devel] umlaut in Guess - mailing list for algebra
Tue, 4 Sep 2007 20:23:20 -0400
[Oops, I screwed up the mailing list address.]
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bill Page <address@hidden>
Date: Sep 4, 2007 8:19 PM
Subject: Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: [open-axiom-devel] [fricas-devel]
umlaut in Guess - mailing list for algebra
To: "M. Edward (Ed) Borasky" <address@hidden>
[I've Cc'd this to axiom-legal rather than the original Cc: list since
I expect some people do not want to be force to follow this sort of
On 9/4/07, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky <address@hidden> wrote:
> Bill Page wrote:
> > One of the defining characteristics of GPL is that *if* you
> > incorporate *any* source code from some other package that is licensed
> > under GPL into some new product - _whatever the license of the
> > original code_ - *then* the entire derived work must be licensed under
> > GPL. That is what is meant by saying that GPL is a "viral license" and
> > that it "infects" the otherwise compatible licenses of other software
> > packages. (Of course people who phrase things this way usually intend
> > to cast GPL in an apparently negative light.) But this is a deliberate
> > feature of GPL to which some people object and other people applaud.
> > It all depends on how you think open source licensing and free access
> > to source code is best promoted.
I am sorry Ed, it is not my intention to defend GPL but to me your
comments below sound inflammatory and without logic.
> It doesn't matter how I *think* ... the license makes very clear what I
> am allowed to *do* and what I am *not* allowed to do. In the end, the
> effect is that people with software intellectual property must spend
> expensive legal and engineering person-hours to prevent infection and
> prevent disclosure of things that they have a perfect legal right *not*
> to disclose.
I meant that the reason why some people think GPL as a good strategy
and why other people disagree depends on their subjective views about
how best to promote open source software development. In many cases
this does not depend directly on what the license actually says but
rather how people react to what it says. Some people do not like to be
forced to do something based on a matter of principle alone and would
not compromise on this even if there might in some cases be some
positive effects when viewed in the large.
GPL definitely states that if you use GPL code in some software
package then you do *not* retain any legal right to prevent disclosure
of the source code of other parts of the whole package. It is written
this way precisely because the Free Software Foundation (FSF) wants to
discourage the view of software as "intellectual property" in the
usual sense. They want all software to be freely available to all. You
can say that in your opinion this is stupid or irritating, but I do
not think you can argue that it violates your rights. After all you
are perfectly free not to use any GPL code in your package if you do
not accept these conditions.
> > I am sorry to be so pedantic and possibly annoying to some people but
> > I hope that what I am saying makes sense.
> It's not *you* that annoys people -- it's the chaos caused by insane
> software licenses like the GPL.
I do not think that GPL is "insane" even if I do not agree with it.
> It's software licensed "academic" style
> - -- freely available to faculty and students in source form but only
> available to corporate users for a large license fee. This one
> particularly irks me, given the support major universities get from
> major corporations in donations, scholarships for students of employees,
> discounts on equipment and supplies, adjunct professors, etc.
What you describe does not apply to GPL. GPL specifically says that
the full source of the software must be available to *all* - even
corporations. The only requirement is that anyone who uses GPL
software must license the entire result as GPL. Of course this often
makes it unattractive to corporate users who view their own software
as "closed source" property - but some corporations do not see things
this way and they still manage to make a profit.
> The non-commercial virus in Aldor is another case.
I think this is a different case from GPL. The APL2 non-commercial use
clause specifically restricts the use of Aldor in certain "commercial"
circumstances but GPL does not. GPL only adds additional requirements
that might be unattractive to some people under these same
circumstances - it does not directly prevent it's use.
What makes APL2 "viral" is different. It is because the most likely
use of Aldor in Axiom is as a replacement for the Spad library
compiler and Axiom can not exist without such a library compiler. Once
you start down the road of writing essential Aldor-based library code
or re-writing Spad code in Aldor, you make it so that Aldor
effectively becomes a requirement for building Axiom. So then Axiom is
forced to adopt the APL2 non-commercial use clause in order to allow
Axiom to be distributable as a single complete system including the
now essential component Aldor.
> The saddest part is that in many cases the *quality* of open source
> software is far superior to expensive closed source packages. In my own
> area, I'll take R over any number crunching/statistics/graphics software
> on the planet. I'll take Ruby, Perl and Python over Visual Basic for
> scripting *even* on a Windows platform! For some special cases, there
> are compilers better than GCC, but in the *general* case I don't think
> there's anything that can touch it.
I agree. And I guess that is what the FSF is deliberately trying to
pro-actively promote. But philosophically this does make GPL
deliberately less-free is this sense. Except for software that is
specifically licensed as "public domain", I think the modified BSD
license is probably the "most-free" of any commonly used open source
license - it is sufficiently free to allow it's use in non-free
software without any "viral" side-effects. In the best of all possible
worlds this is probably the license that most people would prefer for
open source software. But the FSF seems to think that it is necessary
to compromise on this freedom in order to actively promote the early
dissemination of the open source concept to the widest possible range
of software developers rather than waiting and hoping for them to
eventually realize the benefits of open source development in the
longer term themselves.
Again, I think whether you view this as a good or bad thing is a
subjective issue unless or until there can be some proof (maybe some
kind of statistics about software development or something like that)
that shows objectively whether GPL or BSD is the more effective
strategy for promoting open source. For sure I do not know.
- [Axiom-legal] Fwd: [Axiom-developer] Re: [open-axiom-devel] [fricas-devel] umlaut in Guess - mailing list for algebra,
Bill Page <=