[A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned byanti-copyright types

Discussion in 'Java' started by ClassCastException, May 28, 2010.

  1. In dealing with Java, OpenJDK, and Clojure stuff in recent months I'd
    come to suspect that open source licensing is itself a source of trouble.
    Notably, Clojure's license is incompatible with the GPL, under which
    large chunks of other open source software is licensed. It seemed to me
    that a measure intended to free up software so anyone could develop it
    and contribute to it, as long as their contributions in turn became
    available to others, had somehow gotten itself tangled in knots that
    actually hindered this purpose.

    So I decided to do a little reading on copyright in general. Why does it
    even exist? The nominal purpose, it turns out, is to "promote the
    progress of science and the useful arts" by providing a way for the
    creators of any popular or important work to ensure remuneration,
    basically. Which smells suspiciously like a grant of monopoly -- which,
    barring the notion of "fair use", it basically is. Furthermore there are
    a LOT of blogs out there expressing serious criticism of copyright,
    pointing out that fair use is not in most cases a workable defense even
    when it should be, and that copyright has been twisted away from its
    original purpose by corporations seeking to extend and tighten their
    control over lucrative media and software properties.

    It thus seems that copyright was twisted away from its original purpose,
    to which it might have been poorly suited to begin with, and open source
    licenses try to twist it back toward that purpose. Double twist. Is it
    any wonder it's getting tangled in knots?

    Here's something even weirder though: my blog-surfing led me eventually
    to http://www.againstmonopoly.org/index.php?perm=593056000000003021 where
    there is mention of open source licenses being not without problems. And
    I saw something familiar out the corner of my eye: [insult deleted] in
    the "most recent comments" thing at the right. Curious, I clicked on "My
    Growing Library of Banned Books" and wouldn't you know it, it is indeed
    Twisted, flaming some poor pro-copyright person who showed up at the blog
    to criticise it. Talk about sticking your head in the lion's den,
    especially when one of the lions is Twisted!

    Upshot: I think I'll use BSD-type licenses for now. They're compatible
    with almost anything, license-wise, including the GPL and Clojure's
    license, and have a decent level of respect in the open source world. I
    don't think I can go far wrong if I use the two-clause BSD license on my
    code.

    If anyone knows differently, or has any other insights on the licensing/
    how-to-make-money/copyrights-are-they-good-or-evil issue as they apply to
    Java/JVM developers, I wouldn't mind knowing what they have to say.
    Please do try not to turn this into a useless anti-Twisted flamefest
    though; this newsgroup has gone a good long time without one of those and
    I for one like it just fine that way.
     
    ClassCastException, May 28, 2010
    #1
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  2. Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyright types

    ClassCastException wrote:
    > Upshot: I think I'll use BSD-type licenses for now. They're compatible
    > with almost anything, license-wise, including the GPL and Clojure's
    > license, and have a decent level of respect in the open source world.
    > I don't think I can go far wrong if I use the two-clause BSD license
    > on my code.


    The main difference between BSD and GPL is that BSD doesn't preclude use in
    for-profit software. If that's your intent, it's a good choice.
     
    Mike Schilling, May 28, 2010
    #2
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  3. ClassCastException

    Nigel Wade Guest

    On Thu, 27 May 2010 23:21:16 -0700, Mike Schilling wrote:

    > ClassCastException wrote:
    >> Upshot: I think I'll use BSD-type licenses for now. They're compatible
    >> with almost anything, license-wise, including the GPL and Clojure's
    >> license, and have a decent level of respect in the open source world. I
    >> don't think I can go far wrong if I use the two-clause BSD license on
    >> my code.

    >
    > The main difference between BSD and GPL is that BSD doesn't preclude use
    > in for-profit software. If that's your intent, it's a good choice.


    The GPL makes no such exclusion. I presume that you've been reading the
    FUD rather than the GPL.

    This comes direct from the GPL FAQ:

    "If I use a piece of software that has been obtained under the GNU GPL,
    am I allowed to modify the original code into a new program, then
    distribute and sell that new program commercially?

    You are allowed to sell copies of the modified program commercially,
    but only under the terms of the GNU GPL. Thus, for instance, you must
    make the source code available to the users of the program as described
    in the GPL, and they must be allowed to redistribute and modify it as
    described in the GPL.

    These requirements are the condition for including the GPL-covered
    code you received in a program of your own. "

    --
    Nigel Wade
     
    Nigel Wade, May 28, 2010
    #3
  4. ClassCastException

    David Lamb Guest

    Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyrighttypes

    On 28/05/2010 4:19 AM, Nigel Wade wrote:
    > On Thu, 27 May 2010 23:21:16 -0700, Mike Schilling wrote:
    >> The main difference between BSD and GPL is that BSD doesn't preclude use
    >> in for-profit software. If that's your intent, it's a good choice.

    >
    > The GPL makes no such exclusion. I presume that you've been reading the
    > FUD rather than the GPL.
    >
    > This comes direct from the GPL FAQ:
    >
    > "If I use a piece of software that has been obtained under the GNU GPL,
    > am I allowed to modify the original code into a new program, then
    > distribute and sell that new program commercially?
    >
    > You are allowed to sell copies of the modified program commercially,
    > but only under the terms of the GNU GPL. Thus, for instance, you must
    > make the source code available to the users of the program as described
    > in the GPL, and they must be allowed to redistribute and modify it as
    > described in the GPL.
    >
    > These requirements are the condition for including the GPL-covered
    > code you received in a program of your own. "


    I'd really like to understand the various FOSS licence issues better, so
    please forgive the question if it's a diversion:

    Does this quote mean that, although one can legally sell modified code,
    there is little incentive for anyone to pay for it, since they can
    obtain, use, modify, and redistribute for free?
     
    David Lamb, May 28, 2010
    #4
  5. ClassCastException

    Lew Guest

    Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyrighttypes

    Nigel Wade wrote:
    >> This comes direct from the GPL FAQ:
    >>
    >> "If I use a piece of software that has been obtained under the GNU GPL,
    >> am I allowed to modify the original code into a new program, then
    >> distribute and sell that new program commercially?
    >>
    >> You are allowed to sell copies of the modified program commercially,
    >> but only under the terms of the GNU GPL. Thus, for instance, you must
    >> make the source code available to the users of the program as described
    >> in the GPL, and they must be allowed to redistribute and modify it as
    >> described in the GPL.
    >>
    >> These requirements are the condition for including the GPL-covered
    >> code you received in a program of your own. "


    David Lamb wrote:
    > Does this quote mean that, although one can legally sell modified code,
    > there is little incentive for anyone to pay for it, since they can
    > obtain, use, modify, and redistribute for free?


    The quote does not mean that.

    You might choose to conclude that based on other data, but it's not what the
    quote means.

    The tendency to blame the license for the conclusions that one draws about it
    causes misunderstanding and misuse or abuse of open-source licenses and FUD
    among potential users of the software they cover.

    The GPL as cited only says you have to provide the source code. It does not
    preclude incentives to pay for it. For example, source code is really only
    useful if you have a developer handy. Users that don't have one handy will
    have to pay to have one handy in order to use the source code. They can pay a
    third party to provide the GPLed code and make it work, or they can hire an
    employee to do so. Either way, they're paying for the software.

    And why would they redistribute it? It's open source; there's no onus on them
    to distribute what any user can obtain on their own. So that provides no
    disincentive to purchase the software.

    Sure, they can obtain it for free, and theoretically even use it for free.
    But what if they want more than the minimum functionality? Someone still has
    to apply expertise to the use of the software, expertise that must be
    purchased regardless of licensing fees.

    Modify for free is no disincentive either - who wants to modify the code
    rather than just use it without trouble?

    So the only disincentives are the cost to obtain the software, which is always
    rolled into the purchase cost even in non-open-source software, and - and -
    that's it. The cost to use the software is roughly the same, and most
    customers have no interest in the source code at all.

    Being the one to provide what does interest them is where you make money. GPL
    does not stand in the way of that at all.

    --
    Lew
     
    Lew, May 28, 2010
    #5
  6. Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyrighttypes

    On 05/28/2010 02:21 AM, Mike Schilling wrote:
    > The main difference between BSD and GPL is that BSD doesn't preclude use in
    > for-profit software. If that's your intent, it's a good choice.


    A better way of phrasing it is that GPL code begets only GPL code,
    whereas BSD code can be used more widely. GPL is actually rather crappy
    for many libraries, since you can't use GPL code in many major open
    source projects.

    --
    Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not
    tried it. -- Donald E. Knuth
     
    Joshua Cranmer, May 28, 2010
    #6
  7. ClassCastException

    Arne Vajhøj Guest

    Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyrighttypes

    On 28-05-2010 02:21, Mike Schilling wrote:
    > ClassCastException wrote:
    >> Upshot: I think I'll use BSD-type licenses for now. They're compatible
    >> with almost anything, license-wise, including the GPL and Clojure's
    >> license, and have a decent level of respect in the open source world.
    >> I don't think I can go far wrong if I use the two-clause BSD license
    >> on my code.

    >
    > The main difference between BSD and GPL is that BSD doesn't preclude use in
    > for-profit software. If that's your intent, it's a good choice.


    The GPL license does not preclude that.

    But the terms of the GPL license combined with cost minimizing
    users makes certain business models not working.

    Arne
     
    Arne Vajhøj, May 29, 2010
    #7
  8. Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyrighttypes

    On 28-05-2010 16:09, David Lamb wrote:
    > On 28/05/2010 4:19 AM, Nigel Wade wrote:
    >> On Thu, 27 May 2010 23:21:16 -0700, Mike Schilling wrote:
    >>> The main difference between BSD and GPL is that BSD doesn't preclude use
    >>> in for-profit software. If that's your intent, it's a good choice.

    >>
    >> The GPL makes no such exclusion. I presume that you've been reading the
    >> FUD rather than the GPL.
    >>
    >> This comes direct from the GPL FAQ:
    >>
    >> "If I use a piece of software that has been obtained under the GNU GPL,
    >> am I allowed to modify the original code into a new program, then
    >> distribute and sell that new program commercially?
    >>
    >> You are allowed to sell copies of the modified program commercially,
    >> but only under the terms of the GNU GPL. Thus, for instance, you must
    >> make the source code available to the users of the program as described
    >> in the GPL, and they must be allowed to redistribute and modify it as
    >> described in the GPL.
    >>
    >> These requirements are the condition for including the GPL-covered
    >> code you received in a program of your own. "

    >
    > I'd really like to understand the various FOSS licence issues better, so
    > please forgive the question if it's a diversion:
    >
    > Does this quote mean that, although one can legally sell modified code,
    > there is little incentive for anyone to pay for it, since they can
    > obtain, use, modify, and redistribute for free?


    For a traditional software sale model "here is a CD with the software
    and a valid license key - if you want support then you have to
    pay extra", then YES.

    There are several companies selling GPL software and making money
    using different business models.

    Arne
     
    Arne Vajhøj, May 29, 2010
    #8
  9. Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyrighttypes

    On 27-05-2010 22:58, ClassCastException wrote:
    > In dealing with Java, OpenJDK, and Clojure stuff in recent months I'd
    > come to suspect that open source licensing is itself a source of trouble.
    > Notably, Clojure's license is incompatible with the GPL, under which
    > large chunks of other open source software is licensed.


    And so what?

    This means that you can not modify the Clojure compiler using
    GPL code.

    Very few libraries are GPL. LGPL and GPL with linking exception
    was invented for libraries.

    And it has no impact on people writing apps in Clojure.

    > So I decided to do a little reading on copyright in general. Why does it
    > even exist? The nominal purpose, it turns out, is to "promote the
    > progress of science and the useful arts" by providing a way for the
    > creators of any popular or important work to ensure remuneration,
    > basically. Which smells suspiciously like a grant of monopoly -- which,
    > barring the notion of "fair use", it basically is.


    If everybody could copy software exactly as they wanted then
    I am pretty sure that the software industry would be in a very
    poor shape.

    > Furthermore there are
    > a LOT of blogs out there expressing serious criticism of copyright,
    > pointing out that fair use is not in most cases a workable defense even
    > when it should be, and that copyright has been twisted away from its
    > original purpose by corporations seeking to extend and tighten their
    > control over lucrative media and software properties.


    Sounds like blogs from teenagers that wants to be able to download
    everything for free and have parents to pay the bills.

    > It thus seems that copyright was twisted away from its original purpose,
    > to which it might have been poorly suited to begin with, and open source
    > licenses try to twist it back toward that purpose.


    Not really.

    Open source use copyright the exact same way as closed source. The
    only way.

    Open source has different license terms than closed source, but that
    does not change the copyright as such.

    > Upshot: I think I'll use BSD-type licenses for now. They're compatible
    > with almost anything, license-wise, including the GPL and Clojure's
    > license, and have a decent level of respect in the open source world. I
    > don't think I can go far wrong if I use the two-clause BSD license on my
    > code.


    When you have copyright for the code, then you decide on the
    license.

    I think that you can generally divide in:
    - strong copyleft (GPL)
    - weak copyleft (LGPL etc.)
    - permissive (Apache, BSD etc.)

    Due to Apache's strong involvement in Java technologies, then I
    think there are more Java code under Apache than BSD license.

    Arne
     
    Arne Vajhøj, May 29, 2010
    #9
  10. On Fri, 28 May 2010 16:09:36 -0400, David Lamb wrote:
    > Does this quote mean that, although one can legally sell modified code,
    > there is little incentive for anyone to pay for it, since they can
    > obtain, use, modify, and redistribute for free?


    Red Hat makes quite a bit of money selling copies of GPL'd software on
    physical media.

    This might have something to do with the fact that Aquafina makes quite a
    bit of money bottling and selling stuff that pretty much all of their
    potential customers can get out of a faucet for free.

    It might also have something to do with the fact that the entertainment
    industry is not, contrary to popular belief, losing revenues to piracy.
    Declining sales of things like DVDs and recorded music have a complex web
    of causes, in which the effects of online piracy are not reliably
    different from zero according to the statistical studies.

    It *is* possible to compete with free, generally by segmenting the market
    and taking the high end somehow. Image, branding, convenience, or some
    other thing can differentiate you from the free competition. For example,
    bottled water comes complete with a new, clean bottle to carry it in and
    can be an image thing. Red Hat sold on a CD is as simple to get and
    install as buy in store, stick in disk drive, run, similar to other store-
    bought software, without having to do anything special like download gigs
    of .iso possibly over a shoddy line and then figure out how to turn
    a .iso file into a working bootable install disc and etc., so there it's
    convenience. If you have the money, buying a DVD is probably more
    convenient than trying to find a good, non-foreign-language rip on
    BitTorrent and buying a Blu-Ray is almost certainly more convenient than
    trying to find a good, non-foreign-language HIGH-DEF rip on BT. CDs are
    pretty much toast but a 99 cent iTunes download is more convenient for
    anyone who owns a credit card than an attempt to find and download a good
    rip on LimeWire.

    The moral of the story: the GPL absolutely is NOT incompatible with
    profiting from selling software, NOT EVEN if you restrict your business
    model to selling copies. When you broaden that to include selling support
    and ancillary merchandising of various kinds, it's even more possible.

    Someone suggested game content, but that's also ultimately copyable --
    unless it resides server-side. An MMORPG could be entirely GPL'd,
    including the server code, and even without any copyright enforcement on
    the game content, and still be easily profitable. First, you run servers
    time and bandwidth on which are scarce and charge for this. Competitors
    can duplicate your service and, with some effort, duplicate your content
    more-or-less, but any such competitor can be kept ahead of by developing
    fresh content (necessary anyway to hang onto long-time players). On top
    of that if your game gets popular enough you can make a sideline selling
    plush toys, action figures, or whatnot of game characters, potentially.
    If these are not trademarked or otherwise "protected" you'll have
    competition there too, but there's plenty of competition selling, say,
    chicken nuggets or chairs, but plenty of money to be made in the chicken
    nugget and chair industries too, and your game's popularity will grow the
    market for this merchandise and, with it, your slice of the merchandising
    pie for those characters, even if that slice is not the whole pie.
    Indeed, almost anything you or your competitors do will grow the overall
    market and cause all of you to sell more of everything.

    A strange game -- the only losing move is not to play.
     
    ClassCastException, May 29, 2010
    #10
  11. On Fri, 28 May 2010 20:31:14 -0400, Arne Vajhøj wrote:

    > On 27-05-2010 22:58, ClassCastException wrote:
    >> In dealing with Java, OpenJDK, and Clojure stuff in recent months I'd
    >> come to suspect that open source licensing is itself a source of
    >> trouble. Notably, Clojure's license is incompatible with the GPL, under
    >> which large chunks of other open source software is licensed.

    >
    > And so what?
    >
    > This means that you can not modify the Clojure compiler using GPL code.
    >
    > Very few libraries are GPL. LGPL and GPL with linking exception was
    > invented for libraries.
    >
    > And it has no impact on people writing apps in Clojure.


    Actually, it does; if you GPL Clojure code and distribute it it will
    violate at least one license because the GPL'd code will link against
    (and thus try to force the "viral" GPL upon) code that comes with Clojure
    and has a GPL-incompatible license.

    You can add a linking exception to the GPL on your Clojure code that
    permits linking against Clojure libraries and the like without requiring
    the GPL attach to those, but this has two problems:

    1. If existing, say, Java code is GPL, and you want to use it in your
    Clojure project, you still can't, since the GPL without linking
    exception will "contaminate" your own code and then the base Clojure
    code that's not GPLable.
    2. This, and similar situations, will lead to the proliferation of
    hundreds of almost-GPLs with different and incompatible linking
    exceptions.

    In hindsight, the linking requirement in the GPL, which was made in the
    days of C, was a big mistake. But it's one it's apparently way too late
    to fix.

    The GPL v3 apparently tries. It has something in it about an automatic
    linking exception for the code's programming language's "base libraries",
    but someone said this was vague enough or otherwise had loopholes that
    made it impossible to confidently apply to Clojure's GPL-incompatible
    libraries.

    >> So I decided to do a little reading on copyright in general. Why does
    >> it even exist? The nominal purpose, it turns out, is to "promote the
    >> progress of science and the useful arts" by providing a way for the
    >> creators of any popular or important work to ensure remuneration,
    >> basically. Which smells suspiciously like a grant of monopoly -- which,
    >> barring the notion of "fair use", it basically is.

    >
    > If everybody could copy software exactly as they wanted then I am pretty
    > sure that the software industry would be in a very poor shape.


    I actually doubt this; I think it would work rather differently from now
    in some ways, but that people would have found a way to make it work and
    to profit in it. Plenty of businesses profit from open source software in
    various ways, including by selling support or simply by funding
    development of open source software that they use in-house and get
    productivity gains from, and, by funding it, get more influence to have
    features they'd find useful added and the bugs that particularly harm
    their productivity prioritized.

    > Sounds like blogs from teenagers that wants to be able to download
    > everything for free and have parents to pay the bills.


    I have my doubts whether Against Monopoly (run by a pair of degreed
    economists) and Techdirt (run by a successful dot-com entrepreneur) are
    "from teenagers that want to be able to download everything for free and
    have parents to pay the bills". :)

    >> It thus seems that copyright was twisted away from its original
    >> purpose, to which it might have been poorly suited to begin with, and
    >> open source licenses try to twist it back toward that purpose.

    >
    > Not really.
    >
    > Open source use copyright the exact same way as closed source. The only
    > way.
    >
    > Open source has different license terms than closed source, but that
    > does not change the copyright as such.


    I'm sorry you don't seem to get what I'm driving at.

    Copyright was born from the theory that letting authors of "writings and
    discoveries" close off access and control the use of their work, e.g. to
    set up a tollbooth, would promote progress.

    At least in the case of software, this turned out to be wrong (in some
    opinions), and the GPL's "copyleft" was specifically designed to force
    copyright to do the reverse: force access open as widely as possible, by
    requiring publication of the source code and disallowing monopoly. The
    theory this time being that maximizing access and minimizing any one
    vendor's control over program code would promote progress.

    Judging by the stellar progress made in improving Linux since its
    inception, copyleft is at least as viable as traditional exclusive
    copyright in promoting progress in software.

    However, both have proven capable of getting in the way in various
    (separate sets of) situations.
     
    ClassCastException, May 29, 2010
    #11
  12. ClassCastException

    Tom Anderson Guest

    On Sat, 29 May 2010, ClassCastException wrote:

    > On Fri, 28 May 2010 20:31:14 -0400, Arne Vajh?j wrote:
    >
    >> On 27-05-2010 22:58, ClassCastException wrote:
    >>> In dealing with Java, OpenJDK, and Clojure stuff in recent months I'd
    >>> come to suspect that open source licensing is itself a source of
    >>> trouble. Notably, Clojure's license is incompatible with the GPL, under
    >>> which large chunks of other open source software is licensed.

    >>
    >> And so what?
    >>
    >> This means that you can not modify the Clojure compiler using GPL code.
    >>
    >> Very few libraries are GPL. LGPL and GPL with linking exception was
    >> invented for libraries.
    >>
    >> And it has no impact on people writing apps in Clojure.

    >
    > Actually, it does; if you GPL Clojure code and distribute it it will
    > violate at least one license because the GPL'd code will link against
    > (and thus try to force the "viral" GPL upon) code that comes with Clojure
    > and has a GPL-incompatible license.


    Wrong. The GPL does not forbid you from linking against any libraries at
    all. It (effectively) forbids you from *redistributing* the *products* of
    linking against libraries that are not GPL'd. Do you want to distribute
    binaries that include both your GPL'd Clojure code and the Clojure
    runtime? No. So you're fine.

    This is an important point: *none* of the open-source licenses restrict
    what you do with code on your own machine, or inside your own company. The
    *only* apply to *redistribution* of the code.

    tom

    --
    This isn't right. This isn't even wrong.
     
    Tom Anderson, May 29, 2010
    #12
  13. ClassCastException

    David Lamb Guest

    Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyrighttypes

    On 29/05/2010 4:17 AM, ClassCastException wrote:
    > Copyright was born from the theory that letting authors of "writings and
    > discoveries" close off access and control the use of their work, e.g. to
    > set up a tollbooth, would promote progress.


    Well, that theory *used* to be true; Dickens apparently got no royalties
    from "pirated" US editions of his works. But that was a long time ago
    when the world was very different.
     
    David Lamb, May 29, 2010
    #13
  14. On Sat, 29 May 2010 11:54:35 +0100, Tom Anderson wrote:

    > On Sat, 29 May 2010, ClassCastException wrote:
    >
    >> On Fri, 28 May 2010 20:31:14 -0400, Arne Vajh?j wrote:
    >>
    >>> On 27-05-2010 22:58, ClassCastException wrote:
    >>>> In dealing with Java, OpenJDK, and Clojure stuff in recent months I'd
    >>>> come to suspect that open source licensing is itself a source of
    >>>> trouble. Notably, Clojure's license is incompatible with the GPL,
    >>>> under which large chunks of other open source software is licensed.
    >>>
    >>> And so what?
    >>>
    >>> This means that you can not modify the Clojure compiler using GPL
    >>> code.
    >>>
    >>> Very few libraries are GPL. LGPL and GPL with linking exception was
    >>> invented for libraries.
    >>>
    >>> And it has no impact on people writing apps in Clojure.

    >>
    >> Actually, it does; if you GPL Clojure code and distribute it it will
    >> violate at least one license because the GPL'd code will link against
    >> (and thus try to force the "viral" GPL upon) code that comes with
    >> Clojure and has a GPL-incompatible license.

    >
    > Wrong. The GPL does not forbid you from linking against any libraries at
    > all. It (effectively) forbids you from *redistributing* the *products*
    > of linking against libraries that are not GPL'd. Do you want to
    > distribute binaries that include both your GPL'd Clojure code and the
    > Clojure runtime? No.


    Yes. Any packaging of an application for end-user use (that an end-user
    is realistically going to be able to install easily) is going to include
    the runtimes and thus violate one license or both. The effect is for
    GPL'd Clojure code to effectively be stamped "hacker use only" and be
    inaccessible for normal, end-user use.

    Use it privately? Sure. Share with other Clojure hackers? Ditto. Make a
    killer game with GPL'd Clojure code and post it somewhere, or write and
    publish something to beat Photoshop *and* the GIMP, or whatever? Uh-uh,
    sorry, no can do.
     
    ClassCastException, May 29, 2010
    #14
  15. On Sat, 29 May 2010 14:48:46 -0400, David Lamb wrote:

    > On 29/05/2010 4:17 AM, ClassCastException wrote:
    >> Copyright was born from the theory that letting authors of "writings
    >> and discoveries" close off access and control the use of their work,
    >> e.g. to set up a tollbooth, would promote progress.

    >
    > Well, that theory *used* to be true; Dickens apparently got no royalties
    > from "pirated" US editions of his works. But that was a long time ago
    > when the world was very different.


    Interestingly, Dickens actually profited from this. Hence why I said that
    that was the *theory* behind copyright; there is some evidence that that
    theory was false, or at best semi-true. In actual practice, the existence
    of art of many kinds for thousands of years before anyone thought of the
    concept of a copyright is perhaps the strongest evidence that it wasn't
    ever actually needed. A case for it being needed for some very expensive
    modern art forms such as blockbuster movies might be made. Open source
    development models, including with licenses like BSD that permit closed-
    source derivative works, point to its *not* being necessary for software
    innovation to occur (without copyright software development would
    probably be very similar to how it actually is in BSD-like-license-
    dominated ecosystems, such as those surrounding BSD Unix itself and
    Apache; there could be some closed-source derivative works but this
    potential doesn't seem to have killed BSD or Apache).

    Perhaps even more interesting is that a similar case can be made for
    getting rid of patents on most everything except pharmaceuticals, where
    they seem both most needed (drug development costs make $200 million
    blockbuster movie productions look cheap at times) and most controversial
    (artificially inflated drug prices can actually *kill*, unlike
    artificially inflated movie prices or artificially inflated software
    prices).

    Cleverer minds than mine continue to argue, cogently at times and quite
    acrimoniously at times, both sides of the debate, in the comments of both
    the blogs I named elsewhere in this thread. (And, at one of the blogs,
    there's also Twisted ... apparently taking a particularly radical anti-
    copyright anti-patent position ... for whatever that's worth.)

    Meanwhile open source continues to win practical victories. The recent
    school laptop scandal, for example: the initial scandal just cries out
    for owner-override rights for hardware owners, so against any species of
    so-called "trusted computing" such as has been pushed at times by
    Microsoft as a way of limiting "piracy" (and such as has quietly been
    actually implemented in game consoles, DVD/BluRay drives/players, and
    Apple's iPod/iPhone/iPad portables); the later revelation of serious
    security flaws in the "remote administration" software that was snuck
    onto those machines points to the dangers of using closed source remote
    administration, operating system, or security software of any kind: at
    best you may have severe security flaws hidden from peer review but
    eventually findable by a determined black hat; at worst the nightmare
    scenario from the movie "The Net" where some popular closed-source
    firewall software or similarly turns out to have a deliberate back door
    and its makers, once it becomes very widely deployed, start using it in a
    nefarious world-domination plot or to pull off massive heists or
    whatever. (Imagine a deliberate back door in Windows Vista and a
    "Praetorian" conspiracy within Microsoft. Shudder. Install Linux. Sigh
    with relief. Recall that many government and other trusted-by-the-public
    computer systems and networks are riddled with Microsoft software.
    Shudder. Note that Apple has even tighter control over the iFoo
    ecosystem. Shudder. Ditch your iPhone for an Android phone. Sigh with
    relief. Watch as a controversy breaks out over Amazon's retroactive
    unpurchasing of Kindle customers' copies of Nineteen Eighty-Four by
    Amazon and how all their annotations unexisted because Amazon decided
    they were doubleplusungood, or something like that. Shudder. Ditch Kindle
    for ... er, wait, dammit!, the iPad is just as evil. Groan and use the
    Android phone with its inferior reading display and wait for a googlePad
    or similar device to hit the shelves. Pirate what isn't available at
    Project Gutenberg, because officially-sanctioned ebooks aren't available
    for Android platforms, at least not yet; maybe buy a paperback copy of
    each pirated book so the authors get some money. Or perhaps just lug
    actual paper books around and forget e-reading for now. Sigh with relief;
    now your books can't be unpublished by Amazon, Apple, or anybody else
    short of jackbooted thugs breaking down your door and prying them from
    your cold, dead fingers, and you trust your 12-gauge named Old Betsy
    together with an electric fence, basic property rights, and the 1st, 2nd,
    and 4th Amendments to keep any wannabe Guy Montagues at bay. Remember how
    most of the AI-takeover apocalypses also have a similar element --
    defense contractors buying from US Robotics in I, Robot, defense
    contractors buying from Cyberdyne in Terminator, etc., and these having
    intentional backdoors in them that let Viki/Skynet/Colossus/whatever take
    over. Shudder.)
     
    ClassCastException, May 29, 2010
    #15
  16. ClassCastException

    Stefan Ram Guest

    Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyright types

    Thomas Pornin <> writes:
    >So the GPL is, in practice (not in theory), incompatible with for-profit


    If you put a box in a shop with some software for $329,
    people who think that it addresses their needs will buy it.
    It might contain a sheet of paper with the GPL and directory
    with the source code. Most consumers will not read either of
    them. There are bought many goods in our world that one
    also might get for free by some other means.

    >if you make a big, expensive piece of code that you plan to
    >sell to a dozen big companies, you can use the GPL, because
    >none of your customers would be keen on redistributing the
    >code under the GPL


    This would entitle /you/ to redistribute it, and your
    customers might not like this. Also, once they have the
    software, how do you make them pay you? The GPL already
    entitles them to legally own it without any payment to you.

    >Also, theory has it that big money resides in support and maintenance
    >contracts. The software is then some kind of commercial argument, and
    >you can give it for free since users automatically become potential
    >customers for your support and maintenance activity.


    Or for the support and maintenance of any other skilled party ...
     
    Stefan Ram, May 29, 2010
    #16
  17. ClassCastException

    David Lamb Guest

    Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyrighttypes

    On 29/05/2010 5:54 PM, Stefan Ram wrote:
    > Also, once they have the
    > software, how do you make them pay you? The GPL already
    > entitles them to legally own it without any payment to you.


    Well, contract law would still apply. "I'll hand over this disk and
    you'll pay me" with suitable legalize boilerplate ought to mean they
    have to pay you. I suppose one could start an argument about the seller
    not having the money to sue.
     
    David Lamb, May 29, 2010
    #17
  18. On Sat, 29 May 2010 21:54:24 +0000, Stefan Ram wrote:

    > Thomas Pornin <> writes:
    >>So the GPL is, in practice (not in theory), incompatible with for-profit

    >
    > If you put a box in a shop with some software for $329, people who
    > think that it addresses their needs will buy it. It might contain a
    > sheet of paper with the GPL and directory with the source code. Most
    > consumers will not read either of them. There are bought many goods in
    > our world that one also might get for free by some other means.


    Perhaps. Though at that price point they might feel ripped off if they
    later learned they could have gotten it for free elsewhere.

    On the other hand I can see someone spending even $40 on a CD that's nice
    and easy to install and considering that okay even if they find they
    could have had it for free as a downloadable .iso file to figure out what
    to do with to install it. People will willingly pay, sometimes quite a
    lot, for convenience. Hence fast food, more expensive than home cooking
    and often not as good yet very very profitable.

    > This would entitle /you/ to redistribute it, and your customers might
    > not like this. Also, once they have the software, how do you make them
    > pay you? The GPL already entitles them to legally own it without any
    > payment to you.


    Obviously you'd structure the transaction as an up-front sale: swap the
    money for a disc.

    >>Also, theory has it that big money resides in support and maintenance
    >>contracts. The software is then some kind of commercial argument, and
    >>you can give it for free since users automatically become potential
    >>customers for your support and maintenance activity.

    >
    > Or for the support and maintenance of any other skilled party ...


    Still gives you an incentive to develop the code:

    1. The more valuable you make the software, the larger the support pie,
    and the larger the support pie, the larger your slice of it,
    regardless of what percentage of the whole pie that slice might be.
    2. The more of it you've developed, the better you know the codebase
    relative to any other skilled party, and the better you know the
    codebase relative to any other skilled party, the better you can make
    your support offering compared to anyone else's. This makes your slice
    of the pie larger.

    So, you can potentially get yourself a larger slice of a larger pie by
    participating in developing the open-source software, compared to if you
    let other people do all the development work on it. Developing it builds
    in-house expertise with that software, and it's the time of your experts
    that you're selling; making those experts better experts makes that time
    more valuable, and so does making the thing they're experts on more
    popular.

    Make that time more valuable and you can attract more customers so you
    can sell more of it, charge more for it, or whatever.
     
    ClassCastException, May 29, 2010
    #18
  19. Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyrighttypes

    On 29-05-2010 03:56, ClassCastException wrote:
    > On Fri, 28 May 2010 16:09:36 -0400, David Lamb wrote:
    >> Does this quote mean that, although one can legally sell modified code,
    >> there is little incentive for anyone to pay for it, since they can
    >> obtain, use, modify, and redistribute for free?

    >
    > Red Hat makes quite a bit of money selling copies of GPL'd software on
    > physical media.
    >
    > This might have something to do with the fact that Aquafina makes quite a
    > bit of money bottling and selling stuff that pretty much all of their
    > potential customers can get out of a faucet for free.


    Not a good comparison.

    When you buy RHEL from Redhat instead of downloading Centos, then
    you get support from Redhat.

    > It might also have something to do with the fact that the entertainment
    > industry is not, contrary to popular belief, losing revenues to piracy.
    > Declining sales of things like DVDs and recorded music have a complex web
    > of causes, in which the effects of online piracy are not reliably
    > different from zero according to the statistical studies.


    That "fact" is very disputed.

    > The moral of the story: the GPL absolutely is NOT incompatible with
    > profiting from selling software, NOT EVEN if you restrict your business
    > model to selling copies.


    Companies making monet on GPL usually do it by selling support
    or by dual license (GPL and commercial).

    The GPL license does not prohibit it, but the terms of GPL
    plus basic economics do that you need something other than
    selling copies to prosper.

    Arne
     
    Arne Vajhøj, May 30, 2010
    #19
  20. ClassCastException

    Arne Vajhøj Guest

    Re: [A bit rambling] Open source licensing being questioned by anti-copyrighttypes

    On 29-05-2010 17:54, Stefan Ram wrote:
    > Thomas Pornin<> writes:
    >> So the GPL is, in practice (not in theory), incompatible with for-profit

    >
    > If you put a box in a shop with some software for $329,
    > people who think that it addresses their needs will buy it.
    > It might contain a sheet of paper with the GPL and directory
    > with the source code. Most consumers will not read either of
    > them. There are bought many goods in our world that one
    > also might get for free by some other means.


    The word will get around.

    Arne
     
    Arne Vajhøj, May 30, 2010
    #20
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