Re: Picking a license

Discussion in 'Python' started by Ed Keith, May 11, 2010.

  1. Ed Keith

    Ed Keith Guest

    --- On Mon, 5/10/10, Ben Finney <> wrote:

    > So I object to muddying the issue by misrepresenting the
    > source of that
    > force. Whatever force there is in copyright comes from law,
    > not any free
    > software license.



    You are the one muddying the waters. It does not mater whether you break my kneecaps, or hire someone else to break my kneecaps, either way my kneecaps are broken.

    You can use any license you want, but the simple fact is that if there are fewer restrictions in the license then the user has more freedom in how he uses the licensed code. If there are more restrictions he/she has less freedom in how he/she uses the licensed code. We can debate which is better (whether a man should be free to sell himself into slavery) but to claim that putting more restrictions on someone give them more freedom is pure Orwellian double speak.

    Sophistry is the last resort of those who have run out of good arguments. The more you engage in it the weaker you make your position.

    This thread is generating more heat than light, and probably should be dropped.

    -EdK

    Ed Keith


    Blog: edkeith.blogspot.com
    Ed Keith, May 11, 2010
    #1
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  2. Ed Keith

    Paul Boddie Guest

    On 11 Mai, 14:12, Ed Keith <> wrote:
    > --- On Mon, 5/10/10, Ben Finney <> wrote:
    >
    > > So I object to muddying the issue by misrepresenting the source of that
    > > force. Whatever force there is in copyright comes from law, not any free
    > > software license.

    >
    > You are the one muddying the waters. It does not mater whether you break my
    > kneecaps, or hire someone else to break my kneecaps, either way my kneecaps
    > are broken.


    Nice analogy. In fact, the "force" mentioned above is nothing more
    than the thing which makes these licensing agreements binding. All the
    talk about the GPL "forcing" people to do stuff, when the stuff is
    actually one side of a bargain or the obligations of a party in an
    agreement, is great theatre but nothing more.

    > You can use any license you want, but the simple fact is that if there are
    > fewer restrictions in the license then the user has more freedom in how he
    > uses the licensed code.


    Yes, the recipient of that code as issued by you has fewer
    restrictions on their actions and thus more privileges. However,
    recipients of the extended work may be denied any or nearly all of
    these privileges.

    > If there are more restrictions he/she has less freedom in how he/she uses
    > the licensed code.


    Yes, that recipient does not get to exercise certain privileges.
    However, recipients of the extended work retain the same set of
    privileges. As do recipients of the work upon subsequent
    redistribution.

    > We can debate which is better (whether a man should be free to sell
    > himself into slavery) but to claim that putting more restrictions on
    > someone give them more freedom is pure Orwellian double speak.


    It may provide fewer privileges for initial recipients but may grant
    those privileges more widely.

    > Sophistry is the last resort of those who have run out of good
    > arguments. The more you engage in it the weaker you make your position.


    Then I challenge you to dispute the statements of my last three
    paragraphs without introducing a specific notion of "freedom" in order
    to make your case.

    > This thread is generating more heat than light, and probably should be dropped.


    On this I don't necessarily disagree.

    Paul
    Paul Boddie, May 13, 2010
    #2
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  3. In message <>, Ed Keith
    wrote:

    > ... but to claim that putting more restrictions on someone give them more
    > freedom is pure Orwellian double speak.


    What about the freedom to take away other people’s freedom? What tuple of
    speak would that be?
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, May 13, 2010
    #3
  4. On May 12, 10:48 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    > In message <>, Ed Keith
    > wrote:
    >
    > > ... but to claim that putting more restrictions on someone give them more
    > > freedom is pure Orwellian double speak.

    >
    > What about the freedom to take away other people’s freedom?


    The freedom to take away other people's freedom is a very serious
    power that should only be used sparingly.

    > What tuple of speak would that be?


    Well, if my friend has a slow internet connection, so I give him a
    Linux CD which lets him get out of Windows hell (me taking advantage
    of RMS's "freedom 2", and my friend taking advantage of RMS's "freedom
    0"), and I don't give my friend all the source code (or a written
    offer) because, frankly, he wouldn't know what to do with the source
    anyway, and it doesn't fit on the CD, and I didn't even bother
    downloading the source, at that point I would apparently be in
    violation of the GPL license on hundreds of programs, because I would
    be violating what the FSF calls "freedom 1". Or more pedantically, I
    would be in violation of section 6 of the GPL v3 license for those
    programs on the CD licensed under v3, and in violation of section 3 of
    the GPL v2 for those programs on the CD licensed under v2. In the
    case of GPL v3, for example, Ubuntu lets me download code under 6d, so
    if I download it and burn it, I would have to use 6a or 6b; if I had
    actually received a CD from Ubuntu, I might be able to use 6c, but not
    if I downloaded it.

    Now I know none of us would ever violate the license like this, but
    if, hypothetically speaking, I had made such a CD for my friend, and
    then someone came along and explained to me that, by helping wean my
    friend from MS Windows in this fashion, I had taken away his freedom
    (specifically RMS's "freedom 1"), I would probably conclude that the
    person making this accusation was a moron, and that his words were so
    meaningless that the only tuple that could possibly represent them was
    the empty tuple.

    Regards,
    Pat
    Patrick Maupin, May 13, 2010
    #4
  5. On Wed, 12 May 2010 22:16:29 -0700, Patrick Maupin wrote:

    > On May 12, 10:48 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    > central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    >> In message <>, Ed
    >> Keith wrote:
    >>
    >> > ... but to claim that putting more restrictions on someone give them
    >> > more freedom is pure Orwellian double speak.

    >>
    >> What about the freedom to take away other people’s freedom?

    >
    > The freedom to take away other people's freedom is a very serious power
    > that should only be used sparingly.
    >
    >> What tuple of speak would that be?

    >
    > Well, if my friend has a slow internet connection, so I give him a Linux
    > CD which lets him get out of Windows hell (me taking advantage of RMS's
    > "freedom 2", and my friend taking advantage of RMS's "freedom 0"), and I
    > don't give my friend all the source code (or a written offer) because,
    > frankly, he wouldn't know what to do with the source anyway, and it
    > doesn't fit on the CD, and I didn't even bother downloading the source,
    > at that point I would apparently be in violation of the GPL license on
    > hundreds of programs, because I would be violating what the FSF calls
    > "freedom 1".


    If you used an existing Linux distribution, then the offer to provide
    source code will already be there.

    If you compiled the CD yourself, and failed to provide a written offer on
    the CD, then yes absolutely you would be in violation of the licence
    terms, and shame on you.

    The GPL doesn't require you to force source code on those who don't want
    it, but it does require you to make it available if they ask, and for you
    to notify them appropriately of this fact. You don't even have to
    explicitly tell your friend he can have the source code. You just have to
    make sure that the written offer is available on the disk you give him.


    > Now I know none of us would ever violate the license like this, but if,
    > hypothetically speaking, I had made such a CD for my friend, and then
    > someone came along and explained to me that, by helping wean my friend
    > from MS Windows in this fashion, I had taken away his freedom
    > (specifically RMS's "freedom 1"), I would probably conclude that the
    > person making this accusation was a moron



    Well, yes, you probably would draw that conclusion. Doesn't mean that you
    are right to do so, because quite frankly you would have taken away your
    friend's freedom (albeit in a very small fashion). Access to the source
    code is a freedom that the GPLed software on the disk *explicitly* grants
    to your friend, and by failing to pass the offer on, you have taken away
    that freedom in a very real sense.

    We are talking about a small technical violation of the licence terms
    here, but imagine if everyone did it, if Red Hat and Debian and Ubuntu
    etc didn't bother passing on the source code (or a written offer). Only a
    tiny proportion of people would discover by their own efforts that the
    source code was available, and only a proportion of them would learn
    where it was available from. The result in practical terms would be a
    major decrease in the number of people granted the freedom to modify the
    source code, and a correspondingly larger decrease in the number of
    people both free and able to modify the source code.

    It's not enough to be granted freedom to modify source code in theory, if
    you know about it, if you can find some hard-to-locate website which may
    or may not be running. The practicalities are equally important. In
    theoretical terms, everyone has the freedom to legally modify and
    distribute the source code to Microsoft Windows. All you have to do is
    buy 51% of the stock so as to become majority shareholder, then make
    sufficient changes to the board of directors so that the new board grants
    you a licence to do so, then fight off the lawsuits from the rest of the
    shareholders. Anyone could do it! Not.

    Another, more practical example: here in Australia our government is hell-
    bent on introducing an ineffective and expensive Internet censorship
    scheme. It seems that under Australian law, it will be completely legal
    to circumvent the filter, but our government is investigating ways to
    make it illegal to tell anyone how to circumvent it. In other words,
    Australians will have permission to circumvent the nanny filter, but
    since few people will know this, or know how to do so, it will be a
    meaningless freedom.

    The GPL concerns itself with the *practical* freedom to gain access to
    source code, not merely the theoretical freedom represented by permission
    without opportunity. Failure to pass on the offer to provide source code
    impacts that freedom in a very real sense.

    If you can't understand this, you have the freedom to think I'm a moron,
    and I have the freedom to be sure you are one too *wink*



    --
    Steven
    Steven D'Aprano, May 13, 2010
    #5
  6. In message
    <>, Patrick
    Maupin wrote:

    > On May 12, 10:48 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro
    > <_zealand> wrote:
    >
    >> In message <>, Ed
    >> Keith wrote:
    >>
    >> > ... but to claim that putting more restrictions on someone give them
    >> > more freedom is pure Orwellian double speak.

    >>
    >> What about the freedom to take away other people’s freedom?

    >
    > The freedom to take away other people's freedom is a very serious
    > power that should only be used sparingly.


    Given that the GPL restricts that power, then it must be all right.
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, May 13, 2010
    #6
  7. On May 13, 2:58 am, Steven D'Aprano
    <> wrote:
    > On Wed, 12 May 2010 22:16:29 -0700, Patrick Maupin wrote:
    > > On May 12, 10:48 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    > > central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    > >> In message <>, Ed
    > >> Keith wrote:

    >
    > >> > ... but to claim that putting more restrictions on someone give them
    > >> > more freedom is pure Orwellian double speak.

    >
    > >> What about the freedom to take away other people’s freedom?

    >
    > > The freedom to take away other people's freedom is a very serious power
    > > that should only be used sparingly.

    >
    > >> What tuple of speak would that be?

    >
    > > Well, if my friend has a slow internet connection, so I give him a Linux
    > > CD which lets him get out of Windows hell (me taking advantage of RMS's
    > > "freedom 2", and my friend taking advantage of RMS's "freedom 0"), and I
    > > don't give my friend all the source code (or a written offer) because,
    > > frankly, he wouldn't know what to do with the source anyway, and it
    > > doesn't fit on the CD, and I didn't even bother downloading the source,
    > > at that point I would apparently be in violation of the GPL license on
    > > hundreds of programs, because I would be violating what the FSF calls
    > > "freedom 1".

    >
    > If you used an existing Linux distribution, then the offer to provide
    > source code will already be there.


    No, there is no written offer, e.g. with Ubuntu, simply because they
    take advantage of the ability to provide a download of the source from
    the same place as a download of the object. If I download an Ubuntu
    ISO, burn it and give it away (let's say I give away 100 copies, just
    to remove the fair use defense), then I have violated the GPL. I
    provided chapter and verse on this; go look it up.

    > If you compiled the CD yourself, and failed to provide a written offer on
    > the CD, then yes absolutely you would be in violation of the licence
    > terms, and shame on you.


    Not relevant.

    > The GPL doesn't require you to force source code on those who don't want
    > it, but it does require you to make it available if they ask, and for you
    > to notify them appropriately of this fact. You don't even have to
    > explicitly tell your friend he can have the source code. You just have to
    > make sure that the written offer is available on the disk you give him.


    There is no written offer on the disk, because I burned it from
    Ubuntu's repository. It really is that simple -- if I give away
    copies I've made of Ubuntu, I've violated the GPL. Unless you can
    cite some authority that tells me I'm wrong and gives real reasons. I
    actually quoted chapter and verse from the license, but you chose to
    ignore that and make unsubstantiated claims.

    > > Now I know none of us would ever violate the license like this, but if,
    > > hypothetically speaking, I had made such a CD for my friend, and then
    > > someone came along and explained to me that, by helping wean my friend
    > > from MS Windows in this fashion, I had taken away his freedom
    > > (specifically RMS's "freedom 1"), I would probably conclude that the
    > > person making this accusation was a moron

    >
    > Well, yes, you probably would draw that conclusion. Doesn't mean that you
    > are right to do so, because quite frankly you would have taken away your
    > friend's freedom (albeit in a very small fashion). Access to the source
    > code is a freedom that the GPLed software on the disk *explicitly* grants
    > to your friend, and by failing to pass the offer on, you have taken away
    > that freedom in a very real sense.


    I was going to say "moron" but you're obviously not, so I'll change my
    opinion to "brainwashed." :)

    > We are talking about a small technical violation of the licence terms
    > here.


    No. It's fundamental. The license deliberately makes not sharing the
    source *the* principal way to violate it.

    > but imagine if everyone did it, if Red Hat and Debian and Ubuntu
    > etc didn't bother passing on the source code (or a written offer).


    Then somebody else would. How does Apache work?

    > Only a
    > tiny proportion of people would discover by their own efforts that the
    > source code was available


    No, I tell my friends that source is available, and they can come and
    see me if they want to know more. This may have been a viable
    argument in 1989 (doubtful) but it's extremely silly today.

    >, and only a proportion of them would learn
    > where it was available from. The result in practical terms would be a
    > major decrease in the number of people granted the freedom to modify the
    > source code, and a correspondingly larger decrease in the number of
    > people both free and able to modify the source code.


    I sincerely doubt your dystopian vision, which, like the GPL and many
    laws, is predicated on some outmoded views about how humans interact.

    The reason some people say that the GPL protects the "freedom of the
    code" is because the GPL assumes that code needs to be nurtured,
    instead of taking the viewpoint that, while there may be some
    freeloaders, sharing code is obviously so valuable to most of humanity
    that it will just happen. We don't live in medieval Europe any more
    where the rules of glassmaking are so secret that you'll be hunted
    down like a dog if you try to leave. We live in a world where "co-
    opetition" has been shown to be so valuable we had to make up a word
    for it, and even for those secrets that people are willing to kill to
    keep, we have wikileaks.

    Let's face it -- a software freeloader is not the most evil thing in
    the world. But whenever people assume that stopping bad behavior 'x'
    is paramount, they have to make so many rules that everybody is in
    violation of them all the time. People love to share, but in general
    people don't share things that others aren't interested in. People
    with source code will share with people who care about it. Perhaps
    making a special case for modified source code would be sufficient, if
    you really care about what Linus calls "tit-for-tat."

    > It's not enough to be granted freedom to modify source code in theory, if
    > you know about it, if you can find some hard-to-locate website which may
    > or may not be running. The practicalities are equally important.


    That's another thing. Even if I downloaded all the source from
    Ubuntu, what assurances do I really have that I have all the source?
    I could be in technical violation of the GPL without even knowing it,
    even after wasting an extra two days grabbing the source. Best to use
    Gentoo to be sure, and even then, I need to build it twice running
    strace just to make sure that I really built everything.

    > In
    > theoretical terms, everyone has the freedom to legally modify and
    > distribute the source code to Microsoft Windows. All you have to do is
    > buy 51% of the stock so as to become majority shareholder, then make
    > sufficient changes to the board of directors so that the new board grants
    > you a licence to do so, then fight off the lawsuits from the rest of the
    > shareholders. Anyone could do it! Not.


    So "everyone" could own 51% of Microsoft? That means 100% of the
    shares would be around 350,000,000,000%. Wait, that can't be right,
    what? :) Can you come up with a sillier analogy?

    > Another, more practical example: here in Australia our government is hell-
    > bent on introducing an ineffective and expensive Internet censorship
    > scheme. It seems that under Australian law, it will be completely legal
    > to circumvent the filter, but our government is investigating ways to
    > make it illegal to tell anyone how to circumvent it. In other words,
    > Australians will have permission to circumvent the nanny filter, but
    > since few people will know this, or know how to do so, it will be a
    > meaningless freedom.


    Yes, that's basically how the DMCA works, and that's evil, and that's
    one of the reasons I sometimes give money to the EFF. But, you can't
    seriously be comparing making speech a crime and making not speaking a
    crime (or a copyright violation), can you? Maybe you *did* manage to
    come up with a sillier analogy...

    > The GPL concerns itself with the *practical* freedom to gain access to
    > source code, not merely the theoretical freedom represented by permission
    > without opportunity.


    No, the GPL is ideologically opposed to anything related to
    practicality (although in practice, its adherents have to bend a bit
    to avoid being made irrelevant, and Linux, the shining success, is led
    by someone who arguably cares not one whit for GPL ideological
    purity).

    > Failure to pass on the offer to provide source code
    > impacts that freedom in a very real sense.


    The thing is, there is an offer. It's just not written, and it may
    not be that I will later be able to download the exact same source.
    It doesn't meet the letter of the license. Nonetheless, the offer is
    *even better* than the one mandated by the GPL, because it comes with
    an offer to teach.

    But the GPL wording required to enforce what you call a practical
    freedom imposes so many impractical costs that there are probably
    millions of people in the world who have violated this license, in the
    good-faith attempt to spread free software around. As I mentioned to
    Mr. Boddie, IMHO, the failure to bring any of these to justice is
    deliberate, because suing someone who installed Ubuntu on his
    grandmother's computer would give Free Software a huge public black
    eye.

    So the practicality is not in the *license*, but in the *selective
    enforcement* of the license. I view this sort of nod to practicality
    to be exactly the same as Microsoft's implicit encouragement of piracy
    in third-world countries.

    Well, maybe not *exactly* the same, but to conclude that they are at
    all different is to admit that *eventual* access to the source code is
    moral enough and that enforced distribution of source code to
    *everybody* is not really the best way to make the world a better
    place.

    > If you can't understand this, you have the freedom to think I'm a moron,
    > and I have the freedom to be sure you are one too *wink*


    Well, I don't think you are a moron, but I find some of your beliefs
    not only ill-founded, but very negative -- based on the belief that so
    few people will do the right thing absent onerous controls that the
    only way to proceed is to impose those onerous controls and then look
    the other way when the violation is not *too* egregious.

    Also, it is obvious that you did not adequately research the legal
    obligations of someone who downloads an Ubuntu ISO and make a few
    copies to hand out, because you made completely unsupported statements
    about how that works.

    Regards,
    Pat
    Patrick Maupin, May 13, 2010
    #7
  8. On May 13, 7:25 am, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    > In message
    > <>, Patrick
    >
    > Maupin wrote:
    > > On May 12, 10:48 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro
    > > <_zealand> wrote:

    >
    > >> In message <>, Ed
    > >> Keith wrote:

    >
    > >> > ... but to claim that putting more restrictions on someone give them
    > >> > more freedom is pure Orwellian double speak.

    >
    > >> What about the freedom to take away other people’s freedom?

    >
    > > The freedom to take away other people's freedom is a very serious
    > > power that should only be used sparingly.

    >
    > Given that the GPL restricts that power, then it must be all right.


    But the freedom to take away other people's freedom to take away other
    people's freedom is an even *more* serious power (as many communities
    which have straight-jacketed their law enforcement officers have found
    out), that should be used *very sparingly*, so your conclusion doesn't
    necessarily follow.

    Regards,
    Pat
    Patrick Maupin, May 13, 2010
    #8
  9. On Thu, 13 May 2010 08:06:52 -0700, Patrick Maupin wrote:

    > If I download an Ubuntu
    > ISO, burn it and give it away (let's say I give away 100 copies, just to
    > remove the fair use defense), then I have violated the GPL. I provided
    > chapter and verse on this; go look it up.


    I'm sorry, I can't see where you have provided "chapter and verse", or
    even a URL.


    >> If you compiled the CD yourself, and failed to provide a written offer
    >> on the CD, then yes absolutely you would be in violation of the licence
    >> terms, and shame on you.

    >
    > Not relevant.


    You didn't specify whether the "Linux CD" you were distributing was a
    mere copy of an existing CD , or one you created yourself, so you will
    pardon me for covering both possibilities.


    >> The GPL doesn't require you to force source code on those who don't
    >> want it, but it does require you to make it available if they ask, and
    >> for you to notify them appropriately of this fact. You don't even have
    >> to explicitly tell your friend he can have the source code. You just
    >> have to make sure that the written offer is available on the disk you
    >> give him.

    >
    > There is no written offer on the disk, because I burned it from Ubuntu's
    > repository. It really is that simple -- if I give away copies I've made
    > of Ubuntu, I've violated the GPL.


    No, I think this use-case would count as "propagation without conveying",
    since you are merely acting as a mechanical proxy between your friend(s)
    and Ubuntu.

    I will admit that the GPL FAQs are not as clear about this matter as they
    should be.



    > Unless you can cite some authority
    > that tells me I'm wrong and gives real reasons. I actually quoted
    > chapter and verse from the license, but you chose to ignore that and
    > make unsubstantiated claims.


    I'm sorry, I can't find where you have quoted "chapter and verse" from
    the licence, so I can't comment.



    [snip]
    >> but imagine if everyone did it, if Red Hat and Debian and Ubuntu etc
    >> didn't bother passing on the source code (or a written offer).

    >
    > Then somebody else would. How does Apache work?


    Apache is niche software, and sadly its popularity is falling
    significantly. (~200 million webservers is a large niche, but it's still
    a niche.) The scales on the Netcraft graph are useless, so I can't read
    accurate numbers, but it looks like it has fallen from approximately a
    75% market share to under 55%.

    http://news.netcraft.com/archives/web_server_survey.html

    Perhaps the Apache model doesn't work quite as well as you think?

    As far as not-so-niche software goes, the GPLed Linux OS is far more
    popular on the desktop than FreeBSD and OpenBSD together, and about equal
    in popularity to Mac OS. I'm not suggesting that the popularity of an OS
    is *entirely* dependent on the licence, but it may be a factor.



    >> Only a
    >> tiny proportion of people would discover by their own efforts that the
    >> source code was available

    >
    > No, I tell my friends that source is available, and they can come and
    > see me if they want to know more.


    That doesn't scale to distributing hundreds of copies of the CD, let
    alone tens of thousands. If you're handing over a single copy to a friend
    (which is the example you gave earlier) then a verbal offer works well,
    and is only a technical breach of the GPL. If you're distributing
    hundreds of copies, I don't believe any such verbal offer is practical.


    > This may have been a viable argument
    > in 1989 (doubtful) but it's extremely silly today.


    So you say.


    >>, and only a proportion of them would learn
    >> where it was available from. The result in practical terms would be a
    >> major decrease in the number of people granted the freedom to modify
    >> the source code, and a correspondingly larger decrease in the number of
    >> people both free and able to modify the source code.

    >
    > I sincerely doubt your dystopian vision, which, like the GPL and many
    > laws, is predicated on some outmoded views about how humans interact.
    >
    > The reason some people say that the GPL protects the "freedom of the
    > code" is because the GPL assumes that code needs to be nurtured, instead
    > of taking the viewpoint that, while there may be some freeloaders,
    > sharing code is obviously so valuable to most of humanity that it will
    > just happen. We don't live in medieval Europe any more where the rules
    > of glassmaking are so secret that you'll be hunted down like a dog if
    > you try to leave. We live in a world where "co- opetition" has been
    > shown to be so valuable we had to make up a word for it, and even for
    > those secrets that people are willing to kill to keep, we have
    > wikileaks.


    I admire your optimism, but don't share it.


    > Let's face it -- a software freeloader is not the most evil thing in the
    > world.


    *A* software freeloader certainly isn't a big problem. Cutting down *a*
    tree is no big deal either, but consider what happened to the people of
    Easter Island, Ethiopia and Haiti when *everyone* did so. The terms of
    the GPL exist to discourage freeloaders, lest everyone does so. The
    obligations it imposes are not onerous by any stretch of the exaggeration.


    >> It's not enough to be granted freedom to modify source code in theory,
    >> if you know about it, if you can find some hard-to-locate website which
    >> may or may not be running. The practicalities are equally important.

    >
    > That's another thing. Even if I downloaded all the source from Ubuntu,
    > what assurances do I really have that I have all the source? I could be
    > in technical violation of the GPL without even knowing it, even after
    > wasting an extra two days grabbing the source. Best to use Gentoo to be
    > sure, and even then, I need to build it twice running strace just to
    > make sure that I really built everything.


    That's a silly objection to the GPL. When you include an MIT-licenced
    library in your project, you can't be sure that the library wasn't stolen
    from Microsoft and you've therefore accidentally infringed Microsoft's
    copyright. This isn't an argument against the MIT licence any more than
    your hypothetical is an argument against the GPL.



    >> In
    >> theoretical terms, everyone has the freedom to legally modify and
    >> distribute the source code to Microsoft Windows. All you have to do is
    >> buy 51% of the stock so as to become majority shareholder, then make
    >> sufficient changes to the board of directors so that the new board
    >> grants you a licence to do so, then fight off the lawsuits from the
    >> rest of the shareholders. Anyone could do it! Not.

    >
    > So "everyone" could own 51% of Microsoft? That means 100% of the shares
    > would be around 350,000,000,000%. Wait, that can't be right, what? :)


    Obviously not all at once, silly. But "in theory", everyone could become
    the majority shareholder -- there is no law or physical law of nature
    that says "Patrick Maupin is prohibited from being majority shareholder
    of Microsoft".

    Anti-competition laws or similar may prevent a person from becoming
    majority shareholder unless they (e.g.) gave up their shares in another
    company, but again, there's nothing stopping them from doing so, if they
    wished.


    > Can you come up with a sillier analogy?


    I'm sure I could, but you seem to have entirely missed the point that
    such theoretical "freedom" is entirely illusionary, since *in practice*
    very few people actually can partake in it.


    >> Another, more practical example: here in Australia our government is
    >> hell- bent on introducing an ineffective and expensive Internet
    >> censorship scheme. It seems that under Australian law, it will be
    >> completely legal to circumvent the filter, but our government is
    >> investigating ways to make it illegal to tell anyone how to circumvent
    >> it. In other words, Australians will have permission to circumvent the
    >> nanny filter, but since few people will know this, or know how to do
    >> so, it will be a meaningless freedom.

    >
    > Yes, that's basically how the DMCA works, and that's evil, and that's
    > one of the reasons I sometimes give money to the EFF. But, you can't
    > seriously be comparing making speech a crime and making not speaking a
    > crime (or a copyright violation), can you? Maybe you *did* manage to
    > come up with a sillier analogy...


    There are situations where not speaking is a crime. If you witness a
    crime, and fail to report it, there are circumstances where you may be
    liable to be persecuted for aiding and abetting.



    >> The GPL concerns itself with the *practical* freedom to gain access to
    >> source code, not merely the theoretical freedom represented by
    >> permission without opportunity.

    >
    > No, the GPL is ideologically opposed to anything related to practicality
    > (although in practice, its adherents have to bend a bit to avoid being
    > made irrelevant, and Linux, the shining success, is led by someone who
    > arguably cares not one whit for GPL ideological purity).


    And yet Linux is distributed under the GPL, which pretty much sinks your
    argument.


    [...]
    > But the GPL wording required to enforce what you call a practical
    > freedom imposes so many impractical costs that there are probably
    > millions of people in the world who have violated this license, in the
    > good-faith attempt to spread free software around.


    As I admitted earlier, there is an apparent grey area there, at least
    according to the FAQs, but I don't think it is anywhere near as obvious
    as you claim that it is a licence violation.




    --
    Steven
    Steven D'Aprano, May 14, 2010
    #9
  10. On May 13, 6:39 pm, Steven D'Aprano
    <> wrote:
    > On Thu, 13 May 2010 08:06:52 -0700, Patrick Maupin wrote:
    > > If I download an Ubuntu
    > > ISO, burn it and give it away (let's say I give away 100 copies, just to
    > > remove the fair use defense), then I have violated the GPL. I provided
    > > chapter and verse on this; go look it up.

    >
    > I'm sorry, I can't see where you have provided "chapter and verse", or
    > even a URL.


    In the original message, I wrote "In the case of GPL v3, for example,
    Ubuntu lets me download code under 6d, so if I download it and burn
    it, I would have to use 6a or 6b; if I had actually received a CD from
    Ubuntu, I might be able to use 6c, but not if I downloaded it." I
    thought it was clear those were references to the license clauses.

    > >> If you compiled the CD yourself, and failed to provide a written offer
    > >> on the CD, then yes absolutely you would be in violation of the licence
    > >> terms, and shame on you.

    >
    > > Not relevant.

    >
    > You didn't specify whether the "Linux CD" you were distributing was a
    > mere copy of an existing CD , or one you created yourself, so you will
    > pardon me for covering both possibilities.


    Well, in the section I just quoted, I did mention "Ubuntu"...

    > >> The GPL doesn't require you to force source code on those who don't
    > >> want it, but it does require you to make it available if they ask, and
    > >> for you to notify them appropriately of this fact. You don't even have
    > >> to explicitly tell your friend he can have the source code. You just
    > >> have to make sure that the written offer is available on the disk you
    > >> give him.

    >
    > > There is no written offer on the disk, because I burned it from Ubuntu's
    > > repository. It really is that simple -- if I give away copies I've made
    > > of Ubuntu, I've violated the GPL.

    >
    > No, I think this use-case would count as "propagation without conveying",
    > since you are merely acting as a mechanical proxy between your friend(s)
    > and Ubuntu.


    No, I'm actually creating a copy and distributing it (in GPL v3
    terminology, conveying it), especially since my friends don't
    specifically ask for Ubuntu, and I'm foisting it off on them
    (especially if I burn 10 CDs at a time so I have one if I need it).
    GPL v2 also has similar rules, and there's lots of v2 licensed
    software on the Ubuntu CD.

    > I will admit that the GPL FAQs are not as clear about this matter as they
    > should be.


    I think it's quite clear, although a bit of a tedious slog. But since
    you want a URL, try this: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#UnchangedJustBinary

    > > Unless you can cite some authority
    > > that tells me I'm wrong and gives real reasons. I actually quoted
    > > chapter and verse from the license, but you chose to ignore that and
    > > make unsubstantiated claims.

    >
    > I'm sorry, I can't find where you have quoted "chapter and verse" from
    > the licence, so I can't comment.


    Well, I just re-copied what I posted, and added a URL from the FAQ.

    Regards,
    Pat
    Patrick Maupin, May 14, 2010
    #10
  11. On May 13, 6:39 pm, Steven D'Aprano
    <> wrote:
    > On Thu, 13 May 2010 08:06:52 -0700, Patrick Maupin wrote:


    [...]

    > >> Only a
    > >> tiny proportion of people would discover by their own efforts that the
    > >> source code was available

    >
    > > No, I tell my friends that source is available, and they can come and
    > > see me if they want to know more.

    >
    > That doesn't scale to distributing hundreds of copies of the CD, let
    > alone tens of thousands.


    Sure it does. Each one of those CD distributions is friend-to-
    friend. And if my friend gives a CD to someone interested in
    programming, I might wind up with a new friend.

    > If you're handing over a single copy to a friend
    > (which is the example you gave earlier) then a verbal offer works well,
    > and is only a technical breach of the GPL. If you're distributing
    > hundreds of copies, I don't believe any such verbal offer is practical.


    Right. And lots of Linux Users Groups are in breach of the GPL on
    many software packages. But guess what? It really doesn't matter,
    because the source is sitting there on the internet, for the taking.

    > > This may have been a viable argument
    > > in 1989 (doubtful) but it's extremely silly today.

    >
    > So you say.


    Yes, that what's I believe. More anon.

    >
    > >>, and only a proportion of them would learn
    > >> where it was available from. The result in practical terms would be a
    > >> major decrease in the number of people granted the freedom to modify
    > >> the source code, and a correspondingly larger decrease in the number of
    > >> people both free and able to modify the source code.

    >
    > > I sincerely doubt your dystopian vision, which, like the GPL and many
    > > laws, is predicated on some outmoded views about how humans interact.

    >
    > > The reason some people say that the GPL protects the "freedom of the
    > > code" is because the GPL assumes that code needs to be nurtured, instead
    > > of taking the viewpoint that, while there may be some freeloaders,
    > > sharing code is obviously so valuable to most of humanity that it will
    > > just happen. We don't live in medieval Europe any more where the rules
    > > of glassmaking are so secret that you'll be hunted down like a dog if
    > > you try to leave. We live in a world where "co- opetition" has been
    > > shown to be so valuable we had to make up a word for it, and even for
    > > those secrets that people are willing to kill to keep, we have
    > > wikileaks.

    >
    > I admire your optimism, but don't share it.


    I understand that. There are a lot of people out there who will
    attempt to profit off of other peoples' labor without any value-add.
    But it's getting more difficult to do that. A key element in any kind
    of arbitrage is imperfect communications, and the internet is rapidly
    perfecting almost all communications.

    > > Let's face it -- a software freeloader is not the most evil thing in the
    > > world.

    >
    > *A* software freeloader certainly isn't a big problem. Cutting down *a*
    > tree is no big deal either, but consider what happened to the people of
    > Easter Island, Ethiopia and Haiti when *everyone* did so.


    In a different context, you would probably be arguing about how
    software is not like physical goods, and nobody is made poorer if I
    make my own copy of it.

    > The terms of
    > the GPL exist to discourage freeloaders, lest everyone does so. The
    > obligations it imposes are not onerous by any stretch of the exaggeration.


    Well, you still don't believe that if I download a CD and give it to a
    friend I legally have to download a DVD's worth of source to go with
    it :) (Mind you, I don't believe for a minute anybody would be
    stupid enough to try to sue over that, or that copying a few CDs
    wouldn't be covered by fair use, but I *do* believe that the license
    attempts to require the source to be distributed.)

    > >> It's not enough to be granted freedom to modify source code in theory,
    > >> if you know about it, if you can find some hard-to-locate website which
    > >> may or may not be running. The practicalities are equally important.

    >
    > > That's another thing. Even if I downloaded all the source from Ubuntu,
    > > what assurances do I really have that I have all the source? I could be
    > > in technical violation of the GPL without even knowing it, even after
    > > wasting an extra two days grabbing the source. Best to use Gentoo to be
    > > sure, and even then, I need to build it twice running strace just to
    > > make sure that I really built everything.

    >
    > That's a silly objection to the GPL. When you include an MIT-licenced
    > library in your project, you can't be sure that the library wasn't stolen
    > from Microsoft and you've therefore accidentally infringed Microsoft's
    > copyright. This isn't an argument against the MIT licence any more than
    > your hypothetical is an argument against the GPL.


    Well, OK, it's a bit silly, but not really the same as your example,
    and certainly much more likely. I have never downloaded any FOSS that
    had any licensing issues I know of (and trust me, SCO tried really
    hard on that front :), but I have often downloaded .deb files and
    tried to build something, but the dependencies were foobar. All I'm
    saying is that, to follow the letter of the license I'm handed (not
    some theoretical other license that someone upstream violated) along
    with the code is easy with MIT, but might be technically practically
    impossible with a binary distribution of GPLed code, as with Ubuntu.

    >
    > >> In
    > >> theoretical terms, everyone has the freedom to legally modify and
    > >> distribute the source code to Microsoft Windows. All you have to do is
    > >> buy 51% of the stock so as to become majority shareholder, then make
    > >> sufficient changes to the board of directors so that the new board
    > >> grants you a licence to do so, then fight off the lawsuits from the
    > >> rest of the shareholders. Anyone could do it! Not.

    >
    > > So "everyone" could own 51% of Microsoft? That means 100% of the shares
    > > would be around 350,000,000,000%. Wait, that can't be right, what? :)

    >
    > Obviously not all at once, silly. But "in theory", everyone could become
    > the majority shareholder -- there is no law or physical law of nature
    > that says "Patrick Maupin is prohibited from being majority shareholder
    > of Microsoft".


    Yeah, but I think if I put my lonely little projects out there, that
    practically speaking, everybody has a better chance of being able to
    download the code to those, no matter what the license, than I have a
    chance of coming up with the scratch to buy Microsoft :)

    > Anti-competition laws or similar may prevent a person from becoming
    > majority shareholder unless they (e.g.) gave up their shares in another
    > company, but again, there's nothing stopping them from doing so, if they
    > wished.
    >
    > > Can you come up with a sillier analogy?

    >
    > I'm sure I could, but you seem to have entirely missed the point that
    > such theoretical "freedom" is entirely illusionary, since *in practice*
    > very few people actually can partake in it.


    No, I saw your point, and completely disagree with it. My code is out
    there. Sure, people can wrap *their* proprietary stuff around it, but
    other people can still get *my* stuff, so I really, truly, don't see
    the problem here. Again, it would be different if *my* stuff were so
    fantastically important that I was going to make a mint off of it, but
    frankly if I don't see that it is, but someone else sees some
    intrinsic value and manages to make a mint off it, perhaps the world
    is a better place.

    > >> Another, more practical example: here in Australia our government is
    > >> hell- bent on introducing an ineffective and expensive Internet
    > >> censorship scheme. It seems that under Australian law, it will be
    > >> completely legal to circumvent the filter, but our government is
    > >> investigating ways to make it illegal to tell anyone how to circumvent
    > >> it. In other words, Australians will have permission to circumvent the
    > >> nanny filter, but since few people will know this, or know how to do
    > >> so, it will be a meaningless freedom.

    >
    > > Yes, that's basically how the DMCA works, and that's evil, and that's
    > > one of the reasons I sometimes give money to the EFF. But, you can't
    > > seriously be comparing making speech a crime and making not speaking a
    > > crime (or a copyright violation), can you? Maybe you *did* manage to
    > > come up with a sillier analogy...

    >
    > There are situations where not speaking is a crime. If you witness a
    > crime, and fail to report it, there are circumstances where you may be
    > liable to be persecuted for aiding and abetting.


    Usually, you have to take active measures to conceal the crime, not
    just "not speak" about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misprision_of_felony

    > >> The GPL concerns itself with the *practical* freedom to gain access to
    > >> source code, not merely the theoretical freedom represented by
    > >> permission without opportunity.

    >
    > > No, the GPL is ideologically opposed to anything related to practicality
    > > (although in practice, its adherents have to bend a bit to avoid being
    > > made irrelevant, and Linux, the shining success, is led by someone who
    > > arguably cares not one whit for GPL ideological purity).

    >
    > And yet Linux is distributed under the GPL, which pretty much sinks your
    > argument.


    Not sure how you come to that conclusion. For example, while Linux is
    arguably strong enough to start kicking out binary drivers now, at the
    beginning that would have been its death-knell, and that's probably
    how RMS would have proceeded. The point is, Torvalds views the
    license as a good starting point for a set of behaviors, but he made
    very clear the kind of behaviors he was interested in enforcing. See,
    for example: http://www.linuxfordevices.com/c/a/News/Torvalds-quashes-binary-kernel-module-revolt/

    Interestingly, one of the problems with Linux that has more to do with
    the size of the project and pace of development than anything else, is
    that people are more worried that their contributions aren't going to
    make it into the kernel, rather than that they have to give them back
    to the kernel.

    >
    > [...]
    >
    > > But the GPL wording required to enforce what you call a practical
    > > freedom imposes so many impractical costs that there are probably
    > > millions of people in the world who have violated this license, in the
    > > good-faith attempt to spread free software around.

    >
    > As I admitted earlier, there is an apparent grey area there, at least
    > according to the FAQs, but I don't think it is anywhere near as obvious
    > as you claim that it is a licence violation.


    Well, take another look. I would be interested in any evidence you
    can find that shows otherwise.

    Regards,
    Pat
    Patrick Maupin, May 14, 2010
    #11
  12. On May 13, 6:39 pm, Steven D'Aprano
    <> wrote:
    > On Thu, 13 May 2010 08:06:52 -0700, Patrick Maupin wrote:


    > Perhaps the Apache model doesn't work quite as well as you think?


    Apparently it's 66 percent of the web servers for the million busiest
    sites, and presumably 65 for the next million, etc...

    When I look at the netcraft graphs, the only thing that seemed to
    cause a decline before last year was Microsoft and their marketing
    muscle. For example, they incentivize godaddy and others to run all
    the parked sites on IIS.

    In the graphs, there was a sudden spike in "other" at the beginning of
    last year. My gut tells me this is ROR, django, and other similarly
    permissively licensed software. In any case, back when GPL take-up
    was quite small, RMS was very dismissive of market numbers, but I
    really have to ask: where are all the GPL-licensed web servers?

    > As far as not-so-niche software goes, the GPLed Linux OS is far more
    > popular on the desktop than FreeBSD and OpenBSD together, and about equal
    > in popularity to Mac OS. I'm not suggesting that the popularity of an OS
    > is *entirely* dependent on the licence, but it may be a factor.


    Well, despite what others have said here, I think the lingering
    effects of the Unix lawsuit helped give Linux a push. Torvalds
    himself was a huge factor, and I'm willing to concede that the GPL
    didn't hinder the quest for contributors.

    The fact is that, in reality (Darwinian competition to determine the
    best architecture aside) it's very nice to have a single primary point
    of focus for an OS, and Unix was perceived to be hopelessly fragmented
    by many would-be contributors who wouldn't know where to start.

    I also firmly believe, as I have stated before, that the GPL is a much
    more commercial license. If you want to make money off something,
    then, no doubt, GPL keeps your competitors from being able to take
    what you wrote and redistribute it as closed source. But, frankly I
    view that as more of a business issue than a moral issue.

    In any case, if you want to look, as a marketer would, at TAM (Total
    Available Market), free software is completely floundering in the OS
    space, and permissively licensed software owns the serious web server
    space.

    Regards,
    Pat
    Patrick Maupin, May 14, 2010
    #12
  13. In message <72888d2c-4b1a-4b08-a3aa-
    >, Patrick Maupin wrote:

    > If I download an Ubuntu ISO, burn it and give it away (let's say I give
    > away 100 copies, just to remove the fair use defense), then I have
    > violated the GPL. I provided chapter and verse on this; go look it up.


    I have looked it up <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html>, and sections
    3b or 3c would seem to apply. Or alternatively
    <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>, 6b or 6c. If the source you got it
    from didn’t violate the GPL, then obviously you didn’t either.
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, May 14, 2010
    #13
  14. On May 13, 10:03 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    > In message <72888d2c-4b1a-4b08-a3aa-
    >
    > >, Patrick Maupin wrote:
    > > If I download an Ubuntu ISO, burn it and give it away (let's say I give
    > > away 100 copies, just to remove the fair use defense), then I have
    > > violated the GPL.  I provided chapter and verse on this; go look it up.

    >
    > I have looked it up <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html>, and sections
    > 3b or 3c would seem to apply. Or alternatively
    > <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>, 6b or 6c. If the source you got it
    > from didn’t violate the GPL, then obviously you didn’t either.


    I don't think that's necessarily true. As I've posted before: "In
    the
    case of GPL v3, for example, Ubuntu lets me download code under 6d, so
    if I download it and burn it, I would have to use 6a or 6b; if I had
    actually received a CD from Ubuntu, I might be able to use 6c, but not
    if I downloaded it."

    That's because to use 6c, the initial underlying distribution had to
    be done with 6b, not 6d. Also the FAQ is very clear:
    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#UnchangedJustBinary

    Regards,
    Pat
    Patrick Maupin, May 14, 2010
    #14
  15. In message <84a26d03-03b3-47d9-
    >, Patrick Maupin wrote:

    > I also firmly believe, as I have stated before, that the GPL is a much
    > more commercial license. If you want to make money off something,
    > then, no doubt, GPL keeps your competitors from being able to take
    > what you wrote and redistribute it as closed source. But, frankly I
    > view that as more of a business issue than a moral issue.


    Nevertheless, it’s probably a big factor in why the GPL has become the
    single most popular open-source licence.
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, May 15, 2010
    #15
  16. On May 14, 8:57 pm, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <l...@geek-
    central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
    > In message <84a26d03-03b3-47d9-
    >
    > >, Patrick Maupin wrote:
    > > I also firmly believe, as I have stated before, that the GPL is a much
    > > more commercial license.  If you want to make money off something,
    > > then, no doubt, GPL keeps your competitors from being able to take
    > > what you wrote and redistribute it as closed source.  But, frankly I
    > > view that as more of a business issue than a moral issue.

    >
    > Nevertheless, it’s probably a big factor in why the GPL has become the
    > single most popular open-source licence.


    Possibly. I think a bigger factor is that the GPL is *designed* to
    win license competitions. If you view the license as part of the DNA
    of a piece of software, then whenever two packages "breed" (are
    combined) the resultant package will always have the GPL if either of
    the source packages did. In attempting to draw a biological parallel,
    many have equated the GPL to a virus, but this analogy fails
    miserably. The "selfish gene" analogy has much to recommend it,
    however:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Selfish_Gene#.22Selfish.22_genes

    It's an interesting exercise to extend the analogy to show how the GPL
    gene mutated in a way to allow it to mate with even *more* licenses
    (and always come out on top). So now there are two incompatible
    selfish gene FOSS licenses in the ecosystem. The license genes always
    propagate whenever the host software mates, but in order to have that
    genetic advantage, they avoid allowing their host software to mate
    whenever they couldn't be the dominant license gene of the resultant
    package. One side effect of this is that the two major GPL variants
    are unable to mate with each other.

    Regards,
    Pat
    Patrick Maupin, May 15, 2010
    #16
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