Software licenses and releasing Python programs for review

Discussion in 'Python' started by poisondart, May 28, 2005.

  1. poisondart

    poisondart Guest

    Hi,

    I'm not sure if this is the right group to post this. If not, then I
    would appreciate if somebody could point me to the correct group.

    This is my first time releasing software to the public and I'm wanting
    to release a Python program I wrote for review (and critique) and
    testing on other platforms, but also I would like to explore the
    different software licenses that are available (there seems to be
    many). Since the specification for the programs is knowledge-centric
    (related to linguistics), I need a group of people that are
    knowledgeable in this area. Is there a place where I can advertise to
    look for people who are knowledgeable in Python and linguistics?

    Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
    - being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
    - nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)

    What is the methodology that people employ to releasing software?

    Thank you.
     
    poisondart, May 28, 2005
    #1
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  2. poisondart

    Terry Reedy Guest

    "poisondart" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > testing on other platforms, but also I would like to explore the
    > different software licenses that are available (there seems to be


    There is an Open Software Foundation (or something close) with a site
    listing and linking to numerous OSF-approved licenses.

    TJR
     
    Terry Reedy, May 28, 2005
    #2
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  3. On Fri, 27 May 2005 18:50:14 -0700, poisondart wrote:
    > - being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
    > - nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)


    Terry mentioned OS.org, so I will not repeat that. (opensource.org)

    Also, check out http://creativecommons.org.

    The no-commercial use license sounds like it might be what you are looking
    for. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/)
     
    James William Pye, May 28, 2005
    #3
  4. poisondart

    Ivan Voras Guest

    poisondart wrote:

    > Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
    > - being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
    > - nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)


    GPL does something like this, except it doesn't forbid anyone to sell
    the software. Also, you do realize that if you make it freely
    distributable and modifiable, you could get into the situations where
    potential customers say "so why should we buy it from him when we can
    get it free from X"?
     
    Ivan Voras, May 28, 2005
    #4
  5. poisondart

    Robert Kern Guest

    poisondart wrote:
    > Hi,
    >
    > I'm not sure if this is the right group to post this. If not, then I
    > would appreciate if somebody could point me to the correct group.
    >
    > This is my first time releasing software to the public and I'm wanting
    > to release a Python program I wrote for review (and critique) and
    > testing on other platforms, but also I would like to explore the
    > different software licenses that are available (there seems to be
    > many). Since the specification for the programs is knowledge-centric
    > (related to linguistics), I need a group of people that are
    > knowledgeable in this area. Is there a place where I can advertise to
    > look for people who are knowledgeable in Python and linguistics?


    The NLTK mailing list might be a good place.

    http://nltk.sourceforge.net

    > Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
    > - being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
    > - nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)


    Well, this is vague. Do you want no one else to *distribute* your code
    or derivatives thereof for profit? or do you want no one else to be able
    to *use* the code for profit-making activities?

    Either way, it's kind of rude and unproductive to ask people to spend
    their unpaid time to review, critique, and test your code when only you
    can make a profit from it. I highly recommend looking at the GPL. Many
    of the people whom you may want to not distribute your code for profit
    will probably be reluctant to use GPLed code. As a bonus, if they do,
    they will have to contribute their changes back to the community under
    the GPL, too, so you can incorporate them into your own code base.

    --
    Robert Kern


    "In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
    Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
    -- Richard Harter
     
    Robert Kern, May 28, 2005
    #5
  6. poisondart

    poisondart Guest

    Thanks for the replies. They have been very helpful. I'll have to read
    through the licenses you've listed in more detail, but the creative
    commons license of which James William Pye mentions seems to be what
    I'll be using.

    The reason why I need people to review my code and also the ideas
    behind the code is mostly for academic interest...but not necessarily
    reserved to an academic audience...which is why I don't want people to
    make profit from it. It uses ideas from a language--which would be
    ridiculous (to me) for anybody to make profit from selling the
    mechanics of a natural language.

    The NLTK mailing list seems to be what I was looking for...I'll start
    checking that out. Thanks for the link.
     
    poisondart, May 29, 2005
    #6
  7. On Sat, 28 May 2005 16:48:44 -0700, poisondart wrote:

    > The reason why I need people to review my code and also the ideas
    > behind the code is mostly for academic interest...but not necessarily
    > reserved to an academic audience...which is why I don't want people to
    > make profit from it. It uses ideas from a language--which would be
    > ridiculous (to me) for anybody to make profit from selling the
    > mechanics of a natural language.


    Let me toss some scenarios out there for you to think about.

    You write your code, and distribute it for free. Very generous of you. I
    publish for profit a computer magazine which includes a CD containing
    software. I would like to include your code. Can I?

    My colleague Betty compiles collections of software, tests them, weeds
    out the buggy and useless programs, documents the ones that remain, and
    sells the collection for profit. She would like to include your code on
    her CD. Can she?

    My competitor Barney tries to start a business selling your code for
    profit. How long do you think he will stay in business trying to sell
    what you are making available for free on your website?

    My neighbour Bobby creates a game which he sells for profit. This game
    includes a natural language engine allowing the game characters to
    (almost) understand real language. He would like to use your code to do
    this. Can he?

    My business partner Billy wants to sell servers for profit. On this
    server, he wants to include a collection of software for added value. He
    would like to include your software. Can he?



    Regards,



    --
    Steven
     
    Steven D'Aprano, May 29, 2005
    #7
  8. poisondart

    poisondart Guest

    With the exception of the example with neighbour Bobby (which directly
    utilizes my code for profit, in which case is a definite no), I don't
    see why your other examples should make me reconsider releasing my
    software for free--in all the cases you've described, the answer should
    be no.

    You publish a magazine and include a CD with my code--you are using my
    code to attract readers (this, I did not agree to).

    The example with colleague Betty does not say whether she has debugged
    my code and sold it for profit. If she does, then she will have done
    something very selfish in my view--also undesirable. If she hasn't
    debugged my code...what is she doing selling my property?

    The competitor Barney--This is exactly what I _don't_ want. What's he
    doing selling my code?

    Business partner Billy is using a scheme similar to the magazine
    publisher example.

    I plan to release my programs for academic and pedagogical purposes.
    The knowledge contained in these programs is the same knowledge that
    people use to speak a language--did you buy a copy of the English
    language when you decided to learn it?

    This is why I feel that it would not make sense for me to sell my
    programs for profit.

    Thanks,
     
    poisondart, May 29, 2005
    #8
  9. poisondart

    John J. Lee Guest

    "poisondart" <> writes:
    [...]
    > Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
    > - being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
    > - nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)

    [...]

    If you believe it's feasible to get contributors to (literally) sign
    over their copyright to you, consider dual GPL+commercial licensing.
    Trolltech do this very successfully with their Qt GUI framework (they
    also have educational licenses too, I believe, though the release of
    Qt 4/Win under the GPL will presumably make those licenses redundant).

    In general, people tend to find it very hard to get unpaid code
    contributions if there are annoying restrictions such as prohibition
    against commercial distribution of the code, which is one reason why
    people pick BSD or GPL licenses. Whatever you do, pick a standard,
    well known license, simply because nobody has the time or inclination
    to read somebody else's pet license.

    (Of course, if the contributions you're most interested in aren't
    copyrightable (comment on algorithms or scientific ideas, or
    high-level feedback about the implementation of your code, for
    example), all this may not be a big issue.)

    Though they sometimes mix, the academic world is driven by different
    motivations than the open source world, of course. As someone from
    the linguistics field, you're probably far better placed than we are
    to know about the social environment in which your code will find
    itself. Unless there's another Linguistic Pythonista here ;-)


    John
     
    John J. Lee, May 29, 2005
    #9
  10. poisondart

    John J. Lee Guest

    "poisondart" <> writes:
    [...]
    > I plan to release my programs for academic and pedagogical purposes.
    > The knowledge contained in these programs is the same knowledge that
    > people use to speak a language--did you buy a copy of the English
    > language when you decided to learn it?
    >
    > This is why I feel that it would not make sense for me to sell my
    > programs for profit.


    I'm a little curious about your position.

    Though code encodes knowledge (hence the word, of course :), the
    system of concepts embodied in your code is not the same thing as the
    code itself. Right?

    So, firstly, I don't follow your argument there: how does it follow
    from the fact that scientific and mathematical knowledge should not be
    treated by the law as - in some sense - property (a moot point of
    course, though I lean towards your view) that it doesn't 'make sense'
    (scare quotes because I'm not sure of your precise meaning) to sell
    your software for profit?

    Secondly, do you think it's a bad thing for anybody to sell software
    that makes use of the *concepts* in your code (provided that the use
    of those concepts is not restricted by financial or other legal
    means)? If so, why?


    John
     
    John J. Lee, May 30, 2005
    #10
  11. poisondart wrote:

    > With the exception of the example with neighbour Bobby (which directly
    > utilizes my code for profit, in which case is a definite no), I don't
    > see why your other examples should make me reconsider releasing my
    > software for free.


    I don't think he's trying to make you reconsider releasing the code for
    free, he just wants you to think about what you want to happen in
    certain scenarios - There are no right or wrong answers, but your
    answers will help you decide what license you want to release your code as.

    > You publish a magazine and include a CD with my code--you are using my
    > code to attract readers (this, I did not agree to).


    Well, depending on what license you use, the agreement may be implicit
    in the license. (e.g. the GPL allows Steven to do this, a Microsoft type
    EULA doesn't)

    > The example with colleague Betty does not say whether she has debugged
    > my code and sold it for profit. If she does, then she will have done
    > something very selfish in my view--also undesirable.


    What's selfish? The fact that she debugged it? The fact that she sold
    it? The fact that she debugged it and didn't give you the corrections?
    Your answer will help you decide what you want in a license.

    > If she hasn't debugged my code...what is she doing selling my property?


    It depends on how you look at things. She might not be selling your
    software - she's selling a list of bug-free and stable programs, which
    happens to have a copy of your program on the same CD. If you allow free
    redistribution, this is implicit. She's distributing your program for
    free (allowed by your license), but is selling her value added service
    of certifying that the program is bug free.

    > I plan to release my programs for academic and pedagogical purposes.
    > The knowledge contained in these programs is the same knowledge that
    > people use to speak a language--did you buy a copy of the English
    > language when you decided to learn it?
    >
    > This is why I feel that it would not make sense for me to sell my
    > programs for profit.


    You have several things going on here:

    Although it might not make sense for *you* to sell your program for
    profit, someone else might think it worthwhile. Do you want to disallow
    this, why or why not?

    Secondly, you should distinguish between being *required* to purchase
    the program and being *able* to purchase the program. Just because
    Barney is selling a copy of the program doesn't mean other people can't
    download it for free off of your website. They *could* pay for it, but
    they can also get it for free. Using your English language example, no
    one sold me a copy of the English language, but there are a number of
    companies which have sold the "knowledge that people use to speak a
    language" to me in the form of dictionaries, thesauruses, and grammar
    guides over the years. I'm no less free in using the English language,
    but Merriam Webster still can make money by selling it back to me.

    > The competitor Barney--This is exactly what I _don't_ want. What's he
    > doing selling my code?


    Last point to consider. Say you make a restrictive license. No
    commercial use. No redistribution. etc. Barney comes along and ignores
    the license - distributes the program, sells it for loads of cash.

    What are you willing to do? Send a nasty letter? Barney isn't a nice
    guy. He doesn't care that you've sent him an angry letter. He'll still
    sell your program - he's making loads of money. Are you willing to sue
    him? A license doesn't mean much unless you're willing to back it up in
    court. Are you prepared to spend years and $$$$ to make Barney stop?

    If you aren't making money off of it yourself, having a restrictive
    license isn't going to help most hobbyists/academics, for the sole
    reason that they don't want to go the the effort required to enforce it.

    If all you want is to make sure that your program is always available
    for free to academics/the general public, just use a lax license (like
    MIT) and provide it for free. So what if someone else charges for it?
    They can always go to you to get it for free.

    If you're offended at the thought that someone else might be able to
    make money off of your program, then a certified "Open Source" license
    isn't really going to help - one of the requirements is no bias against
    fields of endeavor - they specifically mention the "no commercial use"
    clause as forbidden. http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

    That doesn't stop you from choosing a non-"open source" license if you
    want - just be aware that that license choice may substantially affect
    what the community is willing to give back to you.
     
    Rocco Moretti, May 30, 2005
    #11
  12. poisondart

    poisondart Guest

    > I'm a little curious about your position.
    >
    > Though code encodes knowledge (hence the word, of course :), the
    > system of concepts embodied in your code is not the same thing as the
    > code itself. Right?
    >
    > So, firstly, I don't follow your argument there: how does it follow
    > from the fact that scientific and mathematical knowledge should not be
    > treated by the law as - in some sense - property (a moot point of
    > course, though I lean towards your view) that it doesn't 'make sense'
    > (scare quotes because I'm not sure of your precise meaning) to sell
    > your software for profit?


    Hi,
    I view my situation from the point of view of a teacher. That is, to
    allude to a proverb, I'm trying to teach a person how to fish. I did
    not invent the knowledge of fishing and selling this knowledge is not
    what I want to do. I believe that I am putting this knowledge into a
    form which I deem learnable for the student.

    >
    > Secondly, do you think it's a bad thing for anybody to sell software
    > that makes use of the *concepts* in your code (provided that the use
    > of those concepts is not restricted by financial or other legal
    > means)? If so, why?
    >
    >
    > John


    To be honest. I'm not sure. The knowledge that I learnt was all given
    to me freely, I just consolidated it into these programs. I feel that
    it would be unfair that along this chain of knowledge passing, one
    person decided to exploit the free system and harbour his knowledge for
    profit.
    (Please read the next thread...)
     
    poisondart, Jun 1, 2005
    #12
  13. poisondart

    Robert Kern Guest

    poisondart wrote:

    [John J. Lee:]
    >>Secondly, do you think it's a bad thing for anybody to sell software
    >>that makes use of the *concepts* in your code (provided that the use
    >>of those concepts is not restricted by financial or other legal
    >>means)? If so, why?
    >>
    >>John

    >
    > To be honest. I'm not sure. The knowledge that I learnt was all given
    > to me freely, I just consolidated it into these programs. I feel that
    > it would be unfair that along this chain of knowledge passing, one
    > person decided to exploit the free system and harbour his knowledge for
    > profit.


    You can't copyright concepts and ideas. If someone wants to make
    commercial use of the knowledge, he can do so, and no license of yours
    can stop him.

    What you can copyright is your expression of that knowledge in code. So
    let's be a little clearer about exactly the actions that you can forbid:
    the redistribution of *your code*. Not the use of the knowledge
    contained therein. Your choice of license can't affect the issues you
    seem to be basing your decision on.

    As one academic to another, I am asking you to consider using an
    authentic Open Source license rather than one that forbids commercial
    redistribution (I don't think you've answered my question, yet, about
    whether you want to forbid commercial *use* as well, but I'm against
    that, too). You have every right to require that people redistributing
    your code to not profit thereby, but with an Open Source license, you
    have the opportunity to join a broader, more vibrant community. My
    experience with no-commercial-whatever academic projects is that they
    almost never develop a real community of code. The initial developer is
    the only developer, and the project languishes. Having a real Open
    Source license, especially one of the copyleft licenses like the GPL,
    encourages users to use the code, improve it, and gift the improvements
    back to the community.

    You end up with a community of people freely contributing their
    expertise to the world. That's a lot more than what you alone could
    provide. But you can get the process started.

    --
    Robert Kern


    "In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
    Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
    -- Richard Harter
     
    Robert Kern, Jun 1, 2005
    #13
  14. On Sunday 29 May 2005 01:52 pm, poisondart wrote:
    > With the exception of the example with neighbour Bobby (which directly
    > utilizes my code for profit, in which case is a definite no), I don't
    > see why your other examples should make me reconsider releasing my
    > software for free--in all the cases you've described, the answer should
    > be no.


    > [...]


    You have an awfully possessive attitude for someone who's asking
    for free help. What are you planning to pay us for the consulting?

    "Go get a lawyer and pay them for their time, just like any other
    proprietary code-horder." :p

    Only half tongue-in-cheek. ;-)

    Seriously though, you are violating the community principles that make
    Python and this newsgroup function. That's a selfish and thoughtless
    thing to do if you will but think about it for a moment. I have no
    interest in your software and it pollutes my environment if it is going
    to spew legal landmines into my life! I'd rather you just charged a
    license fee so that people would more quickly realize that it is a
    hazard. That will encourage a truly free replacement to be made, which
    would actually be of some benefit to the community and (ironically
    and incidentally) to you as well.

    The fact is, people who distribute your code for you are doing you
    a favor which it is not unreasonable for them to receive a remuneration
    for. The pitiful small cost that the market drives things like CD collections
    of free software to makes the practical impact of allowing such sales
    virtually nil. Certainly it has no effect on you. No one I know misrepresents
    that as "ownership" of the software --- it's just a copying/convenience or
    review service, and that's what the prices represent. Heck, I can review
    MS Windows in a magazine, and you'd call it profiteering freely without
    paying them a license fee. God help us all if the courts were ever to accept
    such interpretations.

    And the "principle of the thing" is nonsense: you are asking for something
    for nothing. If you want the advantages of free software (peer review,
    easy distribution, etc) you need to embrace the whole package, which
    includes the most basic user freedoms. *That* would be the principled
    thing to do.

    Mind you, "academic use" is also commercial, by your ridiculously broad
    interpretation of commercial use: Surely other scholars, if they make
    use of your software will be using it to justify their salaries, won't they?

    Of course, you're *entitled* to use any twisted, snare-throwing license
    you like, but don't expect to be respected for it.

    --
    Terry Hancock ( hancock at anansispaceworks.com )
    Anansi Spaceworks http://www.anansispaceworks.com
     
    Terry Hancock, Jun 1, 2005
    #14
  15. poisondart

    poisondart Guest

    If this thread has shown anything it is I'm a bit green with respect to
    software licenses, but the other thing is that I consider myself as an
    isolated case and I wanted to know if there were others who wanted the
    same thing as me.

    I'm curious to know what the money that open source or GPL'd projects
    get and what this money means to these people's overall income. I am
    sure that any amount would motivate somebody to continue their work on
    a project, but myself in particular, I consider my project to be a tool
    for teaching and I view teaching as helping others...which I would
    gladly offer without price. I wanted to see if there were others who
    shared my view of helping others freely with their knowledge.

    Yes, what I ask may seem ridiculous, but I don't view it that way.
    Instead, I find that it is the implication of using a restrictive
    license such as I described to be ridiculous: if there is no monetary
    gain option in the license, then this implies that nobody (or very few)
    will be willing to do any work or "asking for something for nothing".
    It isn't for nothing if you value knowledge and learning.

    I admit that my view is a bit idealistic which leads me to believe that
    maybe I should reconsider the whole decision altogether.
     
    poisondart, Jun 2, 2005
    #15
  16. poisondart

    Paul Rubin Guest

    "poisondart" <> writes:
    > If this thread has shown anything it is I'm a bit green with respect to
    > software licenses, but the other thing is that I consider myself as an
    > isolated case and I wanted to know if there were others who wanted the
    > same thing as me.


    You're going through the same issues that most of us involved in free
    software have gone through at some time. Welcome.

    > I'm curious to know what the money that open source or GPL'd projects
    > get and what this money means to these people's overall income.


    Well, it varies, but I'd say most of the time, it's done as a
    community contribution, not for money. It's similar to doctors doing
    free medical clinics, lawyers doing pro bono legal work, etc.
    However, it's possible to make a living writing GPL'd code, and some
    people do that. (I've done it in the past).

    > Yes, what I ask may seem ridiculous, but I don't view it that way.
    > Instead, I find that it is the implication of using a restrictive
    > license such as I described to be ridiculous: if there is no monetary
    > gain option in the license, then this implies that nobody (or very few)
    > will be willing to do any work or "asking for something for nothing".
    > It isn't for nothing if you value knowledge and learning.


    Well, long experience has shown that in practice, such clauses tend to
    turn away users and developers.

    > I admit that my view is a bit idealistic which leads me to believe that
    > maybe I should reconsider the whole decision altogether.


    The really idealistic view is that once the program is published, the
    author has no special relation to it that others don't have. This is
    what the GPL tries to approximate, by giving users similar rights to
    the author's (e.g. guaranteed access to the source code).

    Note also that in your other posts, you're using "selling" in an
    imprecise and confusing way. This might help:

    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html

    Some more articles on the general free software topic:

    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/
     
    Paul Rubin, Jun 2, 2005
    #16
  17. poisondart

    Robert Kern Guest

    Paul Rubin wrote:
    > "poisondart" <> writes:


    >>Yes, what I ask may seem ridiculous, but I don't view it that way.
    >>Instead, I find that it is the implication of using a restrictive
    >>license such as I described to be ridiculous: if there is no monetary
    >>gain option in the license, then this implies that nobody (or very few)
    >>will be willing to do any work or "asking for something for nothing".
    >>It isn't for nothing if you value knowledge and learning.

    >
    > Well, long experience has shown that in practice, such clauses tend to
    > turn away users and developers.


    And for thoroughness, allow me to add "even if they have no intention or
    desire to profit monetarily." I can't explain exactly why this is the
    case, but it seems to be true in the overwhelming majority of cases.
    Academic projects with non-commercial clauses languish in obscurity
    while academic Open Source projects thrive. The contributors to the Open
    Source projects value knowledge and learning just as much as the lonely
    developers of the non-commercial-only projects, but for whatever reason,
    they don't contribute to those non-commercial-only projects.

    --
    Robert Kern


    "In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
    Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
    -- Richard Harter
     
    Robert Kern, Jun 2, 2005
    #17
  18. On Thu, Jun 02, 2005 at 01:57:25AM -0700, Robert Kern wrote:
    > And for thoroughness, allow me to add "even if they have no intention or
    > desire to profit monetarily." I can't explain exactly why this is the
    > case, but it seems to be true in the overwhelming majority of cases.
    > Academic projects with non-commercial clauses languish in obscurity
    > while academic Open Source projects thrive. The contributors to the Open

    Well, it's easily explained. (Well at least my motivation in this case)
    I do not touch things that I cannot use "generally" and being a
    "commercial" IT consultant this basically means:
    *) opensource is better than commercial payware.
    (because "for free" (as in beer) is usable in more contexts)
    *) GPL is acceptable for much stuff, because I can install GPL'ed
    stuff for a customer.
    *) GPL is not acceptable for "library" stuff, because as a software
    developer I'm sometimes forced to do "closed" stuff.
    (Yep, even nowadays there are place where it's basically a legal
    requirement.)

    Implications:

    *) qt is a bordercase: GPL for free, or commercial for pay. Not perfect but
    good enough.
    *) A number of O-R mappers for Python are of no relevance to me,
    because they are GPL. O-R mappers are development libraries.

    The idea is that I'm mostly not interested in learning tools that are
    not of general use.

    So basically, stuff not meeting this criteria, is only interesting if
    it's unique:

    *) commercial stuff is only interesting if there is no competing
    open-source project.
    *) GPL'ed "building blocks" are only interesting when there is no
    competing LGPL version. Example: OCR on Linux/Unix. There are no
    perfect solutions there so a GPL'ed solution might be
    ok. (Especially because one can use OCR without linking with a lib
    *grin*)

    Andreas
     
    Andreas Kostyrka, Jun 2, 2005
    #18
  19. Andreas Kostyrka <> wrote:
    > *) GPL is not acceptable for "library" stuff, because as a software
    > developer I'm sometimes forced to do "closed" stuff.
    > (Yep, even nowadays there are place where it's basically a legal
    > requirement.)


    I'm curious about this last one.

    The GPL does not require that derivative works be published, or that
    they be donated back to the original author. All it requires is that
    you pass on the rights that you received to the recipient of your
    derivative work -- in this case, your customer alone.

    Of course, if your customer is a proprietary software firm looking to
    own and sell the software restrictively, then they don't want those
    terms. But if they're just looking to use it privately and internally,
    I'm curious how the GPL would get in the way of that.

    --
    Karl A. Krueger <> { s/example/whoi/ }
     
    Karl A. Krueger, Jun 2, 2005
    #19
  20. Am Donnerstag, den 02.06.2005, 17:52 +0000 schrieb Karl A. Krueger:
    > Andreas Kostyrka <> wrote:
    > > *) GPL is not acceptable for "library" stuff, because as a software
    > > developer I'm sometimes forced to do "closed" stuff.
    > > (Yep, even nowadays there are place where it's basically a legal
    > > requirement.)

    >
    > I'm curious about this last one.
    >
    > The GPL does not require that derivative works be published, or that
    > they be donated back to the original author. All it requires is that
    > you pass on the rights that you received to the recipient of your
    > derivative work -- in this case, your customer alone.
    >
    > Of course, if your customer is a proprietary software firm looking to
    > own and sell the software restrictively, then they don't want those
    > terms. But if they're just looking to use it privately and internally,
    > I'm curious how the GPL would get in the way of that.

    Well, basically there are some obstacles:
    a) legal departments
    b) the feeling of the customer that he gets something "less" (because
    the customer doesn't have full control)
    c) problem cases like external contractors

    Basically my points are:
    a) there are certain "feelings" that seem to be common to most open
    source people. They might vary quite a bit in details but somehow we all
    swim more or less in the same river.
    b) as an example I've explained what my personal position in this is.

    Another take on the GPL (again my philosophy) is, that a license is good
    if it doesn't restrict. GPL'ed projects are successful mostly when the
    GPL adds benefits.

    GPL licensed projects have benefits:
    * strong anti-fork pressure. (Because you cannot just fork the
    code and go closed. Any fork must have a real good reason d'etre
    or it will die.)
    * community orientation -> GPL gives a strong "it's our code we
    are working on" feeling.
    * a growing number of software that is only available under the
    GPL.
    But it also has a number of drawbacks, like:
    * It forces the GPL (more or less) on all users [applies only to
    library building blocks]
    * Without copyright assignments it leads to patchy ownership
    structure. E.g. changing the license for the Linux kernel would
    be a really major undertaking.

    The point is that the license should be tailored to the intended use of
    your software.

    And think about it like that: "What can I give my users so that they
    become interested in my software?"

    Just being able to do something like burning a DVD might be enough for
    many "typical" Windows users, but the opensource crowd usually demands
    more. Like in more blueprints, more rights, etc.

    And fact is that the basic environment without artifical constructs like
    intellectual property legaslation favors the users:

    Without patents, in most cases somebody will reimplement your software,
    if there is need.

    Without copyrights, the users will just copy your binary ;)

    Andreas

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    Andreas Kostyrka, Jun 2, 2005
    #20
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