GPL (was Re: [LINK] Any more spin, and I'm going to throw up)
Wed, 14 Nov 2001 14:18:27 +1100 (EST)
On Tue, Nov 13, 2001 at 01:51:05PM -0000, Michael Skeggs wrote:
> David Chia wrote:
> >If the programmer from a proprietary software company has cut corner
> >in secretly utilizes fragment of GPL software code, and that has passed
> >through the quality assurance without being noticed, and that software
> >has been distributed/sold in binary form, then that company might have
> >infringed the GPL copyright and they might have to release the source
> >code for the "whole package" publicly as GPL code, not just the code
> >fragment in question. That is what the proprietary software companies
> >are afraid of. Even other non-GPL open source developers have to take
> >notice about this.
> Why is this more onerous, or scary, than the same scenario where a
> commercially licensed component is used? Developers seem to manage to
> include components licensed from third parties, and presumably if they
> didn't pay the appropriate fees there would be litigation which could be
> equally damaging to having to release source code.
Infringement of copyright of commercially lincensed component normally
involved only lost income compensation to the owner plus penalty and the
requirement to properly licensed the component or replace the component
entirely. The company concerned still has a business model and a viable
product to sell. In the past big name companies have come throught that
without much problem. If the business model is to keep the proprietary
source code secret, publicly revealing it would have destroyed the
business model totally. If the component is critical and used in
other packages, then all of these packages are endangered.
> Programmers releasing their software under GPL do so because they share the
> aims of the GNU guys, a commercial programmer seeking benefit from this
> effort is as guilty as one seeking to pirate anothers commercially licensed
As I said, I was providing an observation without going into the pro and con,
the politics or the philosophy. Personally I used them all. However, on
important projects I try hard to distinguish between them. I am not
into commercial sale, so which ever model is the easiest for me to
test a concept will be used.
> I don't see that the GPL is more restrictive.
> If you argue that releasing the source of the commercial product is a
> harsher penalty than paying fines etc., then I am not sure I agree, without
> knowing what the fines are (which presumably include gaol time under Digital
> Millenium Copyright business).
> The only way I can see this point of view is if I treat Free software as
> deserving of piracy, while commercial is not. Just because the source is
> released doesn't make the authors right to license it as they wish any
On the contrary, I did not advocate that Free software is deserving
of piracy. Instead I did point out the harsh reality for developers
if they are trying to do so, as the original post did not appear
to distinguish between (totally) free and GPL public. (Public
domain software was not an issue in the post.)
David Chia, RMIT University