[LINK] GPL .. good or bad?

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Thu Apr 30 21:21:28 AEST 2009

Kim Holburn wrote:
[big snip}

> But the key point really is that the open source model is really an  
> ancient, well-tested model.  Human knowledge and art have developed  
> over several thousands, possibly tens of thousands of years or more,  
> by open collaboration. ie by sharing, ideas, copying ideas, parts of  
> ideas, adding to others ideas, building on the ideas of others etc.
> It is how scientists and mathematicians work, how science and maths  
> started and developed.  It is how most of scientific and mathematical  
> knowledge is developed at our universities.  It is a method seriously  
> tried and tested over thousands of years.  It works in a lot of  
> different economic and political environments.  We know it works  
> because it got us where we are now.

As I have done before, I point again to civil engineers. At least in my
conversations with them, CEs regard copyright as having a specific purpose: so
that people always know in whose hands a design was first made. Not to extract
rents, but to avoid 'passing off' (ie, either "this is my design" when it's not,
or "this was Chirgwin's design" when it's been changed). But they regard the
sharing of design principles as fundamental to their existence.

And I point *again* to the particular OS community of which I feel myself most
part, Grass-GIS. The only thing people want is that they can do their work
better; the software is strictly utilitarian in purpose. We all make our *money*
doing other stuff that happens to need the software.

Hmm. In other words, what I'm saying is that open source software may be a
suspect business model if you're talking about "selling software" or even
"selling services" as your income. But if you want to "do stuff" the story
changes. So what if I consider open source as "task based" instead of "license



> The current tendency towards locking ideas up using intellectual  
> property of various kinds is not only very, very new but unproven:  
> there is no proof that intellectual property rights have any positive  
> effect on innovation and creativity and there is even evidence of the  
> opposite.
> As for the economic models of open source, it is the GPL that allows  
> big companies like IBM to seriously fund open source development with  
> developers who get paid salaries for developing stuff.  IBM and many  
> others fund this work because they know that other people can't lock  
> away their work and they benefit from everyone else's work.  They are  
> adapting to OS models with new business models which are making OS  
> even more successful.
> It's possible to base proprietary work on GPL code.  I have a  
> marvellous device: a TomTom.  It runs linux, and it is rock solid and  
> stable and TomTom publishes the source etc to comply with the GPL but  
> the main navigation application and data are proprietary and closed.   
> All legal and in compliance with the GPL.
> On 2009/Apr/30, at 9:27 AM, Tom Koltai wrote:
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: link-bounces at mailman1.anu.edu.au
>>> [mailto:link-bounces at mailman1.anu.edu.au] On Behalf Of
>>> stephen at melbpc.org.au
>>> Sent: Thursday, 30 April 2009 4:15 PM
>>> To: link at anu.edu.au
>>> Subject: [LINK] GPL .. good or bad?
>>> GPL: why Eric Raymond is wrong
>>> by Sam Varghese, Thursday, 30 April 2009
>>> http://www.itwire.com/content/view/24739/1231
>>> Snip>
>>> The Economic Case Against the GPL  http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=928
>>> <snnip>
>> Unfortunately - this is the problem.
>> For open source to be successful - unfortunately it needs to be closed
>> before investors will consider it to be capable of providing them a
>> return.
>> GPL release programmers havent yet learnt that the Akamai's and  
>> Junipers
>> of the world started with open source and raised their capital by
>> closing the GPL - and then tuning it.
>> When young programmers learn that their efforts at purely open source
>> will doom them to an old age that has lots of kudos, but few shekels
>> they are usually already old programmers.
>> But that is the way of the world, that we call capitalism.
>> Wisdom comes from the realisation of mortality - what I call the  
>> creaky
>> bone sydneome - at about .... 45.
>> For those of you thinking on how I could say somehting as wise as
>> this...... Pretend I didn't.

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