[LINK] GPL .. good or bad?

Tom Koltai tomk at unwired.com.au
Thu Apr 30 21:40:06 AEST 2009

> -----Original Message-----
> From: link-bounces at mailman1.anu.edu.au 
> [mailto:link-bounces at mailman1.anu.edu.au] On Behalf Of Kim Holburn
> Sent: Thursday, 30 April 2009 7:34 PM
> To: The Link Institute
> Subject: Re: [LINK] GPL .. good or bad?
> I think Eric Raymond is simply wrong in his article and Sam Varghese  
> pointed it out well:
> > Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the last three years
> > is fully aware that the global economy is shot to pieces. The  
> > problems started in America because people were sold dodgy 
> mortgages  
> > by hucksters masquerading as real estate brokers. 

Actually - No. Any economist will tell you that the problem is
consumerism and the urge for the fast buck.
Both in sales and in purchasing.
The fast buck doesn't exist - but forced our industrial manufacturing
company directors to search for ever cheaper labour forces to ensure the
higher margins.
This moved the "put it together" and the "how to put it together" trade

This vicious loop has only been made possible with the lifting of trade
tariffs which is needed for "free trade".

Uhuh!. Free Trade.

Is that like GPL ?

Yep - develop something and then someone else gets the booty. (Usuially
whoever drafted the "freetrade" agreement.) For this discussion read GPL
Research Funding Project outline.

> > People often complain that the GPL hinders business because of its
> > viral nature. But they fail to realise that what they term "viral"  
> > is just meant to, as the Australian Democrats put it, "keep the  
> > bastards honest."
I have always been an advocate of GPL - to a point. At somewhere - it
needs to be commercialised as best of current practice.
Therefore a commercial distribution forks from the CVS and both
developments hopefully continue.

In this way the commercial developments are kept honest.
And if they end up being a shill for a corporate "unacceptable" platform
- people will go back to the gpl version.

> 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 how scientists and mathematicians used to work - before government
told them that they had to pay their own way.
When Federal funding was withdrawn from our universities - corporate
funding changed the GPL to licensing agreements.

It is a method 
> seriously  
> tried and tested over thousands of years.  

Yes - until about 1988 - when Governments told universitiers to pay for

It works in a lot of  
> different economic and political environments.  We know it works  
> because it got us where we are now.

Well actually where are we now ? At the beginning of the article - I
think the conclusion was that we are economically stuffed.

We export pretty much raw goods and import everything ready made.

> 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.

Agreed - but intelectual property rights return the investors and
shareholders a dividend. Which is why the investors pay for the research
in the first place.

I promise guys - when faced with a room full of chequebook owners - the
magic words to get the pens writing are:

Our intellectual property consists of this unique........ And we filed
the patent last Friday.

Without the pens never write. I know - I have raised over 88 million
dollars WITH intelectual property.
I have raised only 160,000 WITHOUT IP.
> As for the economic models of open source, it is the GPL that allows  
> big companies like IBM to seriously fund open source 

Is this the same IBM that now has over 8000 patents ?
GPL - my a****

> 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.

Well yes - just enough GPL gets issued to keep the wheels of commerce
GPL release is a cost centre for IBM - finally calcualted to the
> 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.

An example of a successful software marriage returning a dividend to
shareholders and keeping the public happy.

50/50 solutions like the TomTom are rare - but preferred.

Having donated considerably to GPL in the past, I consider I am
qualified to postulate - only the very rich companies with chinese walls
can afford to fund gpl development successfully - but I assure you the
occasional line of breakthrough gpl code mysteriously overnight becomes
patented proprietary code.

In this way both parties are happy.

The best becomes patented - whilst the almost best stays free.

A nice compromise.

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