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No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.


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New GPL References Page
Monday, January 31 2005 @ 07:00 AM EST

Joe Barr has written beautifully about why he loves the GPL. If I was allowed, I'd put it in its entirety on Groklaw, but do go and read it, if you haven't already. Here is my favorite part:

The GPL covers a whole lot more than just the Linux kernel. Check the statistics. Freshmeat.net lists almost 36,000 projects covered by more than 50 different licenses. The page showing percentage covered by specific license reveals over 68% of those projects are licensed by the GPL. What's in second place? The GPL's sibling license, the GNU Lesser GPL, with nearly a 6% share. Coming in third, with 3.57%, is the original BSD license. The GPL is not just the most popular open source or free software license, it is overwhelmingly the people's choice. . . .

But Linux is immune to most of the kneecap-busting, air-supply cutting, baby-knifing techniques that Microsoft is so fond of. Linux is not a company or an individual that can be bought. . . .

And because Linux and other free software exists, I have been able to free myself from the noxious terms and conditions imposed by the monopoly on their customers. Changing their licensing terms on the fly, for example. And doing so in ways which forces meek compliance, since failure to accept them means you don't get the latest service pack, which contains fixes for dozens of gaping security holes, which are known and constantly probed for every minute of every day.

The monopoly hates the escape route the GPL provides me. That's why they constantly attack it. Those attacks will undoubtably continue. Some will be legal challenges, some will merely be insane. Sometimes the hand of Microsoft will be obvious -- as in its financial backing and support of SCO -- sometimes not. But it doesn't matter. The GPL is winning. And for that I love it all the more.

The people's choice. That's the part Sun forgot.

And it's true about forced upgrades. I have a PowerBook with Mac OSX. I love it because I can work in bed and I can take it anywhere and stay in touch with Groklaw, and it's easy and reliable. Everything just works. But I tried to buy some music the other day from iTunes, and it won't let me unless I upgrade first. Why? No reason given, but I can guess. They would like to control my activities more tightly to make sure I am not a thief? Well, as it happens, I'm not, and I take umbrage at the suggestion, so they lost a sale. Probably future sales too. I'm unlikely to buy from iTunes again, for starters. I love my PowerBook, but not as much today as I did yesterday. That's what happens when BSD code is used as a base and a company does its proprietary thing on top of it. If the only language companies understand is money, I will speak to them in their language.

That never happens in GNU/Linux software. It never forces you to do anything. You tell it what you want *it* to do, not the other way around. Proprietary software tells the customer over and over and in every way, "I don't like or trust you."

Mutual, I'm sure.

Another reason I love the GPL to add to Barr's list: you never have to analyze the license to figure out if a corporation can use the GPL to rape and pillage your neighborhood, as we are currently analyzing the allegedly opening up of Microsoft's MS XML patent license. The GPL was written to make sure corporations can't rape and pillage, even when they are overpowered by their urges, as SCO is now discovering. In short, it's a license that gives a thought about the end user, not just the vendors and the developers, and it does it by ensuring the freedom of the code, not the freedom of the programmers. That last sentence is for all the BSD guys who thought it necessary to explain the superiority of the BSD license to us one more time in some comments interspersed with the nasty Microsoft shills and "fans". 3.57% guys. That is your answer. That and my iTunes experience. End users do care about proprietary control-the-customer tricks. I am an end user, and I care. I see the advantage to me of using GPL software over any other license.

So I got inspired by Barr's article and, to be perfectly frank, by sheer annoyance at reading some of the comments that ensued. The astroturfing and general ickiness of some of the hostile comments is ... well, disgusting. But the article is beautiful. I thought about parodying Microsoft supporters' comments, but they are so extremist and over-the-top, what could I do to top the unintended humor of this master at work?:

You are a moron (Score:0)

By Anonymous Reader

You are a moron yes its true, the GPL sucks just like you. Is it the license, no its the case of people cheering for the little dog. [redacted swearing] people, this is software not a religon. I have now peged You people like I do the Mac zealots. Idiots who just want something to cheer because they have nothing else in there measley life that holds any meaning. The ones who need a cause to believe in so bad they will waste their time demonizing someone else to get ahead and writing idiotic articles like this. I use Windows Servers and Clients I love em, and if Microsoft was to stop making products tomorrow, I wouldnt even consider using linux."

As you can see, I loosened Groklaw's standards just this once, so you could feel the full flavor of the man's genius. Le mot juste, as Stendahl put it. And since I have nothing else in my "measley" [sic] life and he or she has me "peged"[sic] and am obviously seeking a "religious" outlet, I decided to do a Groklaw permanent page on the GPL, where anyone can come to find antiFUD on that topic. There is a permanent link now on the left of the page. I've collected all the articles Groklaw has done, organized them into categories, and here is my draft. Please feel free to organize it in a more fine-tuned way or to add more information in comments here, and I'll add them to the permanent page.

If someone has the time to look at each article and index what is found there, for a brief paragraph describing the contents, that would probably help us to organize it better. Or we could have an Index for the page. Be as creative as you please and improve it, if you see a way, logically, informationally, or visually. We need some way to quickly find answers so we will be up to the Herculean task of matching wits with our worthy anti-GPL scholarly opponents.

********************************

GPL References

External Resources:

The GNU General Public License

Frequently Asked Questions About the GNU GPL

Make Your Open Source Software GPL-Compatible. Or Else.

The GNU GPL and the American Way

GPL with Preamble

Linux Online Interview with PJ, including why the switch to GNU/Linux

Groklaw articles on the GPL:

The Sustainable GPL

Businessweek to Linux: Dump the GPL So Business Can Embrace and Extend It

GPL Freedom Has Limits - Golem.de Interview with Netfilter's Harald Welte

Some Advice & a New Book by Larry Rosen, and an Open Source, Open Standards Conference

IBM Files For Partial Summary Judgment on 8th Counterclaim (Copyright Infringement)

The German GPL Order - Translated

Court Confirms GPL Valid in Germany

Some Sophisticated Legal Sophistry, Otherwise Known as FUD

Computer Associates: On the Road to Damascus? Or to the Bank? Both?

Novell Releases Evolution's Connector for MS Exchange Server under GPL

U. of Toronto's Open Source and Free Software Conference - ePresence Video

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL

Why Folks Do What They Do

Robin Bloor Grokking the GPL

Open Source Software: What Is It and How Does It Work?" - By Dr. Ben Kremer

Does the GPL Take Away Your "IP" Rights?

Business is Business and Credit Where Credit is Due

Fyodor Terminates SCO's Right to Distribute Nmap

Eben Moglen's Harvard Speech - The Transcript

Eben Moglen Answers Darl at Harvard - Webcast Available Now

Darl McBride's Harvard Appearance - Transcript

New FUD: Open Source Is "Economically Dangerous"

Shared Source: Microsoft's Version of Sharing

Understanding Open Source Software - by Red Hat's Mark Webbink, Esq.

Red Hat Makes Money With the GPL. How Could That Happen?

The GPL is a License, Not a Contract, Which is Why the Sky Isn't Falling

Progress Is Not Proprietary

Moglen: SCO Is Guilty of What the RIAA Calls Stealing

Ballmer Says Commercial Software is Better Because Someone's Rear End is on the Line

Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed

Stallman vs. LeBlanc: Freedom or Pure Technology?

OSDL Q&A by IP Attorney Lawrence Rosen

An Open Letter to Darl McBride

SCO Legal References to GPL:

The GPL Pickle SCO Is In -- IBM's Memo in Support of PSJ on Counterclaim for Copyright Infringement

SCO Drops Its Claim That the GPL is Unconstitutional - SCO's ANSWER TO IBM'S SECOND AMENDED COUNTERCLAIMS

SCO Explains GPL Strategy and SCO Director Bails Out

"SCO: Without Fear and Without Research" by Eben Moglen

Copyright Preemption -- Explaining the "GPL is Unconstitutional" Claim

Lawyers Everywhere Say Huh? Rubbish. Weird. A Stretch

IP Atty Says SCO Wants Judge to Rule GPL = Public Domain

SCO Clarifies, FSF Counters, and Groklaw Howls with Laughter

SCO Declares Total War on the GPL -- Says GPL Is Not Enforceable

SCO Tries to Use Lineo Case Against Open Source

Lineo Had a Tool to Search for GPL Code -- Why Didn't It Use It?

Yarro Admits Lineo Infringed GPL Code --DiDio: "All Roads Lead to Canopy"

SCO Still Distributing Linux From Its Web Site

SCO Explains a Bit About the GPL

SCO Scuttles Sense, Claiming GPL Invalidity

SCO Says It Will Argue Copyright Preempts GPL

SCO, Meet the GPL -- IBM's Legal Cavalry Charges

SCO's Impossible Dream

It's Free as in Freedom, Stupid

Somebody Doesn't Grok the GPL

Moglen Confirms GPL Boomerang For SCO

Caldera and SCO Contributions to Linux Under the GPL:

Tigran Aivazian Says His SMP Contributions to Linux Kernel While at SCO Were Approved by his Boss

Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die, SCO?

UPDATE to Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die, SCO?

A Stroll Down Memory Lane with OldSCO

Old SCO Also Donated Code to Linux

Caldera's Linux Contributions Were Official, not by Rogue Employees

Caldera Employee Was Key Linux Kernel Contributor

Now They Are Starting to Look at the GPL?

SenderID stories:

The FTC Summit on Email Authentication and more on Patents

For Now, Sender ID is Dead and MARID Shuts Down

Sender ID Dead for Now and SUN-MS Agreement RE Open Office

Is Sender ID Dead in the Water? - No MARID Working Group Consensus

FTC Email Authentication Summit and Sender ID

AT&T Kicks Linux's Tires, Gates on the Future, Sender ID, and a Red Hat Filing

Larry Rosen, the FTC, Open Standards, and Why FOSS Matters

More on Sender ID - A Little Water Under That Bridge? and MS-EU Hearing Report

Sender ID and Almost-Open Standards


  


New GPL References Page | 428 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: f00fc7c8 on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 07:14 AM EST
(So they're easier to find)


Under "SCO References to the GPL" there's a link titled, in part,
"IBM's Legal Calvary Charges." That should probably be _Cavalry_.


Thanks, PJ. This looks like a wealth of information!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic here
Authored by: Darkelve on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 07:18 AM EST
post anything interesting that is not related to the topic.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Forced upgrades
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 07:20 AM EST
The one non-free software package I still use regularly at home is Quicken.
Three days ago, I opened the program and received a message that "online
services" for Quicken 2002 would terminate on April 17 2005, and that I
needed to buy Quicken 2005 to continue to download transaction data from my
bank. The message said that after April 17, any attempt to use to program to
connect to my bank would fail with error messages. The Intuit web site says
this is necessary so they can focus support on the majority of customers who use
more recent versions of Quicken. It says nothing about any change in
communications protocols that would prevent an older version of the program from
functioning properly.

I have attempted to contact Intuit to find out if there is really any valid
technical reason for this, or if it is just a means to force people into buying
newer programs, and have not gotten any answers. As far as I can tell, the most
likely explanation is that Quicken 2002 is hard-coded to quit working fully
after a preset date.

[ Reply to This | # ]

iTunes
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 07:23 AM EST
As far as I understand, the iTunes experience would be possible on Linux. This
is simply because iTunes could run very straighforwardly on Linux and not
utilise the GPL, since it is a different program and operates under a different
legal regime.

That said, I too would question the reasons why iTunes x should be barred in
favour of iTunes x+1 and will certainly think about that when I go to buy my
iPod ;-)

SJG

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • iTunes - Authored by: PJ on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 07:40 AM EST
    • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:46 AM EST
      • iTunes - Authored by: Nick on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 09:06 AM EST
        • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 01 2005 @ 10:02 AM EST
    • iTunes - Authored by: eckenheimer on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 10:26 AM EST
      • iTunes - Authored by: PJ on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 05:40 PM EST
        • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 01 2005 @ 05:32 AM EST
    • iTunes - Authored by: star-dot-h on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 02:37 PM EST
      • iTunes - Authored by: micheal on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 10:21 PM EST
        • iTunes - Authored by: star-dot-h on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 11:16 PM EST
        • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 01 2005 @ 07:52 AM EST
    • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 05:41 PM EST
  • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:16 AM EST
    • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:37 AM EST
      • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 12:38 PM EST
        • iTunes - Authored by: PJ on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 05:43 PM EST
          • iTunes - Authored by: ka-klick on Tuesday, February 01 2005 @ 01:12 AM EST
            • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 01 2005 @ 09:45 AM EST
          • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 01 2005 @ 05:31 AM EST
    • iTunes - Authored by: Tyro on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 02:33 PM EST
  • iTunes, control, and Apple - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:28 AM EST
  • iTunes + iPod - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:41 AM EST
    • Re: iTunes + iPod - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 03:32 PM EST
  • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:54 AM EST
    • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 09:11 AM EST
      • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 01 2005 @ 03:05 AM EST
    • iTunes - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 09:24 AM EST
      • iTunes - Authored by: MathFox on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 12:11 PM EST
  • iTunes vs RealPlayer - Authored by: Latesigner on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 03:05 PM EST
  • iPods - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 10:02 PM EST
New GPL References Page
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 07:43 AM EST
"The page showing percentage covered by specific license reveals over 68%
of those projects are licensed by the GPL. What's in second place? The GPL's
sibling license, the GNU Lesser GPL, with nearly a 6% share. Coming in third,
with 3.57%, is the original BSD license. The GPL is not just the most popular
open source or free software license, it is overwhelmingly the people's choice.
. . ."

Should we be impressed by those numbers? Microsoft has a marketshare of far more
than 68%, and can hence be said to be the overwhelming people's choice. Blah.
Just as I am unpressed by the Microsoft numbers, I'm unimpressed by the GPL
numbers. Microsoft has those numbers because of marketing, and being just good
enough. People don't know better, and don't go shopping elsewhere. It's the same
with the GPL. Everywhere I've worked in the software industry or in open source
projects, people know about open source, and people know about the GPL. And for
many, that's it. A lot of people don't even know there are alternatives to the
GPL, so if they pick an open source license, they pick the GPL (it's also made
very easy to slab a GPL on your product, not much work required).

Usage numbers might impress sales and marketing people. But I can't be dazzled
with them. I choose my licenses because what they stand for - and not how many
others use it. And that's (partially) true for my OS of choice as well.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Question
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 07:44 AM EST
What constitutes distribution under the GPL, what's the criteria for a exchange
of code to be called distribution?

As an example, if an employer hands an employee a disk with GPL software, did
the employer just perform distribution and is now required to share the code
with him? Or does it depend on the context in which he gave the employee the
software (ie business or personal)?

[ Reply to This | # ]

First Windows, Now MacOS
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 07:53 AM EST
So the GPL is all wonderful and Linux is the bees knees, everybody should use
the GPL, companies that don't license their code under the GPL are not going
with the "people's choice", blah blah blah.

But when push comes to shove you choose MacOS X. Definitely not licensed under
the GPL and the majority is not even OSS. So why should I license my code under
the GPL when even the most vocal proponents, such as yourself, will still pay
for software with non-GPL licenses?

You are no RMS. At least he practises what he preaches. Linux runs fine on the
PowerBook, sans minor inconveniences with sleep and Airport. You preach free
software when it suits you, but your convenience is obviously more important to
you than the ideology of free software.

[ Reply to This | # ]

New GPL References Page
Authored by: urzumph on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:00 AM EST
"And it's true about forced upgrades. I have a PowerBook with Mac OSX. I
love it because I can work in bed and I can take it anywhere and stay in touch
with Groklaw, and it's easy and reliable. Everything just works. But I tried to
buy some music the other day from iTunes, and it won't let me unless I upgrade
first. Why? No reason given, but I can guess."

Firstly, I don't own an apple, anything made by apple, have much experiance with
iTunes, but I do know about programming.

There are perfectly valid reasons to require an upgrade before login (un-related
to DRM or any of that nonsense), but this is exasterbated (sp?) by apple's 'Give
the user the least number choices possible' style of user interface. Explaining
why, showing you a changelog or anything like that (which is the norm for GPL
software) does not follow these guidelines.

Some examples of reasons to require a client upgrade :
1) The client / server protocol requires that both client and server have an
implementation of an algorithim, and the client algorithim is broken in such a
way that detection is impossible (or very hard) and it cannot be worked around.

An example of this could be the server and client comparing MD5 signatures to
check if the file downloaded correctly. If the MD5 algorithim of the client is
broken, then it will return the wrong hash, and the file will be downloaded
again. depending on the exact bug, this could loop forever.

2) Client Incorrectly impliments the protocol. If the client's implimentation of
the protocol is incorrect, and not usable in it's older state (bad responses,
missing information, security risks, etc) then you'd have to ship a new client
with the correct protocol. This is especially important if the protocol doesn't
support versioning.

3) Security faults. Anything which handles your credit card on the internet is a
very lucrative target. If the client is not secure, then your credit card is not
secure.

4) Client's implimentation of the protocol is incorrect, but indistinguishable
from the correct implimentation. An example of this would be if the client
accidentally dropped the connection (or simply stopped responding), which is
indistinguishable from other network errors, such as a broken cable, lost
connection, etc.

I'm sure there are more, but I'm tired now, so I should probably sleep

[ Reply to This | # ]

New GPL References Page
Authored by: Lauritz on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:06 AM EST
As the saying goes: There are lies, damned lies and statistics. Saying that the
GPL is the "The people's choice" based on the number of projects on
freshmeat.net is a little silly, I think. If you where to look at numbers from
download.com I think you would get very different numbers (both relative and
absolute).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Joe Barr's Analysis is Flawed
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:07 AM EST
The GPL covers a whole lot more than just the Linux kernel. Check the statistics. Freshmeat.net lists almost 36,000 projects covered by more than 50 different licenses. The page showing percentage covered by specific license reveals over 68% of those projects are licensed by the GPL. What's in second place? The GPL's sibling license, the GNU Lesser GPL, with nearly a 6% share. Coming in third, with 3.57%, is the original BSD license. The GPL is not just the most popular open source or free software license, it is overwhelmingly the people's choice. . . .

There are multiple flaws with Joe's analysis.

If you count installations then Microsoft Windows has a 90% desktop market share. So at least 90% of end-users are using Microsoft Licenses. Suddenly the GPL doesn't look so good.

Also not all projects are created equal. Of those 36000 projects, how many are non-trivial? How many are useful? If we look at "crown jewel" OSS projects we can come up with a much shorter list than 36000.

  • OpenOffice
  • XFree86 (or X.org)
  • Apache
  • Mozilla
  • Perl
  • Linux

Those are projects that are successful and widely used outside of the niche of Linux (yes, sadly still a niche). Suddenly the GPL doesn't look so dominant.

The people's choice. That's the part Sun forgot.

It's Sun's code so it's Sun's Choice. Lest you forget, Sun can pick any license they so wish. This quote says it all...

He who writes the code gets to say the copyright, and nobody has the right to complain about his/her choice of copyright. That is unethical. -- Linus Torvalds

Are you unethical, PJ?

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Gooey, Over The Top Article...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:20 AM EST
I could accept "admiring the GPL" but "love" is just a tad
more than the topic calls for. Similarly, terms like "magic glue"
suggest the writer is a starry eyed romanticist rather than someone to be taken
seriously.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Imagine if Linux had been released under a non-commercial license
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:26 AM EST
Like the one that PJ chooses to use for her content.

It's easier to take than to give, isn't it?

You are invited to debate this like rational adults.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The people's choice.
Authored by: Darkelve on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:29 AM EST
"The people's choice. That's the part Sun forgot."

It's also about the only succesfull license which grants users MORE freedom(s)
instead of LESS freedom.

GPL fries, anyone?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freedom is about choice.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:39 AM EST
As a user I like programs that are under GPL.
I am also great fan of Linux and free software.
Yet I hope there will be software licensed under different licences than just
GPL in the future. Like BSD or creative commons, or .... . There are MANY great
licences around.

We have seen what a monoculture can do.
Look at the sasser or blaster viruses.
Look at the spruce forests in Czech republic. See what happens when bark-beetle
pops up. Treeles mountains.
Look at the beautifull spruce forests in High Tatras in Slovak republic.
Beutiful monoculture. A month ago a single vortex wiped most of the forests here
overnight. Curiously only forests that were planted by man some 70years ago were
afected.

What we need is diversity.
We need some proprietary OSes (like Unix, QNX, MacOSX, Windows, ...) and we also
need various linux distros, flavors of *BSD, and other projects all competing
and complementing each other. NO operating system should be alowed to gain
dominance.

I know. Many of us would like to see Linux installed on 99% of computers. But is
this what we really want?

People have very diverse needs.

Stanislav

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ working from bed
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:45 AM EST
We need a page that indexes all the times that we have told PJ to go to bed.
These are usually after she has submitted an article at 3:00 a.m., plus or minus
a few hours. Now the truth comes out: she IS in bed. Obviously some
clarification is required. Now that the computer being used has fallen out of
favor, is this behavior going to change?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tell Apple
Authored by: Rob M on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 08:47 AM EST
PJ, If you aren't going to buy from iTunes because of the forced upgrade, tell Apple. Money may talk and be the language they understand, but if they don't know the reason for silence, they can't fix it. Whether they will or not is anyone's guess (I'm guessing they won't), but at least they have the option now.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Tell Apple - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 09:07 AM EST
  • Tell Apple - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 06:38 PM EST
New GPL References Page
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 09:15 AM EST
"Linux is not a company or an individual that can be bought. . . ."

And this my friends is what keeps Bill Gates awake at night.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Great...Another Monopoly
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 09:15 AM EST
"But Linux is immune to most of the kneecap-busting, air-supply cutting,
baby-knifing techniques that Microsoft is so fond of. Linux is not a company or
an individual that can be bought. . . ."

Yes, the GPL is all about choice. Just think, if everyone uses the GPL then you
won't be able to leverage any "open source" software...unless you do
so using the GPL. Of course you could start from scratch but that sounds
suspiciously like the "old days" (meet the new boss) when Microsoft
pointed out that you could use the "other operating system". The fact
is, because of the restrictions the GPL places on "open source"
software it is it's own Monopoly that places its own special brand of gag on the
movement. I know that no one in the open source movement would ever try to
stifle dissenting voices or use unfair practices against other ideas. Only
proprietary companies (not people) ever use those tactics...right? Reading this
site (as I've done for the last two years) it's clear that you specifically rip
apart anyone with even the slightest dissenting distance from your preciously
held and jealously guarded views.

Will you ever get off your holy hobby horse and realize you are becoming your
own worst nightmare. The GPL was specifically written to restrict and limit
people's choices if they choose to leverage code "protected" under the
GPL. The point of the GPL is to limit people's choices, that is the simple
fact! Somehow I've been sharing code for years without a "license".
If the GPL really wanted to "free the market" then the GPL would self
destruct (restrictions disappear) when GPL usage reached monopoly proportions.
More simply, the GPL simply wouldn't exist if the point was freedom, choice and
sharing instead of control.

The day the "open source" community realizes that it is no better than
it's worse enemy is the day the open source community really takes a step
towards a better world.

[ Reply to This | # ]

iTunes based on BSD/MIT licensed software?
Authored by: jo_dan_zukiger on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 09:17 AM EST
Don't get me wrong, PJ, I appreciate your enthusiasm and the resources
on this page. And I don't appreciate Apple's fairly obvious enforcement
of the DRM.

But I don't blame Apple nearly as much as I blame the RIAA. I do hope
Jobs and co. can figure out a way to get the RIAA to let them be a little
more laid back on the DRM and still sell songs.

And I hope Apple doesn't backslide. Apple's open source license in its
present form is a good start. It would be great if they released the
iTunes software under their open source license and published the data
formats openly, but until the RIAA realizes that secrecy is never ever
ever going to keep DRM from being broken, they're going to be holding
the music for ransom on the secrecy bit. And the continual escalation of
updates.

Eventually, the mirage of DRM will fade away, and most people will see
the efforts to enforce it as the silliness it is. Before that can happen, we'll

have to get people to quit believing Microsoft's selling of computers as
the miracle machines that can make it possible for everyone to have
their ideal pardise right here and now.

But, yeah, let Apple know backsliding will not be tolerated, and let the
RIAA know that they are killing off their own market by their threats to
hold their breath until we turn blue in the face.

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ's "umbrage"
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 09:43 AM EST
PJ, I think that taking umbrage because of Apple's iTunes update is a little
misguided. You say you "take umbrage at the suggestion" (Apple's
"suggestion" that you are a thief).

I can assure you that Apple has *not* "suggested" that you are a
thief. There
is nothing personal about this. It is not an accusation.

It is a simple fact of life that Apple needs to keep it's DRM tight, or the
record
labels won't come to the party. Without DRM there'd be no iTunes Music
Store. Part of keeping it tight means making sure that people upgrade to the
latest version. Nothing personal about it.

You've got it all back to front. This has nothing to do with Apple accusing you

of being a thief. It has everything to do with denying pirates (I use the word
"pirates" here to designate people who wilfully circumvent the DRM in

contravention of the terms of use that they agreed to on signing up) access to
the latest versions.

You, as an honest user, are free to upgrade to iTunes 5, 6, 7 etc.

They, the "pirates", if they want to keep circumventing the DRM, will
be stuck
with the old versions. Sounds fair to me, seeing as they broke the terms of
use agreement.

The honest users win, because they get access to the latest features and
bugfixes, the record labels are happy, the iTunes Music Store gets more
tracks, the economies of scale continue to operate and the prices are kept
low.

People are far too sensitive about this stuff, and you are no exception, it
would seem.

[ Reply to This | # ]

GNU and the American Way
Authored by: Jhimbo on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 09:52 AM EST
GNU, which is as Un-American as a barn-raising...
--
J. Random Limey

[ Reply to This | # ]

iTunes 4.7.1 = Security Upgrade
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 10:01 AM EST
PJ,

Your umbrage taking sometimes borders on paranoia. Not that there's anything wrong with that. :)

iTunes 4.7.1 fixes a security vulnerability. Why shouldn't Apple require you to have bug-free client software to interact with their server? Particularly when the upgrade is free!

[ Reply to This | # ]

If you don't like the GPL ...
Authored by: mikeprotts on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 10:06 AM EST
... don't use it.

It's very simple. If you don't accept ANY license that is your right.

The GPL does have an exception that you can USE the supplied software WITHOUT
accepting ANY license - "The act of
running the Program is not restricted..."; for an end user this makes the
descision very easy.

For the developer, there is a restriction - you have to accept the license
terms, or use alternative software. Why is this a problem - you can always
write your own.

I do use GPL software, but I'm also happy to choose whether or not to use
alternatively licensed software. What I avoid is anything that requires a
lawyer to understand what I'm getting into.

Mike

[ Reply to This | # ]

One thing not said
Authored by: Nick_UK on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 10:20 AM EST
There is a lot of people on the attack here - but all miss the point.

I use GNU/Linux 100% at home on 6 machines. I love open source software, I can
do what I want with it anytime or place. It just works, and when it doesn't, I
can fix it. I can get it to do whatever I want - my choice.

Of course, it is about choice.

So if you don't like the GPL, or any other open licence, then don't use it.
That also means you cannot take advantage of it and use GPL code in closed
source (even though a lot of people do).

In a few years MS will control everything a person can do (and can't) on their
computer - if that is what you want, sobeit - you have the choice.

Also if it wasn't for the GPL, I expect the Internet would now be owned by MS
and the ilk, eating into everybody's freedom and all being controlled by MS
(look at the recent hi-jack attempt of MS to control the mail-ID code). As I
read somewhere and posted on here, if it wasn't for the Apache project, I expect
MS's IIS would be top httpd server, and I expect you would need Internet
Explorer for any web page to work - no other browser would. Apache is the GPL
in action - freedom for all.

Lastly I _own_ my machines, not leased from a controlling Company like MS. They
are all mine - all that money I spent is mine and mine to do what I like with,
like you can with any thing else you own.

It's choice. I know what one I chose anyday.

Nick

[ Reply to This | # ]

The futurre(?) of journalism?
Authored by: duratkin on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 10:46 AM EST
Here is a reference I'd add. Talk about paticipatory jounalism and copyright! Worth the 8 minutes and thought provoking. Best Wishes to all http://oak.psych.gatech.edu/~epic/

---
All good penquins love free stuff.

[ Reply to This | # ]

New GPL References Page
Authored by: Carlo Graziani on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 11:10 AM EST
Oh-oh. A jab at the BSDL, an "in his own words" MS-moron, and a suggestion of slight Macintosh imperfection!

This should bring out all the foamers. I wish I owned the "Virtual Pitchfork and Torch" concession -- a day like today would bring in even more revenue than the Santa-denial episode!

:-|

[ Reply to This | # ]

Parodies here
Authored by: Nick Bridge on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 11:45 AM EST
1. Thank you PJ. Again you've voiced exactly my feelings on this matter. Time
and time again other licenses are used against people ilke you and me. With the
GPL that cannot happen.

2. I figured we could do with some humour, and there are a large number of funny
Groklaw members - so have at!

To kick it off:

Why the GPL is not for me. by Anonymous Astroturfer
Teh GPL is for politacle zeelots and reigios freeks.
I for one like the cumfort that proprietary lisenses give me - they protect me
from my urge to steal and pirate. If it weren't for tehm id surely be jailed by
now - i cant help myself.
and im sure that teh updates that are forsed on me by my shrinkwrapped software
are making my softwear much more secuur then any Linux trash could ever be.
and for you zeelots who say "wot about looking at the source code" I
say "id rather not, thankyou"!
HA - Microsoft rulez.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hey, PJ. Smile. :)
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 11:45 AM EST
Here, this will help, I promise.
http://audio.cdbaby.com/l/lbarker5-03.mp3

I think it's a fitting answer to your silly trolls.

Including the link to the album because it's rude to deep link. ;)
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lbarker5

[ Reply to This | # ]

It has holes.
Authored by: Stumbles on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 12:13 PM EST
I think using a software repository as the logic basis to say GPL is
the choice of the people or as a supporting element is over the top.
The same faulty logic could be used to support the same notion for
the proprietary side as they to have their own software repositories.



---
You can tune a piano but you can't tune a fish.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Redacted swearing"
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 12:20 PM EST
Can anybody please explain why "Jesus Christ" was removed from the
citation and replaced by "redacted swearing". Granted, His name ought
to be avoided in such a context, but using it doesn't make it into swearing,
does it?

PJ also says that the Groklaw standards have been loosened. How?


Disclaimer: I am not a native English speaker, so forgive me if I am asking
about something totally obvious.

[ Reply to This | # ]

You are trolls!
Authored by: mirabile on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 01:10 PM EST
That's what happens when BSD
code is used as a base and a company does its proprietary thing on top of
it.

Please stop the FUD.
We actually _want_ this.

We want our beautiful code to be used, not rot away in some
GPL'd archive where less people can benefit from it and
honour us by them using our code.

---
--
Real programmers don't comment their code. It was hard to write,
so it should be hard to understand. (seen on Nexusboard/Anime)
-> this comment is under

[ Reply to This | # ]

New GPL References Page
Authored by: DavidMertz on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 01:51 PM EST
While I'm generally with PJ, and also like the GPL for the same reasons, her
reasoning about iTunes is just off.

Quite possibly, PJ is correct about the nefarious reasons behind (semi-)forced
upgrades to iTunes by Apple. They don't have entirely clean hands (though I
also love my PowerBook). I think in this case, the upgrade is only about
compatibility with Apple's new model of iPod (Shuffle), rather than new DRM; but
even if so, the next one might not be.

But the GPL doesn't stop this behavior. Or at least not a GPL on the parts that
are BSD in OSX. That is to say, if Apple had decided to base their kernel on
Linux, rather than on FreeBSD/Mach, iTunes would not be affected one whit.

iTunes could still equally well be a proprietary application that runs on top of
Linux or a Linux-derived kernel. Or at least license-wise... maybe you could
argue about the social communities of BSD and Linux kernel users, or something
(but even there, these hypothetical Apple-Linux users would be more on the Apple
side of social community).

And moreover, Apple's behavior related to a hypothetical Linux kernel for OSX
would be no different than it has been for Darwin. Apple contributes their
changes to the kernel back to the community, just as they would be required to
do if the kernel were GPL'd. Yeah, they don't -have- to by license requirement,
but they do. No, they don't contribute the source of iTunes, but that's not the
kernel, just a userspace app.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A nit
Authored by: grouch on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 01:55 PM EST
'That's what happens when BSD code is used as a base and a company does its proprietary thing on top of it.'

This appears to be an oversight. The GPL doesn't prohibit someone putting secret sauce on top of a GPL base. Apple could have taken Linux or GNU/Linux as its base and plopped a closed GUI on top of it.

'In short, it's a license that gives a thought about the end user, not just the vendors and the developers, and it does it by ensuring the freedom of the code, not the freedom of the programmers. That last sentence is for all the BSD guys who thought it necessary to explain the superiority of the BSD license to us one more time in some comments interspersed with the nasty Microsoft shills and "fans".'

I have no problem with this, but I can imagine it stirring flames from BSD coders and users. The BSD license does ensure the freedom of the code, it just doesn't prevent someone from using the code in distributed closed binaries. I suspect PJ was thinking "ensuring the freedom of the code" to mean that the code nor its derivatives could be hidden away. Those who prefer the BSD license consider such a protection to be an unacceptable restriction on the freedom of the use of the code.

The distinction in freedoms protected by the GPL and the BSD licenses can be confusing to those new to F/LOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software). A simple way of viewing it:

  • BSD == free code (include it in any software you distribute, open or closed, so long as you include attribution)
  • GPL == code free from closing (you must keep the source open if you distribute)

The BSD license therefore ensures that a developer's code released under it will be freely reusable by anyone. The GPL license ensures that the user will be free from the trap of a single provider of code.

---
"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."
-- Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and invent

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • A nit - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 04:09 PM EST
    • A nit - Authored by: cricketjeff on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 04:37 PM EST
      • A nit - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 01 2005 @ 07:06 AM EST
The Tragedy of RMS
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 02:02 PM EST

PJ,

I recently read Eric Raymond's (ESR) review of RMS's biography. All shortcommings aside (both in the biography as in the review and in either RMS and ESR personally), one remark struck me. ESR ends his review with the following quote:

RMS's artifacts GCC, Emacs, the GNU General Public License really have changed the world. The process of open, collaborative development he did so much to help invent is triumphing. His code and his license have succeeded; it is only his rhetoric and moralizing that have failed. The tragedy is that RMS himself values his moralizing more than his code.

I do think ESR here has hit the nail on the head. The artefacts of RMS are invaluable to us all and earns him a statue. His politics might work out or not, I don't know. But I am afraid that RMS might really think his whole project to have failed, if the pragmatic view of Linux (in the person of Linus) prevails and indeed, everyone talks about Linux without the GNU.

Rob

[ Reply to This | # ]

Beware -Troll attacks !
Authored by: The_Pirate on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 02:19 PM EST
Why is it that this article seems to really bring the trolls out from under the
bridge? I don't think i have seen so much garbage for a extremely long time.

Or troll, for that matter, the style seems so consistent as if most of the stuff
is done by one single person...

In a way it seems quite hilarious :)

Anybody check the IP numbers?

Have fun!

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ, You can always put Ubuntu on that Powerbook ;-)
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 03:15 PM EST
Haven't tried it myself, but Ubuntu does support the PowerPC architecture. I
seems like a solid GNU/Linux distribution ... if I were to buy my Mom a computer
today I think I would go for the Mac mini and put Ubuntu on it ;-)

./ Kristoffer

[ Reply to This | # ]

New GPL References Page
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 04:13 PM EST
"That never happens in GNU/Linux software."

Then what's stopping you from using your iTunes under Linux?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why ?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 04:44 PM EST
After reading these stories I find it hard to believe that anyone encountering
such behavior would not switch to free software. Anyone who puts up with this
kind of thing deserves what they get.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Entirely intentional
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 05:56 PM EST
> The people's choice. That's the part Sun forgot.

I beg to differ, PJ. Their choice of licence was entirely intentional. Now all
of us in the Linux community have one more thing to worry about. Just to remind
everyone:

1. SCO's nonsense lawsuit (almost dealt with, but pain in the back side
nonetheless).

2. Patents.

3. Microsoft's constant attacks.

4. Sun's head-to-head competition with the body of GPL-ed software out there,
especially Linux.

Is it just me, or do other see that it is not possible for any of us (except
Sun) to combine code from OpenOffice.org (LGPL) with any code from Solaris
(CDDL). That would be the code from the same company, Sun.

Who wants to bet that newer version of OOo are going to be under CDDL?

[ Reply to This | # ]

New GPL References Page
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 09:07 PM EST
It may be a good read, but some of us remember Joe Barr from the compuserve
Canopus Forum. Anything Joe writes I take witha large grain of salt. Joe was an
OS2 cheerleader then and managed to aggravate most of the regulars on Canopus.
(One wag had labelled Joe as a rabid attack dog biting the hand that fed him)
FYI Canopus was run by Bill Zachman the former editor of PC Mag who resigned
over MS interference over editorials.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Software not religion
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 31 2005 @ 10:20 PM EST

I had to laugh when I read that posting from NewsForge. When someone goes on some diatribe about the religious nature of the attachment or preference of other about their choice of computer operating system but then utters (and I'm paraphrasing here):

``I'm a Windows server and client user and if it disappeared tomorrow I still wouldn't consider Linux or a Mac.''

Now who's exhibiting signs of a zealous, religious attachment to their operating system?

[ Reply to This | # ]

iTunes upgrade to break rhapsody?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 01 2005 @ 12:42 AM EST
Maybe this is the upgrade to keep your iPOD locked into iTunes?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Of ships and shoes and sealing wax; of DRM and things
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 01 2005 @ 01:31 AM EST
Proprietary software tells the customer over and over and in every way, "I don't like or trust you." Mutual, I'm sure.

This recalls to mind a nicely turned phrase Jo Walton shared a while back that ended up in my taglines collection:

I've just realised that one of the things I really hate hate hate about Windows is that it doesn't have any personality. It's corporate and it hates me but it wouldn't ever do anything but smile falsely and refuse to talk to me.
Of course Jo is an author, so we expect this sort of thing of her. :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

New GPL References Page
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 01 2005 @ 04:46 AM EST
"In short, it's a license that gives a thought about the end user, not just
the vendors and the developers, and it does it by ensuring the freedom of the
code, not the freedom of the programmers. That last sentence is for all the BSD
guys who thought it necessary to explain the superiority of the BSD license to
us one more time in some comments interspersed with the nasty Microsoft shills
and "fans". 3.57% guys. That is your answer."

Wow. Is this a sign that PJ is becoming '1337'?

What you may have failed to comprehend is that the BSD license is totally free.
No strings. Unlike the GPL, which requires some legal knowledge to wrap into
the contract that you're trying to pass on after doing all the nasty integration
work. Do you get the difference between 'free' and 'free'? I hope so, you've
used this bully pulpit enough times to hammer the point home.

Now, unlike the majority here that 'play' with Linux and cheerlead an industry
that they have no involvement in, there are people out there evangelising *nix
in commercial environments, and the increasingly triumphal tone of this blog is
beginning to grate. PJ, we were programming and developing *nix before the SCO
fiasco, but don't make the mistake of assuming that your 'market share'
statistics are more than a raw count up, or that GPL code has a future that
isn't dogged by lawyers. Incidentally, lawyers that code are certainly a lot
rarer than lawyers who think they can make a quick buck suing those who code,
and erecting the GPL as a 'haven' is a lot like Microsoft giving out a spyware
removal tool.

So no, we don't need the Maureen O'Gara's and Rob Enderle's in this industry,
and do your level best not to become one by standing in direct opposition.
After the glow is gone, you'll hate yourself.

Now, I have no doubt that this will get shouted down, but at least the point has
been made.

Drac

[ Reply to This | # ]

New GPL References Page
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 03:44 PM EST
You know, I just bought a used mac G4. It is replacing a SuSE/RH dev machine
for personal development.

I've been using Linux since an early version of slackware on a P90. I run RH8,
RH9, RHEL, SuSE and Fedora at work. I can recompile my kernel, I can patch, etc
etc.

While life is a heck of a lot easier today than it was back in the slackware
days (I remember hand tweaking the XFree86 configs to get my gfx card and
monitor to work right) its still harder than it should be.

As PJ says...OSX just works.

That's why I'm moving from an open OS to a closed OS (or more open if you
consider it as a BSD variant).

I don't need to fiddle to get my infrastructure up. I don't have to wonder why
the heck why package foo doesn't like my version of package bar. I don't have
to go...dang...the latest foo is only for Fedora and building foo from source
puts things in a completely different way than the packages and I need to
shuffle things by hand to get Apache to see foo correctly. Oh look...I have the
wrong glibc version too.

Now I don't expect perfection from OSX. But great googlymoogly it can't work
any worse...and I get iLife, MS Office, etc.

Let me know when either IBM or RH invests the kind of money to make the linux
desktop work as well as OSX as an integrated whole.

Vinea

[ Reply to This | # ]

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