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.
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
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?
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