[KLUG Advocacy] ESR: the GPL is holding back open source

Robert G. Brown bob at whizdomsoft.com
Fri Jul 1 19:01:49 EDT 2005

On Fri, 01 Jul 2005 16:29:07 -0400, Jamie McCarthy wrote:

>  http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/07/01/1210258&tid=95&tid=8&tid=106
>  http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/onlamp/2005/06/30/esr_interview.html

>    "We don't need the GPL anymore. It's based on the belief that
>    open source software is weak and needs to be protected. 

Unless ESR is speaking from special, personal knowledge about the movitvations
behind the GPL, this strikes me as something of a glib misstatement of things.
whether or not "open source software" is "weak" or not doesn't mean it can go
into the world without any legal structure or licensing framework. The fact is
that the whole licensing issue was framed nicely by the GPL, and a lot of dev-
elopers were very happy to follow it.

>    Open source would be succeeding faster if the GPL didn't make lots
>    of people nervous about adopting it."
Maybe, I tend to beleive that it's hard to tell. I've been in situations where
the use of the GPL was simply another barrier thrown up by people averse to
adopting new methods and tools. For purposes of those arguments, if it hadn't 
been the GPL, it wold have been something else.

>    "It's 2005, not 1985. We've learned a lot in the last 20
>    years. The fears that originally led to the reciprocity stuff
>    in GPL are nowadays, at least in my opinion, baseless."

Verbal candy, in the view of this observer. Was the "reciprocity stuff" put in
place because of some fears, or to create strong prtections for some other 
reasons. It is interesting to see someone who has embraced the GPL repudiate it
when its suitable, although I don't see why. ERS's faith in the "free market"
is newly discovered, he spent a long time doubting the freedon of that market.
What's changed?

Two final points....

   * I urge you to read the above interview, because many of ESR's arguments
     arew more compelling than the quotes presented. I still do not agree with
     it, but there is interesting food for thought.

   * We can raise this wirh ESR, as HE WILL BE HERE on August 9th. Our regular
    KLUG meetying is being moved to Schnieder Hall at WMU to accomodate additional
    guests. Meeting time is 7pm, but arrive early (doors open at 6) to get a seat.

The GPL has provided a good framework for the development of the Free Software and
Open Source Software communities, in my view. I do not see the level of acceptance 
for this software that ESR does, but i do see less fear. Abandoning the GPL does not
give us better legal frameworks (unless we want to discuss areplacement, which ESR
does not), but it would removethe rights and protections a lot of people seem to 
like, when all other licensing models are only becoming more restrictive.

								---> RGB <---

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