25 Nov 2001 methodMatthew   » (Journeyer)

This entry is in reference to the recent GPL freedom or power post. It becomes apparent just how important choice of licensing is after browsing the internet searching for sites that accept free software posting. Most of these sites state clearly that they will accept only certain free software licenses. NOT ALL. This is extended by many developer's opinions as well. If you look closely you will notice that this is an environment for monopoly. Imagine that GPL did get the upper hand and became the only free license. In effect this would influence the whole environment shutting out many potential free software developer's who do not wish to publish under the GPL. There is another factor to observe in the free software sector. People who contribute to the free software. People are not clones. Not all people follow laws. In general people are unpredictable. This brings up an issue of even if you do publish it free under the GPL there is no guarantee it will stay that way. Now lets take a look at what two different licenses accomplish. The GPL and the BSD. The above taken into account the GPL affectively cuts off a large limb of the free software tree of developers. This effectively divides and conquers the free software community, or at least severely impedes it. What does the GPL offer in return? No copyright. This severs the developer from any claim over the software. THIS PREVENTS THE DEVELOPER WHO WISHES THE SOFTWARE TO BE FREE FROM STATING "I WANT THIS SOFTWARE TO BE FREE". The community says "Who are you?" because there is no copyright and thus the developer is not known. People might say "That is why you can use dual licensing." This brings me back to the issue of a GPL monopoly which would prevent dual licensing. Next we can look at the BSD. Generally speaking the BSD is the same as the GPL with one exception (One very big exception). FREEDOM. ALL free software developer's may take part in contributions to software under this license. This includes the die hard free software users who create nothing but free software and part time free software developers who write propriety software as well. Many stead fast GPL developers attempt to argue that free developers must be all or nothing. However that is not the case. Whether you like it or not there are talented developers who do not agree with the GPL. Most free software developers have a goal. That goal is to make free software a standard. Chopping off all not GPL developers would be cutting progress in half. Lets put this into perspective. People are people and software is software. You can not call a person "propriety person" you can only call the software he/she writes propriety. What I am getting at is that a person can write propriety software then write free software or the other way around or both at the same time. Free software is free to reject this is to run in place. Lets face it there are many developers out there who need a license that provides freedom and freedom is power. Everyone has their own opinion of what freedom and power is. I believe that the BSD is the perfect license for free software because it excludes no one. This does not mean that GPL developers aren't writing good free software and helping the free software community thrive. What I do not like is the segregation that SOME GPL users would like to inflict on the community by attempting to shut the door on non-GPL free software developers.

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