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Re: [DotGNU]Forum Update 17-apr-2001

From: Silvernerd
Subject: Re: [DotGNU]Forum Update 17-apr-2001
Date: Sat, 20 Apr 2002 12:06:58 +0200

Barry Fitzgerald wrote:
> Actually, I disagree with your assertion on a handful of counts:
> 1. The GNU system most certainly is open for commercial programs, just
> not proprietary programs.  This is a key distinction.  There's nothing
> anti-commercial about the GNU GPL - there is much that is
> anti-oppression about the GNU GPL.

I guess I chose the wrong words here, I know that GNU is not against
commercial software, but I didn't realize that when writing the mail. 

> 2. If you mean to say that proprietary programs cannot be run on the GNU
> system, that's not true either.  The GNU LGPL exists precisely so that
> proprietary programs (or programs under non-copyleft licenses in
> general) can link copyleft code into them.  The GNU stance is not any
> different than the DotGNU stance as far as freeness and licensing are
> concerned.
> Having said this, I don't at all disagree with your decision nor the
> ethical backing on it.  However, there's little if any difference
> between the GNU project and the DotGNU project regarding licensing and
> base philosophy.

I seem to have misinterpreted the fact that DotGNU is trying to win over
the industry as that DotGNU has another approach to the software
industry than GNU. This could be a common mistake unexperienced people
make when reading about DotGNU.

> The trick here is determining whether the GNU GPL protects against these
> infractions.  Would plugins link code from the rest of the project into
> them?  If so, then technically the GNU GPL would serve this purpose.  If
> not (say, if the plugins are executed via a system call or some other
> execution mechanism) then the GNU GPL probably would not legally protect
> against them.
> Also, I'm not sure that one could under these circumstances.  That is of
> course unless the license explicitely said that "This program cannot
> call another program unless it is under the GNU GPL" which would be
> nearly impossible to enforce.  Particularly since the technical
> workaround for that is to create a GNU GPL'ed wrapper program that
> itself calls the target proprietary program.  The result of this is an
> arms race which would be very difficult to win.
> Then again, the wrapper technique could also be done with a proprietary
> plugin even if it did link to the code.
> Having said that, the general stance is that the proper way to counter
> proprietary software is with the production of Free Software.  This is,
> of course, barring the outlaw of proprietary software - which we're
> unlikely to see anytime soon. If Microsoft came out with a WMA plugin
> for forum (even if it just used a wrapper to activate itself) the best
> response is to try to counter with a Free WMA plugin.  If that's
> impossible (say, because of patent encumberance) then you would try to
> make it as difficult as possible for them to keep up with your changes.
> Ideally, this would show pragmatic disadvantages to proprietary
> software.  However, this is all postulation as to how things could go.
> The best strategy is to stick with the GNU GPL and roll with the
> punches.

The wrapper thing is actually a good idea for allowing plugins to be
non-GPL without changing the license of the program, I'll build the
plugin system on it. You are probably right that it isn't a good idea to
try to make plugins GPL'd, but maybe it is possible to make a black-list
of plugins working with unethical protocols and let the program read
this list. I would however prefer a way of making them disclose their
protocols under certain circumstances (like we have with the
owner-of-the-data concept in webservices), but I don't think it will be
legally possible.

Anyway thanks for making me realize my mistakes.


Silvernerd (Peter Minten)

"Using GNU/Linux is like walking over a ray of bricks, not as beautiful,
but a lot more substantial than light."

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