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Re: The sad decline of copyleft software licenses? :(

From: Pen-Yuan Hsing
Subject: Re: The sad decline of copyleft software licenses? :(
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2020 09:34:28 +0800
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On 9/23/20 6:15 AM, Ali Reza Hayati wrote:
Yes, that is then not any more free software, it becomes proprietary.

Yes. It becomes proprietary and proprietary software is harmful as it
doesn't respect userfreedom.

> ......

What we're talking about is not whether they are free or not, it's
whether they remain free or not. Many become proprietary or be used in a
proprietary platform against software libre community.

This reminds me of two worrying examples I recently saw where even GPL-licensed software are still used to create proprietary software!

1. As someone with an academic background, I've seen and used many statistics/analytical software. There is a proprietary statistics GUI program called Brodgar that uses the GPL'ed R kernel as its "backend". Technically, Brodgar doesn't violate the GPL because it simply sends commands to R and receives its output, but in my opinion it really exploits the GPL-licensed R in a sadly anti-social way. What's particularly striking is that Brodgar prominently emphasizes why it *doesn't* violate the GPL on its homepage:

This really left a sour taste in my mouth. I gotta admit it really looked to me that the developer wanted to be in my face to say: "Ha! Look at how I can take advantage of this GPL'ed software even though my program is proprietary!"

2. To my surprise, the highly proprietary messaging app WhatsApp uses the GPL-licensed implementation of the Signal protocol developed by Open Whisper Systems for its self-proclaimed end-to-end encryption:

I suppose the Facebook army of lawyers were able to perform the necessary legal gymnastics to make a GPL program fit in their proprietary app, perhaps by technically keeping the GPL'ed binary separate from the rest of the app? (can someone more knowledgeable speak to this?)

My point with the above two examples is that even with GPL software, there are still ways people/companies who want to make proprietary software can exploit it. If so, permissive free software licenses are *even more* dangerous from the perspective of user freedom and strengthens the argument for copyleft licenses.

Any thoughts?

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