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

From: Stephen Paul Weber
Subject: Re: The sad decline of copyleft software licenses? :(
Date: Mon, 28 Sep 2020 21:03:09 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.10.1 (2018-07-13)

I really think that for the copyleft strategy to furthering software freedom,
*volume* of programs under the GPL is not the most important factor, but rather
the strategic value of the program.

If I license my little script under the GPL, that is good, but if no one would
ever have wanted to make a proprietary program on it, then the strategy hasn't
help software freedom very much.

Big success stories from the past may be informative.  Take the GCC, LLVM
situation as an example.  This is a *huge* GPL success story.  GCC was so good
that even Apple shipped a version for awhile, and then spent *a lot* of time and
money on LLVM (which also ended up being mostly free software!) because they
wanted to "escape" from GCC.  Forcing a company to spend their resources
replacing a strategic GPL'd program instead of using those resources to further
enslave users is a very big win!

Another very similar good case is Linux and Fuscia, where Google is spending
resources trying to replace a GPL'd program.

Or how about the case of AMD employing people to work on a GPL'd driver for
their graphics cards?  That is putting their resources towards *creating
copylefted free software* just because they find Linux such a valuable program
to contribute to.

And of course we have enforcement cases like OpenWRT where the use of GPL'd
programs was too big a temptation and enough useful source was obtained to
create a whole project that is very useful.

So what we should be thinking about is not "how can I make every little git repo
out there sport a GPL license", because that would not be a bad thing, but it
would not help us very much.  What we should be thinking about is "what programs
are going to be *so useful* that people who would rather spend their resources
writing proprietary software choose to reimplement what we have, or even
contribute to our free program".

No clone of something proprietary will be this strategic, unless it is a *much
improved* clone.  I will not claim to know what it will be, so obviously we must
keep trying many different things, but really with a focus on the goal.

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