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

From: Jean Louis
Subject: Re: The sad decline of copyleft software licenses? :(
Date: Thu, 1 Oct 2020 15:21:24 +0300
User-agent: Mutt/1.14.0 (2020-05-02)

* Marinus Savoritias <> [2020-10-01 12:06]:
> > GPL program may be used for crime, smuggling, nuclear missiles, drug
> > sales, and other destructive actions. But that is still a feature of
> > free software, and not disadvantage. You may use it for whatever
> > purpose you wish, that includes invoking it by proprietary
> > software.
> Depends how you look at it. Being able to use GPL for purposes of war gives
> freedom to the privileged people who do the war. But what about the people
> who are actually being attacked? Do they have Freedom with your license?
> Shouldn't we at least try to protect these people from being
> attacked?

It is not up to us to decide who is just or unjust. Think about that.

When you give money or receive money, that money was maybe used for
illegal activities, like it was most probably in hands of dirty
people, or criminals, drug dealers or child traffickers.

It is not up to us to judge who uses the software and for which
purpose, including to limit usage of software for any purpose.

When you sell water, you don't limit who is to drink the water based
on their character, same with money, food, and also same with free

> Or are we too far into our own privilege that we don't care that our
> software can be used to hurt others?

Free software was always like that. You can use it as you wish.

> That doesn't sound free to me. That sounds like whatever benefits us more
> without caring about others.

Please compare it to other more necessary things just as I explained,
the water.

Let us say emergency department in hospital, do they care if bad
person like criminal was shut and hurt? They do care, they don't look
into whys and justice. 

> For now. What happens though if it is made closed source though?

It is proprietary, it happens. We don't mind, we keep pushing free

I would not use the term "closed source", as it implies the term "open
source", and that one was used to hide the free software and is still
being used for commercial purposes.

Binaries distributed without source or proprietary software is more

Greatest majority of proprietary software have their sources, they are
just not distributed unless under some special licenses. So the source
nobody closed, as their source is still there readable, only for
themselves, only for authors.

> You didn't protect the user in that case. You protect your own self
> interests like corporations do. We shouldn't require from the user
> to check the hundreds of packages they have installed just in case
> something became closed source.

I don't get this.

> And also when people contribute they expect all changes they made to be used
> for FOSS software. What is the point of contributing somewhere when anybody
> can take the code and close source it for their own benefit at any
> time?

Practically, anybody can do that with GPL software as well, only the
license asks not to do it. And in some countries, the authors probably
cannot enforce the GPL.

Main purpose is sharing and having free software.

Secondary purpose is enforcing, and that should be done in gentle
manner, not strict manner. Because by having gentle approach,
proprietary software such as Linux kernel, could become free
software. As Linus Torvalds used he GNU operating system tools to
prepare Linux kernel, after some thinking, and I think it took him
harder time to think about it, he made it GNU GPL. He heard Richard
Stallman's talk at his university. Otherwise, Linux kernel was
initially proprietary software.

> > It is like guns, you need a license for gun, but bad boy need not
> > license, is free to use a gun in any country.
> There is a history of companies complying with the GPL. Saying that licenses
> don't help is misinformation.

Yes, it helps, but only in cases where you have companies or persons
exposed in public.

License cannot help you to enforce proprietary software or binaries
being made out of GPL software, made by bad boys. I see you cannot
understand this statement, even I gave you example with guns. Guns are
regulated in many countries, but that implies that only people abiding
by the law are going to abide the regulation to get a license for the
gun. Bad boy does not abide by the law, and need not look into any
license, when bad boy wants it, bad boy will use the gun. You cannot
do anything about it.

Is there any country in the world where criminals were really
forbidden to do any crime? No. Crimes are committed anywhere.

License terms can be nullified and disrespected anywhere on this

> Sure there will be violations. But these are the minority.

I do not know, I have no possibility to verify it. I know my practical
case when somebody engaged me to make a shell script on  their remote
servers, and company was selling security software, and they used free
software to make proprietary software, that is where I gave up. So you
may not even know which company is selling proprietary software made
out of GPL software, it is hard to find out.

> The whole Linux

I do not know what you mean with Linux, that is kernel.

> and Browser and Phone situation proves it.

I do not know, explain me what you mean with browsers or phones?

> The sole reason we have something even remotely close to FOSS on our
> phones with Android is because of the GPL.

I do not use the term FOSS as it is misleading, it means free and open
source software, so that uses the term "free" in the context of price
probably, and "open source" is used originally to hide the true free
software. Please see to understand it.

> If Torvalds had used MIT for the kernel we wouldn't have Android
> today.

Linus Torvalds never intended in the first place to release Linux
kernel as free software. It was not free. I have verified the first
version myself. He listened to Richard Stallman talking at his
university, then he decided to release it as free software. Please
read here:

See original Linux distribution server from Finnish university:

See the release notes for version 0.12 where you can realize that
Linus was changing the terms to the GPL:

Thus Linux was never released originally as free software.

You can see release notes for 0.01 where it clearly says that it is
not free software, as Linus disallowed selling it.

Android is not free software really, it is bundled with many
proprietary parts. So I do not know how to praise Android, it is
mischief project made by Google.

LineageOS is little better, as it removes Google, but does not remove
all the proprietary software from Android. 

Replicant is the best, but does not support many phones such as

There are others:

> Licenses do help. And laws do help. That is why we have them. EU has proper
> gun laws and the guns are way less.

My friend, laws help to punish somebody or remedy situations, laws do
not help to prevent the shootings!

There is no law that can prevent a criminal to conduct a crime.

There is no law that will stop anybody releasing software by violating
GPL license. You may try to enforce it, but it was neither prevented
or stopped in the first place. You are coming always too late with the

I am now in East Africa, we freely copy and duplicate movies,
translate them to local languages and make them worse, yet there is no
company in USA that can prevent this sharing here. We sell movies,
software, anything digital just as it would be original
software. Nobody can prevent that practically. One could try, but is
waste of time for nothing.

You can try enforcing GPL only in civilized countries abiding to some
standards, but you cannot do nothing in majority of the world, as
majority of countries are not civilized. Sorry to say, but that is reality.

> > If you speak of global GPL usage, I have no good statistics, what I
> > see and observe is that more and more software is released under GPL,
> > and I am observing it for last 21 years, so my feeling my be
> > subjective, yet that is my feeling.
> > 
> Your feeling is valid. But its not reality I am afraid.
> Github is the biggest software site on the planet right now. So the numbers
> are not that far off from the statistics Github gave.

You are mixing the ratio of GPL to MIT and other licenses, and the
number of GPL software appearing every year.

Free software movement appreciates MIT-like licensed software and we
are friends, there is no big difference, many GPL programmers will
also work on MIT software, and many MIT-license-used programmers will
also work and contribute on GPL software. We do not divide people.

To say that GPL is in decline by watching ratio of GPL to other
licenses on GITHUB.COM is misleading and inaccurate statistics.

GPL is in decline if for example 100 software packages were made in
2018, but then 80 in 2019, and then 70 in 2020, then you can say it is
in decline. Even that way is wrong, one would need to count the
duplication as well, usability or impact of software as well. Does it
matter? Yes, it does matter to look into statistics properly.

But if you are getting every year more and more GPL software, like
2018 you got 50 packages, 2019 you got 60 new packages, 2020 you got
70 packages, then GPL is growing, improving, and not declining.

Even looking into ratio of GPL to MIT-like-licenses is imposing some
race condition, that it is not. You can take many MIT-like-licensed
software, fork it, and release it as GPL-3 if you wish, you are
allowed to do so.



So there is no race condition here, you can get MIT-like-licensed
software (be careful with exact terms) and release it under GPL-3
licensed terms, as long as they are compatible.


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