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lynx-dev The motivations of the GPL

From: Brett Glass
Subject: lynx-dev The motivations of the GPL
Date: Fri, 08 Oct 1999 09:51:58 -0600

Richard Stallman's writings about the GPL are designed to hide his true
intent and to make it seem as if he is engaged in some form of "noble"
cause. In fact, the aim of the GPL is to destroy a particular group --
to sabotage a legitimate class of endeavor which Richard claims is

Open source itself is a noble pursuit, as are public libraries. It's
wonderful when software which was developed at the public's expense, or
by those generous enough to share their work, is available to all. But
the GPL is an attempt to use open source as a weapon by preventing
exactly one group of people from benefiting from it: programmers and
engineers who would build upon that work and be rewarded for doing so.
In fact, it goes farther in that it damages or destroys the prospects
of ANYONE who would hope to make a living by creating software.

When he played in the sandbox of academia more than 20 years ago, 
Richard insisted upon MAKING everyone else share his or her toys. When 
they did not, he vowed vengeance. He has, for more than 20 years, nursed 
a grudge against those who would not give their work away for free.
He has built a storehouse of rhetoric -- employing time-honored propaganda 
techniques -- in an attempt to sabotage their efforts. 

The fundamental problem with Richard's crusade was (and is!) that he failed 
to recognize that the norms and practices of academia were artificially created 
to bring about a particular end: the development of knowledge which can then be 
used "outside the bubble" in the real world. In the world of academic research,
researchers forego material rewards, but are rewarded instead with an
opportunity to live, full-time, in an incredibly rewarding intellectual 
playground. But that world is not self-sustaining; rather, it is created 
and supported by funding from government and from private businesses. What
they ask, in return, is that they be able to build practical products based
on the work that is done there. This symbiotic relationship works well, and 
most academics understand it. But Richard did not -- and was angered by the
efforts of companies such as Symbolics, which sought to use the work
done in the MIT AI Lab to produce real world products. (It failed,
incidentally, though for reasons which had nothing to do with the quality
of its products.)

In short, the GPL is effectively the result of an academic's tantrum --
railing against the "unfortunate" reality that the real world is not entirely
like the cloistered world which once existed in the MIT AI Lab. In the
real world, the reward systems are inescapably and irrevocably different,
and we must recognize and in fact appreciate this.

Richard, it's still time to recognize that what you are doing is hurtful and
harmful and stop doing it. Would you really like to be remembered for having 
spent your entire life nursing a petty grudge?

--Brett Glass

At 10:43 PM 10/6/99 -0600, Richard Stallman wrote:
>The long message that Brett sent you is shot full of inaccurate
>statements about the GPL, how it works, and its legal consequences.
>Please do not form your ideas of the GPL based on his description.

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