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www/philosophy selling.html ec_letter_mysql_oct...

From: Matt Lee
Subject: www/philosophy selling.html ec_letter_mysql_oct...
Date: Thu, 07 Jan 2010 23:05:02 +0000

CVSROOT:        /web/www
Module name:    www
Changes by:     Matt Lee <mattl>        10/01/07 23:05:02

Modified files:
        philosophy     : selling.html 
Added files:
        philosophy     : ec_letter_mysql_oct19.pdf 

Log message:
        added selling-exceptions article, plus linked from selling. local copy 
of the PDF letter, as it will inevitably disappear sooner or later.


Index: selling.html
RCS file: /web/www/www/philosophy/selling.html,v
retrieving revision 1.32
retrieving revision 1.33
diff -u -b -r1.32 -r1.33
--- selling.html        6 Jan 2010 17:50:54 -0000       1.32
+++ selling.html        7 Jan 2010 23:03:51 -0000       1.33
@@ -11,6 +11,10 @@
 <!-- Change include statements to be consistent with the relevant -->
 <!-- language, where necessary. -->
+<p><em><a href="/philosophy/selling-exceptions.html">Some views on the
+ideas of selling exceptions to free software licenses, such as the GNU
+GPL</a> are also available.</em></p>
 Many people believe that the spirit of the GNU Project is that you
 should not charge money for distributing copies of software, or that
@@ -220,7 +224,7 @@
 <!-- timestamp start -->
-$Date: 2010/01/06 17:50:54 $
+$Date: 2010/01/07 23:03:51 $
 <!-- timestamp end -->

Index: ec_letter_mysql_oct19.pdf
RCS file: ec_letter_mysql_oct19.pdf
diff -N ec_letter_mysql_oct19.pdf
Binary files /dev/null and /tmp/cvsJDnZYG differ

Index: selling-exceptions.html
RCS file: selling-exceptions.html
diff -N selling-exceptions.html
--- /dev/null   1 Jan 1970 00:00:00 -0000
+++ selling-exceptions.html     7 Jan 2010 23:03:50 -0000       1.1
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+<!--#include virtual="/server/header.html" -->
+<title>Selling Exceptions</title>
+<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.fsf.org/blogs/rms/selling-exceptions"; 
+<!--#include virtual="/server/banner.html" -->
+<h2>Selling Exceptions</h2>
+<p>by <a href="http://www.stallman.org/";>Richard Stallman</a></p>
+<p><em>The practice of selling license exceptions became a hot topic
+when I co-signed Knowledge Ecology International's letter warning that
+Oracle's purchase of MySQL (plus the rest of Sun) might not be good
+for MySQL.</em></p>
+<p><em>As the following article explains, my feelings about selling
+license exceptions are mixed. Clearly it is possible to develop
+powerful and complex software packages under the GNU GPL without
+selling exceptions, and we do this. MySQL can be developed this way
+too. However, selling exceptions has been used by MySQL
+developers. Who should decide whether to continue this? I don't think
+it is wise to give major decisions about a free software project to a
+large proprietary competitor, which might naturally prefer that the
+project develop less rather than more.</em></p>
+<p><em>One thing that makes no sense at all is the idea of changing
+the license of MySQL to something non-copyleft. That would eliminate
+the possibility of selling exceptions, but allow all sorts of
+proprietary modified versions. Wherever MySQL should go, it isn't
+<h3>On Selling Exceptions to the GNU GPL</h3>
+<p>When I co-signed the <a
+href="/philosophy/ec_letter_mysql_oct19.pdf">letter objecting to
+Oracle's planned purchase of MySQL</a> (local copy of document from <a
+original location</a>) (along with the rest of Sun), some free
+software supporters were surprised that I approved of the practice of
+selling license exceptions which the MySQL developers have used.  They
+expected me to condemn the practice outright.  This article explains
+what I think of the practice, and why.</p>
+<p>Selling exceptions means that the copyright holder of the code
+releases it to the public under a free software license, then lets
+customers pay for permission to use the same code under different
+terms, for instance allowing its inclusion in proprietary applications.</p>
+<p>We must distinguish the practice of selling exceptions from something
+crucially different: proprietary extensions or proprietary versions of
+a free program.  These two activities, even if practiced
+simultaneously by one company, are different issues.  In selling
+exceptions, the same code that the exception applies to is available
+to the general public as free software.  An extension or a modified
+version that is only available under a proprietary license is
+proprietary software, pure and simple, and no better than any other
+proprietary software.  This article is concerned with cases that
+involve strictly and only the sale of exceptions.</p>
+<p>I've considered selling exceptions acceptable since the 1990s, and on
+occasion I've suggested it to companies.  Sometimes this approach has
+made it possible for important programs to become free software.</p>
+<p>The KDE desktop was developed in the 90s based on the Qt library.  Qt
+was proprietary software, and TrollTech charged for permission to
+embed it in proprietary applications.  TrollTech allowed gratis use of
+Qt in free applications, but this did not make it free/libre software.
+Completely free operating systems therefore could not include Qt, so
+they could not use KDE either.</p>
+<p>In 1998, the management of TrollTech recognized that they could make
+Qt free software and continue charging for permission to embed it in
+proprietary software.  I do not recall whether the suggestion came
+from me, but I certainly was happy to see the change, which made it
+possible to use Qt and thus KDE in the free software world.</p>
+<p>Initially, they used their own license, the Q Public License (QPL) --
+quite restrictive as free software licenses go, and incompatible with
+the GNU GPL.  Later they switched to the GNU GPL; I think I had explained
+to them that it would work for the purpose.</p>
+<p>Selling exceptions depends fundamentally on using a copyleft license,
+such as the GNU GPL, for the free software release.  A copyleft
+license permits embedding in a larger program only if the whole
+combined program is released under that license; this is how it
+ensures extended versions will also be free.  Thus, users that want to
+make the combined program proprietary need special permission.  Only
+the copyright holder can grant that, and selling exceptions is one
+style of doing so.  Someone else, who received the code under the GNU
+GPL or another copyleft license, cannot grant an exception.</p>
+<p>When I first heard of the practice of selling exceptions, I asked
+myself whether the practice is ethical.  If someone buys an exception
+to embed a program in a larger proprietary program, he's doing
+something wrong (namely, making proprietary software).  Does it follow
+that the developer that sold the exception is doing something wrong
+<p>If that implication is valid, it would also apply to releasing the
+same program under a noncopyleft free software license, such as the
+X11 license.  That also permits such embedding.  So either we have to
+conclude that it's wrong to release anything under the X11 license --
+a conclusion I find unacceptably extreme -- or reject this
+implication.  Using a noncopyleft license is weak, and usually an
+inferior choice, but it's not wrong.</p>
+<p>In other words, selling exceptions permits some embedding in
+proprietary software, and the X11 license permits even more embedding.
+If this doesn't make the X11 license unacceptable, it doesn't make
+selling exceptions unacceptable.</p>
+<p>There are three reasons why the FSF doesn't practice selling exceptions.
+One is that it doesn't lead to the FSF's goal: assuring freedom for
+each user of our software.  That's what we wrote the GNU GPL for, and
+the way to achieve this most thoroughly is to release under GPL
+version 3-or-later and not allow embedding in proprietary software.
+Selling exceptions wouldn't achieve this, just as release under the
+X11 license wouldn't.  So normally we don't do either of those things.
+We release under the GPL only.</p>
+<p>Another reason we release only under the GPL is so as not to permit
+proprietary extensions that would present practical advantages over
+our free programs.  Users for whom freedom is not a value might choose
+those non-free versions rather than the free programs they are based
+on -- and lose their freedom.  We don't want to encourage that.</p>
+<p>But there are occasional cases where, for specific reasons of
+strategy, we decide that using a more permissive license on a certain
+program is better for the cause of freedom.  In those cases, we
+release the program to everyone under that permissive license.</p>
+<p>This is because of another ethical principle that the FSF follows: to
+treat all users the same.  An idealistic campaign for freedom should
+not discriminate, so the FSF is committed to giving the same license
+to all users.  The FSF never sells exceptions; whatever license or
+licenses we release a program under, that is available to everyone.</p>
+<p>But we need not insist that companies follow that principle.  I
+consider selling exceptions an acceptable thing for a company to do,
+and I will suggest it where appropriate as a way to get programs
+<!--#include virtual="/server/footer.html" -->
+<div id="footer">
+Please send FSF &amp; GNU inquiries to 
+<a href="mailto:address@hidden";>&lt;address@hidden&gt;</a>.
+There are also <a href="/contact/">other ways to contact</a>
+the FSF.
+<br />
+Please send broken links and other corrections or suggestions to
+<a href="mailto:address@hidden";>&lt;address@hidden&gt;</a>.
+Please see the 
+<a href="/server/standards/README.translations.html">Translations
+README</a> for information on coordinating and submitting
+translations of this article.
+<p>Copyright &copy; 2009 Richard Stallman</p>
+<p>This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-No
+Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this
+visit <a 
+or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300,
+San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.</p>
+<!-- timestamp start -->
+$Date: 2010/01/07 23:03:50 $
+<!-- timestamp end -->
+<div id="translations">
+<h4>Translations of this page</h4>
+<!-- Please keep this list alphabetical by language code. -->
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+<!-- If you add a new language here, please -->
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