Re: Discussion about licenses, copyrights, business, and source code
"Konrad, Martin" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
EPICS mailing list <email@example.com>
Wed, 22 Oct 2014 21:21:39 +0000
> Who comes up with those licenses?
Lawyers do since they are paid to ensure that the authors do not run
into any legal risks by publishing their software.
> The enforcement is key. The GPL means the author of the original
> software wants to promote the ideology of forever free open source
Note that it is a right of the author/employer to decide which
privileges he grants to others. We should be grateful that he decided to
share the code with us in the first place (even if you are not allowed
to do whatever you like to do with it). Also note that advocates of the
strong copy-left say that GPL grants users _more_ privileges than most
other licenses (it intends to increase the rights users have if you look
at the bigger picture).
But you're right, there are many practical issues with GPL's
compatibility to other licenses. That's one of the main reasons why a
lot of the EPICS community's code is _not_ covered by GPL but by
licenses without strong copy-left.
BTW: Most of the OSS developed today is written by professionals not
enthusiasts. This has a significant impact on the way a license is chosen.
> In theory, a private (US?) company could come, take the software,
> modify it, close the source, and resell it. Of course, that's not the
> case with the GPL.
Yes, it is. Everyone can take a piece of GPL software, modify it and
sell it to a customer . You are _not_ forced to share it with the
world . But you _do_ need to share the source code with your customer
if you ship him the binaries. And of course you are also allowed to
charge for SaaS (e.g. cloud-based products) without sharing
A way around license compatibility issues might be to contact the author
of the code and convince him to dual-license his code. He might be
willing to do that only if you pay a license fee, though.
> The GPL is regarded as business unfriendly as it removes FOREVER a
> major revenue stream.
You are allowed to sell GPL software for money, you are not forced to
share your source code with the world (if you don't share the binary
with the world) and you are even allowed to develop a modified version
for a customer under NDA . That's enough for many companies to
generate revenue. Of course OSS requires a bit different business model
than selling proprietary software but you can still generate revenue
(Cosylab for example does).
Control System Engineer
Facility for Rare Isotope Beams
Michigan State University
640 South Shaw Lane
East Lansing, MI 48824-1321, USA
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