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Date:      Wed, 12 May 1999 23:32:12 -0400 (EDT)
From:      "Crist J. Clark" <cjc@cc942873-a.ewndsr1.nj.home.com>
To:        davids@webmaster.com (David Schwartz)
Cc:        cjclark@home.com, adam@whizkidtech.net, freebsd-chat@FreeBSD.ORG
Subject:   Re: Richard Stallman came to town
Message-ID:  <199905130332.XAA11617@cc942873-a.ewndsr1.nj.home.com>
In-Reply-To: <000001be9ced$06e0a380$021d85d1@whenever.youwant.to> from David Schwartz at "May 12, 99 08:02:24 pm"

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David Schwartz wrote,
> 
> > IMHO, GNU has a place in the world. I personally don't go to the
> > extreme that _all_ software should be GNU, but I do think that the
> > existence of GNU or a foundation actively trying to increase the pool
> > of GNU software is not evil. It's just another choice for people who
> > write programs.
> 
> 	The evil comes from two sources. First, there are programmers who GPL their
> code without a clear understanding of what they're doing.

I don't see how some people's ignorance can be blamed on GNU. It's
like blaming the gun manufaturer for someone being shot, or the
cigarette maker for someone getting cancer... oh, wait, we do blame
that on them now-a-days.

> Second, GNU is not
> just about voluntarily licensing one's source code under certain terms, it's
> also about legal changes that aim to eliminate the entire concept of
> intellectual property.

GNU _is_ about destroying much of the capitalist rewards for owning
intellectual property of computer programs. That is why I do not feel
it is for everybody. Earning profit from your work or being motivated
by economic rewards is not evil. But I don't think someone who authors
a program and does not want someone else using their work to earn a
quick buck is evil either. If they instead wants everyone to be able
to have the code and use it for free... how can that be bad?

One point about GPL though, it is very specific about maintaining the
ownership of the code, or more aptly put, maintaining the 'credit' for
the work... not that the love, affection, adoration, and admiration of
those who use your code will pay the bills.

> 	It is my firm belief that the net effect of GNU and the GPL/GLL is to
> decrease the quality of software and create many 'everybody loses'
> scenarios. I have personally seen this happen too many times to count.
> 
> 	For example, just recently a project I was involved in required a database
> much like 'gdbm'. There were a few features that we needed that gdbm did not
> offer, and had we decided to use gdbm, we would gladly have made those
> enhancements available to the community -- our product is not a database, so
> there would be no competitive issues.
> 
> 	However, gdbm's license was, unfortunately, too restrictive for us. As a
> result, so we developed an in-house database on top of proprietary base
> code, the path of least resistance for us.
> 
> 	It's not as good as gdbm would have been with our improvements. The
> community will not benefit from our effort, since even if we wanted to
> release the database, we don't have the rights to relase the core code we
> built it on.
> 
> 	Everybody loses. This is typical. This is intentional.

It is intentional. But Stallman would say that the fault lies not with GNU
but with the proprietary software you were forced to use. Funny thing
here is, if there was no GNU, how would this outcome have been any
different? Would you still have most likely ended up with proprietary
software?

Out of curiousity, what was too restrictive about gdbm's license if
you would have made the code changes freely available?
-- 
Crist J. Clark                           cjclark@home.com


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