Re: Flaunting the GPL Re: Pious Crusades

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From: Gordon Mohr (
Date: Sun Sep 17 2000 - 11:05:05 PDT

Adam Beberg writes:
> > Sure, you'd be unpopular among many free/open source people.
> > But would there, could there be a legal prosecution? Who would
> > have to bring that case and what damages might apply? Has
> > there ever been such a court prosecution?
> The authors in theory, if they had the megabucks to invoke
> LegalSystem(), could try to sue, but I believe the standing legal
> opinion of the GPL is "if you challenge it, it will fall". It's never
> been to court.


I wasn't thinking so much of GPL code being swiped by a greedy
corporation, but rather by people who are even more radical
and consistent in their commitment to unfettered code than
RMS or the FSF.

I'd be amused to see a free software subsect emerge into
prominence which is so ethically opposed to copyright and code
ownership that they...
  (1) refuse to use copyright for their own ends (as
      does the FSF/GPL); and...
  (2) advocate ignoring all copyrights and conditional-use
      licenses, including the GPL, as righteous civil

These digitistas would take useful code from anywhere -- GPL,
commercial proprietary, BSD codebases -- and mix it into
publically available source. Usually, they'd release their
combinations as "public domain"; sometimes, just to add to
the confusion, they'd sneak their creative borrowing
into codebases covered by existing licenses.

Over time, it'd become increasingly impractical to verify the
origins and restrictions which apply to any given stretch of
code -- mocking the very idea of strict ownership/control of code.
A growing number of coders who just want to "get things done"
could be driven to conclude that license restrictions are so
annoyingly inefficient that they're illegitimate.

Is the time ripe for this next level of confusion and creative
destruction? Has this process already started?

- Gordon

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