[erlang-questions] [OT] Re: GPL vs. whatever [was: Erlang UUID]

Loïc Hoguin essen@REDACTED
Sun Mar 18 00:33:32 CET 2012

On 03/17/2012 07:59 PM, Kostis Sagonas wrote:
> On 03/17/2012 07:24 PM, Jon Watte wrote:
>> The problem with GPL, even for a business that releases the source, is
>> that it becomes a lot harder to accept contributions from the rest of
>> the world. With GPL 3, the IP provisions make that pretty much a
>> non-starter for a business operating in the US business climate. Thus, a
>> GPL release (or AGPL release) from a commercial entity into the world
>> pretty much guarantees that it will be a one-way street, where fixes
>> won't work their way back up-stream.
> I really do not understand what sort of situation and/or business
> climate you are describing.
> Suppose I use a software X from company/organization/some developers
> which was released under GPL and I find a bug in it and correct it. What
> exactly is it that prevents me from sending the fixes back to the
> company/organization/developers of X for possible inclusion in the next
> release? Similarly if I enhance X with some additional functionality.
> What does business climate have to do with sending bug reports, bug
> fixes or enhancements? Why is this a one-way street as you claim?

Suppose you and your competitors were using the same open source project 
as a basis for their platform. Fixing bugs, or improving the software 
performance, and not contributing upstream gives you an advantage over 
your competition. You have the fixes, they don't.

If it's (A)GPL, you need to publish these fixes, and lose your 
advantage. If it's BSD, you can use it and keep your fixes to yourself 
and gain an advantage over your competition.

Either way the changes wouldn't be pushed back to upstream directly, 
because GPL only forces you to publish the changes, not feed them back 
to upstream. So chances are upstream wouldn't get the improvements 
anyway. Your competitors would, though, because they know you and 
they'll go get your sources directly.

Your choice then becomes: do I want businesses to think twice before 
using my software?

Loïc Hoguin
Erlang Cowboy
Nine Nines

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