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

Kostis Sagonas <>
Sun Mar 18 14:28:29 CET 2012


On 03/18/2012 12:33 AM, Loïc Hoguin wrote:
> 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.

Seems to me that you are writing about a completely different issue from 
the one in the original post. In any case, you are not replying to my 
question.

The original post 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.

So the situation we are discussing is one where some developers have 
released software X under GPL and company C has chosen to use that 
software and finds a bug in it. Why is it "harder (for the original 
developers, I guess) to accept contributions (from company C)"? I really 
do not understand this argument. This is the question I am asking Jon.


Regarding the following:

> 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?

you are of course right, but these arguments concern the issue of what 
license developers of open source software choose for their software.
If the goal is to maximize the users of a particular piece of software, 
then I agree that perhaps a BSD style license is a better choice than 
(A)GPL.

But this is not what we are discussing here: we are discussing that a 
particular company has *chosen* to use some open source software and why 
the fact that this software comes with a GPL license makes the situation 
worse ("a one-way street" in the words of the original post) in terms of 
user contributions to it than a software released under a BSD style 
license. I do not understand the difference (if any).

Kostis



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