Let me start by saying that I’ve never really been a fan of the GPL based entirely on the zealotry of its proponents. I attended a conference and in a short period was both impressed and filled with admiration for Bruce Perens and, almost at the same time, bored and somewhat disappointed with the rhetoric of Richard Stallman.
Free software has it’s place but I’m watching this debate with interest especially as there doesn’t seem to be ANY effort from the “Linux community” to fix the problem.
There’s some code licensed under the BSD license. It’s possible to use this code as-is because the BSD license is truly Free.
Steps taken by some Linux developers:
1. pester developer for a year to get it under another license.
– get told no, repeatedly
2. climb over ethical fence
3. remove his license
– get caught, look a bit stupid
4. wrap his license with your own
– get caught, look really stupid
5. assert copyright under author’s license, without original work
– get caught, look even more stupid
The FSF would be very quick to scream and shout about a violation of the GPL and indeed were very pre-emptive to grab headlines from the iPhone with spurious claims it may violate the GPL yet when some people violate the BSD license and substitute it with the GPL, they are mysteriously silent.
To wit, Richard Stallman:
“The FSF is not involved in this dispute.”
Stallman’s veracity in trying to make software Free evidently only covers his own interest in the GPL and not in other licenses. In effect the BSD license allows you to do what you want with your code. The GPL allows you to do what the FSF wants with your code.
The facts are: some Linux developers broke the BSD license and are now flubbing, with advice from an ex-FSF lawyer, to cover it up.
Linux groupies are calling this a smear campaign against Linux. In effect they’re saying that code theft is okay as long as it’s someone elses copyright and not GPL copyleft.
I’m not blaming the Linux community for the reprehensible actions of a few zealous developers but unless there’s more of a response in the form of telling these developers their actions are, in fact, wrong, then the integrity of the FSF is in question.