AFPL vs. GPL-like licenses?

Chris Sloan cds at
Wed Jan 17 01:57:01 UTC 2001

On Mon, Jan 15, 2001 at 04:55:02PM +0100, Lionello Lunesu wrote:
> It reminds of something I did in my childhood (I must have been 12 years old
> or so). Somebody gave me a collection of comics that he knew I liked. I read
> most but when I got tired of them I try to sell them in a yard sale. Then my
> brother pointed out to me that I shouldn't sell anything that I got as a
> present. I understood the mistake I made and waived from selling them.
> Now that I have my own 'present' to give to 'the software society', I'm
> afraid that some people might _willingly_ make the same 'mistake' I made.
> They are allowed to do so under the GPL.

There is, of course, an alternative way to look at free software as a
gift to "the software society," as you put it.

If someone gives you some clothes, they usually do not expect that you
would not wear them to work.  Similarly, if they give you a hammer or
other tool they do not usually expect you to refrain from making money
by using it.

Many people view free or open source software as such a gift.  The
intent is to give something to people so that they can use it.  If
that leads to them making money, good for them.  If they just use it
for fun, that's fine too.

This is particularly apropos because distributing or selling software
is not the same as selling your comic books.  After you sell the comic
books, someone else has them and you do not.  Not so with software
(unless you are selling your rights to the software).

With the Alladin license, I see the author as saying, "I've made this
cool hammer.  Feel free to use it around the house, but I want to
reserve the right to use it for construction."  Some of the more free
licenses are just saying, "Here, have a hammer."

I don't see either one as a "mistake."  It's all in what the author was
trying to achieve.


Chris Sloan
cds at
Systems Software Engineer
Green Hills Software

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