YAPL is bad (was: Re: Backlog assistance?)

Ian Lance Taylor ian at airs.com
Mon Sep 24 18:40:24 UTC 2001

Rob Myers <robmyers at mac.com> writes:

> on 24/9/01 2:15 pm, John Cowan at jcowan at reutershealth.com wrote:
> > 
> > Rob Myers wrote:
> > 
> >> I agree that this is an offer rather than a directive. But the effect of
> >> making the source (ultimately) available to anyone is the same as soon as
> >> the license is accepted. The GPL has this effect, the APSL makes this effect
> >> explicit. Any attempt to control this (by requiring that employees or
> >> clients not distribute the source) is in breach of the license.
> > 
> > Right enough, but it still may be contained by voluntary action or
> > by sheer inertia.
> A disgruntled programmer can stop voluntarily not distributing code. My
> GPL/APSL comparison does (deliberately) exclude inertia, and I agree that in
> the real world it is a powerful force, but it is not *certain* to regulate
> code distribution. This all leaves something to chance which the APSL does
> not, although the APSL resolves it in a manner which is clearly
> unsatisfactory to many people.

The GPL is perfectly usable to keep code changes private among a group
of people who all have an interest in keeping the changes private.
This could mean, for example, the software house which made the
changes and the set of customers who purchase them.  The software
house has an interest because of the opportunity to resell the
changes.  The customers have an interest because they do not want
their competitors to benefit from the changes.

The APSL is not usable in this way.  Maybe good, maybe bad, but
clearly different.

This leads to a GPL-related issue which is not clear to me: can
redistribution of GPL code be constrained by an employment agreement?
That is, if company employees make changes to GPL code, can the
company forbid all employees from distributing those changes?  I
suspect that it can, as employment agreements are permitted to
constrain many varieties of free speech, at least in the U.S.

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