OSD modification regarding what license can require of user

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Wed Mar 13 23:55:30 UTC 2002

From: John Cowan <jcowan at reutershealth.com>
> To be concrete, suppose I provide a "fast grepping" service.

Grep is an over-simple case, which might lead you to trivialize the problem.

Consider Evolution, OpenOffice, or GNU Emacs. Postulate that someone makes
a way for somebody to use one of those programs as if it were running
natively on their computer, without ever activating the "distribution"
terms of the GPL. And that same someone makes significant enhancements
which he does not disclose in either source or binary form.

Consider this from the perspective of the creator of Evolution,
OpenOffice, or GNU Emacs. This person has put an immense amount of work
out in the public with the expectation that improvements that are widely
used would be distributed, and thus would be returned to them. And they
aren't. Is this fair to them? I contend that this sort of activity should
be placed outside of the covenant represented by the GPL. Richard and
Eben don't necessarily agree with me - yet.

One thing that we learned in deploying the OSD is that the world would
surprise us, and that the language would end up being more important than
we thought. I don't want to be surprised as much the next time around.


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