For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Ian Lance Taylor ian at
Sat Sep 27 00:15:56 UTC 2003

Sean Chittenden <sean at> writes:

> Why does everyone insist that they're protecting my interests by
> likening a piece of BSD code that goes closed source as a bad thing or
> as if it's not what I want?  That is precisely what I want people to
> be able to do!  That's a smart business for reusing someone else's
> wheel design, kinda like a dated patent.  The GPL is like the
> perpetual patent though, it never expires and becomes usable to other
> businesses.  *shudder*

(Note that this is in the same reply where you promised to stop using
the word ``business.'')

I'm not saying that incorporating BSD code into a proprietary product
is a bad thing, or that it is not what you want.

What I'm trying to understand is why you say that incorporating BSD
code in a proprietary product is a good thing and simulataneously say
that incorporating BSD code in a GPL product is a bad thing.

GPL code is nothing like a perpetual patent; it's a copyright on a
particular expression.  Naturally the GPL doesn't apply to your code;
how could it?  The GPL only applies to code that somebody else wrote.

For your purposes GPL code is unusable.  That's fine.  For your
purposes proprietary code is unusable.  That's fine.  My question is:
what is the difference between the two cases?  Why is GPL bad and
proprietary good?  Why bother to distinguish the GPL case?

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