"viral" (was RE: Licensing options for firmware)

Scott Miller scott at opentrac.org
Wed Apr 6 20:53:27 UTC 2005

> > 'Viral' also implies propagation, and 'reciprocal' doesn't.
> Exactly.  And, as already been pointed out to you, the former term's
> implication of propagation by infection is simply false.  To call
> something "viral" (as in infectious) simply because people choose to use
> it despite attached obligations is to commit massive rhetorical excess.

I didn't mean to imply that it automatically 'infects' anything that comes
near it.  Microsoft Word didn't propagate itself automatically through email
(or it least, it hasn't yet)... it propagated through the industry by people
choosing to adopt it because of its ubiquity and the need for
interoperability with other users.

Not a very apt analogy I guess, but the point is that by propagation I mean
through the actions of those who come into contact with it.  It's a
self-perpetuating system that serves to draw more and more material into its
licensing model.  Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends
entirely on your point of view.  The creators of the GPL knew what they were
doing.  BSD-style licenses will never grow at the same rate, for the same
reason a religion that prohibits birth control will always outpace one that
preaches celibacy.

(Ok, so maybe this isn't my best day for analogies.)


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