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

Jason White jasonjgw at pacific.net.au
Thu Apr 7 03:58:38 UTC 2005

Rick Moen writes:
 > Again, my point was to debunk the assertion that copyleft licensing
 > "forces you" to release work under this-or-that set of terms.  Being
 > charitable for a moment, this seems to be a key misapprehension
 > underlying much of the overblown rhetoric and fatuously mistaken
 > editorials.

It is also a misapprehension that the "viral" metaphor propagates, in
addition to conferring on the GPL all of the negative associations
typically attached in the public imagination to viruses.

The description of reciprocal licenses, and the GPL in particular, as
"viral" is best understood as a propaganda tactic on the part of those
who are opposed to such a form of mutual obligation. Once this is
recognized, the question of whether "viral" is an apt term or
not is really beside the point. In any case, the discussion here has
shown that it is a misleading characterization at best.

It would be better to adopt a neutral term such as "reciprocal" which
carries no negative associations and can be defined clearly with
respect to the obligations attached to the grant of a copyright

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