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

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Apr 7 16:54:50 UTC 2005

Quoting Joel West (svosrp at gmail.com):

> The GPL does propagate, through inheritance not casual contact. It
> analogous to the way a virus propagates at the cellular level (not the
> social level).
> 	http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virus
> 	A virus makes use of existing enzymes and other molecules of a
> 	host cell to create more virus particles....  Viruses have genes
> 	and show inheritance, but are reliant on host cells to produce
> 	new generations of viruses.
> So call it "DNA-viral" not "HIV-viral" (which is obviously
> pejorative).

The above is such a masterpiece of evasion that it's almost possible to
miss the key fact:  As with other copyleft licences (and licences
generally), GPL can apply to an instance of a work _only_ if the
copyright holder elects to use it.

There seems to be some persistent delusion of (e.g.) Larry Ellison
waking up in horror realising he'll have to issue Oracle RDBMS under
GPLv2 because some programmer 10 years ago inserted a GPLed code snippet
into it -- kept alive mostly by dumbass rhetoric like the above.  

Not surprisingly, it doesn't happen.  I've recently posted a summary of
what does happen.  But some myths never die.

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