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

Alex Bligh alex at alex.org.uk
Tue Apr 12 18:52:39 UTC 2005


> On Wed, Apr 06, 2005 at 06:56:21PM +0100, Alex Bligh wrote:
>> > As a relative newbie to the open source concept, I actually appreciate
>> > the term viral as I find it more descriptive of what the GPL is all
>> > about than the more obscure term "copyleft".
>> The least perjorative and most accurate term is "reciprocal license".
>> IE "If I license my stuff to you on these terms, you agree to license
>> your stuff to anyone else on the same terms".
> My language skills are known to be flawed, but isn't reciprocal
> more like:
> "If I license my stuff to you on these terms, you agree to license
> your stuff to ME on the same terms".

Well, modulo the definition of "stuff" and depersonalizing it that's what
the GPL and indeed most reciprocal licenses say. I will write it
slightly more clearly, and more symmetrically:

"If I license my contributions to this project to whoever I distribute it
to on these terms, you agree to license your contributions to the project
to the whoever you distribute it to on the same terms".

> Even tho the politicaly correct people don't like the word "viral",
> you have to admit it is used widely everywhere.

There is a place for use of less accurate, but readily understandable
language, even perjorative language. Sometimes it helps understanding to
those who have not spent hours pouring through the subject, and sometimes
it doesn't. Whether I or indeed anyone else jumps up and down and
complains, it will still get used. I've no desire to censor people, and if
people want to call the GPL viral, that's fine by me, that's freedom of
speech. However, I hope the same freedom protects the odd (mild) comment on
what would in my view be more accurate and less perjorative terminology.
And indeed more useful terminology in a forum like license-discuss where we
are meant to be the cognoscenti as far as licensing is concerned.

> And so you should expect
> encountering it all the time. Just going into "bash them" mode doesn't
> help, and only hurts the open source movement.

Why you think I'm bashing anyone I don't know. Perhaps you are confusing
me with another poster.


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