why is taking open-source code closed expensive?

Ian Lance Taylor ian at airs.com
Sun Jul 8 04:09:54 UTC 2007

Joseph Hick <leet16y at yahoo.com> writes:

> > > if we are not sure that licenses like GPL v3 are
> > > enforceable under law then how do so many
> > programmers
> > > take the risk of releasing their project under GPL
> > > v3.? :-O
> > 
> > What's the risk?  What's the worst that could
> > happen?  What should
> > they do instead?
> > 
> > Ian
> > 
> the worst that can happen is that some company would
> take the software, modify it, close the source and
> sell it as a product.
> i would want to use a license that can be proved to be
> valid in court and can save my open source product.

There is no such license for open source software.  I don't think it
is logically possible to create such a license, until and unless some
copyleft license is tested in court (and of course even that would
only show validity within the jurisdiction of that court).  The only
way you can be reasonably confident that a license would hold up in
court would be to sign a contract with each person who distributes the
software.  But if you require such a contract, then you don't have
open source software anyhow.

Actually, I suppose there is another way to be reasonably confident:
pass a law, and then make agreement with that law part of the WIPO
treaty obligations.  That is not logically impossible, though I
haven't heard of anybody actually trying to get it done, and I would
rate the chances of success to be quite low.


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