OSI enforcement?

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Jan 9 08:23:48 UTC 2008

Quoting Ph.D. (hawkins at cephira.com):

> FSF recommends LGPL in a few cases where promoting a standard is more 
> important than locking out proprietary developers. LGPL isn't exactly 
> permissive in the sense that BSDL is, but it's "permissive enough" for 
> many proprietary applications.
> It's also my understanding is that it is considered polite not to GPL 
> changes made to a BSDL program (such as drivers used by the Linux kernel).

What I had in mind was a handful of cases (fading from distant memory)
where FSF gave explicit blessing to simple-permissive (MIT/X, BSD-type)
licences.  The only case I'm finding right at this exact moment was the
Eiffel community's adoption of Eiffel Forum License version 2, which is
simple-permissive in the classic vein.

> I guess now that you mention it though, I could see some bending being 
> done by people.

No, that's not it.  It goes far beyond "bending":  It's a case of the
right tool for the job.  E.g., some of my writings on the Web go under
simple-permissive terms because I have as my primary aim the piece's
maximal dissemination and use for any purpose.  Other writing goes under
proprietary terms so that nobody can use it for other than narrowly
specified purposes without separate one-off permission.  My Web
knowledgebase as a whole goes under copyleft terms (CC BY-SA 3.0),
because I specifically want derivatives of those to be forkable, and 
don't care if a fraction of the audience doesn't accept that obligation
(am not sufficiently motivated to promulgate copies at all costs).

It's strictly a matter of using the right licence for each individual

> I don't know if the circumstances vary that much from one program to the 
> next (example?). 

See above.

> As for the copyright owner's intentions, well...wouldn't 
> that be the philosphical divide I was talking about? ;-)

Why would you always have a single intention for anything and everything
you do?

> Ok, I spoke too broadly. It's basically the shareware model: they don't 
> have to pay but they "should".

No, the shareware model is that you have to pay or it's the tort of
copyright violation.  The copyleft model is you have to pay what I'm
asking, or you're free to try to get it for less somewhere else.

Whether you _can_ get what you want from somewhere else for less is
situation-dependent.  For example, the binary RPM of gcc shipped with
RHEL5 Update 1 Server Edition is GNU GPL-licensed, right?  Red Hat, Inc.
will gladly furnish that copylefted file to you for the price of an
RHEL5 licence including service agreement.  

You say I "don't have to pay" for that?  OK, please point me to where I
can get that particular binary RPM for free.

(What I'm really saying is:  You spoke a bit too hastily, both times.)

> If it isn't impossible to sell what others give away for free, it's 
> certainly very difficult.

Interestingly, FSF has sold a rather massive amount of copies of copylefted 
GNU software over the years, always at pretty hefty prices.

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