OSI enforcement?

Tzeng, Nigel H. Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu
Wed Jan 9 20:34:17 UTC 2008

>Rick Moen [mailto:rick at linuxmafia.com] wrote:

>[gcc binary RPM in RHEL5 Update 1 Server Edition:]

>> The original question is whether you can make money selling it, and
>> having an independently compiled version available freely makes that
>> difficult if not impossible.

>I cannot help noticing that you've just ducked the question that
>challenged your assertion.  The relevance is that Red Hat, Inc. chooses
>to make its binary package of gcc available only in particular ways,
>that nobody else in general happens to choose to make that binary
>available (though they are legally entitled to), and that the covering
>licence's copyleft forcing clause cannot avail you to force provision of
>a copy (because it gives you only access to the preferred form _if_ you
>have a lawful copy of a binary or other non-preferred form).

Except that you assert that the legally equivalent binary that is made 
available via CentOS is not exactly the same set of bits and therefore 
is disqualified as a replacement in your scenario.
Which is picking really tiny nits.
>So, it turns out to be incorrect to assert, as you did, that you can
>inevitably acquire copylefted product for free -- or even for less than
>its producer charges.

Whether that is actually true or not in the generic sense, in the case
of Red Hat vs CentOS it is true from a functional perspective.

>> At that point you are relying on the kindness of people willing to pay you
>> anyways or the stupidity of people who can't find a free version.

>You know, your continuing to repeat this _isn't_ making it true.  Neither
>of us is stupid, but I doubt either of us is likely to find that gcc
>binary RPM for free.  Get the point?

Except you can.  There's a reason that CentOS ranks above RHEL
on distrowatch and google search trends.  
There are advantages for RHEL over CentOS but it would be in terms
of support rather than bits on your computer.   
I am also unsure of your point.  It seems a reasonable point that without 
Linux and the BSDs the unix market would still be priced stratospherically 
because there would be no free alternatives (even given the downward 
pricing pressure of Windows on the unix market).  Therefore a free product, 
if functionally identical to your own, certainly does place an upper limit 
in what you can charge even for a premium product like RHEL.
I sure as heck remember what I was paying for Solaris, HPUX, AIX, etc
in the 80s.  Heck, just the CDE desktop cost as much then as some versions 
of RHEL does today.  Or Solaris today.
So I agree in part with what Donovan says but I wouldn't quite go as far...
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