[openip] Re: GNU License for Hardware

Arandir arandir at meer.net
Tue Oct 26 05:05:27 UTC 1999

On Mon, 25 Oct 1999, Angelo Schneider wrote:

> > This is exactly one of the mistake Troll Tech made with their first license. 
> Question (but see below also):
> Why was/is that a mistake?
> At
> > first glance, it seemed quite sensible to me: Free for Free Software,
> > proprietary for proprietary software. What it does however is deny that Free
> > Software can be commercial software. If all Free Software remains "freeware
> > with source", then it will never cross the boundaries from hobby programs to
> Can you explain that? 
> What are the reasons, are there any evidents/examples for that? 
> What would be the difference if it would be free from the start off?
> Why should it not work to SELL commercial licenses and to grant
> FREE licenses for the GNU project or open source projects e.g
> simultaniously?
> I do not get what kind of boundary you mean and in which way it can't
> cross.

I feel that a particular item is free only if it is free for everyone. Bill
Gates get's exactly the same permissions to use the software as John Doe down
the street. To use political liberty as an analogy, it would be hypocritical if
the US Bill of Rights granted freedom of speech to all citizens except for
professional speakers, who were granted a different set of rights. Perhaps you
are mistaking "commercial" for "proprietary". I confess that I was not
clear on this in my post. My apologies if it seemed that I was blurring the
line between them. Commercial software can certainly be free software. In fact,
Richard Stallman used to sell emacs to support himself and the GNU project.
Although I personally see nothing wrong whatsoever with proprietary software, I
make a distinction between "free" and "proprietary", and money is not involved
in that distinction.

What the old Qt license did (among other things), however, was to grant
*different* permissions to commercial developers than to other developers. To
quote: "If you are paid to develop something with Qt Free Edition or it is a
part of your job the following conditions also apply: ...". Their old license
did not prevent commercial developers from using Qt, but it did treat them as
"second-class citizens". Many people thought it actually prohibited commercial
development since the introduction to the license said "If you want to use Qt
for developing commercial/proprietary software, you must use the Qt
Professional Edition." It may not have explicity forbidden commercial usage
with the free license, but it certainly discouraged it. The new free QPL
license makes no distinction between free, commercial or proprietary developers.

As to my assertion that free software must be allowed to be commercial, I feel
that people must be allowed to make a living with free software. Free software
works very well for "hobby" programs. But very many key players in the Free
Software arena assert that free software is better or superior to proprietary
software. If this is true, but no one is allowed to profit on it, you end up
with a very strange industry. To keep it within the information related
vocations, musicians are allowed to make money on their hobbies, as are
authors. Developers should be no different..

I would hazard a guess that the majority of people on this list are
professional developers. I would certainly hope that they don't view their
daily work as evil, immoral or even sub-standard.

> In Fact I do even not see any change in QT, only the Linux Version is 
> "FREE" the other versions are still proprietary.
> But I do not like to bind my license to the OS.

I believe that you are mistaken. The X11 version of the library is released
under the free QPL license, while the Win32 version is released under the
professional edition license. Thus, it is not limited to Linux, or even unices.
It has been run successfully under OS/2 and WinNT using XFree. Also, there is
no prohibition against porting the Qt library to the Win32 API. And it's
certainly acceptable and feasable to use the non-gui portions of the library
(collection classes) on any platform.


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