Ken Brown kenbrown at
Fri Oct 25 10:40:42 UTC 2002


Its tough to debate this, particularly because a court has not ruled on any
of this ever, so much of the "discussion" is conjecture.  John Cowan et. al
are trying to sell you that if you or any other software developer
distribute your work under the terms of the GPL, you will be able to take a
user to court for distributing or modifying your work in a manner that you
disagree with.

What I like about the group is that it empowers developers to
customize their own licenses to how they see fit.  The GPL is only one of
over 30+ variations of os agreements.  The FSF has bullied a couple of
developers, but hasn't had a judge rule in their favor yet.  When they win
in a court of law, I'll open my mind to their sales pitch a little more.

Without the restrictions of a license that insists on strict enforcement of
your copyright, you might or might not get credit, and you will definitely
lose traditional rights of a copyright; that right includes controlling how
others profit from, change and distribute your work.  This is inherently
part of the commons model.

>From my research, agreeing to GPL your work does not technically revoke your
ownership of the playground, but it does revoke almost all of the rights and
privileges that come with ownership-so what is the difference?  I cannot
control what anybody does with my work, besides assert credit, that is not a
copyright.  Just ask any writer, artist, singer, or poet.   Speaking
specifically to the playground analogy, I guess it assumes that the children
signed some sort of a "user agreement".  If the user agreement read like the
GPL, then I guess you wouldn't care what they did to the playground.  But on
the other hand, if the user agreement read like the GPL, you couldn't stop
them either.


-----Original Message-----
From: Brendan Hide [mailto:brendan at]
Sent: Friday, October 25, 2002 4:06 AM
To: Ken Brown; license-discuss at
Subject: Re: Copyright

Ken Brown wrote:

>Ex:  I own a piece of property...but at anytime, anybody in the General
>Public can use it, dig it up, change it, etc.  How can you say I have
>ownership of the property?
I know you've already given up - but just answer the questions below.

If I build a jungle-gym in my front yard and tell the neighbourhood that
their children can all use it - whose is it? If I also say that the
parents can make additions to it to make it safer or more "exciting" -
who is the owner after they've made these changes?

Brendan Hide
brendan at
Technical Writer

SA Computer Magazine
+27 21 715 7134

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