Ian Lance Taylor ian at
Thu Oct 31 23:31:25 UTC 2002

"Ken Brown" <kenbrown at> writes:

> GPL advocates want the GPL to become the king of all free software licenses.
> And if wants to be the king, it will have to go through the fire of legal
> review in a court.

Not really.  The GPL relies more on public opinion than it does on the
force of law.  This is inevitable given the international character of
free software development and the national character of law.  Most
programmers, grumble though they may about the GPL, will not violate
it voluntarily.  Any organization which tries to violate the GPL--and
several have--runs into a firestorm of protest from programmers around
the world.  It's generally much easier to give in than to fight it in
a court of law; even a victory in the court would still be a loss in
the real world.

> I am not being cynical, but the GPL is too overreaching.  This is not just
> my opinion.  I have visited dozens of free software websites and developer
> disfavor about the GPL is steadily increasing.  It is just a matter of time
> before the tenuousness of this license ends up in a court. I think money
> will also force this issue into court, because inevitably, someone's
> confusion about the license will lead to the loss of a ton of money.  When
> big cash is on the table, a court case is around the corner.

Disfavor about the GPL is steadily increasing?  You are obviously new
to these flamewars.  The GPL has been roundly despised in certain
quarters since it was written.  If anything, I'd say that developers
accept the GPL more now than ever, since its adoption by Linux and
increased understanding of what it really means.

Confusion about the license leads naturally to avoidance of software
under the license.  It seems quite unlikely to me that confusion would
ever lead to the loss of ``a ton of money.''

Anyhow, the point of license-discuss at is hardly to
discuss the nature of the GPL.  That's what gnu.misc.discuss is for.
If you want to discuss whether the GPL is an open source license, talk
about it here.  If you want to talk about whether the GPL is a good
license, take it to gnu.misc.disucss.

license-discuss archive is at

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