Tech Insider					     Technology and Trends


			      USENET Archives

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!cis.ohio-state.edu!gnu.ai.mit.edu!rms
From: r...@gnu.ai.mit.edu (Richard Stallman)
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: why the library license
Message-ID: <9106292205.AA19330@mole.gnu.ai.mit.edu>
Date: 29 Jun 91 14:05:47 GMT
Sender: dae...@cis.ohio-state.edu
Distribution: gnu
Organization: GNUs Not Usenet
Lines: 50

Many software developers would like to take GNU software and insert
it into proprietary products.

Sometimes they simply demand we let them sell our work, as if they
were entitled to it.  Or, less blatantly unreasonable, they say our
work is not "really free"--because it requires them to respect
freedoms of others which they would rather be free to deny.  (You
might as well say that a society is not "really free" unless people
are free to own slaves.)  Of course, the software these people write
isn't "really free" or free at all, but somehow the same standard
doesn't apply to them.

These statements are annoying but I doubt they convince very many readers.

Others go about it differently.  Instead of denouncing the FSF 
distribution terms as an ethical issue, they try to convince people
that other proprietary software developers (other than the one who is
speaking) would never use the software on our terms.

Of course, what other proprietary software developers will or won't do
is not really of great concern to such a person.  Rather, his hope is
to persuade us free software developers to let him do exactly as he
pleases--to ask nothing of him in the way of respect for the freedom
of the users.

Predicting that nobody will use the GNU libraries under our current
terms (whatever those happen to be) is a natural way of doing this.
While he can't prove these predictions, no one can disprove them
either.  Even if they are based on exaggeration, some people may
believe them.  And he has nothing to lose by saying them.

Thus, we were recently offered the prediction that no one would use
LGPL libraries if they have any requirement at all, no matter what it
might be, because managers would refuse to consider any concession
however light its practical cost.

Actually, there are reasons to think that many proprietary developers
(even if not all) will use our libraries under the LGPL.  One is that
many of them have received it enthusiastically.  Another is that the
requirement of offering tapes of object files on request is comparable
to the requirement for distributing GNU utilities in binary form.
Large companies have already accepted that requirement.

Of course, I can't prove this prediction of success any more than
others can prove their predictions of failure.  The sensible policy
for free software developers is not to try to predict, but rather to
observe the actual results which will happen over the next year or
two.  It will be much better to base our future plans on what people
actually do than on what someone would have us think other people will
do.

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!zephyr.ens.tek.com!uw-beaver!
stowe.cs.washington.edu!pauld
From: pa...@stowe.cs.washington.edu (Paul Barton-Davis)
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Re: why the library license
Message-ID: <1991Jul1.190608.24178@beaver.cs.washington.edu>
Date: 1 Jul 91 19:06:08 GMT
References: <9106292205.AA19330@mole.gnu.ai.mit.edu>
Sender: n...@beaver.cs.washington.edu (USENET News System)
Distribution: gnu
Organization: Computer Science & Engineering, U. of Washington, Seattle
Lines: 44

In article <9106292205.AA19...@mole.gnu.ai.mit.edu> r...@gnu.ai.mit.edu 
(Richard Stallman) writes:
>Many software developers would like to take GNU software and insert
>it into proprietary products.
>
>Sometimes they simply demand we let them sell our work, as if they
>were entitled to it.  Or, less blatantly unreasonable, they say our
>work is not "really free"--because it requires them to respect
>freedoms of others which they would rather be free to deny.  (You
>might as well say that a society is not "really free" unless people
>are free to own slaves.)  Of course, the software these people write
>isn't "really free" or free at all, but somehow the same standard
>doesn't apply to them.
>
>These statements are annoying but I doubt they convince very many readers.
>
>Others go about it differently.  Instead of denouncing the FSF 
>distribution terms as an ethical issue, they try to convince people
>that other proprietary software developers (other than the one who is
>speaking) would never use the software on our terms.

And others say this:

We would be much happier if the licence (and the LGPL) made some
explicit reference to people who develop specialized software systems
which are sufficiently specialized that only a handful of copies will
ever exist, and stopped assuming that everyone who writes software
works either for a computer vendor or general purpose software
company.

You have been successful at getting people to fund your efforts.
Others succeed in a different domain, and fully support your work.
However, with your claims that software should be free, and only
support and distribution paid for, you do not appear to support such
work.  Is it not possible for the GNU project to help support
specialized software systems at the same time as people who work for
companies that do this support GNU in developing general purpose
software tools ?  Are those goals truly in conflict ?"


-- 
"When in some obscure country town, the farmers come together to a special town
meeting, to express their opinion on some subject that is vexing the land, that
I think is the true Congress, and the most respectable one that is ever
assembled in the United States." - Thoreau

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!spool.mu.edu!agate!usenet.ins.cwru.edu!charlie!
edguer
From: edg...@charlie.CES.CWRU.Edu (Aydin Edguer)
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Re: why the library license
Message-ID: <1991Jul1.234602.13089@usenet.ins.cwru.edu>
Date: 1 Jul 91 23:46:02 GMT
References: <9106292205.AA19330@mole.gnu.ai.mit.edu> 
<1991Jul1.190608.24178@beaver.cs.washington.edu>
Sender: n...@usenet.ins.cwru.edu
Distribution: gnu
Organization: Computer Engineering and Science, Case Western Reserve University
Lines: 58
Nntp-Posting-Host: charlie.ces.cwru.edu

In article <1991Jul1.190608.24...@beaver.cs.washington.edu> 
pa...@stowe.cs.washington.edu (Paul Barton-Davis) writes:
>And others say this:
>
>We would be much happier if the licence (and the LGPL) made some
>explicit reference to people who develop specialized software systems
>which are sufficiently specialized that only a handful of copies will
>ever exist, and stopped assuming that everyone who writes software
>works either for a computer vendor or general purpose software
>company.

Huh?!  I am really puzzled by this.

If your market niche is _so_ specialized that you will only sell one copy
then you will not lose any money by giving the source code along with
the binaries (GPL or LGPL).

Even when selling just a "handful" [five or less] you will not be losing
revenue for yourself by releasing your object modules (LGPL).  No one will
try to decompile your object modules unless there is a *big* gain for them.
And there will not be such a gain for a program for which only a "handful"
of copies exists.

If you are talking about selling software that includes large chunks of FSF
code then, whether or not you are selling one or a thousand copies, you _OWE_
the FSF and all the programmers who contribute to the FSF effort large
chunks of money.  Instead of money, they only ask for the rights to use your
code as your used theirs.  What could be more fair?

If you really want to sell software that includes _modules_ of FSF code then
do a little work and put the FSF code into a a set of library routines.
Contact the FSF and see if they are willing to release the code under the LGPL.
If they are then just release the library (and source code to the library)
and your object modules.  You are now back to using the LGPL.

If you are not using chunks of FSF code, and you are not using FSF libraries,
then there is no requirement for you to place your software under a GPL.

I don't see how changing the GPL or LGPL will help you or the FSF.
But, I am curious, how would you have the FSF word this *new* part of the GPL?

	"Anyone may sell up to 5 copies of software.  After selling 5 or
	 more copies of software, they must release the code to anyone,
	 including former customers for up to 2 years from the date of
	 sale of the fifth copy.  They must also make best effort to
	 contact all customers to notify them of the availability of the
	 source code."

Of course, how will you know if your copy of GCC 2.07.23XYZ from XYZ Corp. is
really any different from GCC 2.07.54PDQ from PDQ, Inc. until you see the
code?

How do you stop a company from selling four copies, making a minor change to
the software (bugfix) and then selling four copies of this *new* software,
making a minor change, ad infinitum?

Curious,
Aydin Edguer

Path: gmdzi!unido!fauern!ira.uka.de!sol.ctr.columbia.edu!samsung!sdd.hp.com!
elroy.jpl.nasa.gov!lll-winken!aunro!alberta!brazeau.ucs.ualberta.ca!
unixg.ubc.ca!ubc-cs!uw-beaver!stowe.cs.washington.edu!pauld
From: pa...@stowe.cs.washington.edu (Paul Barton-Davis)
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Re: why the library license
Message-ID: <1991Jul2.183339.3838@beaver.cs.washington.edu>
Date: 2 Jul 91 18:33:39 GMT
References: <9106292205.AA19330@mole.gnu.ai.mit.edu> 
<1991Jul1.190608.24178@beaver.cs.washington.edu> 
<1991Jul1.234602.13089@usenet.ins.cwru.edu>
Sender: n...@beaver.cs.washington.edu (USENET News System)
Distribution: gnu
Organization: Computer Science & Engineering, U. of Washington, Seattle
Lines: 112

In article <1991Jul1.234602.13...@usenet.ins.cwru.edu> 
edg...@charlie.CES.CWRU.Edu (Aydin Edguer) writes:
>In article <1991Jul1.190608.24...@beaver.cs.washington.edu> 
pa...@stowe.cs.washington.edu (Paul Barton-Davis) writes:
>>And others say this:
>>
>>We would be much happier if the licence (and the LGPL) made some
>>explicit reference to people who develop specialized software systems
>>which are sufficiently specialized that only a handful of copies will
>>ever exist, and stopped assuming that everyone who writes software
>>works either for a computer vendor or general purpose software
>>company.
>
>Huh?!  I am really puzzled by this.
>
>If your market niche is _so_ specialized that you will only sell one copy
>then you will not lose any money by giving the source code along with
>the binaries (GPL or LGPL).
>
>Even when selling just a "handful" [five or less] you will not be losing
>revenue for yourself by releasing your object modules (LGPL).  No one will
>try to decompile your object modules unless there is a *big* gain for them.
>And there will not be such a gain for a program for which only a "handful"
>of copies exists.

This wasn't quite the point I was making. Its not clear to me that the
GPL would even allow me to use source code in this way (although it
may - I just am not sure). Note I said source code - not stuff from
the libraries, but perhaps something like taking gcc's parser, ripping
it out and using it for something else. If I charge time+materials to
a client for this, am I ripping of the original author of the parser,
or simply making good use of their work ? 

>If you are talking about selling software that includes large chunks of FSF
>code then, whether or not you are selling one or a thousand copies, you _OWE_
>the FSF and all the programmers who contribute to the FSF effort large
>chunks of money.  Instead of money, they only ask for the rights to use your
>code as your used theirs.  What could be more fair?

Suppose that the mythical company referred to as "we" (you'll note my
current address is in the .edu domain) did not charge any of its
clients for the code that came from FSF material. Does the 
GPL imply that use of copylefted material in a non-copylefted program
makes one financially indebted to its authors ? I thought that the
whole point of the GPL was to remove this kind of relationship between
software and its creators.

One of the problems with the whole GNU idea (as wonderful as it is) is
that it seems targetted at general purpose software (operating
systems, compilers, various tools). Neither it, nor RMS's general
ideas about software seem to address the issue of software that is
being written for very specific purposes. Case in point: writing
software to scan, halftone, compress, store and print images. Although
some large companies are attempting to offer "off-the-shelf" solutions
for this type of thing (Kodak & Agfa spring to mind), for many cases,
these generic systems do not have the performance needed to specific
applications. The software that is created for this type of task is a
very different animal from the stuff that the FSF has released to date
(please don't mention GhostScript - having an interpreter for a page
description language is about 5% of the problem).

What are companies that choose to make a living producing stuff like
this supposed to do with regards to software sharing ? I think that
the responses to Jim Showalter's questions provided some good insight
into how GNU is working: better to see it as a way for companies and
research organizations to collaborate in a loosely structured,
cooperative manner. GNU is not free, but is something whose cost has
been distributed across the many of us who choose to use, support and
develop parts of it. This is something ideally suited to general
purpose software. I'm not sure the same model can be extended to
special purpose systems created for 1 or 2 clients.

>I don't see how changing the GPL or LGPL will help you or the FSF.
>But, I am curious, how would you have the FSF word this *new* part of the GPL?
>
>	"Anyone may sell up to 5 copies of software.  After selling 5 or
>	 more copies of software, they must release the code to anyone,
>	 including former customers for up to 2 years from the date of
>	 sale of the fifth copy.  They must also make best effort to
>	 contact all customers to notify them of the availability of the
>	 source code."
>

I would guess something like:

	If this software is included in any form, modified
	or not, no charge will be made to anyone to whom
	you distribute it in relation to the provision of
	the functionality it provides. If you choose, you may charge
	for the modifications you perform, and for added
	functionality that you make available.

This directly violates the GPL. The only way I could see of
reconciling the two of them is to try and come with a way to specify
that you cannot charge anything for any modifications that leave the
overall functionality intact (i.e you can't charge for adding a new
keyword to gcc, but you can charge for taking its parser out and
modifying it to be a part of a C-based interpreter for image
manipulation). I don't believe this is possible to do.

So, seems to me we are stuck with a real division between those who
would like to use free software in a manner similar, but not identical
to that espoused by the GPL, and those who think that no-one should
ever be able to sell a software system that include GPL-covered code,
even if there is no charge for such code. Licensing from the FSF is a
possibility, but that heads back into the messy divide between
"general purpose" and "specialized" software.

Gone on too long. I'm not sure how much I believe all the above ....
-- 
"When in some obscure country town, the farmers come together to a special town
meeting, to express their opinion on some subject that is vexing the land, that
I think is the true Congress, and the most respectable one that is ever
assembled in the United States." - Thoreau

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!cis.ohio-state.edu!magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu!
usenet.ins.cwru.edu!charlie!edguer
From: edg...@charlie.CES.CWRU.Edu (Aydin Edguer)
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Re: why the library license
Message-ID: <1991Jul2.203850.6505@usenet.ins.cwru.edu>
Date: 2 Jul 91 20:38:50 GMT
References: <1991Jul1.190608.24178@beaver.cs.washington.edu> 
<1991Jul1.234602.13089@usenet.ins.cwru.edu> 
<1991Jul2.183339.3838@beaver.cs.washington.edu>
Sender: n...@usenet.ins.cwru.edu
Distribution: gnu
Organization: Computer Engineering and Science, Case Western Reserve University
Lines: 70
Nntp-Posting-Host: charlie.ces.cwru.edu

In article <1991Jul2.183339.3...@beaver.cs.washington.edu> 
pa...@stowe.cs.washington.edu (Paul Barton-Davis) writes:
>[...] Note I said source code - not stuff from
> the libraries, but perhaps something like taking gcc's parser, ripping
> it out and using it for something else. If I charge time+materials to
> a client for this, am I ripping of the original author of the parser,
> or simply making good use of their work ? 

You may also be making good use of their work.  But unless you give back
something to the author, you are ripping the author off by charging someone
else for the authors labor without reimbursing the author.

You are ripping off the original author of the parser if you do not release
the code.  You are charging for time and labor without paying for time and
labor.  There was time and labor that went into writing the parser.  If you
don't think there was, then why not write your own?

The GPL allows you to charge time and materials to a client (e.g. support)
as long as the code is provided, so that it can be distributed to others.

> Suppose that the mythical company referred to as "we" (you'll note my
> current address is in the .edu domain) did not charge any of its
> clients for the code that came from FSF material.

If you are not going to charge money, why do you feel it is necessary to
"hide" your code?  Why not copyright your code and release it under a GPL?

> Does the GPL imply that use of copylefted material in a non-copylefted
> program makes one financially indebted to its authors ? I thought that the
> whole point of the GPL was to remove this kind of relationship between
> software and its creators.

No, using copyrighted code does not necessarily make one financially
indebted, but it does make one _intellectually_ indebted.  You are using
the ideas and creativity of others and have a responsibility to give
them something in exchange.  You would be abusing their generosity not
to give something back.  By releasing your code you are paying them back
in kind using some of your ideas and creativity.

> One of the problems with the whole GNU idea (as wonderful as it is) is
> that it seems targetted at general purpose software (operating
> systems, compilers, various tools).

I disagree with you.  While you are correct that the FSF _has been_
targeting the tools needed to create an operating system and is
_currently_ targeting an operating system (and tools), the FSF
philosophy has nothing to do with those targets.  There are many
people outside the FSF who embrace the GNU ideals and are working
on tools in their areas of expertise.  Expecting the FSF to develop
specialized software before having all the general purpose software
in place would be poor planning.

> This is something ideally suited to general purpose software.
> I'm not sure the same model can be extended to special purpose
> systems created for 1 or 2 clients.

Why not?
If you only have one or two clients, _WHY NOT_ release your code?
As has been said before, the GPL permits you to charge money, so long as
your release your code afterwards for no more than distribution costs.
If you are working for time and materials with a company to produce
a specialized version of software, then you are already being paid.
Releasing the code after you have finished your work will not be a
loss of revenue to you since you never expect to sell it again.

I think your division between specialized and general purpose is entirely
artificial.  But if you insist on it, then I will state, "I think specialized
code is a better candidate for the GPL than general purpose code."

Aydin Edguer

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!zaphod.mps.ohio-state.edu!mips!ptimtc!
nntp-server.caltech.edu!nntp-server.caltech.edu!daveg
From: da...@torment.cs.caltech.edu (Dave Gillespie)
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Specialized software
Message-ID: <DAVEG.91Jul2180948@torment.cs.caltech.edu>
Date: 3 Jul 91 01:09:48 GMT
References: <1991Jul1.190608.24178@beaver.cs.washington.edu>
	<1991Jul1.234602.13089@usenet.ins.cwru.edu>
	<1991Jul2.183339.3838@beaver.cs.washington.edu>
	<1991Jul2.203850.6505@usenet.ins.cwru.edu>
Sender: n...@nntp-server.caltech.edu
Reply-To: da...@csvax.cs.caltech.edu
Distribution: gnu
Organization: /home/daveg/.organization
Lines: 81
In-Reply-To: edguer@charlie.CES.CWRU.Edu's message of 2 Jul 91 20:38:50 GMT

Aydin Edguer says:
> Paul Barton-Davis writes:
> > This is something ideally suited to general purpose software.
> > I'm not sure the same model can be extended to special purpose
> > systems created for 1 or 2 clients.
> Why not?
> I think your division between specialized and general purpose is entirely
> artificial.  But if you insist on it, then I will state, "I think specialized
> code is a better candidate for the GPL than general purpose code."

('Scuse me while I get up on this soap box...)

The difference between an operating system and a specialized piece of
software is that an operating system is well-trodden territory.  It
may have some innovations in it, but mostly the work involved in creating
the operating system lies in the actual design and implementation of the
software itself, and in the quality of the author's craftsmanship.  For
many specialized programs on the other hand, the cleverness of the
implementation, and trade secrets embodied in the implementation, more
than the work involved in making that implementation, are what make the
software author's livelihood.

For example:  Most commercial Computer Aided Design software is shipped
without sources.  Companies invest a great deal of time, effort, and
money into finding the best possible algorithm for, say, routing wires
on a chip or simulating the effects of faults in a circuit.  These
programs are not so specialized as to have only one or two customers,
but they're still fundamentally different from programs like gcc or
the GNU kernel.  The companies are selling expertise in the form of
software; giving away the software would be equivalent to giving away
this expertise, and most companies simply can't afford to do that.

Think of it this way:  Company X knows all there is to know about, say,
laying out circuit boards.  They write software that uses this knowledge
to do a good job of layout.  If you have a design you want made into a
board, you could mail them the design, let their engineers run it through
their software, and have them mail back the result.  Instead, company X
graciously allows you to execute the software on your own machines, thus
avoiding all the overhead of communicating your design to their people.
But for company X to give you their source code under the GPL would be
comparable to offering to have their engineers teach your people all their
best tricks, and to encourage you to tell these tricks to all your friends.
They might get a plaque for distinguished public service, but they would
also go out of business because nobody would come to them for their
expertise anymore.

You can say that the public still benefits more if the company gives away
its secrets, but, practically speaking, the company could never have
afforded to develop and refine those secrets, at the cost of hundreds of
thousands or millions of dollars, unless it could expect to make money
from them.  It can't afford to continue improving this expertise unless
it continues to make money from that expertise.

This is what patent law is for, by the way.  In a perfect world, company X
could patent their layout algorithms, then release them without a worry.
But wait---algorithm patents are evil, too!  We can't stamp out every way for
a person with expertise to make a living.  I personally think that hoarding
*truly* proprietary software is a lesser evil than allowing people to patent
software left and right.  If we could trust people to patent only truly
specialized and innovative things, like their clever PC layout algorithm,
then maybe I'd feel differently, but experience shows that the lawyers will
patent anything they can get their hands on.  So it looks like patents are
a civilized luxury we can't afford in the software biz.

Richard Stallman's approach, of giving away the software and making a living
from support, is a good idea and it works well for his kind of software.
But it's not practical for everything.  I have to agree with Paul here that
I believe some of the FSF's literature is guilty of pretending that all
software is just like gcc and GNU Emacs.  (I won't pick on the GPL, though,
because the GPL accompanies specific programs, and nobody needs to put it
on their program if they think it's not right for that program.)

The GLPL allows companies that can't afford to give away their software
to benefit from free software libraries.  Those companies will owe a debt
of gratitude to the authors of those libraries, and, as the FSF has seen,
some of those companies will decide to repay that debt by donating
generously to the Free Software cause.  In view of this, I think the GLPL
is a healthy move in the right direction for the FSF.  It's not so much
a compromise as a broadening of scope.

								-- Dave

Path: gmdzi!unido!unidui!math.fu-berlin.de!ira.uka.de!
sol.ctr.columbia.edu!lll-winken!elroy.jpl.nasa.gov!usc!rpi!think.com!barmar
From: bar...@think.com (Barry Margolin)
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Re: Specialized software
Message-ID: <1991Jul3.053824.11489@Think.COM>
Date: 3 Jul 91 05:38:24 GMT
References: <1991Jul2.183339.3838@beaver.cs.washington.edu> 
<1991Jul2.203850.6505@usenet.ins.cwru.edu> 
<DAVEG.91Jul2180948@torment.cs.caltech.edu>
Sender: n...@Think.COM
Reply-To: bar...@think.com
Distribution: gnu
Organization: Thinking Machines Corporation, Cambridge MA, USA
Lines: 48

In article <DAVEG.91Jul2180...@torment.cs.caltech.edu> da...@csvax.cs.caltech.edu 
writes:
>Think of it this way:  Company X knows all there is to know about, say,
>laying out circuit boards.  They write software that uses this knowledge
>to do a good job of layout.  If you have a design you want made into a
>board, you could mail them the design, let their engineers run it through
>their software, and have them mail back the result.  Instead, company X
>graciously allows you to execute the software on your own machines, thus
>avoiding all the overhead of communicating your design to their people.
>But for company X to give you their source code under the GPL would be
>comparable to offering to have their engineers teach your people all their
>best tricks, and to encourage you to tell these tricks to all your friends.
>They might get a plaque for distinguished public service, but they would
>also go out of business because nobody would come to them for their
>expertise anymore.

If the people at company X really know that much more about laying out
circuit boards than anyone else, then they're not going to be hurt that
much.  While competitors are looking at the release N source code, company
X will already be well into development of release N+1.  Company X always
has the advantage of time.

But in reality, company X can't know "all there there is to know about"
their application domain.  The GNU philosophy is that we should all be able
to build upon each others' expertise, filling in these holes in expertise
to produce better software.  In particular, if I purchase software from
company X, and *I* come up with an idea to enhance it (either a new
feature, a customization, or a bug fix), I should be able to implement that
idea.  But without the source code, all I can do is plead with company X
that they implement my idea.  Since I'm not the only customer making such
requests, and company X has finite resources, there's a good chance that my
request will not be fulfilled.  In fact, if my need is extremely
specialized, they may reject the request outright because they have a duty
to expend their resources on enhancements that will benefit more customers.

If I had the source code, I wouldn't be stuck waiting for company X to get
around to implementing my request.  And company X wouldn't have to feel as
guilty about giving my request lower priority than some more critical ones.

Furthermore, company X usually can't afford to port their software to every
conceivable platform; if I use an unsupported platform and source isn't
available, I'm SOL.  If I can get source, I may be able to compile it for
my machine.

-- 
Barry Margolin, Thinking Machines Corp.

bar...@think.com
{uunet,harvard}!think!barmar

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!elroy.jpl.nasa.gov!sdd.hp.com!mips!ptimtc!
nntp-server.caltech.edu!nntp-server.caltech.edu!daveg
From: da...@torment.cs.caltech.edu (Dave Gillespie)
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Re: Specialized software
Message-ID: <DAVEG.91Jul3025308@torment.cs.caltech.edu>
Date: 3 Jul 91 09:53:08 GMT
References: <1991Jul2.183339.3838@beaver.cs.washington.edu>
	<1991Jul2.203850.6505@usenet.ins.cwru.edu>
	<DAVEG.91Jul2180948@torment.cs.caltech.edu>
	<1991Jul3.053824.11489@Think.COM>
Sender: n...@nntp-server.caltech.edu
Distribution: gnu
Organization: /home/daveg/.organization
Lines: 60
In-Reply-To: barmar@think.com's message of 3 Jul 91 05:38:24 GMT

Barry Margolin said:

>>Think of it this way:  Company X knows all there is to know about, say,
>>laying out circuit boards.  [...]
>>But for company X to give you their source code under the GPL would be
>>comparable to offering to have their engineers teach your people all their
>>best tricks, and to encourage you to tell these tricks to all your friends.

> If the people at company X really know that much more about laying out
> circuit boards than anyone else, then they're not going to be hurt that
> much.  While competitors are looking at the release N source code, company
> X will already be well into development of release N+1.  Company X always
> has the advantage of time.

> But in reality, company X can't know "all there there is to know about"
> their application domain.

Very true, and that's why they can't afford to assume they'll stay out
in front through sheer superiority.  It can take much less time for
company Y to copy company X's ideas than for company X to invent and
perfect new ideas.  In the meanwhile company X and Y offer the same
features, but company X has a huge R&D investment to pay off.  Company
Y can undersell company X and steal their market out from under them;
then, while company X is devoting all its resources developing version
N+1, company Y is spending its resources on marketing, knowing they can
swipe version N+1's ideas after it comes out.

Now, there's no doubt that this can be used as an excuse for dirty deeds.
Apple's suit against Microsoft Windows is basically over this issue.
I don't fault Apple unconditionally for their attitude, but I do fault
them a) because they had years before MS Windows came out where they had
the GUI market all to themselves (more or less), and b) because Apple
didn't in fact invent many of the ideas that make up their user interface.

> The GNU philosophy is that we should all be able
> to build upon each others' expertise, filling in these holes in expertise
> to produce better software.  In particular, if I purchase software from
> company X, and *I* come up with an idea to enhance it (either a new
> feature, a customization, or a bug fix), I should be able to implement that
> idea.

... And that's why the GPL is such a great thing.  I've distributed
four major programs and several smaller ones under the terms of the
GPL, so I obviously believe the GPL is worthwhile, but I'm not trying
to make a living from that software.

I agree that all software producers should consider shipping with
sources.  They should even consider making their software free if they
can.  But I find it hard to call them evil software hoarders just because
they can't afford to give their software away.

> If I had the source code, I wouldn't be stuck waiting for company X to get
> around to implementing my request.  [...]

If company X gave you source at little or no extra charge, but in
exchange for a strict non-disclosure agreement, you could do all the
things you describe.  You could also share your changes with other X
customers who have signed the agreement.

								-- Dave

Path: gmdzi!unido!fauern!ira.uka.de!sol.ctr.columbia.edu!
zaphod.mps.ohio-state.edu!think.com!barmar
From: bar...@think.com (Barry Margolin)
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Re: Specialized software
Message-ID: <1991Jul3.223105.10562@Think.COM>
Date: 3 Jul 91 22:31:05 GMT
References: <DAVEG.91Jul2180948@torment.cs.caltech.edu> 
<1991Jul3.053824.11489@Think.COM> <DAVEG.91Jul3025308@torment.cs.caltech.edu>
Sender: n...@Think.COM
Reply-To: bar...@think.com
Distribution: gnu
Organization: Thinking Machines Corporation, Cambridge MA, USA
Lines: 26

In article <DAVEG.91Jul3025...@torment.cs.caltech.edu> 
da...@torment.cs.caltech.edu (Dave Gillespie) writes:
>Barry Margolin said:
>> If I had the source code, I wouldn't be stuck waiting for company X to get
>> around to implementing my request.  [...]
>If company X gave you source at little or no extra charge, but in
>exchange for a strict non-disclosure agreement, you could do all the
>things you describe.  You could also share your changes with other X
>customers who have signed the agreement.

That's true.  And, in fact, much of my day-to-day work is with Symbolics
workstations, and that is how they distribute their source code (they
bundle much of it with the system, and charge a nominal fee for the
remainder).

Perhaps one of the reasons Symbolics can afford to do this is that much of
their software isn't portable.  It would be almost as much effort to port
it to another architecture as it would be to reimplement it from the
documentation (several vendors of Lisps for conventional systems copied
some of Symbolics's Lisp extensions, such as processes, flavors, and
resources, mostly based on the documented interfaces).

-- 
Barry Margolin, Thinking Machines Corp.

bar...@think.com
{uunet,harvard}!think!barmar

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!zaphod.mps.ohio-state.edu!think.com!
hsdndev!cmcl2!kramden.acf.nyu.edu!brnstnd
From: brns...@kramden.acf.nyu.edu (Dan Bernstein)
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: Re: Specialized software
Message-ID: <16758.Jul419.46.5591@kramden.acf.nyu.edu>
Date: 4 Jul 91 19:46:55 GMT
References: <1991Jul2.203850.6505@usenet.ins.cwru.edu> 
<DAVEG.91Jul2180948@torment.cs.caltech.edu> <1991Jul3.053824.11489@Think.COM>
Organization: IR
Lines: 8

We're talking about software that isn't distributed widely, right?
Those of you who are arguing that the GPL works reasonably well for such
software: have you considered that the GPL is absolutely pointless for
such software? Nobody benefits from putting the GPL on specialized code.
None of the reasons for the GPL make sense for specialized code. Does
anyone see a valid reason to limit or waive copyrights in this case?

---Dan

Path: gmdzi!unido!mcsun!uunet!cis.ohio-state.edu!ai.mit.edu!tower
From: to...@ai.mit.edu (Leonard H. Tower Jr.)
Newsgroups: gnu.misc.discuss
Subject: why the library license
Message-ID: <9107042200.AA01794@pop-tarts>
Date: 4 Jul 91 22:00:12 GMT
References: <XNDi516w164w@mantis.co.uk>
Sender: to...@prep.ai.mit.edu
Reply-To: to...@prep.ai.mit.edu
Distribution: gnu
Organization: Project GNU, Free Software Foundation,
    675 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA  02139, USA   +1 (617) 876-3296
Lines: 33


   Date: 3 Jul 91 12:24:44 GMT
   Organization: Mantis Consultants, Cambridge. UK.
   From: mat...@mantis.co.uk (Industrial Poet)
   Sender: gnu-misc-discuss-requ...@cis.ohio-state.edu

   edg...@charlie.CES.CWRU.Edu (Aydin Edguer) writes:
   > In article <1991Jul2.183339.3...@beaver.cs.washington.edu> pa...@stowe.cs.was
   > >                         [...] Note I said source code - not stuff from
   > > the libraries, but perhaps something like taking gcc's parser, ripping
   > > it out and using it for something else. If I charge time+materials to
   > > a client for this, am I ripping of the original author of the parser,
   > > or simply making good use of their work ? 
   > 
   > You may also be making good use of their work.  But unless you
   > give back something to the author, you are ripping the author off
   > by charging someone else for the authors labor without
   > reimbursing the author.

   But the author does not want reimbursment.  If he did, he would not have
   released his software under the GPL.

One way of paying the author back is to send him your changes, so he
and others can use them.  Another way is to send them to the master
maintainer(s) of the program.  A third is to make them widely
available via Internet ftp, dial-up BBS, USENET sources newsgroups,
etc.

You could send the author some money.  FSF asks users of it's software
to do this, if they would like FSF to develope more free software.
(Note that FSF des not require it.)

thanx -len

			        About USENET

USENET (Users’ Network) was a bulletin board shared among many computer
systems around the world. USENET was a logical network, sitting on top
of several physical networks, among them UUCP, BLICN, BERKNET, X.25, and
the ARPANET. Sites on USENET included many universities, private companies
and research organizations. See USENET Archives.

		       SCO Files Lawsuit Against IBM

March 7, 2003 - The SCO Group filed legal action against IBM in the State 
Court of Utah for trade secrets misappropriation, tortious interference, 
unfair competition and breach of contract. The complaint alleges that IBM 
made concentrated efforts to improperly destroy the economic value of 
UNIX, particularly UNIX on Intel, to benefit IBM's Linux services 
business. See SCO v IBM.

The materials and information included in this website may only be used
for purposes such as criticism, review, private study, scholarship, or
research.

Electronic mail:			       WorldWideWeb:
   tech-insider@outlook.com			  http://tech-insider.org/