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Re: <nettime> Linux strikes back III
Martin Hardie on Thu, 16 Oct 2003 11:33:05 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Linux strikes back III

The Linux article I posted yesterday (without endorsing it of course) is also subject of discussion at the commons-law list in India. I thought nettimers may be interested in their comments. Sorry but at the moment i haven't had a chance to try and say anything sensible about this ... just a mailman .. but the compliance lab practice interests me greatly

Contents of commons-law digest..."

Today's Topics:

   1. Re: Linux's Hit Men (Mahesh T. Pai)
   2. Re: Linux's Hit Men (Sunil Abraham)


Message: 1
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 19:36:54 +0530
From: "Mahesh T. Pai" <paivakil {AT} yahoo.co.in>
Subject: Re: [Commons-Law] Linux's Hit Men
To: commons-law {AT} sarai.net
Message-ID: <20031015140654.GA4304 {AT} nandini>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Sunil Abraham said on Sun, Oct 19, 2003 at 06:30:04AM +0530,:

I feel that this article is rather nasty to the FSF; misrepresents its
activities; seeks  to confuse people  between 'open source'  and 'free
software'; I regard  this as yet another FUD tactic  and hope that the
FSF will give a reply. 

 > ..  the foundation  is demanding that Cisco and  Broadcom either a)
 > rip  out all  the  Linux code  in  the router  and  use some  other
 > operating system,  or b)  make their code  available to  the entire
 > world.  And if they balk? Kuhn raises the threat of legal action.

This is what  any copyright holder will do when s/he  finds that his /
her license is being violated.
 > rare peek into the dark  side of the free software movement--a view
 > that  contrasts with  the movement's  usual public  image  of happy
 > software proles linking arms and singing the "Internationale" while
 > freely sharing the fruits of their code-writing labor.

I do  not understand why  this article is  trying to paint  a negative
image about  somebody asking that the  terms of a  license be complied

The situation  here is that  CISCO & their suppliers  have distributed
software based on code provided to them on the explicit condition that
they shall  make available all  modifications to the sources,  if they
distribute modified versions.

If you fail  to honour the terms under which  the software is provided
to you, you obviously have to face the consequences. 
Here CISCO is apparently distributing  a modified version of the Linux
kernel without  providing the modified sources.  According  to the GNU
GPL, the obligation to provide  the source code is on the distributor,
in this case, CISCO.

The case  of SCO V. IBM  is entirely different. They  were, even after
filing the suit against  IBM, distributing their version _and_ sources
to the  Linux Kernel. The plaintiff themselves  were distributing what
they claiming to be 'infringing' copies.

 >  And sometimes it collects money from companies it has busted.

What is  the big  deal? Seeking compensation  from people  who violate
your rights is perfectly justified.

 >  Instead, Progress uses an open source database program distributed
 > under the less onerous Berkeley Software Distribution license.


This is the difference between  'open source' and 'free software'. The
BSD, unlike the GPL, is not a copyleft license. BSD permits 'stealing'
of sources by people who release modified binaries, without disclosing
the source code. When you use a BSD license, you are free to keep your
modifications  for yourself.  All  the same,  you  cannot prevent  the
people to  whom you 'sell' a  BSD licensed product from  selling it to
yet third parties. 

Therefore, not  only does the BSD  license allow people  to create and
sell derived works from your work,  it also enables people to keep the
modifications  a  secret.  (hence   the  word  'stealing'  above)  The
developers should therefore avoid the BSD license.

 > In some ways, these  Free Software Foundation "enforcement actions"
 > can  be  more dangerous  than  a  typical  copyright spat,  because
 > usually copyright holders seek money--say, royalties on the product
 > that  infringing  companies  are  selling. But  the  Free  Software
 > Foundation doesn't  want royalties--it wants you to  burn down your
 > house, or at the very least share it with cloners.

Source  code written by  somebody else  is not  *your* house.  What is
*your* loss if  you are made to stop profiteering  from it? You cannot
modify proprietary software anyway.
The Free Software Foundation, stands for _users_ rights. They make no
bones about it.

They declare upfront that 'free  software' is 'free as in freedom'; it
is not  'free as in  free masaladosa'.  The  user is free to  view and
study  the  source  code.  The  user  can  use  the software  for  any
purpose. S/he  is free to share  the software. S/he is  free to modify
and distribute the modified software.

The  GPL is  a practical  implementation of  these four  freedoms; and
imposes    some   obligations   on    the   people    who   distribute
'free-as-in-freedom' software.

The following links sum FSF's stand on the matter.

Some  'open   source'  licenses,   compel  users  to   disclose  their
modifications, even  if there is  no distribution. The emphasis  is on

The GPL however is user friendly  in that it permits the users to keep
the modifications  to themselves,  so long as  they do not  indulge in
distribution.    The  compulsion   to  disclose   the   sources  (upon
distribution of modified versions) , is more developer friendly, since
others cannot create parasitic incompatible implementations.

Corporate houses who do not like  these obligations can opt not to use
'free as in freedom' software.  Which is what Nusphere appears to have
decided to.

 > "We'd like  people to stop  selling proprietary software.  It's bad
 > for the world," Kuhn says.

What is bad is 'proprietary software' not 'selling' software. See:-


 >  This despite the fact that the foundation has $750,000 in the bank
 > and one lawyer who works for free,

That is  way less that  annual income of  the top CEOs  in proprietary
software business. Why are giant Goliaths afraid of this puny David?

-- +~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+ Mahesh T. Pai, LL.M., 
'NANDINI', S. R. M. Road, Ernakulam, Cochin-682018, Kerala, India. 
------------------------------ Message: 2 Date: 20 Oct 2003 06:45:42 
+0530 From: Sunil Abraham <sunil {AT} mahiti.org> Subject: Re: [Commons-Law] 
Linux's Hit Men To: Commons Law <commons-law {AT} sarai.net> Message-ID: 
<1066612568.746.12.camel {AT} localhost> Content-Type: text/plain On Wed, 
2003-10-15 at 19:36, Mahesh T. Pai wrote:

>> software'; I regard  this as yet another FUD tactic  and hope that the
>> FSF will give a reply. 

They already have. I got this from the summer source list. Thanks to
Patrice Riemens for pointing it out.


FSF's Kuhn Responds to Forbes Article
Oct 14, 2003, 20 :00 UTC (8 Talkback[s]) (7724 reads)
(Other stories by Bradley M. Kuhn)

Linux Today asked the Free Software Foundation's Bradley Kuhn if he
would like a chance to respond to today's piece at Forbes.com. He gave a
brief statement and permission to post it here:

"Like many articles in the mainstream media, it does not represent any
of the sides all that well.

"We have an ongoing productive and friendly conversation with CISCO and
Broadcom regarding their violation. In no violation case have we ever
filed a law suit, and rarely even get the point to threaten one, because
most companies feel that it is better for them and their customers to
come into compliance.

"Companies make a conscious choice to join the GPL'ed world and build
their products in freedom. They are required in return to respect the
communities rights, and the characterizations in the article don't point
out that it is a conscious quid pro quo for companies. Also, Free
Software licensing terms give much more permissions than any proprietary
equivalent that a company might base their product on." 

-- Sunil Abraham, sunil {AT} mahiti.org http://www.mahiti.org MAHITI Infotech 
Pvt. Ltd.'Reducing the cost and complexity of ICTs' 314/1, 7th Cross, 
Domlur Bangalore - 560 071 Karnataka, INDIA Ph/Fax: +91 80 4150580. 
Mobile: 98455 12611 "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we 
exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if 
you have an idea and I have one idea and we exchange these ideas,then 
each of us will have two ideas" George B. Shaw 
_______________________________________________ commons-law mailing list 
commons-law {AT} sarai.net 
https://mail.sarai.net/mailman/listinfo/commons-law End of commons-law 
Digest, Vol 3, Issue 10 ******************************************

Ian Dickson wrote:

>> But now there's a problem. The Linux software in the router is 
>> distributed
>> under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which the Free Software
>> Foundation created in 1991.
>> Under the license, if you distribute GPL software in a product, you must
>> also distribute the software's source code. And not just the GPL 
>> code, but
>> also the code for any "derivative works" you've created--even if
>> publishing that code means anyone can now make a knockoff of your 
>> product.
> I'm in commercial private business, and to be honest, companies know 
> what the GPL licence says and if they don't like it they shouldn't use 
> Linux.
> Shed no tears for them. (And watch as "do you have Linux / Open Source 
> in your code" becomes a core due diligence question).
> As to this meaning that Linux won't take over the world, where is the 
> surprise in that? Only a few dreamers ever thought that it would.
> In essence the GPL means that it is mad for a commercial company to 
> build on Linux in any area where they want revenue, and can't afford 
> to commoditise it.
> But without the GPL most programmers who contribute to the Linux 
> effort wouldn't, (because they would be upset that their work is 
> captured, without pay, by "for profit" companies).
> You pays your money and you takes your choice...
> Cheers

"the riddle which man must solve, he can only solve in being, in 
being what he is and not something else...."

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