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Re: <nettime> floss enforcement/compliance
ed phillips on Sun, 29 Feb 2004 16:55:23 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> floss enforcement/compliance

Thanks Ben and Novica,

I'm not knocking MySQL for making money or for having a commercial license
in addition to a GPL version. In fact, a few years ago, I contributed in
some small ways to the MySQL project myself. I think highly of Monty, etc.
I wish them continued success.

In fact, however, their licensing literature *is* incorrect on the small
point of inter-organizational redistribution of MySQL and modifications to
it or programs that use it.

A relevant passage from the gpl-faq covers this issue:

"The GPL does not require you to release your modified version. You are
free to make modifications and use them privately, without ever releasing
them. This applies to organizations (including companies), too; an
organization can make a modified version and use it internally without
ever releasing it outside the organization.

But if you release the modified version to the public in some way, the GPL
requires you to make the modified source code available to the program's
users, under the GPL."

There is absolutely no aspect of the GPL that binds you to release your
modifications as GPL software, unless you release your program to the

As a long time zealot for free software, I don't see how the release of
every trivial application that uses free software could be of benefit at
this point. In fact we may have been better off if the Slash code for
example had never been released.

Mature free software projects benefit from extensive peer review and the
promotion and use of best practices in software development. They also
serve, most importantly I believe, as a way to promote and develop
literacy. The releasing of trivial and half baked applications often lead
to the spread of poor practices and bad habits.

Certainly, I wouldn't want to restrict anyone's right to release even the
ugliest hack, but neither would I call it a great benefit to the commons.

Nor am I concerned with my own compliance or non-compliance here. I've
never sold a whit of software, nor do I plan to. I find most of the
supposed intellectual property that some software companies attempt to
hold on to to be laughable. Most of them are hiding their bad ideas from
the glare of peer review.

So to continue with the example that I began with: If you are the
government of Extremadura and you need to release an application to all
your far flung Linux servers that does foo and stores bar in a MySQL
database, you are free to distribute this on all your computers without
formally having to inflict the ugly, just good enough to get the job done
hack on the rest of us. Nor do you have to pay MySQL 450 or whatever
dollars per install of the application.

It seems to me that the biggest benefit again of free software is the way
that it helps develop literacy and spread knowledge.

It is interesting, nonetheless, to see MySQL attempt to use a kind of
hybrid dual license business model. I think they are doing quite well and
I wish them well.

Scriptics, Jon Ousterhout's TCL company, attempted a kind of hybrid
approach that ultimately failed for them. I was there when Richard
Stallman quite dramatically called them parasites for attempting such. It
was different in that TCL was not GPLed and that Ousterhout was attempting
to sell proprietary tools on top of TCL. I thought at the time that it was
an interesting approach for Jon to attempt, but that the model would
probably decrease contributions from the community of users.

It is interesting to see an attempt at a free software, propietary hybrid.

On Sat, Feb 28, 2004 at 01:33:58PM +0000, Benjamin Geer wrote:

> ed phillips wrote:
> >I'm curious. They seem in their licensing literature(
> >http://www.mysql.com/products/opensource-license.html )
> >to be trying to scare non-Linux users, companies, and government
> >organizations into purchasing commercial licenses.


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