[clug-talk] Article on Licensing

Aaron Seigo aseigo at kde.org
Tue Nov 23 10:36:52 PST 2004

On November 23, 2004 10:07, Niels Voll wrote:
> At least one of the BSD forks was a leadership issue, if you read Theo's
> story.

one of the _public_ BSD forks. do you know how many private, 
never-to-be-seen-again BSD forks have occurred?

what would have happened if Linksys had used a BSD kernel instead of Linux? 
they would never have openned the source code, because they wouldn't have had 

getting people to work together in the community is one thing, getting selfish 
interests that lack a humanitarian foundation (e.g. corporations, many 
government groups) to work together is another.

> The GPL does not prevent forking - just look at PhpNuke - it has been
> significantly forked and some of those forks have been forked.

of course; one of the principles of Open Source is to allow forks. the real 
danger is closing the source after a fork, or making forks so innexpensive 
that the necessary desire to fork need be low to create such a fork.

> There are other highly successful projects like Apache, which don't use
> the GPL, but more a BSD styled license.

these don't fork very often largely because they are actively maintained (so 
drive to fork is low) and they are freakin' huge (so cost of forking is 
high). these projects also started a long time ago (relatively) when 
licensing (much like security) wasn't so much of an issue.

however, when one views Apache as a reference implementation of a core 
protocol that one would LIKE to see picked up and used as often as possible 
so as to ensure compatibility and grow adoption, the BSD license makes all 
the sense in the world.

for something like PostgreSQL, i'm afraid it doesn't make any sense at all, 
however for historical reasons they will always be BSD licensed. it would be 
relatively easy to hijack pgsql development by simply hiring the core devels 
and closing their contributions. it's only due the core devel's general 
ethical commitment to Open Source that this doesn't happen.

> And even while some may argue, that Linux hasn't been forked,  there are
> significantly painful differences in the implementation details of the
> various distro's, that organizations like LSB and United Linux keep
> popping up. So one can have forking problems without forking, GPL or no
> GPL.

this is a totally different type of "forking" =)

Aaron J. Seigo
Society is Geometric
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