Dear Mr Poynder:
I don't do advocacy for particular software licences (if only because
what coders specify is entirely their own affair), but have made it
my business to give impartial advice on their application in business
for the last decade or so, and have served as software-licensing expert
for my last two firms. Yet, it's not usually necessary or useful to try
to wield expert credentials on this matter, since the facts are
eminently accessible using copyright law and common sense.
(I hope the following won't sound peevish. If it does, please forgive
me, and I'll owe you a pint.)
Along those lines, one has to wonder the relevance of your quoting the
unnamed Irish wireless ASP's CEO. Your supposition that his view
indicates "scope for a wider debate" sounds like a bit of a
non-sequitur: It shows only that there is slow comprehension in high
places -- but we already knew that.
I.e., to follow up on his hypothetical, if Exampleco writes codebases A
and B, issues A under proprietary terms, issues B under GPL terms, and
also issues a separate instance of them linked together and under
proprietary terms, nobody's rights have been violated, nor anyone's property
impaired. Exampleco retains the right to issue codebase B instances
under proprietary (or any other) terms: It's an inherent right of
This can be a compelling business model if codebase B is, say, an
"engine" that might be embedded into surrounding code. Exampleco's
competitors can play with the code but not proprietise it. Its
customers can understand and test it down to the last detail. So can
VARs. But anyone who wants to use B as part of a larger proprietary
piece has to pay Exampleco for the privilege (using an instance of the
codebase under compatible licence terms).
Now, it's likely enough that the Irish ASP's CEO never thought to use
the GPL in a two-licence regime to _protect_ proprietary interests.
Few do -- most are mislead by rampant misninformation, and don't stop to
If your point about the CEO is to exemplify a common attitude, then
it's well taken. If you're suggesting that he's pointing to some real
issue, then it's objectively wrong -- by reference to settled principles
of copyright law. Which brings us back to Mr Rosen.
I am sorry you didn't get a chance to consult with him, since he could
have helped. But at least you were able to speak to Mr Pawlo, who is
also an excellent resource. And your article did make a number of
telling points well. (Thank you.)
I don't fault your article for failing to clear up the issues: That's
the job of people like me. Yours was to report on various views
concerning a controversy, and it did that well enough.
Thank you for your time, and for your trouble. (And the concluding
paragraph of your e-mail was particularly well-stated; one can only
applaud your doing that. Further: The complete article draft does read
Cheers, "Orthodoxy is my doxy. Heterodoxy is someone else's doxy."
Rick Moen -- William Warburton, Bishop of Gloucester (1698-1779)
rick at linuxmafia.com
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