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Why the GPL Licensing Cops Are the Good Guys 233

Posted by timothy
from the they've-got-a-good-track-record-too dept.
Reader rtfa-troll writes: "'GPL enforcement by Software Freedom Conservancy puts electronics makers on notice, leaves business users untouched,' says Infoworld, going on to explain 'You are several orders of magnitude more likely to be raided by your proprietary suppliers, in the form of the Business Software Alliance, than to ever hear from SFC, let alone face any action. License compliance is a major and costly issue for proprietary software, but the case concerns an end-user license agreement (EULA), not a source license.' The article gives a good summary of why having GPL licenses enforced helps everybody, except for 'hardware manufacturers — typically those creating low-cost consumer and business electronics' who need to verify that they pass on the same rights to others as they received with the original code."
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Why the GPL Licensing Cops Are the Good Guys

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  • by Bookwyrm (3535) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @10:48AM (#40200981)

    Out of curiosity, If APIs cannot be copyrighted, does this mean they cannot also be covered by the GPL? This would seem to be a fairly major implication of the Oracle vs. Google case. (Speaking strictly about API definitions/header files.)

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@@@gmail...com> on Sunday June 03, 2012 @11:10AM (#40201117)

    For a loooooong time the MySQL team were claiming that any library which implemented the API required to talk to MySQL also fell under the licensing terms for MySQL - you didnt have to link to anything provided by MySQL, you just had to use the same structures and names.

    Then they quietly stopped claiming it and all traces vanished from the MySQL website.

  • by TinyLittleMend (2653839) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @11:13AM (#40201141)

    the typical argument is 'we are robbing those evil studios so its ok'.

    No, that's just a straw man. I suspect most people here wouldn't even call it "robbing." And there are people who are against copyright in general but believe that as long as copyright should exist, so should the GPL. I know simplifying the matter makes it easier to attack your opponents, but do lay off the straw men.

  • by oiron (697563) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @11:43AM (#40201297) Homepage

    Well, the "average Slashdot commenter" is a fictional entity - an average between trolls, spammers, real commenters, with massive variation in how informed they are. There are all kinds here - conservatives, liberals, die-hard anarchists, windows users, mac users, linux people, and most importantly for this discussion, supporters of every single license ever made by man or troll!

    If you could show a statistical correlation between the people here (or elsewhere) who advocate GPL and those who advocate infringement of proprietary software, I'd accept your point. Until then, it's hearsay and borderline slander.

    Anyway, by "serious", I meant people like Stallman and Eben Moglen, who are actually doing the advocacy in a long-term, sustained manner.

    Most importantly, the people running this operation are SFLC, FSF and others, who are definitely in the "use free alternatives, don't pirate" camp.

  • by oiron (697563) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @11:49AM (#40201339) Homepage

    The danger with BSDL is that since there's no incentive for a company to give back, often critical pieces get closed off, reinvented and you can't really share code. In other words, you just saved the salary of a compliance officer, but didn't gain the advantage of community testing/improvement of your code, unless you release your code back, in which case you still need a compliance officer and code audits (to ensure that you don't accidentally release something you want to keep proprietary), anyway.

    In general though, I prefer the BSDL/LGPL for libraries - the choice isn't that important in most cases, and GPL for any community-developed end-user applications. You get to develop closed-source frontends, but don't ever think of closing our frontends.

  • Is MyCleanPC GPLv3? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by unixisc (2429386) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @01:41PM (#40202117)
    troll feeding mode: The real question is - is MyCleanPC licensed under GPLv3? You see, I'd like to see the source code to this available, so that if it is, as one suspects, a virus, one can alter it to become a real anti-virus and release it that way. And if any virus-authors get hold of it and want to make a virus out of it, they can do it, but they must release the source code to this baby. It should also not be on any locked-down hardware - freedom 3 of GNU - the freedom to modify and distribute the changes - should be there. Assure me that MyCleanPC is completely GPLv3 liberated software, and I'll be more than happy to look @ it. /troll feeding mode
  • by FrangoAssado (561740) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @03:08PM (#40202729)

    OK, let's try to understand the point of the essay, since reading the title is not enough. At the beginning of the conclusion, he wrote:

    As a computer user today, you may find yourself using a proprietary program. If your friend asks to make a copy, it would be wrong to refuse. Cooperation is more important than copyright.

    If you stop reading there, you might get the impression he's advocating breaking proprietary licenses. But if you keep reading, you see that, immediately after that (in the same paragraph!), he wrote:

    But underground, closet cooperation does not make for a good society. A person should aspire to live an upright life openly with pride, and this means saying no to proprietary software.

    Is it too hard to see that he's not saying that you should help your neighbor by violating proprietary licenses, but instead that you should not use proprietary software in the first place?

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:55PM (#40211883) Homepage Journal

    Honestly, I find that pathetic. This is not like conscientous objectors hiding Jews when Nazis came looking for them. It's just declining to help somebody b'cos it violates another agreement. Do we always do everything our friends and neighbors ask us to do? If my neighbor asked me to help set up a forgery outfit to help him out of his poverty and joblessness, would it be right or wrong of me to refuse?

    You know, buddy, hyperbole that stupid doesn't belong here. First you take Stallman completely out of context, then you resort to extreme hyperbole. When you have to resort to either tactic, you already lost the debate.

    Don't let the screen door hit your ass on the way out, MAFIAA shill. You're outed!

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