Anti-GPL Crowd Doesn’t Get It

The folks who come out against the GPL just don’t get it, on two very important levels.  On one level, they do not appreciate the benefit of having many licenses to choose from, of varying permissiveness (either that, or they just want to BSD open GPL’d programs and libraries).  They also do not get why GPL licenses are so attractive to FOSS developers.

William Hurley is one such confused individual (via slashdot):

Back to the future of the GPL. The FSF should realize by now their influence is waning. Look at the plethora of alternative licenses.

Equating a “plethora of alternative licenses” with waning influence is a bit of a logical jump.  It simply means various projects (often corporate) find they need very particular licensing terms for their product.  A far better measure would be the number of high profile projects that switched to or from the GPL to a more permissive license.

Now they’re really hamstringing themselves with Version 3, taking the license further and further from where industry developers are heading.

Not really.  Again, this is a license for Free and Open Source Software.  Free as in the rights of the user.  GPL 3 is all about closing loopholes that allow shifty individuals and corporations to circumvent those rights.  While some industry developers may be heading down a road of heaping more and more restrictions on their users, I’m sure a few enterprising devs will see an opportunity in offering more freedom with their solutions.

Anyway, why should the needs of industry developers drive the goals of FOSS developers?

The GPL is aimed at developers who want to put time and effort into a project, but don’t want that to become free labor for a corporation cutting back on its R&D budget.  This isn’t everybody, surely, but it is a large audience, and one that deserves a strong license to serve its needs.  GPL3 provides that.  Alternatives do exist (and this is a very good thing), but to prematurely crow about the “death of the GPL” is ludicrous.

Closing up loopholes and strengthening the license will make GPL3 a stronger alternative to GPL2 for interested developers.

Count me in.

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