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GNU is Not Unix Debian Open Source News

GPL, Copyleft On the Rise 277

Posted by Soulskill
from the GOP-hoping-it-can-beat-romney dept.
paxcoder writes "Contrary to earlier analyses that predicted a decline of copyleft software share to as little as 50% this year, John Sullivan, the executive director of the Free Software Foundation, claims the opposite has happened: In his talk at FOSDEM 2012 titled 'Is Copyleft Being Framed?,' Sullivan presented evidence (PDF) of a consistent increase of usage of copyleft licenses in relation to the usage of permissive licenses in free software projects over the past few years. Using publicly available package information provided by the Debian project, his study showed that the number of packages using the GPL family in that distribution this year reached a share of 93% of all packages with (L)GPLv3 usage rising 400% between the last two Debian versions."
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GPL, Copyleft On the Rise

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  • Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaleGlass (1068434) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:48AM (#39231803) Homepage

    IMO, if you're writing or releasing software, the GPL is preferrable. You benefit from patches, even being able to take those people don't intentionally contribute. You keep your code unusuable to those competitors who follow a closed management model. You also get to use it as advertisement if you're willing to offer an alternate license for money.

    If you're looking to use somebody else's software though, of course the BSD is best. But the thing is that once you spent a few months working on code, a BSD license can be a bit of a hard sell for anything important, because you have nothing of the above. I think for most people some degree of attachment and desire of control develops after spending a lot of time on something.

  • The sad part. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by philip.paradis (2580427) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:53AM (#39231849)

    I've seen so many developers just slap the GPL on their code because it's perceived as the "default" choice. When asked why they chose to use the GPL, they can't even explain its basic provisions. When told how it works, many of those same developers will say "oh, that's not really my intent." Sadly, because of the original "default" perception, a ton of code gets licensed this way.

    I aggressively support the right to license something any way creators see fit, and happen to license my most of my stuff under the BSD and Artistic licenses. That said, people really need to understand what different licenses provide before they run off using them. When in any doubt whatsoever regarding any of it, it wouldn't be a terrible idea to pay for an hour of a lawyer's time (if possible).

  • by MatthiasF (1853064) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:58AM (#39231875)
    And doesn't Debian actually actively work for make sure the packages it distributes are GPL?

    So, not only is he cherrypicking but he picked a project that strives to use Copyleft.

    http://www.debian.org/News/2012/20120219 [debian.org]

    The actual study mentioned in the talk came out last month and was written up here.

    http://www.itwire.com/business-it-news/open-source/52838-gpl-use-in-debian-on-the-rise-study [itwire.com]

    John Sullivan even called picking only one distribution as "scientific". I'm not sure he knows what the word means.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:21PM (#39232045)

    IMO, if you're writing or releasing software, the GPL is preferrable. You benefit from patches, even being able to take those people don't intentionally contribute. You keep your code unusuable to those competitors who follow a closed management model. You also get to use it as advertisement if you're willing to offer an alternate license for money. If you're looking to use somebody else's software though, of course the BSD is best. But the thing is that once you spent a few months working on code, a BSD license can be a bit of a hard sell for anything important, because you have nothing of the above. I think for most people some degree of attachment and desire of control develops after spending a lot of time on something.

    That is terribly ill-informed. BSD projects benefit from patches and contributions, both from individuals and corporations. GPL is perfectly usable in a closed management model when the code is used internally, for example when you provide a service not a software product like google. Second, it is a political belief, not a fact, that denying access to the close management model is beneficial. Your license it for money under an alternative license argument is in conflict with your patches from 3rd parties argument, you can not license code that others own the copyright to - look at the Linux kernel being locked into GPL v2 because all the contributors of patches and new features/functionality can't/won't authorize a switch to GPL v3. BSD licensed projects have been easier sells for some, for example Sun Microsystems and Apple Computers.

    You are correct that people who are emotional and controlling would probably prefer the GPL.

  • So says the FSF. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:24PM (#39232065)

    John Sullivan, the executive director of the Free Software Foundation, claims... a consistent increase of usage of copyleft licenses in relation to the usage of permissive licenses in free software projects over the past few years.

    Who would have thought?

  • Re:The sad part. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kjella (173770) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:33PM (#39232129) Homepage

    On that note, the GPL is probably the "safer" choice. Releasing GPL code as BSD is simple, oh now you can use the code in proprietary code too. Going from BSD to GPL is trying to put the cat back in the bag, often leading to a fork and drama from those who no longer can/want to use it. If the developer is clueless it's less harmful that people can't use the code the way he intended than that people can use the code in ways he didn't intend. "Oh you want the code under the BSD, here you go" is a lot easier to fix than "OMG WTF you mean Apple and Microsoft can just take my code for nothing now? That's not what I wanted!"

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:31PM (#39233035) Homepage Journal

    Your point was funny and well illustrated, but I'm not sure it's correct. Is Debian actually biased toward the GPL over other F/OSS licenses? Their Debian Free Software Guidelines and Software License FAQ [debian.org] explicitly suggests the BSD and MIT licenses for authors who want their code to be useable by everyone. They also call out the Artistic License by name in the "What Does Free Mean? [debian.org]" section of the "Introduction to Debian".

    I've never thought of Debian as particularly pro-GPL in particular so much as pro-Free Software in general.

I am here by the will of the people and I won't leave until I get my raincoat back. - a slogan of the anarchists in Richard Kadrey's "Metrophage"

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