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GPL, Copyleft On the Rise 277

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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  • by Barbara, not Barbie ( 721478 ) <barbara.hudson@C ... minus herbivore> on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:37PM (#39231723) Journal
    The earlier study looked at a much broader base of projects, not just cherry-picking by limiting itself to packages in a distro.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oiron ( 697563 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:03PM (#39231907) Homepage

    The way I'd do it is, GPL for applications, BSD/MIT/LGPL for libraries, depending on the level of participation, the commercial and legal aspects, etc. And all university research should always be permissive, so that it can be incorporated into either GPLed, proprietary or whatever else.

    Isn't it easy enough to see that all the licenses solve different problems? Some are good to bring a piece of research out into the open, and some are great for protecting freedoms... No point mixing the use cases...

  • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:06PM (#39231937)

    Or rather, it's cherry-picking by quality. Any useful project that is not fundamentally restricted to Mac or Windows will most likely be ported by someone, and packaged for Debian. Fart apps, not so much.

    It's also interesting how fast non-GPL licenses decline. We're talking about falling by a factor of 4.2 in less than seven years.

  • Re:The sad part. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Qubit ( 100461 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:14PM (#39232005) Homepage Journal

    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.

    Do you think this is because many programmers see "open-sourcing" their software as a kind of "throw it over the wall" kind of exercise? Perhaps they don't have much invested in the benefits of a shared community around the code?

    My guess would be that for programmers who plan a livelyhood based on writing wholly (or near to it) FOSS code, something like the GPL protects their interests and future business possibilities in the market more than a permissive license like the 3-clause BSD. For programmers who write a lot of code under proprietary licenses, I can totally understand that they would (1) want (or rather NEED) to use permissively-licensed libraries, and (2) thus would be much inclined to release their code under those same permissive terms.

    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.

    Licenses are very tricky things. Given the entry barriers to writing some PHP code vs. understanding the provisions in the Artistic License, the GPL, what advertising clauses mean, etc..etc..., computer code is often easier than its legal counterpart.

    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).

    Oh, it's certainly a good idea, but how many lawyers (or laypeople -- Hi, Bruce!) do you know who are expert enough to consult about ip, copyright, FOSS licensing, etc..? I know a handful, and I believe that they make over $300/hr -- some probably make a lot more than that!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:16PM (#39232019)

    I think the FSF might be a bit biased. Don't you.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:17PM (#39232023) Homepage Journal

    While non-copyleft licenses like the Mozilla, Apache, and LGPLv3 are quite popular for core services and libraries, most applications I've used over the years were copyleft/GPL type licenses.

    If you're building a core service, you want it used by as many people and projects as possible. But if you're developing a tool, utility, or application, often your concern is more to prevent any one company or individual from seizing that work and selling it as their own product.

    Personally I use both LGPLv3 and GPLv3 licenses as a result, because the goals of the different software components are not the same.

  • by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:24PM (#39232063)

    You left out the part where the pro-GPL study comes from the authors and advocates of the GPL.

    Thanks for the hint (its astounding the way that accusations from shills so often point you in the direction of what they themselves are doing). You left out the fact that the original data came from a Microsoft partner [] involved in Codeplex. Immediately I saw your post I thought to search for that.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:1, Insightful)

    by hydrofix ( 1253498 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:41PM (#39232185)

    GPL is a horrible piece of sh*t.

    It's fine as long as you don't need to use that software commercially. But in the commercial world you need to be able to edit the source code of the software to make any use of it. GPL does the exact opposite of what it pretends to promise: it restricts you from editing the source code, because you become liable to all sorts of legal responsibilities if you do so. Not understanding these caveats in supposedly "free" software can be very costly, when you implement a large application that relies on a slightly modified version of a GPL source code, and after two months of development realise that you have painted yourself into a corner and made yourself into a copyright criminal – just because you naïvely thought "free software" was actually "free".

    If you want to write free software for the benefit of the IT community and not a certain unemployed American self-righteous zealot, you should definitely release it into the public domain or – if you want attribution – use some easier and more relaxed license (both to understand and read) than any GNU license. GPL is anyway a dying ecosystem, because both Apple [] and Microsoft [] have banned it from their current and future distribution platforms. And no Slashdot, this is not because they are bad evil corporations that hate penguins and kittens, but because GPL is an ambiguous, incomprehensible myriad of rights and responsibilities that no sane company in the software distribution business would ever touch.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hydrofix ( 1253498 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:03PM (#39232353)

    I write for my own benefit, not for the "IT community". I want attribution, and your improvements to my code, or your money in exchange for a different license. I have no reason to give you code with no strings attached, no matter how much that might displease you.

    And how is this free software? I think most people would intuitively think that something "free" comes without strings attached. And this is where the deception of GPL lies: it is not really a free software license (except in some idealistic form as defined by the GNU foundation), but a restrictive license that actually discourages free use of the author's creation.

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

    by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:49PM (#39232749) Journal

    The only freedom the GPL restricts is your freedom to restrict the freedom of others.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hydrofix ( 1253498 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:15PM (#39232927)

    The only successful and widely adopted open source OS says otherwise.

    Ermm.. Nope. UNIX is the most widely-adopted open source OS. One brand of it currently has 15% market share [] in the North American consumer market. And key to its success? It's not GPL!

    Linux is open source, but not free for commercial reuse. It has been exploited in some embedded devices (while more than not totally ignoring the copyleft/ShareAlike properties of GPL). A notable example is the unwillingness of Google to open their Linux source code, but there are thousands of smaller corporations out there who simply ignore the GPL when reusing Linux.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:41PM (#39233117)

    The way I'd do it is, GPL for applications, BSD/MIT/LGPL for libraries, depending on the level of participation, the commercial and legal aspects, etc. And all university research should always be permissive, so that it can be incorporated into either GPLed, proprietary or whatever else.

    Generally agree, but I'd also give serious attention to the Apache License (2.0) for libraries. It's also fairly open, but also provides a patent license as well, and that's an important consideration what with all the trolls around. I think this is the only thing missing from the non-GPL licenses in your list.

  • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:50PM (#39233207) Journal

    I think the FSF might be a bit biased. Don't you.

    Undobtedly the FSF is biased. That can hardly be disputed. But are they wrong?

  • Re:The sad part. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:56PM (#39233245) Homepage

    GPL is used as a tool to limit the rights of others

    No. That's copyright. The GPL doesn't add any restrictions, it eliminates them, under certain conditions.

  • by andydread ( 758754 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @04:03PM (#39233307)
    No me. I use Firefox not Chrome.
  • Re:Perhaps, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @04:34PM (#39233509)

    Ooh look, a liar.

    The GPL poisons commercial code -- intentionally -- and that keeps GPL'd software from ever bringing mainstream software developers into the fold.

    Good way to completely incorrectly representing how the GPL works.

    This is why the "year of the linux desktop" never comes. Those big packages everyone wants, from Photoshop to Office etc., the companies that create them simply can't afford to mix in with that kind of licensing.

    Bullshit, plain and simple. There are LOTS of non-GPL packages, proprietary packages even, that run on Linux.

    Ok, I know, here comes the mod-bombing, lol. :)

    And for so blatantly lying and deliberately misrepresenting the GPL you deserve it.

  • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Sunday March 04, 2012 @03:34AM (#39237013)

    Nor I - Firefox is essential for NoScript and Adblock alone.

Garbage In -- Gospel Out.