Article glosses over humanities rotten nature.

Story: Why it's time to stop using open source licencesTotal Replies: 21
Author Content

Feb 14, 2013
5:10 AM EDT
[W]e need to complete the revolution that Richard Stallman began nearly three decades ago by making free software truly free, placing it in the public domain, and severing the chains that still bind it to that three-hundred-year-old monopoly called copyright.

Interesting piece, written in a wonderfully naive tone, but I don't buy it. We can't sever the chains to the 300 year old monopoly. That monopoly is embedded in the deepest layers of our society through laws and far reaching treaties. Unlicensed code is dangerous code. Copyright laws the world over are harsh towards copyright infringers.

The public domain is not the magic pill against copyright law. Public domain code is completely unprotected. It's not even about some proprietary houses taking PD code and closing it for their own gain. PD code has no formal owners. Governments can seize it willy nilly and place it under copyright if they so choose. There won't be a strong legal opposition against it, because it doesn't stomp on property rights. Even if governments don't dip into the easily monetizable PD pool, developer pools can do the same. What is to stop a group of developers of a large and successful project of just making a commit to the PD codebase and slapping a copyright on the combination?

For better or worse, FOSS licensing protects the users and the developers from each other. Appeals to humanities inherent goodness are cute, but we wouldn't need laws and enforcement agencies if we were all "rainbows, ponies and candy cotton" towards our fellow human beings. Licensed code may not be free in the absolute sense, but I'm quite comfortable with it. I'm not eagerly awaiting the wild west of unlicensed code.

Feb 14, 2013
5:36 AM EDT
I thought that the article was sponsored by the Association of Patent Troll Practitioners. The plan makes perfect sense for Amorality Incorporated.


Feb 14, 2013
5:51 AM EDT
In brief : "Whatever you do belongs to the people and you have no say."

I don't know if the author is American, if so, he can't argue anything about humanity in this case, because when it's suitable, he's a capitalist, and if the cap fits, he's a communist !

You do a job, it's yours. You want to give it away, you're free, you don't want to, you're free. If you give it away, it's upon your conditions.

The arguments in the article's comments have been about the BSD license and Apple not paying anything to the BSD developpers. This is a sane argument. It's up to open source developpers to tailor a license where they can get paid if their work is used commercially. That's quite difficult, big projects may have hundreds of contributors, active and inactive, who are not centrally federated, who do not contribute equally in nature, importance and volume to the project. Managing payment will in itself cost money. In the end, open source will die because money always generate tensions, disputes and wars.

Every one knows that, so I am still wondering what are the author's real objectives that he dares not declare plainly.

Feb 14, 2013
7:11 AM EDT
This is deranged. We haven't won yet, instead we're presently in a pitched battle, as a quick look through the front page of Groklaw will attest. Now is not the time to lay down arms.

Did somebody Imperius Moody? He usually makes sense.

Feb 14, 2013
7:43 AM EDT
Funny you should say that "cr".....I am coincidentally in the last stages of watching the Harry Potter films and reading the books all over again. Let's just say that for anybody to even suggest tampering with the present open source licences and moving solely to Apache, BSD or public domain licences frightens the "bej....sus" out of me as the Irish say.

My concepts of the GPL are that it places legal and ethical strictures onto the code designer and its recipient(s) which (as far as I can see) have a combined effect to make sure that any improvements to the base code become GPL'd as well and thus they enforce the sharing effect of FOSS with the production of a cumulative building on previous knowledge by an enormous contributing base. Public domain on the other hand offers no such sharing enforcement and the world of software is poorer thereby because secrecy is again enabled and encouraged and once again, back into proprietary software.....I can only wonder if Glen Moody wrote this article in order to seek notoriety or ..??

Feb 14, 2013
12:41 PM EDT
I didn't know he smoked the funny stuff!

Seriously, he has a point but totally naive. He thinks FOSS won and will keep ahead of all commercial outfits due to its strong effective and practical model.

He is missing that the only reason FOSS is wining and will keep ahead is because of the GPL. Take that away and there will be no deterrent against commercial companies taking control and creating their own unique software which will definitely and truly fragment FOSS.

I think he underestimates the greed factor that drives them. Commercial companies didn't join forces with FOSS out of the goodness of their hearts, they joined because they saw empowerment against the dominance and total control by MS.


Feb 14, 2013
12:49 PM EDT
The author seems to be under the impression that if you put some code online (github, blog etc) and don't specify a license, anybody can snatch it up, trademark it, maybe get some patents, and come after you.

It doesn't work that way, copyright law still applies regardless the presence of a license.

Look! I've found this lord_of_the_rings.dvd online, it doesn't have a license, it's mine!

All together now, Glen Moody is a moron!

Feb 14, 2013
12:56 PM EDT
You can't form a monopoly around something that is avalable to everyone.

The GPL has zero effect other than restricting free software developers from using other free software, case in point EPL and GPL, cant be combined in any form, China hardware makers and android is another example where the GPL has had no effect.

How do we know there is no GPL code in Microsoft Windows or Apples Mac OSX, there both closed source, even if there code was audited in a court what is stoping them from replacing the GPL code with the code they were originaly using that was of poorer quality, before the audit.

Licensing your code and putting your name on it puts you at even more of a risk of a law suit. The patent troll know exactly who there targets are now, because you told them who you are and who everyone who ever contributed to the code is.

Licensing your code is not an automatic grant for a patent, most free software developers couldn't even afford to patent there code even if it wasnt allready patented. Look at apple they have a patent on rounded rectangles!!! The big boys literaly have people who comb threw there assets looking for anything that can be patented thats all they do. Then lawers look for people worthey of a law suit.

Feb 14, 2013
1:10 PM EDT
"Licensing your code and putting your name on it puts you at even more of a risk of a law suit."

Just put my name on the license and it will be all fine.

Feb 14, 2013
1:42 PM EDT
Sure jazz but I need your real name, in order to do that. Licensing code under jazz doesn't make the license valid. Especially when 60 different jazz's come out of the wood work claiming ownership under different licenses.

Feb 14, 2013
2:14 PM EDT
Pseudonyms are allowed for copyright purposes. Read here:

You don't need a license or a real name with phone number for copyright purposes.

Feb 14, 2013
2:15 PM EDT
From the article above:

"Works distributed under a pseudonym enjoy a term of copyright protection that is the earlier of 95 years from publication of the work or 120 years from its creation. However, if the author’s identity is revealed in the registration records of the Copyright Office, including in any other registrations made before that term has expired, the term then becomes the author’s life plus 70 years."


Feb 14, 2013
3:28 PM EDT
Well then I stand corrected.

Feb 14, 2013
5:50 PM EDT
Despite the provocative thread this has been a good, on topic discussion all around. Normally when someone throws "communist" out there, at least in the U.S., they're red baiting and using the word as an epithet. This time nmset is using it correctly and accurately describing where the author's philosophy seems to be. Anyone who has read Marx and Engels knows that, on paper, Communism sounds like utopia. The state withers away because everyone in the proletariat treats everyone else as beloved comrades. It completely defies human nature, which includes greed. This is why there has never actually been a Communist country. Oh, they call themselves Communist or Marxist but instead of the state withering away it becomes all powerful.

Public domain simply means that the author of the code loses all rights to the code and anyone can and will do whatever they want, including slapping their branding on it, removing any mention of the original author, and copyrighting it under a restrictive, proprietary license. They can also patent any original concepts in the code. Sure, public domain is a wonderful utopian idea. Like Communist it just doesn't work in the real world with real people.

Feb 14, 2013
5:55 PM EDT
> They can also patent any original concepts in the code.

In theory, not, since the code would be prior art. But in practice, prior art is routinely ignored, so yes. Of course, they can do that even if the code is covered by the GPL v2. Version 3, if I remember correctly, took some steps to correct that.

Feb 14, 2013
5:56 PM EDT
Quoting:But in practice, prior art is routinely ignored, so yes. Of course, they can do that even if the code is covered by the GPL v2. Version 3, if I remember correctly, took some steps to correct that.
Correct on all points.

Feb 15, 2013
10:29 AM EDT
Seriously I want whatever this guy is smoking.

The only thing preventing corporations ripping off FOSS is the GPL.

Not sure what planet this guy is living on but it must be an awfully nice one where greed does not exist.

Feb 15, 2013
9:32 PM EDT
Copyright law keeps getting more and more extreme and draconian. The genius of "copyleft" is that it applies a little legalistic judo" to turn the abuse of copyright power against itself, directing that force into more fruitful and beneficial directions.

As long as the power of copyright keeps being being ramped up to support it being wielded as an ever more absolutist instrument of cultural and intellectual appropriation and social control, we will need Free Software and the GPL, Open Source software and supporting licenses, and similar measures to preserve the interests of the rest of us, and of society as a whole.

In short: it is starkly clear that the GPL and similar measures are still needed -- probably more than ever.

Feb 15, 2013
9:43 PM EDT
Goodness gracious, and again we decide that true free software is the devil.

There is nothing at all wrong with the public domain. It is the freest anything can be.

As a practical matter, however, free isn't necessarily a good thing for software to be. "Freeish" may be the best we can do.

Feb 16, 2013
6:13 AM EDT
Dinotrac, true free software isn't the devil. It's more like a lamb amongst a pack of wolves. It has no defenses.

Freeish software at least brings an assault rifle to the gathering.

Feb 16, 2013
1:39 PM EDT
Quoting:true free software isn't the devil.

It is to a monopoly and to a greedy company. :-)


Feb 16, 2013
5:08 PM EDT

It needs no defenses. None at all.

Protestations to the contrary, the GPL has nothing to do with protecting free software, and everything to do with perpetuating and extending it.

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