RE: GPL version 4

From: David Schwartz
Date: Fri Jul 18 2008 - 20:54:16 EST

> Would you grant me the freedom to give away your commercial
> product for free
> or to incorporate it in my commercial product? Probably not. You'd instead
> grant me less freedom. The GPL protects me from this.

Except it doesn't. With or without the GPL, if he still makes his commercial
product, you will still be unable to give it away or incorporate it in your
commercial product. If he doesn't make it, that's just less choice for

It may be a poorer product. It may cost him more to develop it. It may wind
up not existing. But in no case will will you wind up with the freedom to
give away his commercial product. So the GPL actually won't protect you from
this at all.

It will just result in him producing a poorer, more expensive, less
compatible product -- or none at all. Either way, everyone else will have
fewer (and/or poorer) choices. Everyone loses. Nobody wins.

Note that had he been able to incorporate the GPL code in his commercial
product, he may have passed bug fixes and improvements back to the GPL
project. He would not have had to, of course, but if his product just uses a
GPL component or library (that doesn't compete with the larger product),
there's no reason for him not to. Everybody could have won.

It's always possible he may instead elect to make a GPL'd project. This may
allow him to produce a higher-quality product in less time. It may allow
others to build on his work, and result in more freedom for everyone. He may
make less money, but maybe not. The question of whether the "everybody
loses" or the "lots of people, maybe everybody, wins" case is more common is
an empiric one.

I have seen an awful lot of "everybody loses" cases. I've seen very few
"everybody wins" cases.


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