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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • The GPL has held up in every single court case against violators in the US and Germany. (I don’t know what the situation is like in other countries. It may differ there.)

    (In most every case, the defendant demurs and settles before the case is actually tried before court. That’s probably not because they’re afraid that the GPL may be deemed invalid.)

    • By disputed I didn't mean "legally" disputed, and being a non-native English speaker I may have misunderstood it. By disputed I meant that it is:

      1. Controversial.
      2. Not fully understood by many FOSS activists, including not by many people who've licensed their code under it.
      3. That some people dislike it, thinks it complicates matters too much, or think it's not needed to protect free software from abuse.

      A certain Israeli BSD developer noted that sites like gpl-violations.org are "the anti-thesis of

      • Right, then “disputed” was the wrong word. “Controversial” would have been a much better choice.

        programmers should just focus on writing good code, and making sure their software is widely used and supported, rather than pursuing people who supposedly violate it.

        See, that’s an excellent demonstration of your point that nobody really understands licences. (By the same token I cannot in good consciousness claim that I understand them; the most I can say is that I have identified more errors in my reasoning than many non-lawyer type people.)

        The core thing to understand with licences is that the licence never affects the copyright holder. The copyright holder themself can do whatever they damn well please. What the licence regulates is who has what rights when the work has been distributed by one third party to another.

        In this exchange, the GPL favours the recipient. The MITL favours the distributor.

        That’s it. Neither licence is more or less free; both give one party power over the other, they just differ in which party gets the preferential treatment.

        Also, to come back to this point:

        programmers should just focus on writing good code

        This combines at least two fallacious ideas. One of them is that all the skill necessary to drive a software project to success is programming aptitude. (Not true; thus, the fact that some project devotes effort to track down GPL violators does not at all imply diminished effort in programming.) Another is that time is fungible, ie. time you spend watching TV, say, is interchangeable with time you spend programming. (Not true; just because a programmer devoted some of his time doing something other than programming doesn’t mean he could equally well have been coding in the same time.)

        The fact that bsd-violations.org does not exist may possibly imply that BSD people care more about getting good code into widespread use, but it certainly does imply that by the very nature of their licence they care less about the power of the recipient of their software – to a first approximation, anyway. It can be argued whether this ultimately ends up benefiting said recipient more, or not.

        But in any case, as far as I can see, it really is not possible to declare either licence the better one. There is a fundamental polarity that cannot be resolved, and the two philosophies, BSD vs FSF, merely fall on either side of it. (This is why I currently like the LGPL best; it attempts to straddle the divide.)

        • Right, then “disputed” was the wrong word. “Controversial” would have been a much better choice.

          Fair enough. "Controversial" it is. I'm pretty sure I heard "disputed" used for non-legal things, but in this context it might be misleading.

          programmers should just focus on writing good code, and making sure their software is widely used and supported, rather than pursuing people who supposedly violate it.

          See, that’s an excellent demonstration of your point that nobody really understands licences. (By the same token I cannot in good consciousness claim that I understand them; the most I can say is that I have identified more errors in my reasoning than many non-lawyer type people.)

          Well, I read the MIT Licence and understood everything there. Then I realised sub-license means something a bit different than what I thought. I also read the SleepyCat (now part of Oracle) BerkeleyDB licence and it was pretty obvious and easy to understand. It is a GPL-like licence, but from what I understood somewhat more liberal in allowing even non-GPL-compatible, and proprietary source to link against it.

          I read the GPLv2 one day and didn't understand most of it. My (superficial I am sure) understanding of the GPLv2 is by reading what educated people said about it and judging for myself what sounds more logical.

          Again, like I wanted to say, some licences can be interpreted in several different ways by the Law. But one doesn't have to be a lawyer specialising in copyright law to be able to have a more superficial understanding of what a licence entails. It helps though.

          The core thing to understand with licences is that the licence never affects the copyright holder. The copyright holder themself can do whatever they damn well please. What the licence regulates is who has what rights when the work has been distributed by one third party to another.

          In this exchange, the GPL favours the recipient. The MITL favours the distributor.

          Not sure I agree with it. Sometimes people can play different roles.

          That’s it. Neither licence is more or less free; both give one party power over the other, they just differ in which party gets the preferential treatment.

          Also, to come back to this point:

          programmers should just focus on writing good code

          This combines at least two fallacious ideas. One of them is that all the skill necessary to drive a software project to success is programming aptitude. (Not true; thus, the fact that some project devotes effort to track down GPL violators does not at all imply diminished effort in programming.) Another is that time is fungible, ie. time you spend watching TV, say, is interchangeable with time you spend programming.