Subject: Re: What they can do with "their" software
To: None <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Charles M. Hannum <email@example.com>
Date: 09/11/1994 11:13:43
Not true; if someone writes hundreds or thousands of lines of new code,
which create additional functionality for something that's under the
GPL, then there are quite a few limits as to what they can do with
This misconception is not new. I wrote text in version 2 of the GPL
specifically to show it isn't so.
While it may be true that the GPL does not (and probably cannot)
restrict what the copyright holder of a piece of code does with it, I
think that was not actually the point Chris intended to bring up.
The GPL *does* place a burden on a third party who wants to use that
code without the GPL, because that third party must obtain it from a
place other than the collective (GPLed) work containing it. This
restriction seems gratuitous.
It also creates a problem for the original author. If changes are
incorporated into the collective work, the original author is not
allowed to incorporate them in a non-GPLed version, unless they are
sent to him separately. In practice, users *rarely* send patches to
the original author if someone else claims to be `maintaining' the
package, even when there is no difference in the licensing; the Linux
community as a whole is a prime example of this.
I once asked a person who vehemently condemned the GPL to explain the
I somehow doubt that anyone on this list cares about some hypothetical
person you claim to have once talked to.
[Note that nothing I have said above makes a legal or ethical
judgement about the GPL; it simply states what my interpretation of
the GPL is.]