possible readline license problem with ghc and -package util

The Thought Assassin assassin@live.wasp.net.au
Wed, 12 Jun 2002 13:56:29 +0800 (WST)

On 12 Jun 2002, Alastair Reid wrote:
> The copyright holder(s) of a piece of software is free to change which
> license future copies are released under.  It makes no difference
> whether the license is GPL, BSD, Artistic, Microsoft EULA, or
> whatever.


> In other words, the GPL gives no more protection against free software
> becoming non-free than the BSD license.


As you state above, the GPL does not stop the copyright holders from
relicensing it under a closed license. However, it does stop _other_
_people_ from doing so, _unlike_ BSD.

The thing is, much free software has a large number of authors, all of
whom retain their copyright to the parts they wrote. (I don't know whether
GHC falls under this category) That means that _noone_ is the sole
copyright holder, and hence _noone_ can relicense it in a closed form.

You may think it's just fine if a closed version branches off from the
open one, but when it starts drawing userbase and developer-base away from
the open version, it will prevent development on the open version. Now
what if code that you wrote as part of the open version is being used by
some random proprietary interest in a way that _reduces_ the speed and
quality of development of the open version?

That is not a scenario I want to see happen to code that I have written,
and I think the majority of people would agree if they think about it in
the terms I've used above.

The GPL prevents this scenario, the BSD license doesn't.

-Greg Mildenhall