[Haskell-cafe] Why Not Haskell? (sidenote on licensing)

Matthias Fischmann fis at wiwi.hu-berlin.de
Mon Aug 7 09:20:07 EDT 2006

On Mon, Aug 07, 2006 at 12:57:47PM +0100, Chris Kuklewicz wrote:
> To: Matthias Fischmann <fis at wiwi.hu-berlin.de>
> CC: haskell-cafe at haskell.org
> From: Chris Kuklewicz <haskell at list.mightyreason.com>
> Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2006 12:57:47 +0100
> Subject: Re: [Haskell-cafe] Why Not Haskell?  (sidenote on licensing)
> There is a false statement that must be corrected, about NDA's.

Sorry.  Just learned something, thanks!

> Matthias Fischmann wrote:
> >On Sun, Aug 06, 2006 at 10:46:16AM +0100, Chris Kuklewicz wrote:
> >>[...]
> >>
> >>The GPL only gets in the way if you put it there by choosing to derive 
> >>work from GPL code.  Note that most commercial programs do not allow you 
> >>the choice of deriving your work from theirs at all.  The GPL adds to 
> >>your free-as-in-freedom: you can derive work from others' GPL work and 
> >>you can 
> >
> >GPL also brings about restrictions to freedom-in-speech that are
> >rarely mentioned: Say you develop the code for a client to run her
> >production facilities.  This code contains sensitive information about
> >the way the facilities work and must not fall into the hands of the
> >client's competitors.  But if GPL is stuck to any part of the code and
> >manages to infect the rest, the client can make you sign as many NDAs
> >as there can be. 
> The GPL is not a disease that "infect"s.  That is a metaphor made by people 
> who hate such licenses.  The GPL does not blow in the window or from 
> someone's sneeze and get "stuck" to code.  To introduce GPL derived code is 
> a choice made be the programmer.  You can always choose not to derive from 
> GPL code, and you can always change your mind later and rewrite the derived 
> code so you can remove it.  Talking about biological metaphors is 
> deliberately misleading.

Sorry, I didn't mean to offend anybody, or be misleading.  I like GPL,
but I also like the disease metaphor (although is not as much being
sneezed at as having sex with somebody :-).

And it's really not as easy to control as you suggest: If you ever
take in a single patch under the GPL, or even implement a new feature
in an obvious way that has been implemented by somebody else under the
GPL, you are in trouble.  AFAIR this happened to SSH.com with the
bigint code in ssh-v1.3, but if you contradict me now I have to take
your word for it.  (So please do! :)

> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html :
> >Does the GPL allow me to distribute a modified or beta version under a
> >nondisclosure agreement?
> >
> >    No. The GPL says that anyone who receives a copy of your version
> >    from you has the right to redistribute copies (modified or not) of
> >    that version. It does not give you permission to distribute the
> >    work on any more restrictive basis.

(In my example I was worried about *less* restrictive, but the
subsequent points seem to cover that, too.)

> >GPL/LGPL is interesting, LGPL v3 may turn into something cool or not.
> >(I heard they have problems sorting out the above scenario, too, or
> >something more tricky, I forgot.)  But placing restrictions on how the
> >code may be used has lead to surprising problems.  BSD on the other
> >hand is a safe bet.
> Note that there are many people who will not do work on a BSD project since 
> a company can just come along and take it.  People are free to choose GPL 
> or BSD for their work and then other people are free to choose whether to 
> derive work from them.  But if there was no GPL and the only choice was BSD 
> then much of the current GPL'd work would not exist.

I tend to agree.  Would be fun to have some empirical data to boost
the accuracy of the 'much' part of this.

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: Digital signature
Url : http://www.haskell.org//pipermail/haskell-cafe/attachments/20060807/fadf1a26/attachment.bin

More information about the Haskell-Cafe mailing list