Sunday, January 30, 2011

The GPL license is a artefact of war

In the early 80s, a company called Symbolics split off from the MIT artificial intelligence lab.  Richard Stallman stayed behind and wrote code to replicate features of the Symbolics software.

The GPL is an artefact born of this battle.  It is a weapon for the academic or hacker community to use against proprietary developers.

Richard Stallman on why you shouldn't use LGPL
Proprietary software developers have the advantage of money; free software developers need to make advantages for each other. Using the ordinary GPL for a library gives free software developers an advantage over proprietary developers: a library that they can use, while proprietary developers cannot use it.
The GPL smells of struggle and dispute.  It is a finger raised to 'proprietary' where the second 'p' sends out a little spray of spit.  I think I understand the dangers that the GPL wants to avoid, and I agree that there are real dangers.  Is the GPL the best solution?

I (the man Matthew) don't like the way it feels to set up barricades.   The thing that makes me happy, is to give away my stuff.  If I give you something, and say 'promise never to give this to a bad person' - I feel bad - because it's not really giving it away, but something else.

If I try to generalize,  I feel instinctively that the world will change faster under the influence of true generosity.   I realize that not everyone thinks that is true or even meaningful.   Still, what can we do, but say it out loud?