Bonum Certa Men Certa

So It's Come to This?

Article by figosdev

A misunderstanding

Summary: "You can't count on GPL to protect you if the copyright holders of the GPL software are themselves controlled by Microsoft."

When a legal team's worth of disclaimers and qualifiers doesn't stop people from misunderstanding (or misrepresenting) you, it's time to leave. I'll try not to do the same in kind.

I read Roy's article, it's awfully nice. Just look how nice it is:

"...too polite to mention who said that BSD-type licences were a step back for freedom. That was me. I had been saying this to figosdev several times, but he never agreed."

That's not true, actually. But it gets better:

"In very simple terms, which don’t require a law degree to comprehend, a GPL-type licence (copyleft) protects one’s code from becoming proprietary software"

Except when it doesn't. Sometimes GPL fails. What can I tell you about that? There's this book I did... Let's see what it says about this very issue:

"While the GPL made the kernel what it was last week, what it is today and what it will be (Zombie Linux) is thanks to Jim Zemlin and his Microsoftie second-in-command at the Linux Foundation."

What I'm referring to is the fact that the Linux Foundation controls the software, and the Linux Foundation is controlled by a company that is (as Roy himself put it) a "serial GPL violator".

You can't count on GPL to protect you if the copyright holders of the GPL software are themselves controlled by Microsoft. Does that mean GPL is worthless? No. But I've documented various ways in which it was compromised, including in Chapter 19 (which Roy didn't republish, but then it was very recent that the original was published anyway).

(The "license" I'm referring to in that title is CC BY-ND, a non-free verbatim-only license, NOT the GPL.)

"The new monopoly move is to use the license and find other ways of restricting the use. It happened with Tivo, it happened with the anti-GPL3 lobbying, it will happen with these political mutinies and political manipulations."

My stance has long been that GPL (as well as GNU/Linux) IS BETTER (on average), COPYLEFT IS BETTER (at least for the most important things) but it is not an impenetrable fortress. If you treat licensing like an unstoppable firewall, and ignore the OTHER THREATS to free software, you're going to watch Free Software fail -- as it has for the past 5 years.

How was the GPL going to keep rms from being ousted, or from Microsoft taking over the Linux kernel?

IT CAN'T. More immediately relevant -- how does GPL3 stop Tivoisation when Microsoft front groups lobby Torvalds against it? IT CAN'T -- I simply mean the license is not (cannot be) the entire picture or a stand-alone solution to software freedom. Other defenses are necessary as well. This is what I keep saying, because this is what the Free Software movement neglects at its peril.

Of course I don't expect the GPL to BE all-powerful -- my argument is that nothing can make it that reliable. It's better than the BSD license, [you gonna twist that quote around somehow too?] especially for vital projects like the GNU Project, but one very important thing Roy left out is that the GNU project ONLY recommends copyleft for substantial works:

"Small programs

"It is not worth the trouble to use copyleft for most small programs. We use 300 lines as our benchmark: when a software package's source code is shorter than that, the benefits provided by copyleft are usually too small to justify the inconvenience of making sure a copy of the license always accompanies the software."

This is highly relevant, because a lot of the programs I write are actually quite small -- and even the FSF doesn't care if I use copyleft for those or not (or if you do). They actually say "It is not worth the trouble" in those instances.

Rather than dismiss the GPL entirely due to it not being a perfect weapon against all non-freedom, my advice has been to recognise other threats and address those with tools that work against them. Permissive licensing is not what ousted rms -- Codes of Conduct and Safe Space policies were.

If you compare what happened recently to the OSI plan Perens admitted existed to oust rms years ago, you can see the similarities between that and the actual timeline of what happened with LibrePlanet, the resignation, and the coup from Guix and GNU devs trying to create a new policy not unlike the one from LibrePlanet.

No matter what license you use, this is what's going to destroy the Free Software movement. Without a movement, the license really doesn't do much. GPL only works when it's defended. The Linux Foundation isn't going to defend Linux. People -- do the math here. The GPL not withstanding, Linux (the kernel) is not protected by it, because the people who can relicense it DO NOT CARE about freedom at all.

What I've said over and over is that free licenses are vital to establishing software freedom, but they are not enough by themselves to defend and preserve it. There I'm referring to all free software licenses, including the GPL.

But what really pisses me off, is that Roy simply ignored (and contradicted) most of what was said in the article he was just now referring to, which I consider misrepresenting me and misrepresenting my argument -- whether deliberately or because it just doesn't matter to him.

Here's Roy:

"too polite to mention who said that BSD-type licences were a step back for freedom."

The single line of email I was referring to, said EXACTLY this:

"BSD only takes us further away from freedom."

This new article from Roy stresses the licensing, but FFS, if you feel THAT STRONGLY about permissively licensed code -- don't use X11 or Python (any flavour) then. They're both permissive. If you contribute to either of these, you're committing the same sin that BSD is. But Roy says:

"Never contribute Free software to a framework controlled partly or fully by proprietary software companies. Never ever."

Okay, so that will ultimately mean no Linux kernel for Roy -- because as he's said countless times, the Linux Foundation is controlled by Microsoft. Linus is also.

But even though this new article is all about licenses, MY article was not. At all. I sure tried to clarify that:

"As I’ve said in the book that was just run here, GNU/Linux is dead. I still use it, I can certainly understand if you do, I would ideally like the GNU Project to be salvaged. Its mission is very important."

"On the subject of copyleft, this article is more about kernels than licenses. On the subject of copyleft, this article is more about kernels than licenses. I have defended the value of copyleft on many occasions, as well as HyperbolaBSD."

Hyperbola is an FSF-approved distro, and I also strongly approve of it. I think it's the last FSF-approved distro that actually fights for your freedom. But if it's BSD, does that mean it's a step backwards for freedom?

My article: "I routinely promote Hyperbola as an ideal"

My article: "I’m using BSD to get closer to HyperbolaBSD."

Quote from Roy:

"...too polite to mention who said that BSD-type licences were a step back for freedom. That was me. I had been saying this to figosdev several times, BUT HE NEVER AGREED." [emphasis added]

My Article that this one references:

"I have defended the value of copyleft on many occasions, as well as HyperbolaBSD."

As with Hyperbola. I made it VERY CLEAR that I was talking about BSD the software, NOT BSD the license. (Which again, is akin in being permissive to countless other software that Roy uses -- so what the actual heck?)

It gets better though:

"Maybe GPL isn’t for everyone..."

I actually sent Roy an editor not long ago, which was permissively licensed, which I started working on and personally made it GPL3, as a matter of fact.

Not only did the permissive license allow this -- I also talked to the author of the permissive version and advocated (successfully) that they make future versions of the project GPL3 as well.

And that's the same software that I'm using to type this article.

"...or maybe people have been brainwashed by Microsoft proxies such as Black Duck to believe that GPL is neither beneficial nor desirable/popular."

Oooooookay... It's obvious to me what's happening here. I guess that's my cue, then.

"If you're so smart, why don't you pick up your cues faster?"

"Are those my cues?"

"Yes, and they ought to be dry by now; why don't you pull them up out of the cellophane before they scorch!" -- The Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye

Long Live rms, and happy hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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