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Why I Prefer GPL/Copyleft

Ripley and Alien: BSD licence, GPL licence



Summary: Copyright-based copyleft licences generally advance us towards the goal or the status quo where all software is free/libre (freedom-respecting) and abundant/available for all, without discrimination against anybody

THE latest guest post from figosdev (published this morning) was 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. It's one of the many things we cannot agree on (albeit we still agree on most things, both technical and political).



"Never contribute Free software to a framework controlled partly or fully by proprietary software companies. Never ever."The only time code that I wrote was BSD-licensed (I always choose GPL by default) was when I was forced to relicense (or lose the right to have my code hosted in a repository). Some proprietary software company that lobbies for software patents made this licence choice for many thousands of volunteers and imposed that choice on all of them, without even a consultation. So the code would be either relicensed BSD or would be removed. It's a real shame, isn't it? At one point I was the top-ranked code contributor (number one position for overall number of downloads among almost 10,000 developers).

Lesson learned?

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

"...if the goal is to put Free/libre software everywhere, then BSD contributes not towards it but against it."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; the code is totally useful and usable, but the adopter is required to reciprocate by giving back improvements to it. BSD-type licences are just the opposite of it. Some call them "liberal" though it's a misnomer as from the user's point of view liberties are taken away (the "liberal" as a word alludes to the freedom one has to exploit and deny access to code).

Maybe GPL isn't for everyone, or maybe people have been brainwashed by Microsoft proxies such as Black Duck to believe that GPL is neither beneficial nor desirable/popular. Either way, if the goal is to put Free/libre software everywhere, then BSD contributes not towards it but against it. Sure, BSD may be better than totally proprietary, but the end goal/outcome is black boxes. We don't want that in a democratic society. It harms trust, it makes back doors easier to obscure/conceal, and it helps deny access to "improved" versions of software. Ever noticed how much Apple charges for the only computers permitted to run the Apple operating systems?

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