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Copyleft is Still Better and More Suitable for Business

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL, KDE, Law at 2:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Copyleft scares Microsoft et al. Don’t let them fool you…

Summary: Copyleft does not mean one cannot make money; it just means proprietary software companies such as Microsoft stand to lose their dying empires, only to be replaced by new businesses that market and support GPL-licensed systems

EARLIER today we mentioned Microsoft’s persistent and ongoing attacks on the GPL (or copyleft) and in the second footnote here “open” core was mentioned. It’s related to openwashing — a term we coined about 14 years ago.

Free software and reciprocal licensing do not contradict commercial interests and profit. It’s possible to sell Free software, Red Hat does this all the same, and IBM still ships RHEL. Alternative business models exist (dual licensing to name one) and support-based operations is how I personally make a living, ‘babysitting’ Free software to ensure it keeps running OK, sometimes deploying and patching too.

The most “successful” FUD campaigns associated Free software and reciprocal licensing with something like “communism”. That’s nonsense and it’s easy to find contradictions in this narrative. Another widespread narrative that’s false is “permissive” versus “restrictive”, where proprietary-friendly gets called something good and sharing is spun as “restriction”. Pure spin!

As an associate explained today, any “explanation [regarding so-called "permissive" licensing] ought to explicitly say “non-reciprocal” somewhere as being the preferred name…”

The “non-reciprocal” licences enable corporate exploitation by those who do not make the software, by selling proprietary software and not giving the changes back.

This helps proprietary software rather than Software Freedom.

Moreover, to quote the associate, “dual licensing is usually used in conjunction with the GPL and other copyleft licences…”

We wrote about dual licensing before, but we mostly focused on openwashing like “open” core (e.g. "Enterprise"). With dual licensing, sometimes the proprietary parts are “lifted” code without attribution (“non-reciprocal”) or simply licence violations. Companies such as Apple only “donate” what they must, i.e. it’s not a donation, it’s them being afraid of getting sued and admonished.

As an associate explains, “with non-reciprocal licenses there is no incentive provided by dual licensing so it is a phenomenon which helps GPL; dual licensing is, either comply with copyleft or pay for a fully proprietary licence instead (details to be negotiated per customer) [...] one more thing about the licensing, the “open core” stuff has often been “crippleware” so that they can use it as bait for a proprietary license that is not proper dual licensing because it is different code; dual licensing means two licences available for the same set of code.”

“Around 20 years ago +/- 5 years there were lots of dual-licensed projects, but MBAs got into many of the projects or sponsor companies and out of blind stupidity driven by ideology-over-money eliminated the GPL from their codebase, switching to any number of non-reciprocal licences; then the money dried up immediately as there was no longer any incentive to pay for a proprietary license if a company wished to take the code proprietary; then the MBAs blamed Open Source for their woes rather than admitting their mind-boggling stupidity and lack of money sense.”

“It’d be hard to track down which projects did that since there is so much noise on the subject and no uniquely-used strings for the lame-ass fulltext searches, and the fanatical devotion that many companies have towards deleting old, but still relevant, documentation.”

Citing this article from 2009 (regarding Qt), the associate notes that “despite the title it was nearly a deathblow for cross-platform development because it almost killed Qt.”

Qt recently lost its best known employee, not so long after he regrettably announced licensing changes that may impact GNU/Linux users and developers [1, 2]. 11 days ago Niccolò Ve did a video to explain the situation:

The gist of the video (it’s a bit long) is that KDE is fine with Qt as is, and moreover there’s no need to port to any other toolkit. There has been unjustified panic, but that’s not to say no issues exist. It’s just a little more complicated than it was before.

Let’s hope KDE finds a way. Qt alienated many developers again. As one commenter (Hontas Farmer) put it: “KDE IS THE BEST DEMONSTRATION OF WHAT QT CAN DO. They’d be killing the golden goose if they screwed kde.”

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