Bonum Certa Men Certa

GPLv3 Proves Its Business Value

The GNU GPLv3, which is essential to maintaining the 4 freedoms, is truly gaining acceptance. This is great news to the consumer. No publication other than Business Week (yes, business!) has decided to publish an article from Professor Moglen. [sarcasm] Business? FSF? Didn't our momma from Redmond teach us that Free software is anti-business? [/sarcasm]

The article takes the opportunity to extrapolate a recent decision made by SugarCRM to embrace GPLv3. As Eben Moglen points out, this demonstrates very well the symbiotic relationship between this new licence and the interests of businesses. Not so long ago, Richard Stallman said that businesses are “foolish” not to adopt nonproprietary technologies . From the article's summary:

The software provider's adoption of the latest version of the GNU General Public License is a ringing endorsement of the free software movement's charter


Another news story that could not escape without comment comes from OSCON. That's where Eben Moglen slammed Tim O'Reilly for riding the Free software wave without giving much in return. In fact, Moglen sent a similar message to Google last month. He no longer wishes to do all the "heavy lifting" while others exploit, betray the values of Free software, and accumulate billions.

The story itself, however, talks about a COO quit his company after the company had refused to realise the value of open source, GPLv3 in particular.

A splash of drama hit OSCON this morning, as the COO of software maker Fotango resigned from the company during his keynote, protesting a decision not to open source the Zimki utility computing platform.

[...]

According to Wardley, a successful, open utility computing layer will depend on open standards – namely the General Public License v3 (GPL), which Wardley ointed to again and again.

"Open source is not a tactic. It is not a strategy. It is the only practical way of competing in this marketplace."


LinuxInsider has just published the second installment of an article which discusses the GPL. Noteworthy is the following comment, even though the article does not touch on the differences between the second and third versions of the GNU GPL.

If software is released without a license whatsoever, then users must assume it's copyrighted. "The recipients wouldn't have permission to share or modify the work," Brett Smith, Free Software Foundation licensing compliance engineer, told LinuxInsider. "So, if you release software without any license, it's not free software."


This point is a very important one. It is also one that was realised by Professor Lessig. Watch the following video where he explains this.



In essence, indication of 'copyleft' (or use of the Creative Commons Licence) is a way of attracting attention. It's an invitation that can truly put businesses and artists in a position of advantage. Exposure and influence in the case of arts; userbase and customer in the case of software.

As time goes by, more and more companies realise that openness, transparency and freedom are the only way to go. Without them, it is difficult to compete. You may still recall our discussion about Microsoft and the OSI. Microsoft continues it perplexing open-source charade. The company might -- fortunately enough -- have perils in its way.

...the OSI has been actively trying to reduce license proliferation and it could be that Microsoft’s licenses are seen as too similar to existing licenses to warrant separate approval.


Read our previous posts on this topic if you are not sure why Microsoft's intervention would be harmful. We suspect that it's an embrace-to-destroy or invade-to-divide tactic. We have seen this strategy in action before. Novell is just one example.

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