Velocity Reviews - Computer Hardware Reviews

Velocity Reviews > Newsgroups > Programming > Python > Software licenses and releasing Python programs for review

Reply
Thread Tools

Software licenses and releasing Python programs for review

 
 
Andreas Kostyrka
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      06-06-2005
On Mon, Jun 06, 2005 at 06:08:36PM -0000, max wrote:
> I guess my argument is that with multiple contributors, the gpl, in
> comparison to say, a BSD style license, grants power to the code. If 3
> people work on a gpl project, they must agree to any changes. If 3
> people work on a BSD style project, they each can do whatever the hell
> they like with the code. So, in my opinion, the gpl ends up giving
> perhaps not rights, but certainly power, to the actual code base.

Well, but it's not comparable: GPL without copyright assignment just
leads to "community-owned" projects. Every part-owner owns his
part. And it makes relicensing (taking the project closed-source) very
difficult.

That's a design feature, not a bug

Andreas
 
Reply With Quote
 
 
 
 
Robert Kern
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      06-06-2005
max wrote:

> Perhaps 'attempts' is too strong a word. Maybe 'ends up giving' would
> help my argument more. The best example I can come up with at the
> moment is programmer A releases a project under the gpl. Programmer B
> makes a substantial contribution to the project, which pA reads
> through and accepts. Later, pA decides that he would like to release
> the project under a more liberal license. To me, whether he legally
> can under the gpl is a very murky subject, as pB might not agree, and
> pA, having looked through/thought about pB's contribution might have
> some trouble proving that he implemented any matching functionality
> without referencing pB's earlier contribution, which if he did
> reference it(even by memory), would presumably require him to continue
> using the gpl.
>
> I guess my argument is that with multiple contributors, the gpl, in
> comparison to say, a BSD style license, grants power to the code. If 3
> people work on a gpl project, they must agree to any changes. If 3
> people work on a BSD style project, they each can do whatever the hell
> they like with the code. So, in my opinion, the gpl ends up giving
> perhaps not rights, but certainly power, to the actual code base.


There's no power being granted to code. All of the power is in the hands
of pA and pB. If pA wants a more liberal license to pB's code, then he
needs to ask for one. pB can grant that permission (assuming the code is
his and not actually pC's). There's nothing special about the GPL in
this respect. The same situation works with the BSD license, too,
although the BSD license is pretty much rock-bottom in terms of
restrictions such that there's almost never a *desire* to ask for more
permissions.

The code has never been granted any legal powers. It's still just
contributors.

--
Robert Kern
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
-- Richard Harter

 
Reply With Quote
 
 
 
 
Steve Holden
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      06-07-2005
max wrote:
> Steven D'Aprano <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in
> newsan.2005.06.06.16.52.03.904880@REMOVETHIScybe r.com.au:
>
>
>>On Mon, 06 Jun 2005 16:12:18 +0000, max wrote:
>>
>>
>>>This is one thing that bothers me about the gpl. It essentially
>>>tries to create 'code as a legal entity'. That is, it gives
>>>rights not to the creator of some code, but to the code itself.

>>
>>Can you please show me where in the GPL it gives rights to the
>>code itself? Because, frankly, I think you are mistaken.
>>
>>Of course, I might be wrong in this instance, and I always
>>welcome corrections.
>>
>>
>>>For me, the fact
>>>that corporations are considered people by the law is
>>>ridiculous.

>>
>>Ridiculous? I don't think so. Take, for example, Acme Inc. Acme
>>purchases a new factory. Who owns the factory? The CEO? The
>>Chairperson of the Board of Directors? Split in equal shares
>>between all the directors? Split between all the thousands of
>>shareholders? Society has to decide between these methods.
>>
>>(Of course, society can choose to hedge its bets by creating
>>multiple entities that use different rules, such as partnerships,
>>trusts, public corporations, limited corporations, etc.)
>>
>>None of these alternatives are *wrong*, but they all have various
>>disadvantages. The legal fiction that corporations are legally
>>persons is a work-around for these disadvantages, and it works
>>quite well in many circumstances. To call it ridiculous is, well,
>>ridiculous. Ownership is a legal fiction in any case, so it is no
>>more ridiculous to say that a collective entity such as a
>>corporation owns property than it is to say that an individual
>>being owns property.
>>
>>However, if you wanted to argue that giving corporations all the
>>privileges of legal personhood with none of the responsibilities
>>caused more harm than good, I would agree with you. I take it
>>you've seen "The Corporation"?
>>

>
>
> I haven't seen "The Corporation", but yes, I was reaching for the
> priviledges/responsibilities balance.
>
>
>>>Using a license that ends up doing the same thing with code
>>>leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

>>
>>Of course you are free to use some other licence. But without
>>evidence, I do not accept that the GPL attempts to give rights to
>>code.
>>
>>

>
> Perhaps 'attempts' is too strong a word. Maybe 'ends up giving' would
> help my argument more. The best example I can come up with at the
> moment is programmer A releases a project under the gpl. Programmer B
> makes a substantial contribution to the project, which pA reads
> through and accepts. Later, pA decides that he would like to release
> the project under a more liberal license. To me, whether he legally
> can under the gpl is a very murky subject, as pB might not agree, and
> pA, having looked through/thought about pB's contribution might have
> some trouble proving that he implemented any matching functionality
> without referencing pB's earlier contribution, which if he did
> reference it(even by memory), would presumably require him to continue
> using the gpl.
>
> I guess my argument is that with multiple contributors, the gpl, in
> comparison to say, a BSD style license, grants power to the code. If 3
> people work on a gpl project, they must agree to any changes. If 3
> people work on a BSD style project, they each can do whatever the hell
> they like with the code. So, in my opinion, the gpl ends up giving
> perhaps not rights, but certainly power, to the actual code base.
>

That argument is bogus if you do what the PSF is attempting to do, which
is to ask contributors to grant the PSF rights to redistribute under its
chosen license. After that you can take your contribution and publish it
in a book, republish it under a different license, whatever. The fact
that the PSF has a license to redistribute your contribution can't be
rescinded by your subsequently changing the license you use to
distribute the software.

How do you manage to equate "must agree to any changes" with "granting
power to the code"?

>
>
> Based on the limited coherence of this answer I probably need to think
> about it somemore,
> max
>



Licensing is unfortunately less trivial that we would like it to be.

the-road-t-hell-is-paved-with-good-intentions-ly y'rs - steve
--
Steve Holden +1 703 861 4237 +1 800 494 3119
Holden Web LLC http://www.holdenweb.com/
Python Web Programming http://pydish.holdenweb.com/

 
Reply With Quote
 
Terry Hancock
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      06-09-2005
On Thursday 02 June 2005 01:42 am, poisondart wrote:
> If this thread has shown anything it is I'm a bit green with respect to
> software licenses,


Yep. We've all been there at some time, though.

> but the other thing is that I consider myself as an
> isolated case and I wanted to know if there were others who wanted the
> same thing as me.


I think the real problem is that you *think* you want something which is
not what you *really* want. For example, I think you don't really get the
full range of implications of a "non-commercial" clause, nor do you fully
appreciate its chilling effects on development.

> I'm curious to know what the money that open source or GPL'd projects
> get and what this money means to these people's overall income.


Free-licensed projects get almost no direct money for development in
probably 99% of cases.

On the other hand, people make billions of dollars every year off of the
*use* of free-licensed software (consider Apache, for example). Quite a
few of the people making the money are naturally part of the developer
community for their particular gravy-train.

That's because they generally have specific needs they want to see the
software address, and it's worth the effort to contribute the necessary
changes. The community benefits from the changes (which is why
"copyleft" is good), and they benefit (a lot!) from not having to maintain
a separate patched version of the code.

> I am
> sure that any amount would motivate somebody to continue their work on
> a project, but myself in particular, I consider my project to be a tool
> for teaching and I view teaching as helping others...which I would
> gladly offer without price.


So you're unpaid teacher? What do you do for a living, then?

> I wanted to see if there were others who
> shared my view of helping others freely with their knowledge.


Actually, you see, as I've already tried to point out to you,
using software to teach *is* COMMERCIAL USE of the software. At
least it is, if you draw a salary for teaching. Yes, I know that teaching
is a public benefit and a joy, and I do occasionally teach for free, but
most of the time, even teachers need to make a living, right? Is it
right to restrict use of the software only to those who teach without
pay?

> Yes, what I ask may seem ridiculous, but I don't view it that way.
> Instead, I find that it is the implication of using a restrictive
> license such as I described to be ridiculous: if there is no monetary
> gain option in the license, then this implies that nobody (or very few)
> will be willing to do any work or "asking for something for nothing".
> It isn't for nothing if you value knowledge and learning.


It took me awhile to parse that: You are saying that the implication that
the lack of a "monetary gain option" will chill development is ridiculous.

Sorry, but history disagrees with you: projects with restrictions on sale
prices for copies of the software have much reduced distribution and
development interest, because it prevents distribution. Note that prices
will be driven down by natural market forces anyway --- just because
source A can sell a copy of free software doesn't prevent source B from
giving it away, and this is in practice what happens. But it does allow
source A to bundle copies and cover CD-ROM distribution and
printing expenses, pay for web and FTP servers, etc. Even if they only
capture a small "pay for convenience" market, they may be able to do
this, thus providing an important resource for users of free software.

When you put in a clause to restrict such sales you are attacking a
friendly: somebody who the community values as a service provider.
It may well be that 9/10ths of my free software is downloaded directly
from developer sites or from free download sites, but even many of those
sites are supported by advertising, and I want the OPTION to buy
copies on a CD if I need or want to. That's not at all the same as buying
proprietary software, where I would be FORCED to make such a purchase,
and then at an artificially inflated price.

Finally, you are wrongly conflating a "restriction against selling copies"
with a "restriction against all commercial use of the software". The latter
includes virtually EVERY use of the software if interpreted broadly
enough. You yourself appear to take a very broad view of this --- with
one exception: you paradoxically do not regard drawing a salary as a
teacher as "commercial". But a salary supported partly by the use
of software is one of the more clearcut ways to commercially benefit ---
much more direct than supporting advertising revenues, which you
*do* regard as commercial. This is a contradiction, which just goes
to show how poorly defined the idea of "commercial use" is, and
therefore why it is a bad thing to try to control in a license.

> I admit that my view is a bit idealistic which leads me to believe that
> maybe I should reconsider the whole decision altogether.


Actually, I think you're being hypocritical in thinking that it is idealistic
to regard your salary as a teacher as somehow "non-commercial". You
have succombed to the "higher profession" delusion. Sure, you might
love your work, but do you really want someone to *force* you to do it
for free? How are you going to pay for your supper, then? Do you
feel that you should have to take up another job to support your
teaching habit? Do you think that society would benefit from forcing
teachers to do that? I certainly don't.

That's what I think you should be reconsidering. You have somehow
tricked yourself into thinking that you are not an economic being just
because you work in academia, and then you are going on to scoff
at other people for being economic --- putting you into the realm of
hypocrisy.

Now, it might be perfectly realistic (and indeed, idealistic) to imagine
that such commercial concerns should not effect what you teach, or
how you teach it. But that *can* be true in any form of human
endeavor --- teaching is not unique in this respect. Even a farmer
may farm more out of love of the vocation than because it is
particularly profitable (which, as with teaching, it often is not). Should
a farmer be regarded as some dirty capitalist because he uses Gnumeric
to tally his accounts? That is commercial use of the software.

I think you will actually get what you want by just using a copyleft
free-license like the GPL. This will prevent the software from being
absorbed into a commercial proprietary product, which is what I
consider the reasonable part of what you are asking for.

--
Terry Hancock ( hancock at anansispaceworks.com )
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.anansispaceworks.com

 
Reply With Quote
 
poisondart
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      06-10-2005
1. You seem to ignore the fact that volunteer teachers exist.

2. I aspire to not repeat history. Esp. history that I don't completely
agree with...

The description I supplied for the license I had in mind was not ready
for your scrutiny, but as somebody else said licensing is less trivial
than we would like it to be. In practice, the GPL would probably be the
closest to what I'd want, but the problem is that I don't agree with
the practice. Why? because it's not tailored to how I want to release
my software.

This discussion has gone far out of my interest. Thank you all you've
made me realize the complexity and breadth of the issue. I'm just going
to keep coding and re-think cautiously the future of my software.

 
Reply With Quote
 
 
 
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
X64 licenses and virtual machines DP Windows 64bit 31 06-01-2006 10:02 AM
version numbers and releasing software... Jim ASP .Net 1 07-14-2004 12:26 PM
version numbers and releasing software... Jim ASP .Net Web Services 1 07-14-2004 12:26 PM
Microsoft Works and Microsoft Word licenses CBrown Microsoft Certification 2 11-23-2003 01:56 AM



Advertisments