Help my understanding

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Help my understanding

Postby shifty_ben » Wed May 24, 2006 12:36 am

Theres been a lot of talk (or more accurately FUD) spreading on the net about the Infectious nature of the GPL. I want to write an article for my website in reply to this (partially to set the facts straight and partially to alleviate the boredome of the day when working nights). There is one thing I'm not 100% certain on.

Lets say I write fabulous piece of software A, and release it under the GPL V2, now as soon as the official release is made I think I could make some money off this, Is it possible to stop releasing the code under the GPL? I.e. rerelease the code to software A in a precompiled binary under [restrictive-probably-illegal-proprietary-license-b] (Not that I personally would ever want to). Obviously I cannot recind the rights of those who have already downloaded it under the GPL and they can distribute it to their hearts content. But aside from the hate mail i would receive and the bad ethics of it, is it possible to do this? (Assuming of course I own the copyrights of all the code in Software A)

The reason I ask is that I have seen several articles claiming that once it is released under GPL forever GPL it will be. Not that I want to encourage any companies to do such a thing, but I am interested to know where it stands on this, and also where GPL V3 will stand once it is finalised but the latter is a question for the future.

cheers

Ben
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RE: Help my understanding

Postby nelz » Wed May 24, 2006 12:44 am

It is not possible to withdraw the GPL licence once given, but code can be released under more than one licence (for example, MySQL is available under the GPL and a closed licence). As the owner of the code, you can do whatever you like with it, the GPL is there to protect authors, not restrict them.

The persistent nature of the GPL only applies to the code that was released under the GPL, not all code from the same author. Others cannot take your GPLed code and release it under a different licence, but you can do whatever you like with it.
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RE: Help my understanding

Postby shifty_ben » Wed May 24, 2006 12:48 am

Yea thats kinda what i figured, I kne wthere was no way it could apply to all code you released, I just wasn't sure if it is possible to withdraw the GPL status of a piece of code if you see what I mean. Glad to hear its not possible, otherwise a few programs might not be available under the GPL for very long ;)
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RE: Help my understanding

Postby nelz » Wed May 24, 2006 12:53 am

Once you have released the code under the GPL, anyone can distribute it. You may decide to remove the GPLed V1.0 from your server and only make the commercial V2.0 available, but I can still distribute your V1.0 GPLed code, and even add new bugs to call it V1.1, as long as it stays GPLed. You can withdraw the code, but not the licence.
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RE: Help my understanding

Postby shifty_ben » Wed May 24, 2006 12:58 am

Yea so basically I can say V1 is no longer available however v2 is available under a new license, but as I said I can't rescind your rights to modify, distribute etc. I thought that would be the case.
Cheers for your help Nelz, I see so many inaccurate articles on the net about things like this and I don't want to join the ranks of the people who clearly do very little research on it.
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RE: Help my understanding

Postby shifty_ben » Wed May 24, 2006 11:46 am

Just to clarify something,

Im evil corporation A who wants to make a program to turn the radio on when you are in the shower (I dunno) and I find that a large part of the work has done by Open Source Programmer B. COuld I, if I wanted incorporate his code into my program in the form of a module or a library (so effectively a seperate program/library) and then release his code under GPL and mine under restrictive license C?
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RE: Help my understanding

Postby GMorgan » Wed May 24, 2006 12:13 pm

In my understanding you could only do that if the original coder gives permisson because he still holds the copyright of the original code and the second person only gets access to it under the GPL.


A big question would be. Copyrights generally only last till 70 years after death. In the future is OSS going to be locked into proprietry products because the copyright goes out of date. I know the code would be moved into the public domain but I think that doesn't restrict companies in the slightest.
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RE: Help my understanding

Postby shifty_ben » Wed May 24, 2006 12:42 pm

Good point ;) Having said that, given the speed at which the software world evolves how much of the code will be any use 70 years down the line? Kernel stuff may well be, but in terms of user space how much will actually be used anyway? Once everything goes 64bit a lot of the 32bit code will be fairly useless (true you could still run it, but with everything else 64bit would you want to?)
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Exclusive!

Postby shifty_ben » Wed May 24, 2006 1:21 pm

OK this is the only link to the page at the moment, was wondering if someone could proof read it for me, and make any suggestions to anything I have neglected to mention.

http://benscomputer.no-ip.org/GPL.html

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RE: Exclusive!

Postby towy71 » Wed May 24, 2006 2:28 pm

I have spell checked it but not yet proofed, pm me with your email address and I'll send it to you when I've done.

Have you thought about putting something like this on the LXF wiki?
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RE: Exclusive!

Postby GMorgan » Wed May 24, 2006 2:46 pm

Nice site, the more positive literature on Linux and OSS out there the better.
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RE: Exclusive!

Postby pins » Wed May 24, 2006 4:21 pm

I would make some grammatical/sentence construction changes, for clarity, but thats rather an issue of writing style.
in the first line: captilisation of Fear, Uncertainty, what is FUD? maybe set it up so that mouse over acronyms will bring up their expansions.
last thing is that the font might appear rather dark on some screens, maybe give people the option to lighten it somewhat.
finally I think that it might have more impact if it had a more traditional format of assumption/investigation/conclusion, such that the assumption might be that the GPL is written in a way to make it invasive, as opposed to non-free licenses, then you could go through with facts and comparisons (like the one page nature of the gpl, as compared to the novels prepending stuff from ms et al) then conclude with a bullet pointed summary of what the gpl actually offers.
I hope this is helpful and not too critical.
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Postby Hello » Wed May 24, 2006 5:03 pm

Removing it from the gpl would be pointless as it would be in so many repositorarys that there will be no need to buy. However new versions of things are always being released so it wont be too hard to wait till the next version before putting it through under a new licence
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Postby shifty_ben » Thu May 25, 2006 12:16 am

Cheers guys, sorry the reply took so long I have been at the hospital getting my wrist X-rayed. Why don't people listen when I say i am fine? Still better to be safe than sorry.
Have PM'd you Towy, I did wonder about the Wiki actually, figured once I have got the article fine tuned I would probably put it on there as well, especially as my site is hosted over an ADSL connection.

Good point about the font pins, Ill change it to the font the rest of the site is in I think. A restructuring may be a good idea, in its current state it is effectively comprehensive notes to guide me. I didn't want to rush it so I figured I'd draw it up and then pull out any duplicate points etc. later.

Hello, you make a good point, but I think a lot of companies would probably want to pull it off their site anyway. You are right that there would be no good reason to buy, but from a companies point of view there are quite often a lot of people out there that might still pay out, especially if they are unaware that a GPL version is available.

Gmorgan, Thanks. I have to thank LXF for the backgrounds, got ot love that flame filter :D

Oh well I guess its time for sleep, then work, then sleep and then maybe I'll have some free time on Friday. Such is life

Ben

EDIT: Decided I am too awake to consider sleep a viable option at the moment, so have done some tweaking the font colour is now brighter and the structure of the piece has changed. I used a similar structure to when i did my Psychology research at A level, i.e. A hypothesis which you intend to prove and a Null Hypothesis which you intend to disprove by completing the first bit. The conclusion is now more like a conclusion, although I am undecided as to whether the bit about Linux and retraining should stay or not, seems a bit OT to me.
A few minor grammar changes and what not. I think it is almost ready :D although I do need to read through it again tomorrow night to try spot any mistakes or vagueness.
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Postby shifty_ben » Fri May 26, 2006 2:01 am

Cheers for the help guys, the Article is now live (i.e. I have added it to my sitemap and linked it from my main page) interesting really Insomnia is a pain in the ass but it does seem to help my productivity. Thank god for mixed blessings ;)
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