Bradley M. Kuhn

Bradley M. Kuhn at

I'm still admittedly baffled by people who think GPL is worse than proprietary licensing. I can truly understand, even if I don't agree with, that GPL and proprietary are the same since they have requirements on the license and the license is conditional on certain actions.

But, to claim GPL is worse than proprietary. I think it's completely illogical. What am I missing?

(Of course, I probably shouldn't even think that deeply about this. The guy I chatted with on IRC today who told me that also indicated that his company could sue copyright holders for including what he believed (incorrectly, IMO) was GPL-incompatible code from a third party. Not clear how his company has a cause of action. That seems illogical too -- or at least uninformed about copyright law.)

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bkuhn one issue is that the GPL is 3 or so licenses that are similar at a distance (2 of which are widely used)  while as the FSF itself has noted, 'proprietary' covers countless licenses (all the more so if 'proprietary' is used to mean 'nonconformant to the Free Software Definition'). Easy to see how a particular user might prefer a particular proprietary license to the GPL even assuming absence of superstition, irrationality, etc.

On the issue of cause of action for upstream inclusion of GPL-incompatible code, perhaps he is thinking of implied warranty of noninfringement (see e.g. UCC 2-312; cf. copyleft-next 0.3.0 sec. 12).  Breach of warranty claim not inconceivable; seems to be commonly assumed that the warranty disclaimers found in most free software licenses (which typically don't explicitly exclude non-infringement) are sufficient.  Under US law though we're already assuming a lot, including that the company was sued for copyright infringement by the other copyright holders, i.e. the copyright holders of the GPL-incompatible code. Kind of far-fetched, to say the least, but I wouldn't say illogical or uninformed necessarily. Slightly more conceivable if the non-GPL code is proprietary (usually when we talk about GPL compatibility we are assuming a free software universe).

Richard Fontana at 2013-11-27T20:57:17Z

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