[Clipart] [OT] PD and Software

Daniel Carrera dcarrera at math.umd.edu
Tue Apr 13 11:52:15 PDT 2004

cws456456 at aol.com wrote:

> Can Software be released to the Public Domain?


> If so, wouldn't that be the most "free" and "open" way to release it?

A lot of people would agree with you, a lot of people would disagree.

This goes back to the old question, "which is the most free society, the one 
that gives you the most freedoms, or the ones that has rules designed to 
protect your freedom?".

People in the first group generally tend to prefer licenses like BSD, MIT, 
and X11.  These licenses essentially ammount to "you can do anything you 
want with this".  In practice, they are as good as Public Domain.

People in the latter group prefer more restrictive licenses like the GPL, 
LGPL (and perhaps SISSL).  These licenses have more restrictions, as they 
are intended to promote and encourage the existence of free software.

> I think that woudl clear up a lot of the GPL, LGPL, BSD, QRS, TUV, WTH,
 > CWS, BOB etc etc ad nuseum...  debates.

Almost all those debates essentially come down to the question above.

> Just pure and simple. No one could say that it is "non-free".
 > No one could ever call it closed.

True, and no one does.  They *are* free, and they are not closed.

> Wouldn't that be great?

Microsoft certainly loves it.  They are very fond of grabbing other people's 
works, inserting it in Windows and calling it an "innovation".  In some 
cases (e.g. Kerberos) they will then proceed to change the protocols in a 
propietary secret way.  Then use your own work to compete against you, push 
you out of the market, and then use your work as another tool to lock-in 
customers (Kerberos).

Notice, Microsoft doesn't have a problem with open source.  They have been 
using it for years.  It is the GPL they don't like.  Because the GPL is the 
one license that doesn't permit them to take an unfair advantage of other 
people's work and then claim they did it.

The first group likes it better that way, the second group does not.  Again, 
it comes down to how you answer the question I posed above.

Daniel Carrera | No trees were harmed in the generation of this  e-mail.
PhD student.   | A significant number of electrons were, however, severely
Math Dept. UMD | inconvenienced.

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