[vorbis-dev] Vorbis license terms?
owinebar at free-expression.org
Tue Feb 15 16:39:26 PST 2000
On Tue, 15 Feb 2000, Alexandra Ellwood wrote:
> > How many times does it need to be said, the "free" in free software is
> >about freedom and not price?
> The free in "free software" is about freedom as well as price, but
It's not about price _at all_.
> that the freedom should apply to the users of the software as well as
> the authors, right? Otherwise we should all just go back to
> exclusive use copyrights because those give us the most freedom over
> the source we write.
The GPL does not remove any freedom over source you write. It only
affects derivative works, in which the original author(s) have most of the
> The GPL denies freedom to commercial users of the software by forcing
> them to the pay licensing fees set by the author (which may be set so
> high that the company can't afford it). The GPL also denies freedom
> to projects using other free source licenses by tainting code.
> Because all MIT software falls under the MIT (BSD) license, I can't
> use or contribute to GPLed code at work, even though all our source
> is available freely for download. We don't even make any money off
The GPL does not force anyone to pay a licensing fee. It forces them to
make a choice between freeing their software under the GPL or asking for a
By the way, you are consistently misusing the term "commercial" where
you mean "proprietary". For example, I can write free but commercial
software (RedHat does this for example), as well as proprietary but
non-commercial software (I've seen a number of academics do this for some
> I believe the Free Software Foundation originally intended the GPL
> not only to make source freely available to non-profit uses, but also
> to hamper the commercial software industry by denying or discouraging
> their access to the source (something the BSD license failed to do).
> The eventual goal of the FSF is for all software everywhere to be
> GPLed so that any computer-savvy user could get software for free by
> downloading and compiling it. This is why the GPL is intentionally
> viral -- so that anyone who wants to take advantage of GPLed source
> also has to take the GPL with it.
The reason the GPL is written the way it is is because RMS doesn't
ever want to have to tell someone that he's prohibited from giving them a
piece of software or telling them how it works. At least, that's how I
understand it. They have never condemned commercial software, only
proprietary software (AFAIK).
> >or (2) because they might work out a deal with some sort of payment for
> >the contribution.
> True, contributors of large patches can negotiate agreements about
> licensing fees, but what about the hundreds of people who sent in
> several bug fixes? You can't expect a free software project to send
> each of those people a check for $10 whenever they get a $50,000
> license fee for use of their project! My point isn't that it isn't
> possible to make this fair.
What do you mean by fair? As long as the GPL'ed version is kept up
with the proprietarily licensed one, then they're just supporting the
development of the software they're using. At least with the GPL, they
don't have to allow proprietary use by the authors, like, say, the Apple
public license. It's completely up to them.
> > And, of course, they can always fork the project if they like.
> Ah forking the project. That's a disease which is
> license-independent... just look at the FreeBSD/NetBSD/OpenBSD
> disaster to understand why you really really really don't want to
> have that happen.
I'm afraid I don't worship on the altar on non-forking. Probably
because I don't feel competition == wasted effort.
> My point was that commercial software makes up the bulk of Macintosh
> and Windows MP3 encoders. If Vorbis is GPLed, these companies will
> be discouraged from adding Vorbis support because they won't see an
> advantage to it. Who wants to add yet another codec you have to pay
> for (This time one that has less market adoption.) At least if they
> get an implementation for free you have a chance of convincing them
> that supporting Vorbis is worth it.
So someone should (and will) write free players. This will be more
true as better support becomes available for the standard GNU tool set on
these platforms (particularly MacOS). I won't cry if proprietary
companies go out of business. It's the nature of that beast. I probably
wouldn't cry if free software producers go out of business either, but
I would find it considerably sadder.
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