On 3/12/07, John Joyce <dangerwillrobinsondanger / gmail.com> wrote:
> I don't want to start a war or big debate, but the FSF threatening
> legal action against little guys is not good, they should be going
> after bigger fish to pursue their goals. But the idea of forcing
> everyone else to make free software is a bit extreme.

No one is forcing anyone to make free software.  The question is
whether one who accepts GPL licensed software and makes derivative
works is bound by the terms of that license.  The GPL was crafted so
as to serve the community and ensure that open-source software remains
open-source, and that everyone, developers and users alike get the
benefits of open-source.  One of the goals of the GPL is to ensure
that anyone can run, modify, and redistribute GPL licensed code as
long as they accept and execute the terms of the license.  In order to
allow modification (which would include, for example porting to
another platform) one needs to be able to get the source code as it
was used to build the program.

As a user, I WANT to be able to re-build the software I use.  If
someone offers something without the cooresponding software, I'm leery
of using it.

So if you want to distribute a program without making the source of
included software available, just don't include any GPL licensed
software in it.

And GPL is actually less draconian for "the little guys" than is
popularly thought.  Here's the section which requires source code
availability:

3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

    a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
    source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
    1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

    b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
    years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
    cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
    machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
    distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
    customarily used for software interchange; or,

    c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
    to distribute corresponding source code.  (This alternative is
    allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
    received the program in object code or executable form with such
    an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

Section C allows one to proxy the source code availability for
non-commercial code, for a "little guy" who didn't build his program
using GPL source code. GPLV3 has the same language.

> GPL3 is a bit
> wacked. I respect their place in history, but even reading the FSF
> coding guidelines sounds like Stallman speaking rather than rational
> writing. Perhaps his ego has gotten the best of him.

The controversial provisions of GPL3 have nothing to do with the
requirement to provide all source of GPL licensed code with derivative
works (which has always been part of GPL), they have to do with
restrictions on the use of GPL code to implement things like DRM.
However, one is free to continue to offer code based on GPL2 licensed
code. One does need to read the license on code you are using
carefully. Most GPL licensed software licenses it under GPL2 OR any
later version, which allows interpretation using GPL2, but you need to
look for language which either explicitly licenses under GPL3
(probably not much since it's still in draft) or which has wording to
the effect that it's licensed under the latest approved version of the
GPL.

-- 
Rick DeNatale

My blog on Ruby
http://talklikeaduck.denhaven2.com/