Viruses use "host cell" resources to reproduce, since they do not have the 
resources to do so on their own.  Likewise, the GPL spreads not by its own 
means, buy by turning "host cell" resources (i.e. code) towards that end 
(making more GPL code).  Thus helping to proliferate the virus (GPL) through 
the population.

And, just to add another twist to the discussion... viruses (though derived 
from the latin term virus meaning poison or venom) are not always bad.  
Antibiotic resistance among bacteria can be spread by phage (bacterial 
viruses), which is a "good" thing for the bacteria.  And viruses are also 
(trying) to be used to transport "correct" DNA into a host to, in theory, 
replace the bad and "cure" genetic diseases.

So, to say the GPL is a virus is not necessarily a bad thing... after all, 
for everyone who is pro-GPL, this "virus like spread" promotes GPL 
development.


>From: "Warren Brown" <wkb / airmail.net>
>Reply-To: ruby-talk / ruby-lang.org
>To: ruby-talk / ruby-lang.org (ruby-talk ML)
>Subject: Re: My brief and torrid affair with Ruby.
>Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2003 06:52:54 +0900
>
>To try to inject a little reason here:
>
>     I think the main point of contention in this debate is the word 
>"viral".
>I believe that Daniel is interpreting "viral" strictly according to the
>dictionary definition: "of, relating to, or caused by a virus"; and "virus"
>as: "the causative agent of an infectious disease".
>
>     I think that others are perhaps using a more generic definition of
>"viral" more akin to "something that spreads through self-replication".  An
>example of this usage is found in "viral email campaigns" where an email
>encourages recipients to forward the email to other recipients, thereby
>spreading through a sort of "self-replication".  I realize that I am
>stretching the definition of "self-replication" in that I am including
>"human-assisted self-replication", but I think in this case the term still
>fits.
>
>     By this broader definition of "viral", it seems to me that the GPL 
>*can*
>be considered viral.  In a way, it spreads itself through 
>"self-replication"
>since it requires people who use GPL works in their projects to also
>designate their own projects as GPL.
>
>     Obviously, if someone does not use GPL works, the license can not
>somehow "infect" their code.  But we aren't talking about them, we're
>talking about people who want to use GPL works.
>
>     Does this resolve any misunderstandings?
>
>     - Warren Brown
>
>

_________________________________________________________________
The new MSN 8: smart spam protection and 2 months FREE*  
http://join.msn.com/?page=features/junkmail