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#1459 - 05/02/2000 23:46 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Dredd]
Bruce Perens
new poster

Registered: 05/02/2000
Posts: 7
Loc: Berkeley, California
Here comes "someone more of a prick" :-)

Your read appears to be correct. Follow it to the conclusion: Theoreticaly, their licenses could be immediaely terminated by any copyright holders of code in the unit who cared to get tough, and then it would be straight infringement for every unit they sold. Practically, nobody would be that much of a prick unless they proved to be incredibly unwisely obstinate. Either a nice warning or a little publicity has been all that's necessary to get people's attention and get the GPL violations fixed, given time. In the case of Empeg, I predict that nothing beyond the nice warning will be necessary.

Thanks

Bruce



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#1460 - 06/02/2000 00:14 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Bruce Perens]
mcomb
pooh-bah

Registered: 31/08/1999
Posts: 1649
Loc: San Carlos, CA
And people wonder why commercial companies (Apple for example) won't touch GPL'd code. This is rediculous. Empeg has to be one of the most linux friendly commercial companies in existance. They never said "we won't supply code" simply that "no one has asked for it yet". They have contributed their modifications back to the tree from which they came, but you guys are bothering them because there isn't a big flashing button on their website that says "Download Debian code here" and a printout of the GPL in the users manual? What a waste of everyone's time.

PB and Dredd if free software is this important to you wouldn't your time be better spent writing code than searching for companies that may be failing the "letter of the law" but definately abidding my the "spirit of the law"?

-Mike

_________________________
EmpMenuX - ext3 filesystem - Empeg iTunes integration

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#1461 - 06/02/2000 00:15 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: mcomb]
mcomb
pooh-bah

Registered: 31/08/1999
Posts: 1649
Loc: San Carlos, CA
Is it to late to change the OS to *BSD ;-)

_________________________
EmpMenuX - ext3 filesystem - Empeg iTunes integration

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#1462 - 06/02/2000 03:07 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Bruce Perens]
rob
carpal tunnel

Registered: 21/05/1999
Posts: 5316
Loc: Cambridge UK
Bruce,

I'd like to point out that this is a public forum maintained by a client and is in no way supported by empeg. Employees who may post here, including myself, do so in a personal capacity and are not representing the company or, necessarily, the views of the company.

Perhaps you have already done so, but to be certain of getting a message to Hugo (empeg Technical Director) you should email him (hugo@empeg.com).

Regards

Rob





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#1463 - 06/02/2000 05:40 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Dredd]
altman
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/05/1999
Posts: 3452
Loc: Palo Alto, CA
As has been noted already, the GPL wasn't included on all CDs that went out - it's definitely been there since 9a cds were burned, and might have been on 8c's (I'm not near the machine with the CD images on it, so I can't currently tell). This was an oversight, and we apologise for this.

If the licence holders decided not to let us "play with their toys" then the net result would likely be that yes, we would move away from open-source software, with a bad taste in our mouths. We've always provided kernel source (and have been asked for this) and so the minimum effect would be we carried on using the kernel, but dumped the developer image and made the unit a "sealed box" setup. The worst case would be we move to a RTOS with similar capabilties (Posix, threads, etc) - our software is not tightly tied to unix, we always wanted to ensure that it wasn't as there are some places empeg is going which can't support the overheads.

The point is, we're a small company who *most definitely* abides by the spirit of the GPL. If you ask, you will receive. Our kernel mods are not only posted, but fed back and have appeared in the linux 2.3 tree, giving linux some new facilties such as a consumer IR driver, a USB slave driver and so on. Mike, the most debian of us, has been the main GNU-conscience-holder of the company and has nudged gently to get things done on the tool sources front. The source to bash (et al) will appear on the sources page - though you'll probably be able to get better bandwidth to another site with exactly the same code on it.

It's my personal feeling that the GPL is avoided by many companies simply because if you use it, you're followed by a h[eu]rd of zealots who watch every step you make and pounce on you if you've (for whatever reason) not followed the letter of the GPL - even when you want to comply and have no problems with doing so. The thought of this type of free-range legalish sabre rattling makes most think twice - and this is not a good thing if you ask me. If open source wants to pervade every part of the software industry (especially embedded software) then a slightly more understanding approach to enforcement of the GPL is needed; I'm not saying change the GPL, but I'm saying the best way to get people to follow it is to communicate *with* them, as opposed to communicating to *everyone else* that they appear to have a problem.

Hugo



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#1464 - 06/02/2000 05:42 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Bruce Perens]
bonzi
pooh-bah

Registered: 13/09/1999
Posts: 2401
Loc: Croatia
Posted by Bruce Perens

The Bruce Perens ? :-)

Guys, let's get over with this, please! Hugo, DO include verbatim GPL text somewhare in the distribution, along with prescribed offer to provide source code. Having several CD-Rs with Debian distribution and your patches handy will not kill you, either.

BTW, I don't have impression that even greatest FSF 'zealots' are that crazy. Remember, there was a lot of 'bad blood' in the movement concerning 'Free Softvare' vs 'Open Source', with Richard Stallman accusing 'The Bazaar' Eric, 'Maddog' Hall (then in DEC), 'VA' Augustine and even Linus himself of 'commercialization' (or prostitution) of The Movement, but I think things have cooled down considerably. (When receiving an award from Linus (I think is was some IDG-sponsored Open Source award), Richard even said he did not insist on the name 'GNU/Linux' anymore...)

Most people here are audiophiles and general tech geeks, not particularly Linux geeks. The fact that general audience benefits from free software in the way we see here is a kind or realization of Stallman's dream. I really don't think we should be affraid of 'FSF zealots' trying to catch Hugo on some technicality, but, on the other hand, sticking to the letter of the GPL does not cost so much (I think we agree Hugo sticks to it's spirit already).

Cheers!

P.S. I am happily using GNU programs and, later, Linux both proffesionally and privatly for ten or so years now, and I appreciate them being free in both meanings of the word.

Dragi "Bonzi" Raos
Zagreb, Croatia
#5196
_________________________
Dragi "Bonzi" Raos Q#5196 MkII #080000376, 18GB green MkIIa #040103247, 60GB blue

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#1465 - 06/02/2000 05:45 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: bonzi]
altman
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/05/1999
Posts: 3452
Loc: Palo Alto, CA
I know, I bet PaulH never expected Bruce Perens to visit the unofficial empeg bbs when he started it :)

Hugo



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#1466 - 06/02/2000 06:19 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Bruce Perens]
altman
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/05/1999
Posts: 3452
Loc: Palo Alto, CA
We are fixing it (including the paper documentation, which is well overdue for an update... I'm sure there are some features in the software that I've not found yet...)

I'm also glad to hear that LinuxOne is being talked to. Every time I read a new article about them I'm amazed even further by what appears to have been going on there...

Hugo



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#1467 - 06/02/2000 08:10 Bruce Perens? Really? (was Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit) [Re: altman]
Bill Gates
new poster

Registered: 06/02/2000
Posts: 1
This is all very interesting...

One more step on the road to getting that Linux thorn out of my side

Keep up the good work...

Bill G (as if...)

FUD, FUD, glorious FUD...
_________________________
Bill G (as if...)

FUD, FUD, glorious FUD...

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#1468 - 06/02/2000 08:28 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: altman]
Dredd
enthusiast

Registered: 12/11/1999
Posts: 261
Loc: Bay Area, California
I'm saying the best way to get people to follow it is to communicate *with* them, as opposed to communicating to *everyone else* that they appear to have a problem.

Bear in mind, though, that I started this mess (the topic anyway, not the situation), and not once did an Empeg employee say something like "Let's take this to e-mail" or anything like that.

Another thing to think of is this: You're including the GPL on the new CD's (kudos, BTW), but you also may want to make sure there's wording somewhere with whatever OTHER license you're using (for emplode, the player, etc.) otherwise someone might think (potentially rightfully so) that those are under the GPL as well, when they're not.


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#1469 - 06/02/2000 12:32 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: altman]
Jesus Christ
new poster

Registered: 06/02/2000
Posts: 3
Loc: Heaven
It should not surprise you so much, Hugo. I, too, am a frequent lurker on the BBS. Now, if Linus were to show up, THAT would be pretty fucking cool.

By the way, Hugo, while I admire your evenhanded principle in denying me a Mark I unit because of my low queue number (#9666), you may want to rethink your position from a theological perspective. Dad has a long memory, and we really don't want to have to revisit this matter when you are seeking admittance to Heaven.

And as for you, Dredd, surely you are the most blessed of all my children. Yes, you hold yourself up to ridicule by making yourself to appear an anal, self-absorbed, egoist who has no regard for the fact that Hugo has every intention and is making every effort to comply with the GPL. But I know you speak the truth when you say, however preposterous a claim it may seem at face value, that you are actually acting out of love for Empeg in an effort to protect them from geeks more zealous than yourself. No, you do not quote verse and scripture of GPL in a vain attempt at self-validation, or to be noticed by Bruce Derens, no matter how much it may appear that way. Rather, you selflessly expose yourself for the sake of Empeg, much as I suffered ridicule and sacrificed myself on the cross two thousand years ago.

Jesus Christ
Queue #9666, John 3:16
(...and getting impatient)



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#1470 - 06/02/2000 12:52 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: mcomb]
Bruce Perens
new poster

Registered: 05/02/2000
Posts: 7
Loc: Berkeley, California
Mike,

Don't say big companies are unwilling to touch the GPL, it hasn't been true for a while now.

Empeg has made the correct response, and it was easy for them to do so, so this isn't going to be a problem. I would hate to get into the situation later on where a worse violator is arguing in court that
we are enforcing our licenses selectively. Even though it might not win a case, who wants to spend expensive time in court arguing that?

There's also the problem that if it's percieved that the GPL is not enforced, companies will tend to violate it in major ways and thus we will end up having to go to court to enforce it rather than use warnings or publicity as we do now. This way, without the courts, is better.

GPL is pretty fair, and its use is increasing (just look at the Freshmeat.net listings) because volunteer programmers percieve that it gives _them_ a fair deal as few other licenses do. Aren't the volunteers rights important too?

Thanks

Bruce


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#1471 - 06/02/2000 13:09 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: altman]
Bruce Perens
new poster

Registered: 05/02/2000
Posts: 7
Loc: Berkeley, California
All of this "THE Bruce Perens" stuff is overblown. It's useful because people pay attention, but I'm really just another hacker who speaks his mind.

I came to this BBS because someone dropped me an email. He said I should take a look and gave the reasons why. Everybody knows my email, and I would have responded the same way for anyone who chose to write.

I had seen the Empeg at a Linux conference in the Debian booth, and most recently at The Hacker's Conference, and I think it's cool.

Thanks

Bruce


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#1472 - 06/02/2000 16:57 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Bruce Perens]
bonzi
pooh-bah

Registered: 13/09/1999
Posts: 2401
Loc: Croatia
All of this "THE Bruce Perens" stuff is overblown. It's useful because people pay attention, but I'm really just another hacker who speaks his mind.

You might feel so, but you did appear here at 'THE B.P.' (after all, you do hold those copylefts...). Anyway, I wanted to ask: has the person turning your attention to Hugo's efforts merely asked you to clean up some missunderstanding about GPL, or complained about 'the company that exploits Linux without respecting open source licensing'. I would really be worried if it was the latter.

Another thing: does this 'any third party' provision mean, in effect, that anybody deriving anything from GPL'd software must become a Linux distributor? (In other words, why does it not suffice to provide source of their changes together with pointer to Debian or whatever?) I know GPL can't be interpreted any other way; I am asking about logic behind this.

Thanks!

Dragi "Bonzi" Raos
Zagreb, Croatia
#5196
_________________________
Dragi "Bonzi" Raos Q#5196 MkII #080000376, 18GB green MkIIa #040103247, 60GB blue

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#1473 - 06/02/2000 17:06 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Dredd]
bonzi
pooh-bah

Registered: 13/09/1999
Posts: 2401
Loc: Croatia
Bear in mind, though, that I started this mess (the topic anyway, not the situation), and not once did an Empeg employee say something like "Let's take this to e-mail" or anything like that.

I hope you consider this openess commendable.



Dragi "Bonzi" Raos
Zagreb, Croatia
#5196
_________________________
Dragi "Bonzi" Raos Q#5196 MkII #080000376, 18GB green MkIIa #040103247, 60GB blue

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#1474 - 06/02/2000 17:24 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: altman]
bonzi
pooh-bah

Registered: 13/09/1999
Posts: 2401
Loc: Croatia
It's my personal feeling that the GPL is avoided by many companies simply because if you use it, you're followed by a h[eu]rd of zealots who watch every step you make and pounce on you if you've (for whatever reason) not followed the letter of the GPL - even when you want to comply and have no problems with doing so. The thought of this type of free-range legalish sabre rattling makes most think twice - and this is not a good thing if you ask me. If open source wants to pervade
every part of the software industry (especially embedded software) then a slightly more understanding approach to enforcement of the GPL is needed; I'm not saying change the GPL, but I'm saying the best way to get people to follow it is to communicate *with* them, as opposed to communicating to *everyone else* that they appear to have a problem.


It would really be good that both FS and OS crowds (myself not seeing such a big difference) consider this seriously... As I said, when I first read Richard Stallman's Free Software Manifesto in a preface to an Emacs book, I thought him a bit shy of utopian lunatic. Now his dream is realised, but not so much through millions of us geeks playing with free software, as through other millions about to have better and more accessible appliances thanks to it.

Finally, let me state that I agree with those on this board who think that, ultimatelly, Empeg guys would benefit by opensourcing their software. I don't believe Matsushita or somebody would clone the hardware in order to be able to exploit it... But, of course, it is up to them, and, sadly, Hugo has already expressed his firm opinion about it.

(BTW, as we are becomming allarmingly formal in this thread, let me 'disclose', ridiculous as it might be, that my company distributes Red Hat.)

Dragi "Bonzi" Raos
Zagreb, Croatia
#5196
_________________________
Dragi "Bonzi" Raos Q#5196 MkII #080000376, 18GB green MkIIa #040103247, 60GB blue

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#1475 - 06/02/2000 19:47 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: bonzi]
Bruce Perens
new poster

Registered: 05/02/2000
Posts: 7
Loc: Berkeley, California
I was asked to convince them to take a license requirement seriously. They weren't represented to me as nasty exploiters, they were pointed out as a high-visibility Linux project which could do us damage by visibly not taking a GPL obligation seriously. They only needed a tiny nudge, they were collecting the source code today (and it's probably still Sunday where they are) and are implementing all necessary changes. In other words, the problem is well on the way to being fixed and I am satisfied with their response.

Yes, you might think it's sufficient to just post your changes and point to some other place where you can find the files. But it turns out that the Debian distribution site has upgraded its versions since the Empeg load was produced and the versions of programs that were shipping in the Empeg weren't available online any longer! That's one reason it makes sense for the people who distribute the binary to distribute source - the version information gets lost otherwise. The other reason is that it's sloppy to expect someone else to fulfill your legal obligation - sometimes they stop doing so without telling you.

My own opinion is that if businesses don't keep an eye to the quid-pro-quo represented by the GPL, a lot fewer people will write free software.

Thanks

Bruce



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#1476 - 07/02/2000 01:07 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Bruce Perens]
bonzi
pooh-bah

Registered: 13/09/1999
Posts: 2401
Loc: Croatia
Makes sense. Thanks.

Dragi "Bonzi" Raos
Zagreb, Croatia
#5196
_________________________
Dragi "Bonzi" Raos Q#5196 MkII #080000376, 18GB green MkIIa #040103247, 60GB blue

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#1477 - 07/02/2000 05:14 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Bruce Perens]
mac
addict

Registered: 20/05/1999
Posts: 411
Loc: Cambridge, UK
But it turns out that the Debian distribution site has upgraded its versions since the Empeg load was produced and the versions of programs that were shipping in the Empeg weren't available online any longer!

The binary distribution we based our developer image on is still being distributed from the location we originally retrieved it from. The source is not available there and the binary packages it was based on have moved on.

I find it quite ironic that when I went out to find the source code to meet our obligations the binary version was still available but not the source. :)


--
Mike Crowe
I may not be speaking on behalf of empeg above :-)
_________________________
--
Mike Crowe

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#1478 - 07/02/2000 05:36 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Bruce Perens]
schofiel
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/06/1999
Posts: 2992
Loc: Wareham, Dorset, UK
Bruce,

Is there any reason why you couldn't have taken this matter into private email with Hugo directly, instead of making a rather embarrasing post on a public BBS? This action is akin to standing up in the middle of a party and shouting at the top of your voice "That man {points to offender} is interfering with my wife!!". Subtle, Bruce, subtle.

Empeg Ltd has absolutely commercial connection with this board; it is run by enthusiasts of the product using private resources. This could have meant that you would have had no response from any member of the empeg staff. A far more appropriate action, should you have felt it necessary, would have been to make direct contact at a commercial level via the appropriate points of contact specified in the company webpage or with the head office of the company via snail mail.

This is now the third or fourth time I have observed a Linux oriented "zealot" thread appear on this BBS; regardless of the merit of the complaint, this is NOT the place to voice it. One of the reasons why I enjoy this board is the genuine enthusiasm and lack of bickering that reminds me of Usenet around the mid-80's prior to the "Idiot Infusion" that occurred in the early 90's. Every time the L-word pops up these days, I rapidly remember the reasons why I have consistently found FreeBSD a better choice both commercially and for hobby. And here I was beginning to seriously consider allocating expensive computer resources to check out Debian. Not any more, matey.

This website represents my most important personal hobby and I simply refuse to allow this sort of thing propogate on this board. The board is moderated, and PaulH can at his discretion remove offending posts. This comment will, of course, start a whine about "suppression" and "censorship". Oh dear, oh dear, oh dearie dearie me. Have you even got, or have any interest in, an empeg player?

I'm afraid it's time for me to say that I would prefer you withdraw any further postings and refrain from showing your face here again, regardless of your involvement with the sources of the suporting software. If you are unsubtle enough to consider this type of public post "appropriate" then you are not welcomed here by me for one.



_________________________
One of the few remaining Mk1 owners... #00015

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#1479 - 07/02/2000 05:40 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: mcomb]
schofiel
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/06/1999
Posts: 2992
Loc: Wareham, Dorset, UK
Yeah, I had it on the tip of my tongue to say the same thing...

Free the Daemon!

_________________________
One of the few remaining Mk1 owners... #00015

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#1480 - 07/02/2000 06:16 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: bonzi]
schofiel
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/06/1999
Posts: 2992
Loc: Wareham, Dorset, UK
I am happily using GNU programs and, later, Linux both proffesionally and privately for ten or so years now,

I have been using GNU tools since about 1990 in the same way. I was an early subscriber to the paper version of the FSF's newsletter (with a certain Mr. Stallman portrayed riding a "righteous GNU", if I remember rightly - I'll have to look at my old comics later).

That all stops today, as everything relating to the GPL comes off all my personal machines as soon as I get home tonight. I am this afternoon going to withdraw the push I have been making at work to use Debian in a major development for the company I am currently working for.

How I am going to reconcile this with my ownership & usage of the empeg machine, I don't know - but I do know that this exchange has finally gelled my so far ambiguous attitude to GPL source and the GPL itself which has persisted in me for some 10 years now.

All of my own work released so far has been public domain, and I have seen at least two places where the code (especially so in the case of a device driver) has simply been lifted, comments and all, and dropped under a GPL without acknowledgement or contact from the perpetrator. I have been tolerant of this so far, as I considered that it benefits everyone in spite of me having a horse and cart trampled through my rights as a developer.

Public pillory of offenders certainly has it's place - in the market square, somewhere around 1540 - 1680 AD. Not on this BBS.

_________________________
One of the few remaining Mk1 owners... #00015

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#1481 - 07/02/2000 07:44 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: schofiel]
Geoff
enthusiast

Registered: 21/08/1999
Posts: 381
Loc: Northern Ireland
Like probably a lot of people on this BBS, I'm at 'that certain age' that means I got into computers back in the early '80s, with 8-bit machines. Back then there was a fairly extensive market of public domain software (shareware hadn't been heard of as far as I can remember) and magazines published listings of programs you could easily type in and learn from. The internet wasn't quite so accessible from home, but there were dozens of BBS's where you could discover and share information with other people... Essentially, it was 'only' a hobby, and people enjoyed sharing their hobby with others.

In my case, the 8-bit computers I used most were the Ataris (400 & 130XE) Atari were probably one of the few computer manufacturers around at the time who made the source code of their OS available... I learned a lot from reading over that 6502 assembly listing over the years, along with the detailed technical reference notes.

Then I got an IBM-compatible... everything was suddenly closed off, to write your own programs meant handing over hundreds of pounds for compilers... it was no longer a hobby, the pc was a black box that did some amazing things, but I no longer had the faintest inkling how...

Where am I going with this message? Well, the Open Source/Free Software thing (in my view) restored the hobbyist aspect for me... I could download 'free' compilers (cost a bloody fortune in phone bills, but that was part of the fun ) and see actual source code again; the internet took off in the home, and all was well with the world.... well, I thought it was....

Anyway, to get back on thread...

Much is made in the Open Source community about Microsoft and their tactic of spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt among end users to try to destroy, or at the very least marginalise, Linux, GNU and the Open Source concept. This thread over the past few days has made me realise that by some cruel twist, the Open Source movement, by threatening legal action over GPL infringements, are doing nothing more than spreading the same Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt... not among end-users, but among the very developers who are needed to make Open Source work!

I know for sure that I would now think more than twice before distributing code under the GPL. I had always thought that the GPL was a way to ensure that the source would always be freely available to those who wanted it, and I suppose it does, but to me it looks like a whole lot more trouble than it's worth right now.

Sorry for the rambling post, but I'm feeling very sad, in a way I haven't felt since I boxed up my Ataris all those years ago and booted up my shiny new 486, only to wonder how I was going to program the damn thing...

Geoff
---- -------
Reg No. 554, s/n 00064 - It's mine I tell you.... all mine :)
_________________________
Geoff
---- -------
Mk1 Blue - was 4GB, now 16GB
Mk2 Red - was 12GB, now 60GB

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#1482 - 07/02/2000 07:54 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: Geoff]
schofiel
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/06/1999
Posts: 2992
Loc: Wareham, Dorset, UK
This thread over the past few days has made me realise that by some cruel twist, the Open Source movement, by threatening legal action over GPL infringements, are doing nothing more than spreading the same Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt... not among end-users, but among the very developers who are needed to make Open Source work!

Sorry for the rambling post, but I'm feeling very sad, in a way I haven't felt since I boxed up my Ataris all those years ago and booted up my shiny new 486, only to wonder how I was going to program the damn thing...




Thanks, Geoff, for putting into words the same things I am struggling to express myself. My sentiments, almost to the word (and computer).




_________________________
One of the few remaining Mk1 owners... #00015

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#1483 - 07/02/2000 07:58 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: schofiel]
Geoff
enthusiast

Registered: 21/08/1999
Posts: 381
Loc: Northern Ireland
I'm off to see the optician tomorrow to get these damned rose-tinted spectacles replaced... nothing but a bloody nuisance

Geoff
---- -------
Reg No. 554, s/n 00064 - It's mine I tell you.... all mine :)
_________________________
Geoff
---- -------
Mk1 Blue - was 4GB, now 16GB
Mk2 Red - was 12GB, now 60GB

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#1484 - 07/02/2000 09:35 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: schofiel]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31150
Loc: Seattle, WA

I dunno, Rob. I found the entire discussion enlightening and educational. I don't think it embarassed anyone, because everyone involved was perfectly honest and candid about all of the facts.

Before this thread popped up, I knew very little about the GPL. Now I know a lot more.



-- Tony Fabris -- Empeg #144 --
Caution: Do not look into laser with remaining good eye.
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#1485 - 07/02/2000 09:48 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: tfabris]
stan
stranger

Registered: 31/07/1999
Posts: 34
Seems to me that free software sometimes cost more than the shrink-wrapped stuff... at least emotionally.


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#1486 - 07/02/2000 10:17 Why I took this up publicly [Re: schofiel]
Bruce Perens
new poster

Registered: 05/02/2000
Posts: 7
Loc: Berkeley, California
Yes, there's a reason why I took it up here. It's because the thread was already public before I got here. Consider that a number of people were already publicly making protests over clear GPL violations when I got here. Those protests were visibly not being taken seriously by a known Empeg employee who happened to be posting to your board and, perhaps unwisely, appeared to be representing his company even if it was "unofficially". In general we want it publicly known that you have to take the GPL seriously, that keeps the problem from getting worse so that we would end up in court. We do not want to go to court with anyone and no lawsuit threat was made here.

I can understand why you would not want this sort of stuff on your board, but in that case you should have stopped it earlier. To terminate the discussion now gives the appearance of silencing one side of an argument, and I'd protest more if the argument wasn't already over. The Empeg folks said they'd fix the simple problems they had with GPL compliance, as far as I'm concerned that is the end of my discussion with them. Now, on to you.

In a later post on this board you claim to have placed two programs in the public domain, and then you protest that at least one of those programs was lifted wholesale and placed in a GPL program, and you weren't credited. That would make me unhappy, too. If you want to give me the details, I'll see that you get credit, and I doubt it will require any public postings.

It is ironic, though, that you express annoyance about what happened with your public domain program, because by placing it in the public domain and abandoning your own copyright you were making it legally permissible for someone else to claim authorship. That's just one of many reasons why we use the GPL. The important reason in the Empeg matter, however, was that we wanted to be able to rebuild the software in the Empeg that was ours, not Empeg's, and online copies of some of the versions they used no longer existed. You ask if I have any personal interest in Empeg player. Yes, I think it's a pretty cool product and I might buy one. And if I do buy one, I probably want to hack around inside of it. So, I want to make sure that the GPL provisions that would let me do that are being taken seriously. This should benefit any other Empeg customer who wants to get inside of the player, as well.

Since you made your own programs public domain, they can be considered a gift. That is, there are essentially no rules regarding what someone does with them. GPL progams are not a gift, they are to be shared, and we have rules for sharing that we really need you to take seriously, or fewer people will write. It took about a man-day for Empeg to come into compliance with those rules, no big deal.

I honor that you've made two programs public. If you had put in as much time as I had, literally years without pay, into making your software public, you might have even stronger feelings about other people complying with your license than you have about the mis-attribution of your public domain software. It's sometimes dishartening to have put in all of that time to make a good public system like Debian and Linux and then to have someone who has done a lot less work call you a "zealot". Remember that the people who created the BSD system were on government grants or worked for an industry consortium (the ARPA grant for the Berkeley 4BSD distribution from which the free BSDs were derived, The X Consortium, The government-funded NCSA Web Server that Apache is derived from, etc.) or were otherwise getting paid, and thus did not see a need for any additional quid-pro-quo as with the GPL. Most GPL authors, in contrast, were on their own time from the start. It happens that I will get my very first paycheck for working on GPL software in a few days. Since 1993, I've been doing that with no pay.

So, I wish you'd be a little bit more understanding when we ask for people to take our software license seriously.

Thanks

Bruce


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#1487 - 07/02/2000 10:39 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: schofiel]
Verement
journeyman

Registered: 02/09/1999
Posts: 97
Loc: Boston, MA, US
In reply to:

All of my own work released so far has been public domain, and I have seen at least two places where the code (especially so in the case of a device driver) has simply been lifted, comments and all, and dropped under a GPL without acknowledgement or contact from the perpetrator. I have been tolerant of this so far, as I considered that it benefits everyone in spite of me having a horse and cart trampled through my rights as a developer.


When you release something into the public domain, you are specifically giving up your rights, and it is perfectly within anyone else's rights to take your code and redistribute it, with or without modifications, under a license of their own choosing. They needn't even give you acknowledgment as, technically, you've given up all ownership interest in the work.

This is precisely why defending the GPL is important. The GPL offers a way to release code generously while still retaining your copyright and guaranteeing the code will always be available under the same terms, no matter what anyone does with it. Nobody else can release the code under lesser or more restrictive terms. You may think people are zealots to enforce the terms under which they release their code, but really what they are doing is no different from your own expectation that the code you write be of benefit to everyone. The difference is that the GPL offers some legal recourse if someone doesn't play by the rules.

I don't agree with the sentiment that using GPL'd software is hazardous in that you're followed by a bunch of zealots who check compliance, because it's very easy to comply and as long as you make that effort, nobody will bother you. (In fact, you'll get praise.) It's even easier to comply if you're already complying in spirit. But you have to comply, especially if you are in the business of selling something that includes GPL'd code -- then it's your responsibility to make sure you are following the licensing terms to the letter.

In the case of Empeg Ltd, I'm confident they will do the right thing. I realize the GPL issue probably only affects their developer releases (other than the kernel modifications, which have always been available) so I am especially grateful for them to correct the GPL issues rather than terminate the developer releases entirely. I'm still glad the issue was brought forward, however, and it's probably better that it was brought forward now rather than later.

-v



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#1488 - 07/02/2000 11:43 Re: Linux, the GPL, and resale of a unit [Re: tfabris]
xavyer
member

Registered: 19/12/1999
Posts: 117
I have to agree with Tony. The whole discussion has been very interesting, and enlightening; it has been just that, 'a discussion'. Both sides have raised good questions of the other, and, apparently, a resolution to the initial question has been found. Isn't that what 'discussion' is all about?


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