gpgme license

Marcus Brinkmann Marcus.Brinkmann at
Sun Jul 21 16:30:01 CEST 2002

On Sat, Jul 20, 2002 at 06:03:58AM -0400, marius aamodt eriksen wrote:
> i understand entirely where you are coming from.  and from one
> perspective, it also makes perfect sense.  however, enter corporations
> who have IP to protect; perhaps their technology needs to be
> proprietary in order to stay afloat.  after all, it is capitalism that
> drives our very lives and provides our income.

There is no conflict between free software (in the GPL sense) and commercial
use of software.  That's why the FSF requires a free software license to
allow redistribution in exchange for any amount of money or other values.

Technology needs to be proprietary in order to stay afloat when a large
investment is necessary from designing the product to getting it into
production.  For example, if you have to build a factory where a good is
assembled.  That is what patents are good for.  However, in software, there
is no such setup time.  Software is written and then it is very easy to
print it on CDs and sell it in stores.  So there is always a competitive
advantage to the company which has written the software, because it the
first on the market.  Reimplementing a software is often as expensive as
writing it without knowledge of the original.  So imitators can only ever
get the second place.

> as i said, i'm happy
> if people just use my code, that's why i write it.  i would advocate
> (and also find it a polite thing to do), to give me changes and
> improvements back on my code, but i also understand that this is not
> always possible.

Often it is not "possible" because a license was granted which allows not
to give back.  For example, a publicly traded company has to justify
donations to the public, because first-of-all it has to protect all valuable
assets in the interest of the shareholders.  This makes it very hard for
such a company to give back.

The GPL with its copyleft actually helps those companies that are publicly
traded and want to give back.  They can still argue for the competitive
advantage in building a solution on free software, and can point out the
conditions in the license if it comes to why the changes have been made
free software themselves.


`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' GNU    marcus at
Marcus Brinkmann              The Hurd
Marcus.Brinkmann at

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