[Techtalk] Linux and *BSD

Kai MacTane kmactane at GothPunk.com
Wed Oct 1 09:48:42 EST 2003

At 10/1/03 06:04 AM , Julie wrote:

>BSD has been out for much longer than Linux, but it predates the modern
>version of "Free Software" and a lot of people don't recognize anything
>but the GPL as "Free Software".  There's nothing inherently "unfree"
>about the BSD license, it's just that Richard Stallman doesn't like it
>because, well, he doesn't.

To be fair, I think RMS doesn't like the BSD license for much the same 
reason I don't: there's nothing in the world to stop $random_big_evil_corp 
from assimilating my code into their product. They theoretically have to 
credit me as the author, but that's it. They can close the source, make 
oodles of money, use it to support embrace-and-extend tactics that I am 
firmly against, and basically misappropriate my work for their own ends. I 
don't like that idea, for reasons which I think are pretty clear.

Licenses such as the GPL (and the Artistic License, and others) do not 
allow this. Sure, the company could try to steal my code, close off the 
source so nobody can tell, and go on with the kinds of evil actions 
mentioned above. But if they're caught, they have to either open the source 
on their entire product (thus losing a lot of development investment money 
- and giving the OSS community a bunch more code to play with!) or remove 
my code, *fast*. If they're caught in a BSD license violation, all they 
have to do is add me to the credits.

In essence, I feel that the BSD license doesn't give me as much control 
over the future use of my code as I'd like. The GPL-et-alii do. It's far 
more than "just because".

                                                 --Kai MacTane
"I think that somehow/Somewhere inside of us,
  We must be similar/If not the same."
                                                 --Suzanne Vega,
                                                  "Left of Center"

More information about the Techtalk mailing list