Good ol' BSD vs. GPL

Jesse B. Crawford jesse at
Mon Jan 5 17:28:14 PST 2015

Hash: SHA1

On 2015-01-05 12:29, odinn wrote:
> This led me to ask if maybe there was just a way to release it
> into domain (public domain) without the whole licensing system and 
> multitude of restrictions and competing licensing restrictions 
> (including Unlicense) coming into play, depending on the project / 
> projects being considered.  (Again I think we are twirling in
> circles here)

This isn't unheard of, the main example would be SQLite which is
completely public domain to great success. Although it depends on
jurisdiction, they explain this licensing arrangement as "Anyone is
free to copy, modify, publish, use, compile, sell, or distribute the
original SQLite code, either in source code form or as a compiled
binary, for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and by any
means," which sounds about as free as it can get to me.

I had a discussion with RMS about this not that long ago. In fact, the
discussion began with the BSD project, which he seems to view
primarily as an attempt to undermine the work of the FSF (an opinion
that he expresses in some of his public talks as well). Anyway, I
think it is apparent from talking to RMS that he feels that it is a
goal of GPL to prevent "user-subjugating" software vendors ever
obtaining any commercial advantage from GPL-licensed code. The theory
of it is a bit like not selling ammunition to KKK members or
something, RMS does not want to allow his enemies to use the tools he

Of course I don't agree with him in this regard, but that's because I
don't feel that closed-source software is intrinsically evil. From
RMS's perspective, that closed-source software is fundamentally a
violation of the rights of the user, it makes a great deal of sense.

I think that even FSF advocates increasingly don't align fully with
RMS on this issue, but his ideas have certainly influenced the GPL.

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