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Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2012 11:18:12 -0500
From: Rich Felker <>
Subject: Re: License survey

On Sun, Feb 19, 2012 at 07:48:59PM +0400, Solar Designer wrote:
> Oh, and this does start to look like a bikeshed, so I think I won't
> comment further.  I think Rich merely wanted us to vote, which we did. :-)

This is totally a bikeshed, but sometimes the color you paint your
bikeshed matters when you live in a city full of biker gangs and
painting it the right or wrong color will determine who likes you and
who wants to kill you. :-)

And indeed, my main goal was to get a sampling of the opinions on
licensing from the community, and I think I've been successful in
that. Surely a lot more successful than any other time I'd asked for
input/opinions on this list.

A few thoughts I had myself on the matter...

One thing I like about copyleft and having external copyright holders
is that the rules apply to me too. If, for instance, I were working in
embedded systems as a job, and my employer asked me to prepare a
derived work of musl for purely-closed use, I could simply tell them
that's not possible without the consent of other copyright holders.
But with no copyleft, or if I'm the sole copyright holder, the choice
is pretty much to do it or quit (and if I do it, then of course there
becomes a contamination issue if I later try to make similar
improvements to the open version).

Another issue (I suspect Solar will feel differently than me about
this one) is the possibility of offering a non-free, closed version.
If I'm doing a BSD-licensed project and asking others to contribute
under BSD license, it feels like I'm taking their contributions to
build something I could turn around and make closed/commercial
derivatives of for my own benefit. And in a way it would be wrong to
deny myself the right to do this if everybody else who receives the
code has a right to do it, but the original author and/or project
maintainer is in a unique position of authority and trust that makes
it much easier to commercially exploit the code.

For these and of course all the more well-known, conventional reasons,
I tend to favor at least some sort of copyleft, but I also see that a
lot of the community and potential user base is worried about the
ugliness of LGPL with static linking, etc. I don't think there's a
quick and easy answer for what's best to do, but I'll keep everything
in mind as we move along.


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