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Date: Sat, 27 Apr 2013 09:05:08 -0400
From: Zvi Gilboa <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: High-priority library replacements?

On 04/27/2013 01:45 AM, Rob Landley wrote:
> On 04/25/2013 12:53:53 PM, Zvi Gilboa wrote:
>> Ironically, much of the current thread is about the need to create
>> alternatives to commonly-used GPL'ed libraries, which in itself reminds
>> of past (and present) efforts to create open source alternatives to
>> proprietary libraries and software products.
> Unfortunately the FSF poisoned copyleft in 2006. The GPL was a 
> category killer synonymous with copyleft... until GPLv3 came out and 
> there was no longer any such thing as "The GPL".
> Today Linux and Samba can't share code even though they implement two 
> ends of the same protocol. QEMU is caught between wanting Linux driver 
> code to implement devices and gdb/binutils code to implement 
> processors and it can't have both. Licensing code "GPLv2 or later" 
> just makes it worse: you can donate code to both but can't accept code 
> from either one.
> Programmers are not lawyers, we're not _good_ at how licenses 
> interact. The GPL was a terminal node in a directed graph of license 
> convertibily, where all a programmer had to care was "is this 
> convertible to The GPL or not"? If it is, treat it as GPL, if not 
> avoid it. There was no interaction, there was just The GPL. The FSF 
> destroyed that, leaving a fragmented incompatible pool, and people's 
> attempts to _fix_ it with Affero GPL or GPL-Next or other viral 
> licenses just fragments it further.
> Copyleft only worked with a category killer license creating one big 
> pool. With multiple incompatible copyleft licenses, copyleft 
> _prevents_ code sharing because you can't re-use it or combine it in 
> new projects.

... which apparently is the source of widespread confusion.  To 
illustrate this, go to (with auto-complete enabled), and type 
/including bsd/...

> In the absence of a universal receiver license, non-lawyer programmers 
> looking for someting simple and understandable are switching to 
> universal donor licenses. BSD/MIT or outright public domain.

Another balanced license is the LaTeX Project Public License (LPPL), 
which also effectively governs cases in which a copyright holder has 
abandoned his/her project, or can no longer be reached.

> This shows the GPL falling from 72% market share in 2009 to 58 in 2013:
> Eben Moglen, author of GPLv2 and GPLv3 (Stallman is not a lawyer, 
> Moglen is) recently lamented the decline of copyleft but doesn't seem 
> to understand why:
> As far as I can tell the FSF has alienated all the young programmers. 
> The most popular license on Github is not specifying a license at all, 
> taking the Napster approach of civil disobedience and waiting for the 
> intellectual property system to collapse. Ten years ago the GPL would 
> have appealed to them, but since GPLv3 shattered the ecosystem it does 
> not.
> That's why Android's "no GPL in userspace" policy (if you add GPL code 
> to your userspace, you can't use the Android trademark advertising 
> your product) actually makes _sense_.
>> Zvi
> Rob

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