Originally Published: Thursday, 30 December 1999 Author: Dave Stanley
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Why BSD Is More Free than GPL Is

This article originated in osOpinion and is provided under the OpenContent License.

I've thought about the BSD License and GPL, and I've concluded that BSD is the most free intellectual license around. BSD allows anyone the freedom of doing whatever one wishes with BSD code. BSD allows reward through money from proprietary work or the zero cost to great software. I also like the GPL because I can get good stuff for free, but BSD also does the same. The programming language Eiffel is available under both licenses....

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This article originated in osOpinion and is provided under the OpenContent License.

I've thought about the BSD License and GPL, and I've concluded that BSD is the most free intellectual license around. BSD allows anyone the freedom of doing whatever one wishes with BSD code. BSD allows reward through money from proprietary work or the zero cost to great software. I also like the GPL because I can get good stuff for free, but BSD also does the same. The programming language Eiffel is available under both licenses.

BSD and GPL are good for consumers, particularly students and developing countries. Entrepreneurs who provide great software need payment for that work to make a living. GPL reminds me of the hippie movement and its idealism. At some point, someone has to get rewarded for work, and often that reward comes through cash.

Unless the market economy grows obsolete for an economy that favors free production (barter is still a type of market economy), professional software developers will require payment for their work. Humanity seems far off from that Star Trek world where everyone strives for self-improvement and spiritual wealth rather than for material and monetary wealth. Even in Star Trek, a form of capitalism existed on Earth where payment came in the form of "credits" -- a cashless economy.

The GPL is ahead of its time. Perhaps the interest in GPL software and Wall Street's frenzy over Linux stocks will wane if pure Linux companies can't earn expected profits, or if amateur developers, like the hippies (who became yuppies), get frustrated and jaded over money they could have earned and someone else is earning off their work. I'm certain the GPL is here to stay and will always be the interest of hackers and students developing portfolios of GPL contributions to present to future employers. When the day comes for that Star Trek economy, the GPL may be the one and only license.

For now, though, the BSD seems like a good transition to that utopian Star Trek world. Business and freedom can co-exist with BSD. Developing nations such as Korea (hopefully, the North and South will be one soon) have access to free and superb technology through GPL and BSD and a chance for G7 status. When Korea becomes a "developed" nation, it can sustain a healthy market economy with BSD-like technology.

I favor a temporary copyright for companies that wish to make money, grow and re-invest in R&D, and hold the interest of open-source advocates. For example, if a company creates a virtual machine that transcends any OS, it uses a temporary copyright for 3 years before the code falls under BSD or GPL. This way, everyone wins.

Sun probably should have done this with Java. Now Java Personal Edition will splinter into 2 standards, the Sun standard and the EMOC (I think- some acronym anyway) standard. Sun now has incurred the abandonment of IBM who will use its own virtual machine for Java and the distrust of new Java developers. Perhaps another license should be created that allows a temporary copyright. Call it, TCL for Temporary Copyright License and after 2 or 3 years the product falls under BSD or GPL. What do you think?

Dave Stanley is a student at the Vulcan Institute of humor. He performs three times a week for Vulcans yet still hasn't received a smile even though he's sure they crack up at his jokes when he's not looking.





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