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GPL, Copyleft Use Declining Fast 808

Posted by timothy
from the taking-great-liberties dept.
itwbennett writes "Use of the GPL, LGPL, and AGPL set of licenses is declining at an accelerating rate, according to new analysis by the 451 Group's Matthew Aslett. In fact, the 451 Group projects that GPL usage will hit 50% by September 2012. Instead, developers are licensing projects under permissive licenses such as the MIT, Apache (ASL), BSD, and Ms-PL. The shift started in 2007 and has been gathering momentum ever since. Blogger Brian Proffitt posits that 'the creation of the GPLv3 and the sometimes contentious discussion that led up to it' may be partly responsible for the move away from the GPL."
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GPL, Copyleft Use Declining Fast

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  • by mossholderm (570035) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @02:47PM (#38409828)
    "I personally have seen companies who had to re-engineer a whole embedded controller from Linux to Windows CE just so they did not bump into GPL v3 issues."

    Too bad for them, since most of Linux isn't GPL v3. The kernel certainly isn't and huge portions of userspace aren't either... ESPECIALLY in the embedded space, where people use slimmer versions of things like libc.
  • Bull! (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 17, 2011 @02:48PM (#38409840)

    Linux is not under GPLv3. Never has been. Never will be. What you speak is nonsense.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @02:51PM (#38409876)

    The problem with GPLv3 is that I can't use it in an application I develop unless I release any changes/mods I make to the source code.

    That was true with the GPLv2 as well.

    That's my secret sauce. If I'm a startup and trying to form a niche in an industry, why would I want to give my recipe away?

    Boo hoo, so write it yourself. Why is it every complaint against the GPL seems to come from those who want to mooch and not contribute?

  • by Microlith (54737) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @02:52PM (#38409888)

    I can profit while using GPL code. I simply can't take and not give back.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @02:55PM (#38409934)

    In my previous job I had customers who were deathly afraid of GPL to the point where they would not allow me as their supplier to use any open source code in the products I supplied regardless of what the license was or if it saved money.

    For these people anyway GPL was a real impediment to the acceptance of open source.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @03:00PM (#38409980) Journal

    The problem with that claim is that it's not even remotely true. For example, consider Google. They have their own private fork of Linux (GPLv2) which includes things like their own filesystem. Some changes are contributed back to the community because maintaining them in a private fork costs more than the loss of competitive advantage from sharing them. Some are kept private, because the scales tip the other way.

    In contrast, Yahoo uses a private fork of FreeBSD on a lot of their systems. They employ several FreeBSD developers and contribute a lot of changes back if doing so won't give away a serious competitive advantage, but they keep some things private.

    One project has a permissive license, the other has a strong copyleft license, but the behaviour of downstream users is identical in both cases. The GPL doesn't stop you using, modifying, or profiting from the code without giving anything back, it only prevents you from refusing to share the source for your modifications with anyone who receives a binary.

  • Bad statistics (Score:4, Informative)

    by eexaa (1252378) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @03:05PM (#38410042) Homepage

    The statistic shows percenage of actual project count, and doesn't anyhow respect the overall usage or size ("importance/weight") of the software.

    I'm therefore afraid that the plot is biased by a large amount of tiny projects that are used by 10 people and choose some cc-by-sa alternative because it's simple enough and often a "default" choice.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @03:07PM (#38410062) Journal
    Yes there would. Compile a program, give a less-computer-literate friend a copy of the binary. Don't give them the source, because they've no need of it (and can grab it from upstream if they really need it). Forget to include a written offer good for three years to provide the source. You've just violated the GPL, meaning that you have no license to distribute the software, and are therefore a committing copyright infringement (or 'piracy' in the vernacular).
  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @03:09PM (#38410070)
    Licenses are like programming languages - the right tool for the right job. Some projects - especially those authors want adopted in a business environment - are going to want to go with more permissive licenses. A trend like this says that more and more projects feel they need to be more permissive, not that people are abandoning the GPL. The question becomes why do they need to be more permissive? I'd wager a guess that it has a lot to do with the number of corporations involves in supporting, expanding, and creating open source applications. As for myself, my next two projects are going to be using GPL 2 - but then again corporate adoption of my software is not a goal.
  • Re:Bull! (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @03:11PM (#38410096) Journal
    When people say 'Linux' they usually mean Linux-and-all-of-the-associated-cruft. Typically this at least includes GNU libc, GNU binutils, and GNU coreutils (which, between them, are more code than the kernel), and typically the GNU shell (bash) and GNU libstdc++. All of these have no moved to GPLv3 (in some cases with the runtime exemption). Remove them, and even though you still have 'Linux' you don't have a system that can run any of your existing code.
  • could totally do it (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chirs (87576) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @03:24PM (#38410230)

    If you encapsulate all your AI code in a standalone binary and don't directly link against the GPL'd stuff, then all you need to make public are the changes you made to the GPL'd stuff. Your proprietary binary can be kept proprietary as long as you can make a case that it is not a derivative work of the GPL'd stuff.

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @03:26PM (#38410250) Homepage

    GPL doesn't prevent profit. It just forces people to "pay forward" to their users the same favor they received from upstream.

  • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @03:34PM (#38410330) Homepage Journal
    Sure. GPL (well, GPLv2) software is a car that can be copied an infinite number of times. Its original manufacturer says that anyone can use it, modify it, and repair it, as long as they let others copy it under the same terms. BSD software, on the other hand, says anyone can do anything with their car copies, since the original will always still exist—even people who want to prevent others from modifying, using, or repair their modified versions (i.e. pine-scented air fresheners, fuzzy dice, truck nuts, giant spoilers, neon lights underneath, racing stripes...)
  • by Pi1grim (1956208) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @03:39PM (#38410394)

    What? How come every single time GPL comes up everyone automatically assumes that there is a clause that forbids you to profit from GPL-ed projects? I personally modified quite a number of GPL software and, sticking to the license provided the source code along with the binaries AND received a payment.
    Tell RedHat that you cannot profit from GPL software.
    And to repeat once again — BSD is about freedom of the coder, GPL is about freedom of the code.

  • by next_ghost (1868792) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @04:27PM (#38410826)
    Use Affero GPL for the project in question in the first place. Problem solved.
  • by Lemming Mark (849014) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @04:44PM (#38410982) Homepage

    The Island of Sark was, until fairly recently, the only remaining feudal state in Europe. Not that long ago they did have an actual referendum and decided to stay like that, rather than transitioning to democracy (some time later they had another referendum and decided to make the change after all).

    Its a tiny, tiny place - cars are illegal, you use bicycle or cart - so I imagine there genuinely *is* an argument that you know the people in power personally, so why would you need elections. Presumably the first time round they just couldn't see the benefit of democracy in their particular case. Not the same scale as, say, Egypt but it is a valid case of where there were sane arguments against democracy.

    Tangent: when they did switch, the democracy was apparently under immediate attack. Some UK newpaper barons from neighbouring island (the Barclay Brothers, who own the Telegraph newspaper) threw their weight behind the democracy campaign and put up a candidate. They have subsequently been accused of using their muscle as a local employer to punish and manipulate the population (who voted for someone other than the Brothers' preferred candidate). A thoroughly surreal situation and bizarre to think of a state the size of a very small town / large village immediately under attack by commercial interests and pressures!

  • by arose (644256) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @04:47PM (#38411016)

    Any GPL v3 code used in the machine would force the maker to hand over to customers on request the CAD blueprints for the mechanisms, the timing involved, down to the color of the engineer farts when the thing is put together.

    FUD with modpoints is still FUD. If the user can replace the software you're green, now go troll somewhere else.

  • Re:Don't be stupid (Score:4, Informative)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Saturday December 17, 2011 @05:10PM (#38411172) Journal

    Just look at Apple - the company with the most worth in the whole world - selling software that was built upon FreeBSD.

    And not contributing anything back to the community. Should Apple fall one day or just discontinue its BSD-based products, all their achievements will be lost. On the other hand, when a big GPL vendor falls or discontinues a product, anybody can come in and keep it alive from the last public release.

    Quite the contrary - here's the source [apple.com]. And keep in mind that apple also hired some of the FreeBSD developers, and contributed back to the FreeBSD project with code.

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Saturday December 17, 2011 @09:34PM (#38412818) Homepage

    Blogger Brian Proffitt

    A person well known for anti-open-source propaganda and nothing else.

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