back to article Windows and OS X are malware, claims Richard Stallman

Linux GNU firebrand Richard Stallman says Windows and Apple's OS X are malware, Amazon is Orwellian, and anyone who trusts the internet-of-things is an ass. In a column for The Grauniad Stallman preaches to the non-technical masses about the evils of proprietary software and vendor lock-in, and how closed-door coding …

Page:

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Singing. (Greek) Orthodox iconography. Big shirts.

    I thought Demis Roussos was dead

    1. gerryg

      Stallman isn't my cup of tea

      but he deserves a bit more respect than this

      1. streaky Silver badge

        Re: Stallman isn't my cup of tea

        but he deserves a bit more respect than this

        He deserves everybody ignoring him and maybe getting bumped off by the CIA, but unfortunately I doubt either of those things are going to happen.

        (Those of us who are informed can still poke fun and laugh at his ridiculousness.)

        1. Mark Exclamation

          Re: Stallman isn't my cup of tea

          Anyone looking like that loses all credibility!

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Stallman isn't my cup of tea

            Stallman is a great man. He was instrumental in the success of Libre software. Without him, there might well not have popular GNU/Linux distros for example and the entire Open Source movement would be a decade behind where it is today at the very least, or more likely unrecognizable as what we have today.

            And he ALWAYS backs up what he says. If MS give the NSA advance notice of vulnerabilities that is a bad thing and worthy of criticism. I don't care if he looks like Jesus. Hell, I don't care if he thinks he is Jesus! What I respect is someone who is intellectually honest, self-consistent and supports their beliefs with facts.

            A lot here could learn from that.

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: Stallman isn't my cup of tea

          Ok.. Why should the CIA bump him off? Just curious what kind of thinking is behind your comment.

      2. James Katt

        Re: Stallman isn't my cup of tea

        He lost any respect he use to have. The toilet paper that you flush down the loon deserves more respect.

      3. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

        Re: Stallman isn't my cup of tea

        Have to agree here, without him things WOULD be very different. MS would be squeezing our private parts even harder than they are doing.

        1. streaky Silver badge

          Re: Stallman isn't my cup of tea

          without him things WOULD be very different. MS would be squeezing our private parts even harder than they are doing

          On day one I'd agree with this, many years later both he and the FSF are (and I admit this is counter-intuitive) active barriers to adoption. He scares companies away from Open Source - and the problem with that is most funding for OSS comes from, remind me where again..

          Not for nothing but most of Root Mean Square's fanbase is in people who don't write OSS code, those of us who have and do, generally, tend to hate him; often with a passion.

          He rubs me up the wrong way because he believes that as a software developer I shouldn't be allowed to own any intellectual property around any true invention. That friends, is completely batshit. Most of the stuff we take for-granted only exists because of the intellectual property rights of people who invent things. He might be a reaction to the US' broken patent system, but that doesn't excuse it. You fix the patent system allowing trivial "invention", not aim for the stone age.

          If programmers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative programs, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs

          -- Guess who. Remember this guy lives in a world where people need to acquire housing, clothing and food.

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      "...Operating systems, first of all," Stallman said.

      That's a hopelessly stale concept. FAIL.

      Any (for example) Smartphone contains probably several subsystems that contain their own programmable devices. Baseband chipsets, USB controllers which may be ARM processors, etc., etc. , etc.

      Believing that the OS is the one-and-only foundation upon which security can be placed is very naïve.

      1. Col_Panek

        Re: "...Operating systems, first of all," Stallman said.

        He said OSes first. Not only.

  2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Past Glories, Revisited

    Hmmm? Yes, well, thanks for that, Richard. Have you anything new to share with us?

    Of course, the inverse of Stallman's warnings is that the likes of Apple and Windows OS use allows one access into their systems ... to do what one wants. If things don't work as they should and as one would reasonably expect, is the system discovered to be vulnerable to further exploitation of that particular protocol/peculiar event proposal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Past Glories, Revisited

      he likes of Apple and Windows OS use allows one access into their systems ... to do what one wants

      And in return, we should give up our privacy?

      That's the point he's been trying to make for a few decades now.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: Past Glories, Revisited

        Nobody is "required" to give up their privacy. If you don't accept the software's terms and conditions of use, you have the *choice* not to use it. I don't know which part of this Stallman doesn't understand, but it's not neuroscience.

        That's why I prefer to use OS X or Windows over anything that comes tied to the GPL. At least with Apple I know they're making the vast bulk of their money from selling actual products, rather than nickel-and-diming me while selling on my personal data.

        Despite all Stallman's rhetoric about Free Software being "free, as in speech", it's patently obvious to anyone who isn't a Demis Roussos lookalike that the vast majority of GNU/Linux's success can be attributed primarily to the "free, as in beer" aspect, and not a lot else. Even the companies making those cheap and nasty routers are using it because it saves them having to actually pay for a team of competent programmers. And this is why Heartbleed happened.

        Apple owners tend not to be penny-pinching misers and are therefore quite happy to pay for stuff they want. (If anything iOS App Store prices have risen a bit of late.) In fact, Apple are a very conventional company: they make their money selling physical products; the software they make is just one of the many components used to make said products, and is often also used as a kind of loss-leader.

        Similarly, Microsoft would have to be utterly batshit insane to mine data from their customers given that most of said customers are businesses—many of them major multinationals who give Microsoft a Very Hard Stare if they caught MS doing something that stupid.

        I'll leave the situation with Android as an exercise for the reader. Suffice to say that there's a reason why the "Freemium" model has proved so successful on that platform. (Hint: it has the potential to provide much more granular information about the user. I wonder who'd be interested in that?)

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Past Glories, Revisited

      Although his presentation leaves something to be desired, he was basically proven right with the Snowdon leaks. What did you expect him to do, say "my work here is done" and retire?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Past Glories, Revisited

        "And in return, we should give up our privacy?"

        What privacy?

    3. Fibbles

      Re: Past Glories, Revisited

      Is it just me or is the amfM chat bot becoming more coherent?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Past Glories, Revisited

        I didn't even realise the post I was replying to was from amfm. What is the world coming to?

  3. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Shut it you tedious old windbag

    Its been shown time and time again that the unwashed masses are quite happy with the status quo warts and all. Otherwise how do you explain the total failure of linux on the desktop.

    Most amusingly I expect all the Grauniad readers who bother to read his screeching will suck their teeth, tut and go back to Angry Birds or Garageband on their fruity device of choice.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Much to my shame, I went to PC world

      (There were only two distributors for the first Chromebooks and I wanted a cheap Debian laptop). You should have seen the salesman's face when he found he could not sell me anti-virus, Office and whatever high-commission bloat they cram down the throats of the ignorant. There are other reasons, but that alone accounts for many non-sales of desktop Linux.

    2. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

      Time to market is not important for Stallman, thereby the time for Linux on the desktop has yet to come... but don't worry, it will come when it will be totally bug free...

      1. gerryg

        Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

        Remind me of your contribution to all of this?

        Whether or not you use (GNU)Linux, you have benefited from FSF holding critical account.

        Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety

    3. nematoad Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

      Slag off RMS all you want but what you cannot do is deny his achievements.

      If it wasn't for Stallman the IT world would be a much poorer, more restrictive place than it is. Imagine what the internet would be like if it hadn't been for GNU and the GPL. Maybe the bastard son of Compuserve and AOL?

      Yes, RMS is strident and rubs some people up the wrong way, but we need someone with the courage to say unfashionable things about the way IT is heading. Look at his stand against DRM, even Apple has seen the truth in what he had to say and dumped it.

      The unwashed masses as you so charmingly describe them are, in most cases, blissfully unaware of the ways that technology is destroying their right to a private life. That's not acceptance, that's ignorance. An old but shining example

      Oh, and all the Guardian readers I know are a bit more savvy than you think and run Linux. It's the luvvies using iThings.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

        Imagine what the internet would be like if it hadn't been for GNU and the GPL.

        Trouble is that he just couldn't help adding bells 'n whistles whenever anyone did something legitimately with GPL software that got his knickers in a knot, so the GPL these days looks as restrictive as yer average commercial EULA....

        It'd be ironic if it wasn't so bloody sad.

        Moral: Never let idealists do the day-to-day stuff.

        1. Steve Knox

          Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

          Trouble is that he [Stallman] just couldn't help adding bells 'n whistles whenever anyone did something legitimately with GPL software that got his knickers in a knot,...

          True

          ... so the GPL these days looks as restrictive as yer average commercial EULA....

          Also true but incomplete. Although the degree of restriction is similar, the nature of the restriction is not.

          Commercial EULAs almost exclusively restrict end users, whereas the GPL primarily restricts developers. That's a very important difference.

        2. Phil Lord

          Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

          The GPL looks as restrictive as a EULA these days? It doesn't appear to have changed that much to me in the last 30 years. And the restrictions are things like - if you modify this and give it to someone else, they get it under the GPL also. The only big restrictions added to it are "don't use it to put hardware locks" and "don't give patent licenses to some people but not others" if this restricts the use of the software.

          Or did you mean, it's a bit long? That's probably a fairer comment.

          1. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

            As an example where GPL is intentionally restricting and has been losing because of it is in the compiler area, with gcc losing out to Clang.

            With gcc, things like compiling OpenGL and OpenCL at runtime inside commercial software would be impossible. Or Apple's implementation of JavaScript, going through one interpreter and three compilers at run time, with the full optimising Clang compiler at the last step.

        3. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

          Say what you like about Stallman, but with GNU he's probably to be credited with the most successful acceptance of communism by the American public.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

        If it wasn't for Stallman the IT world would be a much poorer, more restrictive place than it is. Imagine what the internet would be like if it hadn't been for GNU and the GPL. Maybe the bastard son of Compuserve and AOL?

        I doubt that very much. Legally, AT&T versus the University of California was far more important in establishing a legal basis for distributing open source software than any case based around the GPL. The GPL is mainly politics. Pushing for strict liability for software might have been an interesting tack, but, of course, the GPL makes a big show of abrogating responsibility.

        Also, Stallman would do his cause a lot better if he was able to listen to alternative opinions.

        1. PghMike

          Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

          No, you're underestimating Stallman's contributions here. Independent of the legal stuff, Stallman basically rebuilt an immense amount of infrastructure, without which Linux would have just been a toy. Gcc, gdb, more Unix utilities than you can shake a stick at, and Emacs are just the tip of the iceberg. And leading by example, he motivated lots of others to contribute their work as either GPL or really free (Sun-style) licensed tech, such as Samba, Apache, and lots more.

          And the stuff is very good quality. I don't remember the last gcc bug I encountered, nor the last Emacs bug.

          He basically started off in the late 70s or early 80s saying that he was going to rewrite everything AT&T did, just to show them. At the time, it seemed stone cold bonkers, but amazingly, he succeeded, well beyond any sane expectations. All the legal rulings in the world would have meant nothing if there was no actual useful free software. And we owe RMS a big debt of gratitude for providing that big initial burst.

          And it might be nice if he listened more graciously to other opinions (and I know, I had argued with him lots years ago), at this point, I think it is fair to say that Stallman is Stallman. He's not going to start listening to others *now* :-)

          1. thames

            Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

            @PghMike - Back the early days of this project Stallman was interviewed in my university newspaper. I can distinctly remember two things from that. The first was that going by the photograph in the article I thought he really needed a haircut (and my hair wasn't all that short either back then either).

            The other was that I thought he was completely mad in thinking he could re-create a unix operating system. That required shed loads of compilers, debuggers, editors, utilities, libraries, etc. I couldn't imagine how that could be done without the backing of a large company.

            Roll forward some years, and the FSF had nearly everything except an OS kernel. They were working on developing a micro-kernel called "Hurd" because at the time everyone "knew" that micro-kernels were the future and monolithic kernels were "obsolete". Progress on that was slow however, because micro-kernels turned out to be very difficult to develop (if you want decent quality and performance that is).

            However, some student at a Finish university made a now famous post to a mailing list that he had this kernel he had been working on. He said it wasn't a big professional project like GNU, but it seemed to work. And the rest as they say, is history.

            Here's a little known fact by the way. The original Linux kernel was released under a non-commercial license. Torvalds later changed that to GPL because he wanted to allow it to be used commercially. He later said "making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did."

            1. Lars Silver badge
              Linux

              Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

              @thames

              Here is that origial Linux birth sertificate, long format (Finnish standard).

              "1991-08-25

              Hello everybody out there using minix -

              I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and

              professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing

              since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on

              things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat

              (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons)

              among other things).

              I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work.

              This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and

              I'd like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions

              are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

              Linus (torv...@kruuna.helsinki.fi)

              PS. Yes - it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs.

              It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never

              will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(. "

              And there is more here:

              https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/comp.os.minix/4995SivOl9o/GwqLJlPSlCEJ

              As for micro-kernels, start your engines, boys and girls, some day you might have a super computer running a micro-kernel.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

              'He later said "making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did."^

              Along with being bright enough to see Minix and copy the idea.

              1. h4rm0ny

                Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                >>"Along with being bright enough to see Minix and copy the idea"

                Hmmm. Windows seems to have been pretty successful. I'll copy their idea and then I'll be rich too.

                Step 1. Look at what they've done.

                Step 3. Sell my own version.

                I seem to be missing a step. Never mind, I'm sure it's trivial - riches here I come! :D

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

            Emacs as a recommendation? Technically, of course, Stallman is good. The pressure he exerts can be helpful, though like most such, it can be counter-productive as some of the comments here show.

            But Emacs? It's clever, it can be all embracing. It^s an awful interface that tries to do too much and has never broken through to the mass market for editors, even though it is not confined to UNIX and Linux (I first used it on Primos in the 1980s). It is just too complex and, for small systems, heavy. It can even be used as a complete shell environment with the appropriate back-end tailoring. But in the end, vi(1) continues to be used. Emacs(1) is one of those things worshipped by its adherents and avoided by the vast majority.

            GCC is good, usually very good. But the number of flags is a nightmare, compared with the simple, UNIX style of having simple, reliable tools that work together to do well-defined jobs, e.g. lint(1) to take the fluff out of code. Even ls(1) became so complicated with options that work on specifc hardware (differently coloured text in a file listing,for Heaven's sake). Some of this bloat and running away from consistent simplicity, building in incompatibility with real UNIX systems, just drives those of us who work on more than just home Linux systems or heavily sanitised versions set up by IT departments and supported by Redhat, absolutely bonkers. I'm one of those sad souls who spent some time running a medium business's IT on Slackware, from bare metal to end user release.

            As for his strictures against OSX, is the man completely blind? The basic system is Darwin, a BSD derivative, complete with available source and just as modifiable/breakable as any Linux. It even uses a lot of GNU software, e.g.gcc, emacs, vim, bash, gawk and heaps more. It comes with full LAMP stack if you want it and full X11 is freely available and works. You can install or delete what you like, load it with the full set from Slackware, GNU, Uncle Tom Cobley and all. What he probably dislikes is that the basic, non-technical user who just wants a pretty, easy to use interface gets that too, which, sadly, not one Linux distribution has yet managed, consistently and completely, "out of the box".

            Right now, his boasted systems are almost up with the better commercial UNIX releases of the mid 1990s, just not so consistent or easy to manage and doing rather a lot of things that would be better left undone and lighter weight.

            I do not detract at all from his technical ability and energy. But most of his work has been using other software as prototypes and extending the interfaces to be almost byzantine in their choice and complexity. The basic idea is good and has been invaluable. It certainly is responsible for the useability of Linux by technical users.

            But the real spur was the decision by ATT to give their UNIX software to anyone who would pay for the tape, complete with excellent documentation and to let universities all over the world improve and develop it further. Stallman and Torvalds would do well to remember that and express some appreciation occasionally; I suppose that is why both of them do not get my child-like admiration or hero worship.

            It may seem odd to anyone under forty or so: but time was when just about all the main, commerical suppliers (probably excepting IBM and Microsoft) supplied the source code and compilers as a matter of course. I suspect it was the rise of these "idealists" on the back of this that, along with the usual USA litigation culture, led to the end of those happy times.

        2. ST Silver badge

          Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

          > I doubt that very much. Legally, AT&T versus the University of California was far more important in establishing a legal basis for distributing open source software than any case based around the GPL.

          And you would be very wrong. USL vs. BSDi had nothing to do with GPL or FOSS. Source code released under the BSD licenses is not FOSS, unlike GPL.

          It was an Intellectual Property and licensing violation lawsuit about USL/AT&T's licensing terms to the University of California for UNIX System V. It had nothing to do with GPL.

          > Pushing for strict liability for software might have been an interesting tack, but, of course, the GPL makes a big show of abrogating responsibility.

          Oh, really. And licenses other than GPL assume full responsibility? Have you ever read an Open Source license? I bet you haven't. Why don't you read the 3-clause BSD, which is the oldest one.

          1. M Gale

            Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

            >Source code released under the BSD licenses is not FOSS, unlike GPL.

            At this stage I wish I could embed the lolwut pear into this post as an img tag.

            It's free. It's open source. It's free and open source.

            All copyleft is FOSS, but not all FOSS is copyleft.

            1. ST Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

              > It's free. It's open source. It's free and open source.

              Embed whatever you wish into whatever strikes your fancy, but your statement above is simply not true.

              BSD-type licenses do *not* require the publication of source code when distributing binaries. Also, BSD-type license do *not* restrict the license type to Free Only - meaning publication of source code when distributing binaries - when creating a "derived work".

              You can combine source code licensed under Apache 2.0 with source code licensed under 2-clause or 3-clause BSD with source code licensed under MIT, and create a derived work. When doing so, you would not be violating the terms of either license.

              You cannot do that with GPL-licensed code, and the GPL - either version 2 or 3 - is very clear and explicit about it.

              Some software licensed under GPL - for example the GNU C++ Standard Library - provides explicit exemptions to the GPL derived aggregation work rule. Meaning the Library explicitly allows its consumers to create a derived, aggregate work, and distribute binaries for it, but waives the source code publication requirement. That is because the C++ Standard Library contains tens of thousands of lines of code which are compiled directly into the derived work - namely template instantiations. This is not the same with runtime dynamic linking, which would benefit from the library exemption rule under the GPL.

              This is why software such as Subversion - which is written in C++ - can be licensed under Apache 2.0 without violating GPLv3.

              "Free" in FOSS does not mean "zero money cost". It means "free of encumberances". Meaning, you *must* publish the source code when distributing binaries.

              Perhaps you should read the text of these licenses, and try understaing what they mean, before making statements about their contents and intent. I pity those who rely on your licensing advice.

              1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
                Thumb Down

                Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                "Free" in FOSS does not mean "zero money cost". It means "free of encumberances". Meaning, you *must* publish the source code when distributing binaries.

                I fail to see how you can draw the conclusion that published source is unencumbered.

                In any case, in legal terms, GPL software is considered as encumbered (there may be a claim on it) which is why many companies have strict policies about when and where it can be used.

                1. werdsmith Silver badge

                  Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                  Its been shown time and time again that the unwashed masses are quite happy with the status quo warts and all

                  Some Francis Rossi and Nick Parfett fans do actually take showers.

                  Not many though.

                2. ST Silver badge

                  Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                  > I fail to see how you can draw the conclusion that published source is unencumbered.

                  Because the GPL says it must be.

                  Under GPL - either version - source code for distributed binaries must be made avaialble to anyone, and anyone is free to modify the source code used to create binaries, and create a "derived work". Or, they can re-create the original work verbatim. GPLv3 is even more restrictive in this respect, asserting that it does not allow patented code to be published under GPLv3. GPLv2 is not that clear about patents.

                  > In any case, in legal terms, GPL software is considered as encumbered (there may be a claim on it) [ ... ]

                  "there may be a claim on it" is undefined. It means exactly nothing. Either there is a clearly identified and articulated claim, or there isn't. "there may be a claim on it" is 100% FUD.

                  GPL source code is always copyrighted, and the copyright is usually assigned either to the Free Software Foundation, or the author(s) of the code, or both. That does not make the source code encumbered. The right to modify the published GPL source code and create a derived work is retained. Copyright assignment != encumbered.

                  The reason corporations - and some of their overly zealous spokespeople apparently - spread this FUD about GPL code being encumbered is because they don't want to comply with the source code publication for distributed binaries requirement. See TiVO and their epic fail with GPL non-compliance.

                  1. Vic

                    Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                    GPLv2 is not that clear about patents.

                    I disagree. I think it's very clear.

                    Section 7 quite clearly says :-

                    For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

                    Now although that doesn't actually prevent a malicious author publishing GPL code entirely of his own writing that also includes code under his own patents - a submarine patent attack - it wouldn't take much of a legal eagle to show that the author has unclean hands, and a case would assuredly fail.

                    The reason corporations - and some of their overly zealous spokespeople apparently - spread this FUD about GPL code being encumbered is because they don't want to comply with the source code publication for distributed binaries requirement.

                    Whilst I'm sure there are some organisations like that, the vast majority of the ones I've come across are simply parrotting memes they've read on the Internet; they're simply wrong, and they won't be told that they're wrong, for that would mean losing face...

                    Vic.

                  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                    Because the GPL says it must be.

                    Fortunately, the law is not whatever the FSF says it is…

                    Encumbrance is a legal term, look it up. The provisos of the GPL count as encumbrance. Companies avoid it because they don't want to have to pay lawyers to check anything. Cases against TIVO et al indicate that this is the right approach: no GPL code in a product, no expensive court case.

                    The automatic assignment of copyright in the GPL is another bit of stupidity for fanbois. Why on earth would you want to assign your copyright to a litigious group like the FSF is beyond me. In most countries copyright is automatic and strongly protected.

                    1. Vic

                      Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                      The automatic assignment of copyright in the GPL is another bit of stupidity for fanbois.

                      Whew! It's lucky that no such automatic assignment exists, then, isn't it?

                      We dodged a bullet there...

                      Vic.

                    2. ST Silver badge

                      Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                      > Fortunately, the law is not whatever the FSF says it is…

                      Oh, Yes, it is. The GPL, just like any other software license, is a Contract. It's governed by Contract Law. Look it up.

                      > Companies avoid it because they don't want to have to pay lawyers to check anything.

                      Wrong again. There are plenty of for-profit software companies providing binaries for FOSS licensed under GPL. Again, go look it up. These companies have lawyers on their staff, and these lawyers do exactly what you claim they don't: they check and enforce their employers' compliance with any license that may be applicable, FOSS or non-FOSS.

                      The real reason some companies spread FUD about the GPL is because of their inherent sleazebagginess: they take the code written by others for free, they modify it to suit their profit needs, but they don't want to comply with the GPL provisions. See TiVO and D-Link, as the two most recent examples. Both of them got sued by the FSF, and the FSF won in both cases.

                      > The automatic assignment of copyright in the GPL is another bit of stupidity for fanbois. Why on earth would you want to assign your copyright to a litigious group like the FSF is beyond me.

                      Fortunately, you don't write any software of any kind, so you don't have to worry about your non-existent copyrights to your non-existent software.

                      1. Vic

                        Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                        The GPL, just like any other software license, is a Contract. It's governed by Contract Law.

                        At the risk of pedantry, it actually isn't...

                        Contract Law varies somewhat between jurisdictions, but typically requires both a Contract (sometimes verbal will do) and a Consideration. This is why you see huge companies sold for £1 - it makes the Contract Law bit a lot simpler.

                        GPL code doesn't have a signed contract, and some might argue that, since the code has no monetary cost, there is also no Consideration; this would lead to all sorts of nasty legal battles if it were merely a contract. It is often said that a good lawyer will win for you in court, but a great lawyer keeps you out of court in the first place...

                        And so to the meat of my point: the GPL v2 Section 5 has this to say:

                        You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works.

                        IOW, if you distribute the code, it is entirely up to you whether or not you are bound by its terms - but if you choose not to be so bound, then you are guilty of an offence under whichever copyright law applies in your jurisdiction, and there is no way around it. To date, most infringers have chosen to be bound by the GPL, and the ones that haven't - e.g. Best Buy - have lost quite magnificently.

                        I don't want to detract from the rest of your post, but I think that bit is quite important...

                        Vic.

                        1. ST Silver badge

                          Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                          > At the risk of pedantry, it actually isn't... [ a contract ]

                          > GPL code doesn't have a signed contract, and some might argue that, since the code has no monetary cost, there is also no Consideration [ ... ]

                          You're technically right on both points. I found this:

                          http://www.law.washington.edu/lta/swp/law/contractvlicense.html

                          which explains the differences quite well, and it uses the GPL as an example.

                          From the URL above:

                          <QUOTE>

                          Distinguishing between a license and a contract in the open source software context may or may not be significant. The Mozilla Public License is clearly designed to be a robust contract. The authors of the General Public License, however, maintain that the GPL is nothing more than a bare copyright license. Yet the GPL contains a definition of "derivative work" that may be inconsistent with copyright law. In addition, the GPL contains conditions on use of open source subject to the license that are arguably distinct and separate from the copyright license grants. Is the GPL then enforceable as nothing more than a bare license under copyright law? No U.S. court has yet considered these questions.

                          If some of the contents of the GPL take it beyond the scope of copyright law, then a court would likely evaluate the GPL in light of contract law. But if the GPL is tucked away in one of the software's files that the user or developer does not readily see before use, then requisite assent or acceptance by the licensee is not present, and the GPL may not be not enforceable under contract law. Under this circumstance, it is possible that a court could employ the doctrine of "implied license" to allow the user to use the software without the restrictions and conditions contained in the copyright license, since the licensor made the software available without making the license restrictions obvious. Likewise, a court might determine that the licensee had “impliedly” consented to the formation of a contract even if there was not express consent. It remains to be seen whether a court would declare the license as a whole unenforceable under contract law, but uphold the purely copyright law-based licenses and provisions.

                          </QUOTE>

                          1. Vic

                            Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                            I found this:

                            http://www.law.washington.edu/lta/swp/law/contractvlicense.html

                            Hmmm. I don't know who wrote that - it appears unattributed - but it is, at the very least, outdated, if not just wrong. Note that the most recent citation on it is from 2005.

                            Is the GPL then enforceable as nothing more than a bare license under copyright law? No U.S. court has yet considered these questions.

                            That's a rather tenuous statement; for example, can the default judgement against Westinghouse[1] be thought of as consideration? You'd have to ask someone who knows more than I. Note, however, that German courts have most assuredly tried this[2], and the GPL has come out on top every time.

                            Under this circumstance, it is possible that a court could employ the doctrine of "implied license" to allow the user to use the software without the restrictions and conditions contained in the copyright license, since the licensor made the software available without making the license restrictions obvious

                            Given that such software invaliably comes with files like "COPYING", "LICENCE", and "README", at least one of which will state the terms of the GPL, and given also that we all know software is copyrighted by default, so some sort of licence will be necessary, I think this statement is total bollocks. It's like claiming that because a DVD only had copyright notices on it, not an explicit instruction not to copy it, except in those unskippable bits once you'd started playing it, that an "implies licence" was in effect. No it wasn't.

                            Vic.

                            [1] It was Westinghouse that didn't fold, not Best Buy as I mistakenly said earlier. But both companies still lost in a big way.

                            [2] See, for example, the FortiNet and D-Link cases.

                            1. ST Silver badge

                              Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                              Something more recent here:

                              https://atrilife.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/license-or-contract-the-form-of-the-open-source-license/

                              <QUOTE>

                              Some believe that the GPL is a type of contract known as a browsewrap agreement. At lease one court has taken this view, noting that some terms may be viewed as covenants under a contract, not license conditions, for example by number of users. See Netbula LLC v. Storage Technology Corp., 2008 WL 228036 (N.D. Cal., 2008). Otherwise, it could also be a unilateral contract without express acceptance, until the GPL code is modified or distributed, where the agreement then becomes a bilateral contract.

                              </QUOTE>

                              As of 2011, Massachussetts treats software licenses as contracts under the UCC:

                              <QUOTE>

                              Until specific legislation has passed, Massachusetts courts will treat software licenses as contracts subject to the UCC. See I. Lan Systems v. Netscout Service Level Corp 183 F. Supp. 2d 328, 331 (D. Mass., 2002).

                              </QUOTE>

                              interestingly enough, Massachussetts is the US State where the Free Software Foundation is headquartered.

                              It's a tricky issue - at least in the US, because in the US it is possible to construct a de facto Contract without explicitly stating that it is, in fact, a Contract. Also, it is not true that a breach of contract - if the GPL is indeed a contract - would not create a damage claim from the licensor's - the FSF - point of view, as that article states. Many jurisdictions in the US - for example NY - expressly allow for punitive damages claims in case of breach of contract. The fact that the GPL does not explicitly state what happens in case of breach would not moot a punitive damages claim in case of breach, at least not in NY, and probably many other US jurisdictions.

              2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

                Re: Shut it you tedious old windbag

                "BSD-type licenses do *not* require the publication of source code when distributing binaries. Also, BSD-type license do *not* restrict the license type to Free Only - meaning publication of source code when distributing binaries - when creating a "derived work"."

                I hope you are pedantically arguing over the definition assigned to 'FOSS' and not trying to imply that a more restrictive license is more free.

                If someone is not restricted in making a binary closed source, the license is more free (as you say, as in freedom, not cost)

                Freedom is defined as what control the receiver of a product has. I've often seen GNU fans perversely try to argue that more control the *provider* of a product has makes more free, when it is exactly the opposite.

                Cue the required car analogy:

                I produce a car that I call more free (as in freedom) because one rule to ownership is that you must pick up any hitchhikers you see, thus promoting a free and fair ability to travel the land.

                It's obvious to the buyer that this is a restriction, making their car less free (to them) than any normal one

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019