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InfoWorld: Is open source closing doors?

Aug 31, 2001, 08:08 (25 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Kevin Railsback)
P.J.: First of all, Kevin, open-source licensing isn't inherently evil; but it's certainly not for everybody -- and definitely not for a company that wants to keep control of its intellectual property. Although I would be the last person to shill for Microsoft, I have to say that its attempts to explain disparaging comments, made earlier this year by some of its executives, display a better understanding of what drives technological advances than anything I've heard coming out of the open-source camp.

Here's the problem: Under a pure open-source licensing environment such as the GPL, it's bloody difficult to accomplish much without relying on the work others have already completed. If you develop a tool that uses code covered by GPL, you've effectively lost the rights to your work. You have to make the source for your project available to anyone who asks. If I wanted to code for a living, the biggest disincentive I can think of is being forced to give away my hard work for free.

Kevin: I think you're reading a bit more into the GPL than is really there, P.J. It's true that if you base your project on a GPL package then your work will have to be GPL as well. This is not true if you simply use GPL libraries or if some subset of your package uses GPL software. For example, if I build an appliance that uses Linux as its OS with other GPL packages installed on it and then create my own binary packages for the applications running on the appliance, there is no reason that I would be forced to release the code for my project."

Complete Story [A visit to the GPL FAQ maintained by the GNU Project might be in order before addressing some of the points made in this article. -ed. ]

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