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ZDNet: Is the GPL really "user hostile"?

Jun 14, 2000, 16:37 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Evan Leibovitch)

"Last week's column certainly got some folks' attention. My analysis of the way that Microsoft tried to hijack the Kerberos protocol generated more than its share of comment."

"In trying to make some sense of the feedback, I realized that many people thought that I had confused the Kerberos code with the The Internet Engineering Task Force specification based on Kerberos. Indeed, it's the Kerberos reference code that is the source of my complaint, and specifically that its BSD-based license makes it all-too-easy for people to make proprietary extensions. It's also quite true that even if the Kerberos code was covered by the GNU General Public License (GPL), any would-be hijacker could still not be completely thwarted -- they could simply rewrite the whole thing from scratch, avoiding the copylefted code completely, and still mangle the standard. My point is just that it would have been more difficult to subvert Kerberos, not impossible, had the reference code been under the GPL. That's all."

"Good place for a trademark? Most of the responses I received, both personally and in the ZDNet talkback area, were thoughtful. A few people pointed out that the best way to really prevent such standards from being subverted is by the protection of the Kerberos name by trademark. The point is to let developers make anything they want, but if the finished product subverts Kerberos and isn't interoperable, it can't call itself Kerberos anymore."

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