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Old 05-24-2014, 08:53 AM   #1
moisespedro
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How exactly GPL protects software/code?


I mean, I was thinking about something the other day: if I am writing a code what prevents me of taking a GPL software code, copy some parts of it into my software and make it proprietary? How would someone spot that? Reverse engineering?
 
Old 05-24-2014, 09:19 AM   #2
kikinovak
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GPL licence

My neighbour makes a delicious apple pie. I ask her for the recipe. She gladly gives it to me. I try it out at home. Eventually I call her back to share some improvements, like adding cinnamon to the recipe. Everybody's happy.

BSD licence

My neighbour makes a delicious apple pie. I ask her for the recipe. She gladly gives it to me. I try it out at home. Eventually I find an improvement to her initial recipe. I decide to start a company called "Apple", specialized in apple-pie-plus-cinnamon. I hire a bunch of lawyers to prevent my neighbour from selling apple pies on my territory.
 
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Old 05-24-2014, 09:24 AM   #3
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I don't think any licensing does protect your software from copying. If somebody manages to use your code in such a way that it is difficult to probve they did then you have no recourse. To my mind open source is a way of giving people answers to frequently asked questions you have already solved. If you've already solved a software problem then why not let others do the same? After all that software is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
 
Old 05-24-2014, 10:51 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kikinovak View Post
GPL licence

My neighbour makes a delicious apple pie. I ask her for the recipe. She gladly gives it to me. I try it out at home. Eventually I call her back to share some improvements, like adding cinnamon to the recipe. Everybody's happy.

BSD licence

My neighbour makes a delicious apple pie. I ask her for the recipe. She gladly gives it to me. I try it out at home. Eventually I find an improvement to her initial recipe. I decide to start a company called "Apple", specialized in apple-pie-plus-cinnamon. I hire a bunch of lawyers to prevent my neighbour from selling apple pies on my territory.
And on the other side of the argument:

BSD Licence:

Here's a copy of my apple pie recipe, you can change it however you want, or give it to whoever you want; make some pies and give them away if you want. Make some pies and sell them. I don't mind, because I'm a nice person and I just want people to have nice pie. If someone is mean and keeps their recipe changes to themselves, then that's a shame, but some people are just dicks and we shouldn't let them spoil it for the rest of us.

GNU Licence:
Here's a copy of my Apple pie recipe, change it, or give it to whoever you want, but if anyone makes any pies based on my recipe, they have to give a copy of the recipe to whoever they give the pie to, along with a copy of the GPL. We do this because some people are dicks and won't share their improved recipe with the rest of us unless we force them to. Oh, and you're not allowed to include any other ingredients in the pie that don't come with a GPL recipe either. We do this because the dicks might try and get around our rules by adding 'toffee' as an ingredient to the pie, but not share the 'toffee' recipe with anyone. Of course, this means that if someone gives you some free toffee you can't add it to your pie either because the same rules apply to you and you won't have the recipe, but this is the price we have to pay to stop the dicks getting stuff for free.

Last edited by GazL; 05-24-2014 at 11:00 AM.
 
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Old 05-24-2014, 10:55 AM   #5
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Thanks both kikinovak and GazL for sensible but entertaining arguments.
 
Old 05-24-2014, 11:12 AM   #6
TracyTiger
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Rules Only

Quote:
I mean, I was thinking about something the other day: if I am writing a code what prevents me of taking a GPL software code, copy some parts of it into my software and make it proprietary?
GPL and other licenses are about rules/laws. Nothing in it prevents anyone from doing anything with source code except for the threat of the usual legal remedies such as monetary fines, losing their business, going to prison, etc.

Quote:
How would someone spot that? Reverse engineering?
It's likely that the copied code would never be detected in closed source software unless the running program had distinct characteristics. Licensing is not a perfect solution to whatever sharing/theft problem one is attempting to solve.

(Is this a Slackware topic?)
 
Old 05-24-2014, 11:16 AM   #7
moisespedro
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No, it is not a Slackware topic and I didn't know where to post it. Plus, I like the posts of people from this section.
 
Old 05-24-2014, 04:00 PM   #8
jtsn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GazL View Post
And on the other side of the argument:
Fun fact: The FSF itself doesn't accept submissions under GPL. They require a complete copyright transfer. So in theory they could proprietarize GNU and sell it to Apple/Google/Microsoft. ;-)
 
Old 05-24-2014, 04:35 PM   #9
ntubski
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Originally Posted by jtsn View Post
So in theory they could proprietarize GNU and sell it to Apple/Google/Microsoft. ;-)
Actually, the copyright transfer agreement includes a clause that requires them to keep it open source.
 
Old 05-24-2014, 04:49 PM   #10
Loomx
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Thanks both kikinovak and GazL for sensible but entertaining arguments.
Agreed! Whichever one I read, I find it convincing...

...although, if it wasn't for the GPL and the fact that changes must be shared, we wouldn't have the Linux kernel
 
Old 05-25-2014, 01:30 AM   #11
ReaperX7
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To be honest, no license is 100% full proof to protect your work.

The level of control you want to exert will be what determines how effective the license will be in the outcome.

However, in terms of ownership level, the best for ownership isn't GPL. To be honest BSD, MIT, and even CDDL are probably better for allowing you total control of the project.
 
Old 05-25-2014, 02:27 AM   #12
kikinovak
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My favourite software licence is still the WTFPL.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WTFPL
 
Old 05-25-2014, 04:52 AM   #13
Mark Pettit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReaperX7 View Post
T
However, in terms of ownership level, the best for ownership isn't GPL. To be honest BSD, MIT, and even CDDL are probably better for allowing you total control of the project.
Really ? I would have thought the opposite. If I wrote code under BSD, anyone (hello Apple) could just take it and do whatever they liked with it - thus I would have NO control over it.
 
Old 05-25-2014, 05:38 AM   #14
ReaperX7
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Depends on how much you also release as open code and proprietary code. Think binary blob. Nvidia more or less uses a BSD like license with their drivers, but they release a portition of the core of their drivers as binary only so unless you completely reverse engineer it, they still control the code.

As stated GPL more or less gives you only an illusion of freedom and control when in reality the license prevents you from keeping secrets and forces you into submission to publish the code in full or risk violating the license. The GPL amounts more to communism in code rather than truly liberal code. Plus anyone can still clone your work, re-engineer it, and deprecate you and you don't have a choice in the matter.

At least with MIT, CDDL, and BSDL you have some level of total control of your project, even though someone can clone it, you still can enforce ownership of your codebase. You don't have to publish everything in open source, you can release binary blobs, and you can exert as much authority over your software as you see fit.
 
Old 05-25-2014, 08:04 AM   #15
Mark Pettit
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Hmm - the more you explain it, the more I like the GPL. Perhaps it's due to the fact that I've twice attended RMS's lectures presented here at the bottom end of Africa, and I think the man is a genius. But then, I do love liberty and freedom, and I think RMS does too, way more than most other people realise.
 
  


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