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Re: [TSVN] To GPL or not to GPL

From: Simon Large <simon_at_skirridsystems.co.uk>
Date: 2005-08-24 11:26:56 CEST

Molle Bestefich wrote:
> Simon Large wrote:
>
>>>GPL provides this, BSD/Apache licenses don't. As long as everyone plays
>>>'nice' GPL vs. BSD/Apache may not make a huge practical difference, but
>>>sadly Sleazy&Co seems to be an expanding franchise.
>>
>>There is a good volume of open source work under exactly this type of
>>license. Do you know of examples of active open source projects being
>>hijacked by commercial developers? Am I just being naive?
>
>
> The Linux kernel comes to mind. I don't follow the kernel mailing
> list closely, but it seems that every one or two months, someone adds
> proprietary stuff to the kernel, stuffs it in a router or some such
> and starts selling the product while denying access to the source code
> additions. Linksys is probably the most prominent example, since they
> were later bought by Cisco.
>
> Another example would be the 'xvid' source code. Sigma Designs stole
> the source (eg. modified and used it in their proprietary product w/o
> source). Their main product is a decoder chip used in DVD players, so
> presumably they modified the source to play nicely in a piece of
> silicon.
>
> I haven't paid for market research, but I know that they have a huge
> part of the DVD player silicon market. Every DVD player I've ever
> opened use Sigma Designs chips, and they are thus now a major player
> on the market - based on source code, research and hard work which
> they utterly stole from one (or more) open source project(s).
>
> I'd say that you're a little bit naive, yes ;-).

Rather a different sort of product though. Can you see TSVN going into
routers or DVD players? OK, that's just plain silly, but really, the
possibilities for commercialisation are a lot more limited for a Windows
shell extension.

Linux is a tricky example. You can add proprietary drivers and apps
quite legally without making source available. Only if you modify the
GPL'ed distribution do you have to provide source. I guess if you make a
driver based on a GPL skeleton driver you are in a grey area. I'm not
saying violations don't happen, just that it is perfectly legal to make
commercial products which include some GPL code and some proprietary.

Simon

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Received on Wed Aug 24 11:26:35 2005

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