Friday, July 16
played a big role in
developing the GPL.
Toward True Open Source
Crafty proprietary users can make use of GPLed code without distributing their
changes, but the GPL stops others in the open source community from re-using your
code. Why restrict your friends for the sake of non-working measures against your
This is where BSD and MIT-style licenses come in. These are licenses that,
basically, say you are completely free to re-use the source code anywhere you like,
even in proprietary software, as long as you give credit to the original authors.
Put simply, BSD-style licenses knock down the community's gates and let everyone
use open source code for whatever they like. Here's the ultimate test of freedom:
can I use GPLed code in my BSD-licensed program? Can I use BSD-licensed code
in my GPLed program? (No I can't, and yes I can).
Wikipedia: General Public License
The user is only required to accept the terms of the GPL if he wishes to exercise
rights normally restricted by copyright law, such as redistribution. Conversely, if a
person distributes copies of the work (in particular, modified versions) while keeping
the source code secret or otherwise violating the GPL, he can be sued by the
original author under copyright law. This is a clever legal twist, and is the reason the
GPL has been described as a "copyright hack".