[Fsf-friends] GPL-Virus Or Vaccine

Mahesh T. Pai paivakil@vsnl.net
Mon Jun 7 13:27:48 IST 2004

Raj Shekhar said on Mon, Jun 07, 2004 at 09:05:36AM +0530,:

 > I have put  an article on the Linux India  Wiki called GPL-Virus Or
 > Vaccine                                                            .
 > http://lug-bhopal.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/GPL-VirusOrVaccine

Raj, first things first.

The license at the bottom  does not allow modification - something not
in tune with  spirit of the wiki. Unless you  change that license into
something like  the GNU FDL, _I_ am  not going to edit  the page. (Not
that I am  against verbatim licenses, I do use them;  my point is only
that verbatim licenses are inappropriate for wiki pages. 

Second, while you have all the  good intentions in doing this, I trust
that you are aware of how  search engines index pages. IMHO, it is not
a good ting  to have words like  GNU and GPL appear in  the context of
`virus'.  People  searching for  information on things  like hepatitis
might end up on this page.

A good way  of phrasing this would  to say ``Why GPL'', and  add a sub
section titled `Is the GPL viral'? And a good way of going about it is
to start with  defining the term `viral'. A  good dictionary will give
you the real meaning of the term GPL.

Here is an example:-

>From WordNet (r) 2.0 (August 2003) [wn]:

       n 1: (virology) ultramicroscopic infectious agent that replicates
            itself only within cells of living hosts; many are
            pathogenic; a piece of nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) wrapped
            in a thin coat of protein
       2: a harmful or corrupting agency; "bigotry is a virus that
          must not be allowed to spread"; "the virus of jealousy is
          latent in everyone"
       3: a software program capable of reproducing itself and usually
          capable of causing great harm to files or other programs
          on the same computer; "a true virus cannot spread to
          another computer without human assistance" [syn: {computer

Now,  the gpl  does not  replicate itself.  Nor is  it  pathogenic. It
certainly does not corrupt anything.

The long and short of the GNU GPL is this:- it ensures that you do not
take away people's freedoms  by distributing modified software written
by others.

So, ALL the following should apply at the same time:-

1. You should be dealing with software written by others.
2. You should have modified
3. You should be distributing it.

The GNU (L)GPL  does not apply to software  written by, and therefore,
owned  by you.   I think  it is  only fair  that the  copyright holder
prescribes the terms under which his software is used. Is it not?

That is a feature of the copyright law, not of GPL.

The term `viral' as applied to the  GNU GPL is a lot like use of terms
`intellectual  property' and  `piracy'.  People  want to  create fear,
confusion  and doubt  by  spreading loosely  defined, inaccurate,  and
often, blatantly wrong terminology.


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