[OSM-legal-talk] PD vs SA: The eternal battle

bvh bvh-osm at irule.be
Wed Oct 22 13:00:17 BST 2008

On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 12:42:23PM +0100, Richard Fairhurst wrote:
> > If you think Apple wouldn't do that just look at webkit. I am quite
> > convinced that had that one been pd they would just have forked it and
> > never looked back...
> Actually, WebKit - which is licensed LGPL and BSD, _not_ GPL - is a  
> good example of how liberal licences can work. See:

Not sure what you mean with liberal. But the LPGL is certainly still a
very viral license.

> 1. Apple takes KHTML
> 2. Apple adds 8 zillion features and does only what is required by the  
> share-alike licence (LGPL), i.e. making the source available in its  
> rawest form
> 3. KHTML devs, and others, complain that the resulting "code bomb"  
> cannot be easily integrated back into Konqueror. Cue outraged Slashdot  
> articles and so on
> 4. Under community pressure, Apple changes its practices, and works to  
> reintegrate ("unfork") the code, _even_though_they_don't_have_to_
> 5. QtWebKit now exists for KDE, KHTML is significantly better, half  
> the world is using an open-source standards-compliant browser, etc.  
> etc. etc.
> 6. We all live happily ever after, apart from maybe the IE devs ;)

Yes, and it is highly unlikely any of this would have happened had
Webkit been PD.

> So share-alike itself actually ain't that helpful if the person  
> doesn't really want to contribute back.
> But if you use community pressure, rather than trying to get medieval  
> on their licensing ass, you can get a great result - whatever the  
> licence.

Good luck steaming up community pressure for Apple opening up on stuff
that they have taken from the PD. It is not going to happen.

People that might help create the pressure will only do so if
they feel the company has acted irresponsably or unfair. Most people
will say that taking PD and not contributing back is fair because that
is what PD is for. But those same people will also say that abusing a
loophole in the LGPL by not co-operating with it in spirit is unfair.
Even if both things are acceptable from a purely legal point of view...

Compare : a lot of people are outraged about the one-click and other
patent nonsense and will try to organize community opposition to it.
However there is no significant community drive that challenges Amazon's
copyright on for example the artwork on their website. The only
difference is public perception : one-click patents are perceived as
abusing the patent system, while enforcing copyright on artwork is

Other example : people are outraged by laws that extend copyright time
and time again to keep Disney's early creations protected but at the
same time accept that copyright on Dilbert comics is still within the
original intent of copyright.

cu bart

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