GPL: it’s not a duck

DS writes: I am a fan of the open source model in terms of being able to determine root cause of problems and allowing individuals to independently determine the behavior of their computers. However, I do take some issue with Linux– specifically, I find the GPL to be against what I stand for as a conservative person. (Now, I have a right to not accept it, and not use software with that kind of licensing in it.) The GPL seems very socialist in its nature of dictating that your future works derived from GPLed software must also be GPLed– for the “good of the community.” As a developer, this requires me to give my source code to everyone that uses my product for free.

I think this shows a serious misunderstanding of socialism, and perhaps the GPL as well. There’s absolutely nothing socialist about the GPL. Socialism requires having your choices dictated to you, and there is absolutely nothing forcing anyone to use GPL code in their own source code. If you don’t like the GPL, then you are perfectly free to go write your own code yourself. This actually shows a deep awareness of and respect for property rights, which are wholly lacking in any socialist system.

It is companies like SCO and Cisco which have no respect for property rights, as they wish to be able to use GPL code without being bound by the price of releasing their own source code. Furthermore, the GPL permits one to freely sell one’s binary products at whatever price one wishes, which again would not be permitted in a socialist system. There are also some serious questions about the legitimacy of the expansion of copyright to software code in a free market system.

Now, if the government required the use of GPL code in all software products as well as the public release of all source code, dictated how much you could charge for the resulting binary product, and then took all the revenue from it, DS would have a strong case. But i it neither looks, walks nor quacks like a duck, it is not a duck.