Free vs proprietary licenses

The GPL is frequently seen as a “complicated” license, and thus less desirable than the “simpler” BSD-like family of licenses. I have stumbled upon a description of the situation that really bears repeating (I believe the kids nowadays call this “retweeting”).

To summarize, the apparent complexity of free licenses only exists because free licenses are actually simple enough to be understood by developers, who typically otherwise ignore legal matters. By comparison, proprietary EULAs are a tangled complicated mess, probably deliberately. In this vein, ayers writes,

The proprietary model as I see it, is about creating an unsurmountable confused mess of interdependent obligations, instating a direct or indirect revenue stream and ignoring the convoluted obligations as long as that revenue stream is satisfactory. Once that satisfaction falls below a threshold you start looking for violations, which are bound to exist, to increase that revenue be it by negotiation or litigation.

I think this is a very accurate description of the situation. Almost everyone violates EULAs, but this is acceptable to companies because this violation doesn’t reduce their revenue (indeed, frequently it even increases it). When the cash flow ebbs, it’s time to call the lawyers who will be guaranteed to have fresh blood to feed on.

Stallman facts in an Octave release

And now for something completely different…

I managed to get an easter egg into Octave. I’ve always been a little sad that we are not having enough fun in Octave, so I added some facts about the world’s greatest hacker to the source tree. Just type


in the Octave interpreter to read them.

Giving credit where credit is due, thanks to and to Reddit for starting the whole thing.

Note: I cleaned up the facts a little, removing or amending the ones that were stupid or inflammatory. But this is ok, because these facts are obviously free software under the terms of the GNU General Public license version 3 as published by the Free Software Foundation, or, at your option, any later version? Right? ;-)