From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/11/19
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* "Kaelin Colclasure" <>
| Suggest an alternative to the GPL/LGPL duo and propose its adoption as a
| "standard" open-source license for the Common Lisp community.  If *all*
| of the existing alternatives are fundamentally flawed, strike up an
| effort to draft the new, perfect document.

  the FreeBSD license has been suggested.  I'm partial to it myself.  it is
  much less restrictive than the LGPL, and has also been subject to serious
  legal scrutiny.

  let's face it, GPL and only to a lesser extent LGPL, lock you into a set
  form of freedom, namely that of others: they are extremely altruistic.
  while this may be good in some people's view, and few would go out and
  say "altruistic is bad!", the vast majority of people find altruism quite
  literally appalling when force is being used to apply it -- they want to
  _choose_ who they give things away to.  that lack of choice is in great
  part the reason that the GPL is not winning and why the FSF needs to make
  people use it instead of LGPL whenever possible.  all this means is that
  supposedly free software will be free only in the museum sense -- anyone
  is free to look at it and learn from it, but if you want to create your
  own piece of art, you have to go home and start all over from scratch.

| I merely proposed that the relative obscurity of the license is *itself*
| a barrier to re-use, and petitioned that while the terms were being
| revisited, perhaps this point might be addressed.

  let me assure you that people who want to release their source code to
  the general public are indeed occupied with these ideas, and that's
  because the GPL and LGPL are extraordinarily unsatisfactory solutions.

| I politely suggested the "GPL or LGPL" as well-known representatives
| of open-source license alternatives. My opinion holds that the LGPL is
| preferred *between these two* -- but we're not talking about my code,
| and reasonable and enlightened individuals may disagree.

  well, those who write new code are encouraged to make their code GPL.
  take the GNU readline library, for instance.  it is now GPL, not LGPL,
  because it's an invention of the GNU project, and they want people to
  write GPL'ed code, so if they want to use readline, they have to.  this
  is good for the FSF.  it is not good for people who are not "ready" to
  GPL their code.  at least not until a really free alternative comes up.

  personally, I'd rather be able to buy a license to use some library and
  be done with it.  all this talk and pondering about code and programmer
  freedom takes up so much time I could probably have paid USD 500 out of
  my own pocket just to use the GNU readline library in an application and
  come out far ahead.  it would cost me at least ten times that much to
  write my own version or a modified wrapper that my Lisp program could
  know it was talking to (which then had to be built and run on different
  platforms, one of them Windows -- shudder), so the command-line interface
  to my application is harder to use than it need be.  this kind of stuff
  happens all the time, and it's quite annoying.

  so, to the GPL and even LGPL fans, I have one particular question: is the
  author or copyright holder free to license the material to any comer on
  any basis _other_ than GPL or LGPL, whichever applies, once it has been
  GPL'ed?  if so, the GPL or LGPL applies only to people who have not
  approached the author or copyright holder for such a license, and this
  means that the public at large will receive the restricted (GPL) version,
  and anyone who wants to can receive a properly licensed version they can
  use according to their own definitions of freedom.  only if this is OK,
  do we have a situation that is not completely unpalatable.  now, my
  understanding is that the FSF does _not_ grant extra-GPLular licenses,
  but that other authors may, and that transfer of copyright to the FSF or
  the author of a package is still voluntary and not covered by the GPL.

  provided that my understanding is correct, we might have a sign saying:
  "Source tourists, please obey the GPL or LGPL as appropriate.  Residents
  and commercial users inquire within."  I believe this is why people form

  Attention Microsoft Shoppers!  MS Monopoly Money 6.0 are now worthless.