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an interesting way to use the GPL
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lawgon
As we all know, software is not a commodity to be bought and sold. The attempt to treat it like a commodity has caused a huge number of problems as well as colossal waste of money and programmers time. So the foss movement was started so that software can be shared freely across the world. And many licenses came into being in order to have some sort of regulation of this sharing to see that it is not abused. There are 40-50 licenses of this sort and they vary a lot - but all of them have one thing in common: they presuppose release of software to the public and availability of the source code. The business model changes - instead of selling software as a commodity, one shares the software and sells service, customisation, support, hosting ... however one bright spark has found a loophole in the GPL. What he does is hide in a closet and develop his software. Then he GPL's it (whatever that means). Then he goes and sells to the customer. The customer, having paid a good sum for it is not going to give to any one else free, so the GPL is as good as any other EULA. Then our friend goes and sells the same package to another bakra - same price, same results. And he goes on and on - proprietary mode of development, proprietary mode of deployment - but all kosher according to the GPL. I think V4 of the GPL may have to be amended to plug this perversion of the idea of foss.

This reminds me of what happens in the govt sector. Government of one state decides to computerise land records on linux platform. Some big company wins the contract, gets paid crores and delivers - source code is handed over under some agreement. Government keeps it secret. Then the same company gets a contract for the same thing from another state - same price, same hand over, same secrecy - and then the third state ... so three states pay public funds for the same thing. And it is quite possible for this to happen while GPLing the software in each case. Actually what should happen is that State A pays for it, releases it and the other states spend for customisation and deployment and not rewriting the same thing. The above scenario actually happened, although I have not named the states or the company.

So what does one mean by distributing software? what does the 'P' in GPL stand for? Yes, the above is probably in accordance with the letter of the law - but is a complete travesty of the spirit of foss.

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The loophole in GPL for the software-as-a-service is plugged in the AGPL v3. So there's no necessity for a GPL v4 any time soon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGPL

Re: Handled by AGPLv3

this has nothing to do with software as a service. This guy is selling software as a product - and finds GPL is better than any EULA

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