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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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I do not see any problem is this model. See, You can sell one software multiple times to multiple agencies. Every agencies need customization. Even if every agencies need same software across the it is the fault of system and not GPL. GPL always says you are free to sell to any number of client. There is nothing wrong is taking huge money even. Developer has stomach. FOSS Developer can charge any number of times to any customer for same codebase too.. depending on service.. So nothing wrong. FOSS/GPL developed to give freedom to user and not public. Those who need freedom, come and take software from GPL software developer, If user are no using their freedom then it is their fault.. they are given GPL license, they can also start selling or distributing software for free-of-cost in order to stop the original developer..

Re: What's Wrong ?

If I have a chappati and I sell it to you, you have a chappati and I do not have one. If I have software and I sell it to you, you have it and I have it too. Knowledge in general and software in particular is not a commodity to be bought and sold. It is something that can only be shared. If you are incapable of understanding this, then I am very sorry for you.

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