Re: So What are We going to do about it?
> % So, I CAN develop commercial apps or
> % shareware. I just have to make the
> % source code available to my customers.
> % If I'm totally wrong here, someone
> % me know. I know it says differently
> You CAN develop commercial apps, but
> since your work is a derivate of a
> GPL'ed work, your code now also becomes
> GPL when you distribute it.
> As such your customer gains all the
> rights the GPL Granted you, so he can
> re-pack it, sell it, or give it away to
> anyone he wants. He can even make
> improvments (which now become GPL), sell
> that, and compete against you - which
> you could steal back, repack,
I am afraid you are badly misunderstanding what you claim to be correcting someone else on. Qt is dual-licensed, which means that you have a *choice* on which license you use Qt under. Each license gives you a different choice in terms of rights and responsibilities, but you seem to be under the impression that the dual licenses work together at all times and restrict you to the most ornerous conditions of both.
Let me give you an example: suppose you go out to a bowling alley. In order to bowl, you need a bowling ball, and you don't have one of your own. You ask the manager how you can get a ball to use. He says, "Oh, I can rent you a ball; that'll be $3 an hour. Or I can sell you a ball for $16, and it will be yours to keep." He has given you two choices: pay a small fee to use it for a limited amount of time; or pay a large fee to make it your own property.
This is the same situation with dual licensing. You say to Trolltech, "I want to use your library to create software apps." Trolltech says to you, "Oh, well, if you want to make it a free software application, then we'll let you use the library for free; you 'pay' for the privilege of using our library by letting other people use your application." You tell them, "Oh, that's good, but what I had in mind was writing commercial software, which I will charge people for and not allow people to copy." Trolltech says, "Oh, that's fine, we can arrange for that, as well; the difference is that now you must pay us money in order to use our library."
You see, the GPL is actually (even though it's called a "copyleft") a copyright license much like any other. Most copyright licenses only tell you "these are all the things you *can't* do with this material, unless you pay the creator in order to use it." And then you have to go to the creator to find out how much you have to pay to do any of the things you want to do.
The GPL, instead of only telling you what you can't do, offers you a deal up-front: you can get these particular rights (as spelled out in the GPL) as long as you 'pay' with these particular responsibilities: let anyone you give the app to have source as well, etc. This has been one of the reasons for the great growth of GPL'd code; having the terms easily accessible removes an inherent 'chilling effect' in using code with less clearly disclosed costs.
The only problem is that very often, people will spread misinformation (either through ignorance, or deliberate FUD) amounting to: since these are 'payment' terms that the GPL makes available to you, these are the *only* terms available to you! In a case where you already had it pointed out to you that Qt was dual-licensed, you should have admitted that you didn't know what you meant, rather than spread silliness. "Yes -- you paid $16 dollars to buy the bowling ball once and for all, and make it your own property. However, the owner rents bowling balls for $3 an hour. That means that in 5.3 hours, he's going to come and repossess your bowling ball! That's what he does with balls people rent from him, so obviously that's wht he does with all balls that people get from him, under any arrangement."
But *why* no OSS/Free Flash players?
An excellent article; I wish there were more of these!
However, a curious point brought up by the article: it's stated that there is only one way to view Flash on Linux, and that is a compiled proprietary plug-in. It seems to me, though, that Macromedia opened the Flash format (http://openswf.org) precisely so that other people who had the know-how could popularize the format through alternate generator and player software.
I don't think the OSS/Free community lacks the know-how; is it possible that it really just lacks the interest?