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Re: [SLUG] Re: Copyright assignment + the GPL [Was: Streaming media servers]

Jeff Waugh wrote:

Which is the case, even if the copyright owner distributes the software
under another license.

If they distribute exactly the same code under another license. They hardly ever do this because the user has no interest in getting something under a proprietary license if they can get the same thing under a liberal license. What they do is distribute the same code with proprietary extensions. The user has the choice, use the code available under a liberal license and do without the features, or give up their freedom for the features that are only available under the proprietary license. This is exactly what RealNetworks is doing with Helix.
No, complete lack of software freedom inspired the creation of copyleft
licenses, not sensible business models built upon the foundations of
software freedom.

The BSD licenses were around long before the GPL was drafted. RMS rejected the BSD because it failed to prevent this kind of proprietary forking. At least that's my understanding of it.

The community benefits *more* from the availability of the software, source
and commitment of the organisation that owns its copyright than it would if
the source were closed.
But that's not the argument. The argument is whether or not the community would benefit more from having someone like RealNetworks not demand copyright assignment. I believe they would because any extensions RealNetworks makes to the work of contributors will remain free.

I'm sure the situation with RealNetworks is a lot more complicated than it appears. For example, I'm sure their proprietary product includes some licensed technology that they obviously have no permission to integrate into the open source distribution. On the other hand, they list things such as Ad-Serving Support and Live File Archiving as a features that is only in the proprietary version. I have no idea what they entail, but I can imagine that people would want this and be willing to fore-go their freedom to get it. Suppose I wasn't happy with RealNetwork's ad-serving.. maybe my customers were complaining that the ads take up too much bandwidth or something. I can't fix that. Well boo-hoo, I gave up my freedom to get that silly feature so it's my own problem. Say I decide to do something about it and write an ad-serving extension for the open source distribution. Are RealNetworks going to accept my patch? Presumably not. That's a terrible situation for the community to be in.