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 Forum index » Taking the Puppy out for a walk » Suggestions
Stop using the GPL
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technosaurus


Joined: 18 May 2008
Posts: 4841
Location: Blue Springs, MO

PostPosted: Fri 21 Sep 2018, 13:56    Post subject:  Stop using the GPL  

Code:
/**  Problems with GPL licenses
  *  *GPL v*: "any later version"
  *  *GPL v*: can't static link
  *  *GPL v*: incompatible with other licenses
  *  *GPL v*: developer aversion
  *  {A}GPL v*: can't dynamic link
  *  *GPL v3: "tivoization clause"
  */

Quote:
Any later version
Anyone who has been annoyed by unilateral modifications to an EULA (Facebook, MoviePass, etc...) will understand the negative implications of this clause. Nothing stops the FSF from adding/changing clauses in v4.x+ that are against everything you stand for.

Quote:
No dynamic linking
GPL and AGPL code cannot be dynamically linked with a proprietary library, module or executable or even code with an incompatible license. This may be unacceptable where "intellectual property" is involved. This prevents GPL projects from being part of multicall binaries which are useful in the future of containers where multiple incompatibly licensed binaries are needed for full, proper usage.

Quote:
No static linking
GPL, AGPL and LGPL code cannot be statically linked with incompatible code. This is a problem for making the smallest possible containers for snaps, flatpaks, etc...

Quote:
Incompatible with other licenses
GPL, AGPL and LGPL code is incompatible with many proprietary and even open source licenses. This limits the ability to use available resources and requires duplication of effort.

Quote:
Developer aversion
Many open source developers (myself included) detest the GPL and will refuse to contribute to any project using it. Additionally, many companies (including Google) prohibit/limit the use of GPL code; thus restricting their developers from contributing.

Quote:
Tivoization
In an attempt to prevent vendors from releasing devices that could not be updated with user modified GPL code, the FSF added the infamous "tivoization clause". This prevented those would be vendors from contributing to GPL projects, and made v3+ code incompatible with cheap ROM and open source hardware projects (except FPGA and software defined radio) This means that a startup RISC-V SoC vendor cannot use a port of a GPL3 AV1 decoder in their chip or even embed a GPL3 font in its on-chip ROM.

There are plenty of other arguments against the GPL including its extensive legalese, being "viral", the FSF itself and many others. Why do you use/avoid the GPL?

Code:
/* Alternatives
 * Use a permissive license (MIT, BSD, CC0, etc...) and trust in people.
 * Use LGPL v2.x with static linking exception and no later version clause
 */

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musher0

Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 12829
Location: Gatineau (Qc), Canada

PostPosted: Fri 21 Sep 2018, 15:44    Post subject:  

Hi technosaurus.

However limiting GPL may be, I've seen some apps double-licenced.
Some devs even suggest to "give them a ring" or an e-mail if the licence
needs to be changed for a possible integration / collaboration.

My understanding of why GPL exists is to keep M$ out of the picture.
Which is good strategy.

But of course, a good idea is a good idea is a good idea, and a dev with
one might like a little (add'l) money or exposure every now and then.

It is also my understanding that even if dev John Doe mentions
Quote:
(c) John Doe, Sept. 21 2018. New York, NY, USA -- GPL3

John Doe stills holds the copyright to his work and he can later do what
he wants with it.

Perhaps not exactly with the original script/code published under GPL3,
but he can get away from FSF servitude (if he thinks it is a servitude)
by changing it minimally.

There is a famous case where composer Stravinsky sold the rights to a
slightly modified version of his Rite of Spring to a different publisher for
more money. The first publisher sued, saying: "You can't do that, you sold
the rights to me", but lost.

The change was two notes in a chord played fortissimo by a symphonic
orchestra. Stravinsky switched notes between the bass clarinet and the
bassoon in that chord. Since the orchestra is playing fortissimo, nobody
can hear the difference. But the British court thought that it was
Stravinsky's right to do so and to sell this "new" version to his advantage.

Would it not be easy enough for a dev to do a similar minimal change in
his/her code if a nice opportunity came up -- and publish under a different
licence?

Another element worth noting is that even if you sell the rights to your
work, the drafts of it still belong to you, and you can come up with a
similar 2nd work -- slightly different -- based on your drafts.

I know for a fact that this clause exists in the Canadian Copyright Act; it
may be worth checking if a similar clause exists in the (c) legislation of
other countries.

As you can see, I'm not getting too upset about this licencing business.

BFN.

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wiak

Joined: 11 Dec 2007
Posts: 957
Location: not Bulgaria

PostPosted: Sat 22 Sep 2018, 09:31    Post subject:  

musher0 wrote:

Would it not be easy enough for a dev to do a similar minimal change in
his/her code if a nice opportunity came up -- and publish under a different
licence?


Musher0... if the code is truly all created by the developer then that developer doesn't need to modify anything to republish the code in alternative license or licensing - it is theirs to publish as they wish. That's not an issue.

The problem is that most devs naturally build 'systems' out of component parts (including parts they write themselves) and, basically, if some piece of code is GPL and the rest is not, creation/linking often become impossible (legally) if some pieces are not GPL. And GPL has over time become so widely/routinely used as a code license (the viral nature of GPL) this spanner in the works occurs often. GPL is entirely inflexible about such matters (linking code from various sources) and devs are utterly not free to develop their ideas in these circumstances. Personally, I also nowadays hate GPL for this nonsense and also always prefer to use and contribute to MIT or BSD licensed projects for the fresh air feeling the resultant development/licensing freedom that brings (though do occasionally, reluctantly contribute to GPL projects). It's nothing at all to do with Microsoft from that perspective. Plenty of people in Linux open source community use MIT or BSD and similar non-restrictive licenses, and they are most generally not at all trying to make money (or indeed restrict others) - just want freedom to develop and contribute without being strangled by GPL restrictions.

I'd rather see the opportunity in the software world to develop the best and most interesting software - that needs non-restrictive licenses to allow the freedom to freely create. Having to somehow (try to) re-write (re-hash) code just to get round GPL strangleholds is not only a waste of human effort but counterproductive to human technology and software progress. There are only so many ways to write a piece of code, so if GPL has put its stamp on a piece then oh oh private GPL ownership only... refer Wikipedia on GPL'd 'Readline'... Too much talk of free as in beer - truth is most software is free or pretty damn cheap anyway. The issue is also about quality - forced to use GPL components throughout when superior components may well exist under alternative licenses; if only you could mix and match, but GPL says no no no... ours is the true religion... sadly people too often follow GPL proclamations like sheep, as if they are doing something evil if they don't!

Here is someone else's thoughts on this matter from long ago:

https://www.linuxjournal.com/article/5935

wiak
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torm


Joined: 07 Mar 2015
Posts: 168

PostPosted: Sat 22 Sep 2018, 10:39    Post subject:  

CC0 license ( Creative Commons zero ) is stated as "GNU GPL compatible" license.
Pretty close to "public domain".
More information can found here:
https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0

MIT ( MIT-style ? ) and BSD are a bit confusing.
There are different versions of those.
Some notes about MIT here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT_License
And about BSD licenses:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSD_licenses

Only for those who never read any license:
it is not possible to "Stop using the GPL" on already GPL-ed software.. Wink
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musher0

Joined: 04 Jan 2009
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Location: Gatineau (Qc), Canada

PostPosted: Sat 22 Sep 2018, 17:22    Post subject:  

Thanks wiak and torm.

Reading your posts, a question popped up in my mind: Why does a developer
have to use GPL, MIT, CCO, etc., licences in addition to (c)?

By analogy:
I find an article which I think would be a good read for members of my
association. I call or e-mail this journalist and ask him/her. (S)he says
yes or no.

If the journalist accepts, I put a mention next to his/her by-line saying:
"Article reprinted with author's permission". Simpler than this, you die!

Is there some kind of limitation in plain old (c) explaining why a developer
cannot do this in the case of software?

Application to our field:
I find some code by one of you guys useful. I ask you if I can use it. If wiak,
for example, allows me to use his code in my script, I include a comment
saying: "Lines 75 to 200 of this script by wiak. Used with permission."

Is that possible? Is there anything wrong with this approach?

Thanks in advance for any insight.

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technosaurus


Joined: 18 May 2008
Posts: 4841
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep 2018, 10:08    Post subject:  

torm wrote:
Only for those who never read any license:
it is not possible to "Stop using the GPL" on already GPL-ed software.. Wink
Of course you can, you just implement the parts you need.
Anyone is free to implement anything they want from scratch for any reason they choose.
Rob Landley, the former maintainer of busybox (GPL), started toybox as a non-GPL replacement for busybox, core-utils and a few other projects.
Rich Felker wrote musl to replace glibc and uclibc.
X was already permissively licensed, so the only reason to rewrite it because the implementation sucks.
Joe W. switched jwm to a permissive license, so I scrapped my reimplementation efforts base on mcwm and contribute to jwm.
st is a reimplementation of rxvt by the suckless project.
With those, we can finally tell the "GNU/Linux" people to fsck off and just say Linux.
Next step - replacing gtk with something that doesn't suck.

Edit: https://lulz.com/linux-devs-threaten-killswitch-coc-controversy-1252/ yep - the any later version clause can even affect projects that intentfully omit it, including the linux kernel.

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Last edited by technosaurus on Wed 26 Sep 2018, 16:13; edited 1 time in total
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musher0

Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 12829
Location: Gatineau (Qc), Canada

PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep 2018, 13:37    Post subject:  

Hello technosaurus and all.

Fine. But there is still something I'm not getting.

Are these licences trying to bring us back to the Middle Ages, when no
Copyright Acts existed? When any creator could plunder the work of
any other musician or writer, modify it a bit, and say: "Hey, look, this
piece is by me."

Do a search on King Richard the Lion-Heart's Complaint “Ja Nus Hons
Pris” (“No Man in Prison”) in medieval music or poetry, and you'll see
what I mean. Probably half a dozen creators say they wrote it...

Is going back to the copyright situation that existed in the Middle Ages
anybody's view of progress?

When I write a script that I think fills a certain need, I hope to get a
little recognition. I certainly did not work a thousand hours, and sweat,
and research solutions related to this script, for someone else to reap
the benefit.

Which of the above licences mentioned in this thread is best protecting
my authorship?

Sorry torm, I am not writing code to donate it to mankind, as the CCO
licence implies. Fifty years after my death, I won't care, but until then,
I want my work to be known with my by-line.

What are we talking about in this thread? Authorship or ease of
distribution? Those are two very different animals.

Sorry to implicate our founder BarryK, but he wrote, not necessarily
verbatim, in relationship with his new EasyLinux (IIRC): "If I find an
interesting piece of code bearing no authorship, it will make it mine."
(I have to find the exact quote, it's here somewhere in this bazaar of
a forum.)

The man was a teacher, so I take it as he is voicing a "scare" -- i.e.
a warning and an incentive to scripters to copyright their code -- rather
that the war cry of a code pirate. Still, it's not reassuring.

Any answer on this aspect will be appreciated.

BFN.

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aaaaa


Joined: 22 May 2018
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep 2018, 15:44    Post subject:  

musher0 wrote:

What are we talking about in this thread? Authorship or ease of
distribution? Those are two very different animals.


I wonder why this man always misses the point.

It's about reusability and distribution of code, about linking to libraries with incompatible licenses.

Nobody cares about copyrighted one-liners that somebody else already wrote.

Code:

The GPL is a communist license


That's why it's called Copyleft. When you write GPLed software, you're donating it to mankind and denying businesses (and people who don't agree with donating your code to mankind or the FSF) the right to use it (unless they always provide the full source code), the right to modify it, and even link to your software, it must always be open source, in the terms defined by the Free Software Foundation and approved by R.S...

It's something for the common benefit (theoretically)

Code:

Not everything is black and white


I'm not being racist..

People also use GPLed software to make money. That is, Red Hat. Their business model is to create complex GPL software, and they provide technical assistance and solutions for businesses.

Yes, Systemd is blessed.

Code:

The GPL was necessary


The GPL made the Linux Kernel what it is now.

It might be a hateful license now, but at the time (i read) the wars about proprietary software were rampant.

That's why the BSDs lagged behind and now they have an offspring adopted by Apple.

technosaurus wrote:
torm wrote:
Only for those who never read any license:
it is not possible to "Stop using the GPL" on already GPL-ed software.. Wink
Of course you can, you just implement the parts you need.
Anyone is free to implement anything they want from scratch for any reason they choose.
Rob Landley, the former maintainer of busybox (GPL), started toybox as a non-GPL replacement for busybox, core-utils and a few other projects.
[/url]


I read Rob started the infamous lawsuits against hardware vendors that used busybox. Then he realized his mistake and started toybox, now he hates the GPL and busybox.. he could have turned a blind eye in the first place..

Now he is an android fan, or so it seems..

Anyway busybox is light years ahead of toybox, however musl is indeed in an excellent shape, i use it to compile static binaries.

Code:

Hedgehog dilemma


As a code writer and contributor to several projects and files, i find myself in a dilemma.

I've written a bunch of scripts and stuff, i also deleted many of them, i contributed to many GPLed scripts and apps.

I've rewritten many apps, but i've never added a license to my code.

I think i'll use the MIT license. But then again i remember that writing code has made a bitter person, and poorer.

And then the GPL mindset comes to mind, if i can't make money from my work then nobody can AHAHA!!

I don't know what to do.
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musher0

Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 12829
Location: Gatineau (Qc), Canada

PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep 2018, 22:02    Post subject:  

aaaaa wrote:
musher0 wrote:

What are we talking about in this thread? Authorship or ease of
distribution? Those are two very different animals.


I wonder why this man always misses the point.

It's about reusability and distribution of code, about linking to libraries with incompatible licenses.(...)

Hey, if none of those licences are protecting your authorship, linked code
or code linking or reusability or whatever, guess who's missing the point?
I asked a more fundamental question, a question underlying this one, and
you're mocking it?

Are the licences protecting the dev or only protecting themselves?

Copyright has gone terribly wrong and paradoxical if the only way to get
your authorship protected is to donate it to the public domain, CCO style.
For fear one's code will not be included by Google or M$?

On a sarcastic tone: yoo-hoo and three cheers for the way they did things
in the Middle Ages!

Let's put this another way: which licence is best protecting the interest of
the dev?
GPL? Technosaurus says no.

BSD? Some others say no.

CCO? Some others say no.

good old (c)? Some others say no.

recommended letter to yourself by Canada Post with your code on
a CD inside? I'm sure some will say no to this one too.

none of the above?

If the answer is "none of the above", it's time to set up a new think tank
to clear the table and restart thinking this at square one, IMO.

FWIW.

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aaaaa


Joined: 22 May 2018
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep 2018, 22:09    Post subject:  

musher0 wrote:


Hey, if none of those licences are protecting your authorship, linked code
or code linking or reusability or whatever, guess who's missing the point?
I asked a more fundamental question, a question underlying this one, and
you're mocking it?

Are the licences protecting the dev or only protecting themselves?

Copyright has gone terribly wrong and paradoxical if the only way to get
your authorship protected is to donate it to the public domain, CCO style.
For fear one's code will not be included by Google or M$?

On a sarcastic tone: yoo-hoo and three cheers for the way they did things
in the Middle Ages!


You're only seeking attention.

Whatever license you choose, you can always add your name and copyright notice.

Like this:
https://github.com/DeaDBeeF-Player/deadbeef/blob/master/deadbeef.h

Seeking attention for the sake of seeking attention is wrong
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jamesbond

Joined: 26 Feb 2007
Posts: 3161
Location: The Blue Marble

PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep 2018, 23:49    Post subject:  

Interesting take by technosaurus. I'm here to provide a counter-view.

Disclaimer: I was and still am a GPL proponent. That aside:
- I have no objections to people preferring different licenses.
- I too sometimes use different licenses for different code
All licenses have their places and purposes. Use one that suits you.

Quote:
Quote:
Any later version
Anyone who has been annoyed by unilateral modifications to an EULA (Facebook, MoviePass, etc...) will understand the negative implications of this clause. Nothing stops the FSF from adding/changing clauses in v4.x+ that are against everything you stand for.

And nothing stops you from dropping that "any later version" clause if you don't trust FSF enough.

Quote:
Quote:
No dynamic linking
GPL and AGPL code cannot be dynamically linked with a proprietary library, module or executable or even code with an incompatible license. This may be unacceptable where "intellectual property" is involved. This prevents GPL projects from being part of multicall binaries which are useful in the future of containers where multiple incompatibly licensed binaries are needed for full, proper usage.

Let's be clear: technically - linking is not a problem. Legally, this is only a problem if one plans not to adhere to one of the licenses' requirements.

Quote:
Quote:
No static linking
GPL, AGPL and LGPL code cannot be statically linked with incompatible code. This is a problem for making the smallest possible containers for snaps, flatpaks, etc...
Same as above.

Quote:
Quote:
Incompatible with other licenses
GPL, AGPL and LGPL code is incompatible with many proprietary and even open source licenses.

Indeed, and this "incompatibility" (especially with proprietary license) is by design. Everyone writes and publish code with an objective in mind. They then choose a license that meets their objective. Sometimes "being incompatible" is one of the objectives.

Quote:
This limits the ability to use available resources and requires duplication of effort.

Sometimes, "duplication of effort" is not in one's mind when one starts to write code or publish it. Many open-source projects are started as a "replacement" for closed-source programs. One can argue that to "reduce duplication of efforts" all those closed-source programs should be opened instead. Do we see that happening?

Quote:
Quote:
Developer aversion
Many open source developers (myself included) detest the GPL and will refuse to contribute to any project using it.

Yes, too bad. Fortunately there are still many developers who will gladly contribute to GPL projects.

Quote:
Additionally, many companies (including Google) prohibit/limit the use of GPL code; thus restricting their developers from contributing.
So be it. There is no guarantee that those companies will ever contribute anything to your code anyway. There are many different personal motivations for code contribution, but companies' motivation is almost always the "bottom line" - either to increase profit or reduce cost. If contributing to open source doesn't help that, rest assured it will stop. Immediately.

Quote:
Quote:
Tivoization
In an attempt to prevent vendors from releasing devices that could not be updated with user modified GPL code, the FSF added the infamous "tivoization clause". This prevented those would be vendors from contributing to GPL projects, and made v3+ code incompatible with cheap ROM and open source hardware projects (except FPGA and software defined radio) This means that a startup RISC-V SoC vendor cannot use a port of a GPL3 AV1 decoder in their chip or even embed a GPL3 font in its on-chip ROM.

Incorrect. GPL3 demands ability to modify the devices, where such ability to modify exist. In case of devices that don't support modifications at all, then GPL3 doesn't require such capability to be implemented. In other words, GPL3 only demands that if the manufacturer can "update" the firmware, then the public should be allowed to do the same.

I don't know how many people remember Tivo (the original reason behind "tivoization"), but the problem it is supposed to prevent is so prevalent today: just look at the great difficulties that people have to face in order to be able to load a custom firmware to their own smartphones today.

Anyway, if you really don't like tivoization clause, you can always add an exception to the license.

Quote:
There are plenty of other arguments against the GPL including its extensive legalese

- This is true of GPLv3, but only because the legal language is complex.
- And still, one can choose to continue with the simpler GPLv2.

Quote:
being "viral"

'GPL being "viral"' is the meme that was started by Microsoft. Are we in bed with Microsoft now? What exactly does "viral" means? Let's not use a term which has loaded meaning.

Quote:
the FSF itself
I understand some people have problems with FSF. But using a license (GPL or otherwise) has nothing to do with FSF.

Bottom line from me:
---
1. If you want your code to remain open forever (at least in theory), use GPL.
2. If you don't care what's going to happen with your code, use MIT/BSD/public domain (or the like)
3. If you don't want to share your code, use the traditional closed-source license and don't bother to publish it at all.

I contribute to projects that I like. License doesn't bother me. I also use open source projects in my own projects - and I choose the ones that suits the project's requirements best, which may be different from to time.

I appreciate the developers (or the companies that employ them) who have spent their time (free or otherwise) to make the source code available and open - whatever the license they choose to apply to their code. (WITH ONE EXCEPTION: licenses that is full of patent traps. These "open-but-not-open" code should be treated as proprietary licenses. Don't even look at the code).

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woodenshoe-wi

Joined: 28 Jul 2017
Posts: 78
Location: Wisconsin

PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep 2018, 01:19    Post subject:  

technosaurus wrote:

Edit: https://lulz.com/linux-devs-threaten-killswitch-coc-controversy-1252/ yep - the any later version clause can even affect projects that intentfully omit it, including the linux kernel.


I was reading the article at that link when I came across the part about the "Contributor Covenant". That sounds like it could be a bigger threat to the free software community than the division over the GPL.

Of course I believe we should always try our best to be civil, but to allow contributors to be banned from a project because someone feels offended by something that they have said is scary.
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jamesbond

Joined: 26 Feb 2007
Posts: 3161
Location: The Blue Marble

PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep 2018, 02:04    Post subject:  

technosaurus wrote:
Edit: https://lulz.com/linux-devs-threaten-killswitch-coc-controversy-1252/ yep - the any later version clause can even affect projects that intentfully omit it, including the linux kernel.[/url]

Interesting and somewhat worrying news about our beloved kernel, but how is this even news about GPL the license? Confused

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woodenshoe-wi

Joined: 28 Jul 2017
Posts: 78
Location: Wisconsin

PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep 2018, 02:56    Post subject:  

Technosaurus posted the link in this thread, and I thought it was more concerning than the supposed problems with using the GPL license.

I won't derail the thread further.
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musher0

Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 12829
Location: Gatineau (Qc), Canada

PostPosted: Tue 25 Sep 2018, 10:43    Post subject:  

Thanks, JamesBond, for putting things in perspective.

You're the only one to have mentioned that the simpler the licence, the easier
it it on the big companies to use code by others.
Quote:
(...) but companies' motivation is almost always the "bottom line" - either to
increase profit or reduce cost. If contributing to open source doesn't help that,
rest assured it will stop. Immediately.

@aaaaa...
I have a genuine question, and jamesbond comes closest to answering it two
posts above.

I do not care about attention, but getting to the bottom of a question is
certainly the right thing to do.

I do not see how Mr. Yokovenko can enforce "his" licence if he is not a
member of some copyright defence federation?
Quote:
Copyright (C) 2009-2013 Alexey Yakovenko
This software is provided 'as-is', without any express or implied
warranty. In no event will the authors be held liable for any damages
arising from the use of this software.
Permission is granted to anyone to use this software for any purpose,
including commercial applications, and to alter it and redistribute it
freely, subject to the following restrictions:
1. The origin of this software must not be misrepresented; you must not
claim that you wrote the original software. If you use this software
in a product, an acknowledgment in the product documentation would be
appreciated but is not required.
2. Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be
misrepresented as being the original software.
3. This notice may not be removed or altered from any source distribution.

It certainly is not GPL. but what type of license is that, anyway?

What recourse does Mr. Yakovenko have to enforce his authorship of DeadBeef
internationally? Is his country a member of an international convention on
copyright? Does Mr. Yakovenko have to have a lawyer on retainer or
something like that?

BFN.

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Last edited by musher0 on Tue 25 Sep 2018, 11:14; edited 1 time in total
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