GPL Thoughts

Here's a snippet from the email I sent to Jason about my thoughts on licenses:

Here's the best way I can explain my opinions about the GPL: The GPL is there to make sure someone doesn't take your code, integrate it into their project then hide their results without sharing to the rest of the community, right? It's especially there to protect against commercial exploitation. My opinion is this - if I'm going to spend time and effort working on a project, I like to dream of some day doing something where I can make a living off it. I like to think that, "hey, if this code is really useful, I could create a 'super-version' and sell it". Obviously, if the code is GPLed, I can't do that - well, I can, but I have to redistribute the code, which makes it less competitive (why pay for my code when they can get it for free?).

But I believe that same in reverse. All the code I create is under the BSD-like MIT license. This is as free as it gets and lets someone use my code in preparation for some commercial project as well. If someone took my code, changed it a little and started selling it for zillions, I wouldn't begrudge them for it. I would probably send them an email and say "hey, don't forget where you got your code from!" but that's about it. If a person or company can sell code today - especially in today's market - more power to them. GPL == don't trust your fellow man. BSD == trust everyone. I like the latter, even though the chances of being burnt (someone taking your code and never sharing) are higher.

I've said this before on my blog - the perfect license to me would be simply a "credit" license where anyone who uses my code has to put on their website or box. But I haven't done anything yet that was so great that I've bothered to research it yet, but it would basically be the Apache license, but using your name instead of Apache's...

I LIKE the GPL and if I was ever REALLY worried about someone stealing my code for nefarious purposes, I would definitely relicense everything I'm doing under the GPL for complete protection. However, until then I want to be able to dream of being the next software gazillionaire and it's no fun doing that with GPLed code. The only person who got rich off the GPL is Linus. ;-)


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