GPL Cops – Good Or Bad?

Taking the tram at OSCON (Credit: Michael Dexter)

The folks at the Software Freedom Conservancy (notably their Executive Director Bradley Kuhn, pictured) were good enough to spend time with me discussing their work on GPL enforcement and sent me this week’s news in advance so I could think about it. My concern for a while has been that GPL enforcement – which mainly targets embedded use of the Linux ecosystem – creates the impression that open source is a risky choice for enterprises. I do agree with them that the education of electronics vendors – ultimately backed by sanctions, so they will listen – is a useful function. I dislike the way the same language is used by others to sell “legal compliance” services to enterprise users on the back of FUD, though.

I was pleased to find that the SFC folk largely agree with me. My article in InfoWorld today tries to set the balance straight as far as enterprise adoption of open source is concerned. Bradley and I could also collaborate on a more detailed article – I’d be interested in your views of how valuable that would be.

One Response

  1. As far as I can tell, most of what you have to do in order to meet your GPL obligations is just good software release management. This shouldn’t be a whole extra set of work you have to do just to handle source code requests under the GPL.

    You need to be able to get at a correct “corresponding source” for something you delivered to customers, anyway. And you need to be able to see an accurate software history in case you’re involved in litigation, but the electronics vendors should be aware of that by now.

    Maybe there needs to be an article on common sense practices that will produce a GPL-compliant source release as a by-product.

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