[Tugindia] Early example of GPL?

David Kastrup dak at gnu.org
Tue Oct 26 14:12:30 CEST 2004

yoga at math.iisc.ernet.in writes:

>> yoga at math.iisc.ernet.in writes:
>>> I recently came across a work in Sanskrit *Sanaatana Vigyana
>>> Samudaya*, authored by one Venkataramanacharya and published in
>>> 1944. The thing that interested me (which may interest some readers
>>> of this mail-list) is the copyright.  [...]
>> You are confusing "Public Domain" (which is quite an old concept)
>> with "GPL".  The point of the GPL as contrasted to PD is exactly
>> that the GPL restricts all usage to the kind that preserves the
>> rights for all further recipients.
> I stand corrected.

It is an easy mistake to make, since the _philosophy_ behind the GPL
is to be able to use software as unrestricted as possible.  So
Stallman and his likes would prefer that copyright law did not allow
to place restrictions on redistribution in the first place.  And the
only way in which they can achieve something similar given the current
laws is to _prohibit_ restrictions for the software under their
control.  Software in the public domain (like the above) are free to
use for everybody, but they may be used to produce products that are
completely closed.

So the _spirit_ behind releasing something into the public domain and
under the GPL is very similar.  The GPL just has legal teeth to make
sure that you can't remove that spirit.  And those teeth are what made
it innovative.  It was created in order to counterpoint a movement
where more and more useful software was being offered in restricted
ways, partly based on publicly available sources.

So if you want to compare the licence with something, compare it to
the spirit behind free software, not with the actual GPL.  The spirit
of giving for the advance of the art.  If we had a world where
everybody shared that spirit, the GPL would be unnecessary.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum
UKTUG FAQ: <URL:http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html>

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