[App_rpt-users] Allstar Node

cnovey cnovey at gmail.com
Wed Dec 26 18:08:12 EST 2018


Thanks for this Willem- well spoken.
Clifford - KK6QMS

-----Original Message-----
From: App_rpt-users <app_rpt-users-bounces at lists.allstarlink.org> On Behalf
Of Willem Schreuder
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2018 9:45 AM
To: Users of Asterisk app_rpt <app_rpt-users at lists.allstarlink.org>
Subject: Re: [App_rpt-users] Allstar Node

On Wed, 26 Dec 2018, Mike Besemer wrote:

> So you've file a lawsuit?

I am always surpized how many hams embrace the self-policing for amateur
radio, but fail to see the similarities with the GNU Public License (GPL)
for software.

We as hams have the public trust for billions of dollars worth of spectrum.
However, this comes with strings attached, in that we must promote and
expand radio technology, and abide by certain rules.  So when there are
people who jam some nets, or use the spectrum inappropriately, WE take
action to address it.  Only in the most eggregious of cases does the FCC
actually have to take an enforcement action.

Just so with the GPL.  I as a software developer have the benefit of
billions of dollars worth of free software - a free compiler, a free
operating system, and yes Jim Dixon's amazing work on Asterisk, all of which
is covered by the GPL.  Generally the software community self-enforces the
GPL, and in the vast majority of cases, it is as simple as releasing the
code.  I do this because it is my obligation under the GPL, but I also
license new work under the GPL because other people help improve what I
started, and I still largely get the credit for it.

Had the authors of Asterisk said:  "We will not release the source code, but
we will do a fantastic job in making sure Asterisk does all the things you
want it to do", then Asterisk would have remain a telephone system. 
Only because they released the source code were hams able to extend it to do
repeater linking.

Only in rare cases where people continue to flaunt the GPL does it take a
lawsuit to compel compliance, and these rarely go to trial because the cost
of compliance is so trivial - just release the source code and you are in
compliance!  However, just like it sometimes takes the FCC to make sure that
people comply with the conditions of their ham license, sometimes it takes
legal action to force compliance with the GPL.

In the end the GPL (just like our ham priviliges) is a social contract. 
We are granted an enormously valuable resource on the understanding that we
will abide by a simple rule:  you have to make your contribution freely
available to others.

So I sure hope that this doesn't turn into a lawsuit.  That only serves to
make lawyers rich.  But in the end, it seems to me that the open source
model has proven to be much more successful in the long run.  I and many
others have been able to make a decent living despite making our software
available not just free of charge but free to improve.  And in the process I
have benefitted both in terms of getting credit for my contributions as well
as well as from the clever things others have contributed to software I
wrote.

We don't have to be ugly about it and call people names.  But the GPL is
pretty black and white about the issue of releasing the source code.  I
don't know of a single case where somebody has eventually prevailed in
arguing that you can start with GPL code and then refuse to release the
source for the improvements.  The GPL always wins out in the end.

-Willem

================================================================
Dr. Willem A. Schreuder,  President,  Principia Mathematica
Address:  445 Union Blvd, Suite 230,  Lakewood, CO  80228, USA
Tel: (303) 716-3573   Fax: (303) 716-3575
WWW: www.prinmath.com   Email: Willem.Schreuder at prinmath.com
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