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    It may not align with the author’s world view, but there absolutely is a staggeringly obvious way in which the GPL is, by design, less permissive that some other licences. It literally permits fewer uses of the source.

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      That is, strictly speaking, accurate, but it’s still pretty crappy terminology given the goal of reciprocal licenses is literally to make the software world more permissive.

      It’s like how if a country didn’t outlaw murder, it would obviously be “more free” in the sense of people having more rights. In practice, though, anyone who can’t defend themselves is suddenly beholden to “do what I want or I’ll kill you,” so by any practical measure they’re less free. Likewise with computers, I consider “here’s the sources for everything on my computer, but I need to open-source the result” to be practically more permissive than “here’s the sources for half my computer.”

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        the goal of reciprocal licenses is literally to make the software world more permissive.

        I can say lofty things too: “My goal is for as many people as possible to use the software I write.” If I take that as my driving force, then I will severely handicap myself if I choose the GPL.

        Therefore, I don’t think it’s “crappy” terminology at all. It’s an important acknowledgment of reality. If you open source your code under the GPL, then there will be a sizable chunk of people that will be unwilling to use it for one reason or another. Those reasons may well be irrational on a large number of dimensions (and I would in fact agree with that), but it doesn’t matter: you still need to face the fact that they won’t use your code.

        I also think your analogy is flawed, mumble mumble something about how ideas aren’t property mumble mumble, but I’m tired of arguing that perspective on Lobsters.

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          That’s reasonable. What that leaves us with is both sides thinking they have a good claim as “the permissive one,” which to me suggests “permissive” shouldn’t be the word we use to differentiate them.

          Another thing: the word “reciprocal” doesn’t carry much of a value judgment with it. “Permissive” does, and “viral” absolutely does. If our goal is civil discussion, how we describe the viewpoints should at least be relatively neutral.

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            Another thing: the word “reciprocal” doesn’t carry much of a value judgment with it. “Permissive” does, and “viral” absolutely does. If our goal is civil discussion, how we describe the viewpoints should at least be relatively neutral.

            I guess I don’t really disagree, but all I can really do is shrug my shoulders. The FSF, for example, has, IMO, co-opted the word “freedom” (rather brilliantly I might add). The word is so overloaded that it’s basically impossible to have a sensible discussion about it until you’ve gone back and forth a few times wading through all the bullshit that has been built on top of these words.

            It’s a classic technique. “What, you’re against freedom? That’s crazy!” … “No no, I’m not, just not your version of it.” But by the point you’ve had a chance to inject your nuance, everyone stopped listening to you.

            Basically, I think anything that requires a monopoly on the use of legitimized coercion does not fall under the category of “freedom.” The GPL requires this, and indeed, so does all IP law. I tend to think this is more consistent with the history of the word in a political context, but I’m not willing to defend that. (If you’re looking for buzz words, this is the classic “negative rights vs positive rights” debate.)

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              I really agree with your arguments, despite liking the term permissive and not being a fan of GPL.

              But I wanna state that the term viral while originally being a lot on the judgment side and actually still being can nowadays also be viewed as more neutral. For comparison see “x went viral” or “viral marketing”. Here they even are positive.

              I think the “infection” (i know, clearly negative) part is, despite certainly not being neutral is way closer to the effect the GPL has than reciprocal. The only other term I can come up is assimilation, but that’s also negative.

              Maybe a better way would be to describe what it does, even though that is longer. Anyway, I don’t think feelings get usually hurt by those terms and people know what is meant and then don’t need to use the term anymore.

              Oh, just realized: There is the term copyleft that people can inform themselves. Might be a lot clearer than viral or reciprocal, cause either you will have to explain it or it has a clear, neutral word for it.

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            Did you really just equate using a permissive software licence, with lack of laws against murder?

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              No, that was an analogy (not equating) that applied a certain logic to another situation, to show how distorted it was.

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                The murder thing is the best argument I’ve heard against “more rules equal less freedom.” It’s extreme, but it’s more intuitive than, say, something about employment law.

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            The biggest upshot of this argument for people like myself is that it ends up making a giant swath of OSS software pretty much unusable because large companies on the whole FEAR the GPL.