Today, some programmer named Zed Shaw wrote a blog post titled Is BSD The [sic] New GPL?. The crux of his article is that because a few people have, dog forbid, proselytized for the BSD license and tried to get some other projects that are currently using the restrictive GPL license to switch to the BSD license because the viral GPL license prevents code from flowing equally in both directions between the projects that, therefore, the BSD license is now just as bad as the GPL.
What... the... Fuck?
Because a few people suggested that, hey, maybe you guys would consider dropping some of those restrictions on your code so we can all, like, share equally, Zed Fucking Shaw thinks that's exactly the same as a viral license that puts restrictions, in perpetuity, on the code you write as well as on all derivative products, and any code that happened to have been stored on the same hard drive as your product for a little while1. I'd expect anti-logic like this from a marketing executive, lawyer, or clergyman, but not from a programmer. This is a pathetic excuse for logic. It's Orwellian logic. Right is wrong. Up is down. It's not missing the point, it's closing your eyes and screaming "nah-nah-nah" so you can claim you're unaware of the fucking point.
Now, I'm a big fan of openness. Almost every line of code that I've ever written that wasn't written specifically for a client or employer has been released in some form, either under a liberal license like the BSD or MIT license or simply given out as public domain code2. But I have not used and will not use the GPL. In fact, when people ask me if they can include code I've written in a GPL'd project (which they don't have to do, so I do appreciate the gesture) I always grant permission, but specifically request that they document the fact that my code is not covered by the project license.
I'm not a fan of the GPL quite simply because I don't see the GPL as "open". The GPL is not defined by what it is, it's defined by what it isn't. It's "against" proprietary closed source code. It's against corporations. It's against software as a commercial product. It's all about what it's not. It's a political movement replete with a manifesto. No joke. A fucking manifesto. The GPL is about openness in the same way that Stalin was about peace and kindness. And you know what? I don't want my code tied up in a political movement. If I want to share, I'll happily share with no expectation of a direct return. If I don't want to (or can't) share, I won't publish my code.
Sir Isaac Newton uttered a very famous line long ago in what is one of the greatest displays of modesty ever recorded. He said, "If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants." And that modest statement sums up the way science, and all meaningful pursuit of knowledge works. Knowledge is expanded when it is shared. When solutions to problems are shared, that frees us up to tackle the next obstacle rather than spending time solving problems that have already been solved by others. Which, if you read their propaganda, is exactly what the GNU foundation people think they believe. But anyone who has actually read their license terms knows that obviously they don't, because you can't reconcile that with the viral restrictions in their licenses. If you truly believe that knowledge is not a zero-sum game, and that sharing knowledge tends to increase the sum of societal knowledge, then you don't go putting petty restrictions on your knowledge.
Sometimes, when you fight fire with fire, all you get is a bigger fire and you certainly don't put out a fire by loudly exclaiming that water is the new fire.
1 - Okay, I'm kidding about the last one.
2 - Well, that's not completely true. I also don't release code that I know is bad because I don't want people copying or learning from code I know has serious problems.