The GPL's poor translation into French

What do you get when you cross a prominent French businessman with the GPL? A whole lot of scattered thinking.

Tech Culture

The cheekiness/gall of Free/Iliad is almost shocking.

Free/Iliad is a billion-dollar French ISP that is taking sophistry to new depths. In response to a cease and desist letter that it either stop distributing with its arguments about why it's entitled to heavily modify software licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) without contributing back its modifications, as Pierre writes.

What's of particular interest here is the way Mr. Niel [Free's founder] argues the GPL is irrelevant to this case. His claims is [sic] roughly this: my 3,000,000 GPLoaded-home routers are part of my network therefore the GPL doesn't apply since I don't distribute any software outside of my network.

Oh, really?

A French judge recently ruled in favor of GPLv2 enforceabilty, prompting Mr. Niel's twisted logic. His reasoning would completely lobotomize the efficacy of the GPL. It provides yet another reason that the AGPL is needed: A license that more broadly defines software "distribution" and keeps free riders (like Google) honest.

There's a social contract associated with open source: Use freely, but give back. Mr. Niel should understand this sort of thing. Rousseau and other French philosophers have been arguing for centuries for similar ideas. Maybe he missed that in school.

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