Lack of Cygwin contributors? Was: How is textmode/binmode determined ...

DJ Delorie dj@delorie.com
Sun Apr 30 22:40:00 GMT 2000


> "Open source is designed to advance the intellectual property of the
>  corporation at the expense of effort by individuals outside the
>  corporation. As such, it falls under corporatism, as defined in John
>  Ralston Saul's dictionary The Doubter's companion."

This is partly true, but not complete, and partly irrelevent.

"Open source" is designed to protect the freedoms and rights of the
developers.  If it happens to benefit corporations, it does so at no
expense to the developers.  Free software cannot be "intellectual
property" of a corporation, because they don't own it.  At best, it's
an additional tool they can bring to bear on their problems.

Use by corporations is not at the expense of the developers, because
the cost to the developers is independent of any benefit the
corporations gain from it.  Developers contribute for the own personal
reasons and benefits, and those aren't reduced by use by others.  In
fact, most developers *expect* widespread use of their works, and
factor that into their decision.

> Surely if a non-Cygnus contributor makes a contribution to Cygwin
> then this contributor still implicitly retains his copyright in that
> contribution

If such a contributor would retain copyright, we would not accept the
contribution into the master sources.  They are free to maintain and
distribute their own version of cygwin with their copyrighted changes
in it (as long as they obeyed the GPL, because that's the terms for
our copyrighted parts), but we (Red Hat) would choose not to
distribute such changes because of the copyright.  We ask that
developers who wish their changes in the master version assign
copyright to us.  This gives us two things.  First, we can
redistribute under other terms (the community trusts us to continue
using the GPL), and second, we can file suit against those who violate
the GPL wrt cygwin.

> I realise this is now moving into gnu.misc.discuss territory, but
> since it was brought up here, and this is the first time it has
> occured to me that Cygnus may be increasing its intellectual
> property at the expense of others' generosity, I thought I'd better
> ask for clarification here.

While technically true, you have to consider the big picture.

If it bothers you that Red Hat offers proprietary-use licenses, stop
contributing.  However, consider the other factors first, like what
you personally gain by having your contributions made part of the
official version of cygwin.  Consider, also, the amount of
"generosity" Cygwin puts into the net releases, which you benefit
from.  We both win when we collaborate this way.

> then Cygnus would most definitely not be allowed to license this 
> to third parties under a proprietary license?

Note that the proprietary-use license is only for cygwin1.dll.  The
rest of the distribution is pretty much all GPL.  We do not offer
proprietary-use licenses for those parts.

> I'm just interested in the way things actually work!

Better to ask than to misunderstand!

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