December 11, 2003

An Open Letter to Darl McBride

The issue is whether the GPL can be used to launder code, not whether it's constitutional in itself. In other words, can someone take contractually
protected works, give them to a third party that releases them under the GPL, and then take back the new GPL code as if the original contract didn't

Dear Mr. McBride: I guess push is coming to shove, huh? You finally got a court to order release of the AT&T code, so things are coming together a bit
on that end. It's an important legal step, and one I'm sure you'll be glad to get over with, despite the crowing going on among those who see it as a
victory for IBM.

Inheriting the whirlwind is all very well as someone else's metaphor, but it's rough for you right now, isn't it? Hang in there. You and I both know
that right will ultimately prevail. Just bear in mind that no one has promised it'll be you going along for the ride when that happens.

Meanwhile, however, you're not helping yourself by throwing more pixie dust on the flames. That diatribe of yours on copyright and the GPL has got to
go. I can understand the motivation, but it's just wrong and lots of people are going to call you on it. The issue here isn't whether the U.S.
Constitution allows the GPL. The Constitution allows anything it doesn't outlaw, and it doesn't outlaw the GPL.



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