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Author Topic: Why isn't bitcoin GPL?  (Read 2255 times)
berlin
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May 17, 2011, 10:26:07 AM
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Just wondering why bitcoin is not under GPL, or to put another way, why MIT was chosen instead.

Also are there plans for other clients in other languages? I am aware of bitcoinj.
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Matt Corallo
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May 17, 2011, 10:36:29 AM
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Because Satoshi chose MIT, no real reason, but his preference.  Though I suppose it might be better for firms who want to use their own modified Bitcoin binary for commercial purposes.

There is also a C# bitcoin, but its development community seems fairly stagnant. 

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commlinx
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May 17, 2011, 10:42:56 AM
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Just wondering why bitcoin is not under GPL, or to put another way, why MIT was chosen instead.
One good reason I can think of is that it allows it to be re-used and tightly coupled to commercial products without the same source code disclosure requirements as GPL. For example a it could be integrated into closed source commerce package that otherwise wouldn't support it, and wide apoption is more important than protecting the code itself.

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May 17, 2011, 11:24:22 AM
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There is also a C# bitcoin, but its development community seems fairly stagnant. 

May I ask you to give a link ?
ribuck
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May 17, 2011, 11:27:06 AM
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The MIT license is compatible with all the major open source licenses. So you can re-use Bitcoin's code in your project, whether your project is GPL, BSD, Apache, MPL, Perl Artistic License, etc. If the main Bitcoin client was GPL, it would not be possible to re-use the code in some open source projects.

If you think that Bitcoin should be under the GPL, you can do that. Just take the code and re-license it as a GPL project. The MIT license is free enough that you can do that. Call your version "Bitcoin GPL edition" or something, so that there's no confusion.

I understand the philosophical reasons why many people prefer their projects to be copyleft. But there might not be a big enough ecosystem to sustain a GPL Bitcoin. You can try it though with your GPL edition.

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May 17, 2011, 11:27:53 AM
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There is also a C# bitcoin, but its development community seems fairly stagnant. 

May I ask you to give a link ?
Sorry, I meant QBitcoin, the alternate C++ one.  But I have no idea how far it ever got on development.

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Ulysses
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May 17, 2011, 12:37:32 PM
 #7

Probably Satoshi doesn't like copyright (even in GPL form).
ribuck
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May 17, 2011, 01:52:13 PM
 #8

Enough vague speculation. Here is Satoshi's actual answer:

Quote from: satoshi
If the only library is closed source, then there's a project to make an open source one.

If the only library is GPL, then there's a project to make a non-GPL one.

If the best library is MIT, Boost, new-BSD or public domain, then we can stop re-writing it.

I don't question that GPL is a good license for operating systems, especially since non-GPL code is allowed to interface with the OS.  For smaller projects, I think the fear of a closed-source takeover is overdone.
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May 17, 2011, 01:57:39 PM
 #9

Just wondering why bitcoin is not under GPL, or to put another way, why MIT was chosen instead.
One good reason I can think of is that it allows it to be re-used and tightly coupled to commercial products without the same source code disclosure requirements as GPL. For example a it could be integrated into closed source commerce package that otherwise wouldn't support it, and wide apoption is more important than protecting the code itself.
I have learned from my stay here, that if you have closed-source software for mining, no one is going to use it..*you know why*
commlinx
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May 18, 2011, 01:46:33 AM
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Just wondering why bitcoin is not under GPL, or to put another way, why MIT was chosen instead.
One good reason I can think of is that it allows it to be re-used and tightly coupled to commercial products without the same source code disclosure requirements as GPL. For example a it could be integrated into closed source commerce package that otherwise wouldn't support it, and wide apoption is more important than protecting the code itself.
I have learned from my stay here, that if you have closed-source software for mining, no one is going to use it..*you know why*
I wasn't thinking mining, say one day it gets added to SAP accounting software. Their customers already trust the closed source SAP system with access to their billion dollar banking details, so no reason to think they also won't trust it with access to their Bitcoin wallet. Other examples would be embedded devices to accept and clear Bitcoins to a bank account where the contents of the wallet would largely be equivalent to a petty cash drawer and not a major security concern.

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May 18, 2011, 01:56:45 AM
 #11

I wasn't thinking mining, say one day it gets added to SAP accounting software. Their customers already trust the closed source SAP system

sap opens the code to clients. who wants can read what the transactions are doing, what each patch will modify in the system and they get tools to maintain and transport own patches for the sap software. no need to trust if you can verify.

You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.
commlinx
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May 18, 2011, 03:50:41 AM
 #12

I wasn't thinking mining, say one day it gets added to SAP accounting software. Their customers already trust the closed source SAP system

sap opens the code to clients. who wants can read what the transactions are doing, what each patch will modify in the system and they get tools to maintain and transport own patches for the sap software. no need to trust if you can verify.
Probably not a good example I picked then Cheesy. Still releasing the code under an NDA is a lot different to if they were forced to release it under GPL.

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May 18, 2011, 04:51:27 AM
 #13

Probably not a good example I picked then Cheesy. Still releasing the code under an NDA is a lot different to if they were forced to release it under GPL.

The GPL sure has been nice to the Linux kernel (my day job).  Without the GPL, several notable pieces of hardware would not have out-of-box Linux support at all (or would have proprietary, download-from-vendor-website Linux support).  GPL is also my personal preference for my own source code (e.g. pushpool, cpuminer, Hail, etc.)

But for bitcoin, MIT seems just fine.

NghtRppr
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May 18, 2011, 04:53:58 AM
 #14

The GPL is just another form of intellectual property which is incompatible with Libertarianism.
kiba
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May 18, 2011, 04:58:07 AM
 #15

The GPL is just another form of intellectual property which is incompatible with Libertarianism.

Which is why you should donate 1 BTC to my magazine because it's the only public domain bitcoin magazine one the planet.

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