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Where would the Java community be without "the kindness of strangers"?

Posted by johnreynolds on November 19, 2003 at 12:19 PM PST

Pardon me for blogging this, but I feel the need to rant a bit about the SCO/Linux flap...

In Tenessee William's A Streetcar Named Desire there is a memorable character named Blanche DuBois who utters the famous line:

"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers..."

Where would the Java community be if it weren't for "the kindness of strangers"?

I cannot even begin to count those whose free contributions have made my job easier... Sun, IBM, Apache, SourceForge, BEA, etc., etc., etc. Whether for pure altruism, personal recognition, or profit-oriented strategic goals; these "kind strangers" have provided me with one of the most satisfying programming ecosystems imaginable.

Unfortunately, there has been a down side; some folks have been hurt economically by the generosity of others. A lot of business plans have gone up in smoke. A lot of companies have had to scramble.

Some companies may have even been robbed.

Intellectual property is extremely important, and I will never support the notion that all software should be free. If there are sections of code that have been released under the GPL, BSD, and Apache licenses that have been improperly taken from closed sources, they should be identified and removed. Wrongs should be redressed and we should do our collective best to avoid such mistakes in the future.

Unfortunately things have become nasty. For some reason, perhaps genuine anger, perhaps greed, or perhaps as a negotiating position, SCO has decided to go after all free software.
To paraphrase their position:

"We want to make money selling our software, so we will prove that it is illegal for you to give yours away for free." Read the article...

Leaping from protecting your own IP to the position that it is illegal to give away software with a stipulation that it remains free is just plain ludicrous. If it does turn out that the law supports SCO's position, then we need to write a better law.

I’d hate to see a world where it was illegal for strangers to be kind.

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