Having one’s cake and eating it too
by Aki Niemi
Monty is urging us to help keep the Internet free. Wait, what? Let’s go back a bit. He chose to require copyright assignment from outside contributors to MySQL. He chose to license under GPL, not BSD or similar. He chose to base his business in the ability to dual-license, and sell the software for profit under a commercial license. And he also got millions of euros for selling that business to Sun.
Now he’s complaining. Like he wouldn’t know that a GPL project can always be forked. If forking isn’t an option here, it’s mostly because of the decisions he made in the project. I wouldn’t contribute to a project that requires copyright assignment, unless I was forced to. Perhaps this is the reason there isn’t a vibrant community of (paid) contributors outside the team at Sun and now MariaDB.
I can’t see how freedom of the Internet would be at stake here. If anything, this will strengthen freedom of the Internet; if enough people want MySQL, it will fork into a truly free project, like Linux. Linux is and always will be free, because that is how Linus wanted it. He never wanted to sell the software for profit on the side. This was an option Monty decided to withold for himself, and now he’s having to deal with the consequences.
Choosing to go with the old model of shrink-wrapped software, instead of the new model of software as a service, made MySQL vulnerable to the equally old business tactic of a competitor buying off its competiton. The fact that EC approves is an indication they grog open source perhaps better than they’re given credit for. It’s GPL, so the business that went along with the project is surely ruined, but the code is and always will be free. Like the Internet.