Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Non-compulsory sharing

One of the original goals of the GPLv3 was to make application services trigger the compulsory sharing clause. Now CNET reports that Google has shared its changes to MySQL to improve its reliability and manageability.

Google is famously secretive, treating most of its internal technical and human systems as trade secrets. Despite this, it’s decided that it’s worth sharing its MySQL changes — even though it doesn’t have to. Perhaps it wants its changes to become part of the main distribution, as I found Lawrence Livermore when shared its Linux clustering changes. Or maybe it’s hoping others will build upon and improve its code.

Either way, sharing happens without holding a gun to people’s heads. It happens in BSD. It happens in Apache. Sure, there’s a tension between common and private interest, but sharing already happens today when it’s economically rational.

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