Thoughts about software license abuses. No benchmarks, the practice of patenting and copyrighting formerly free software, and NO BENCHMARKS! (Did I mention no benchmarks?)
(Abusive clauses in software EULAs, and the frequent abuse of permissive non-copyleft software and “content” licenses)
I see “no-benchmark” clauses in proprietary software a lot…it makes me stop and wonder “What kind of crazy messed up shit are you making if you don’t want anyone to benchmark it?”.
If your software was good, you would probably want people to benchmark it and tell others how good it is, and how much of a fool they are if they don’t use it.
So it’s probably no surprise that the kind of software with these clauses are mainly from companies such as Microsoft and Apple.
I wish I could say such a stipulation was the biggest problem of using non-free(dom) software and “content”, but if you think about it, it is the most amusing. The presence of such a term implies that the product in question is inferior and that the only justification for such a term of use is as a preventive measure against exposure. (Internet Explorer, Windows, and DirectX prohibit public benchmarking without Microsoft approval, but it has never stopped anyone)
They’re like an insecure man at a urinal that shouts “STOP LOOKING AT MY TINY PENIS!!!!? DID I TELL YOU YOU COULD COMPARE MY TINY PENIS WITH YOUR MASSIVE PENIS!?!?” “DON’T LAUGH AT ME!!!!!!!!” “STOP IT!!!!”
They get to hide all their performance problems under a “thou shalt not benchmark our crappy products or we shall surely sueth thou” clause.
Microsoft and Apple EULAs have these in almost all of their products. Apple EULAs forbid developing nuclear weapons with their software. The BSD and MIT licenses let you benchmark anything you like and even use their software to make nuclear weapons to drop on Australia (hooray!).
Unfortunately, “permissively” licensed code often ends up buried under Microsoft and Apple EULAs. A recent example exists in AMD porting the open source Linux/X11 drivers to Windows CE.
Although these practices sometimes have indirect benefits to free(dom) and open source software, the users of the resulting non-free(dom) products usually don’t get the software under free(dom) or open source terms.
If they ever do, it’s almost always under a more restrictive license that serves the parasite company’s own interests, and not the interests of the people who contributed to it in good faith while it was free(dom). Any contributors to AMD’s drivers, for example, can have their work hijacked and put into Windows for profit of Microsoft even if their only goal was to improve free(dom) and open source software.
There are more nasty surprises with non-free(dom) software from such companies. For example, you can’t run any version of OS X under emulation or on a non-Apple PC. You can’t virtualize any edition of Windows, spare the most expensive “Ultimate rip-off” edition.
It is for these reasons, and many others, that most of the people arguing in favor of permissive non-copyleft licenses actually represent the type of company that wants free labor for their their own proprietary software offerings. The BSD, MIT, and other “permissive” licenses have nothing to do with freedom or open source software. Unfortunately, there are a lot of rather Dalek-like promoters of these licenses promising your work will be “more free” if you use them. It won’t be. The software and “content” under these licenses are not so much free(dom) as they are a staging area for your next iPhone or a future Verizon advertisement.
There are also people who are essentially zombie-like promoters (today is Halloween, I need to work in a zombie reference) of non-free(dom) software and “content” (including the re-wrapped formerly-free software that populates most Apple products) that seem to add a sort of quasi-legitimization to these societal problems, though they too can be, and often are, the victims.
I could probably go on and on and on about this, but I’m off to go benchmark Internet Explorer DirectX acceleration in Windows Starter running under Parallels in Mac OS X under VMWare while making nuclear weapons to drop on Australia.