[Corpora-List] POS-tagger maintenance and improvement

Andras Kornai andras at kornai.com
Fri Feb 27 03:57:01 CET 2009

On Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 03:25:17PM -0600, Linas Vepstas wrote:
> 2009/2/25 Andras Kornai <andras at kornai.com>:
> > is that the GPL basically stands in the way of industry-academia
> > partnerships, FSF claims to the contrary notwithstanding.
> Strongly disagree. Having worked on both GPL and
> BSD-licensed projects, I find that GPL enables far deeper,
> broader collaboration than the BSD license does. To
> understand this, you have to understand that its a cultural
> issue, not a legal/license issue.
> Here are the two cultures as I experience them:
> -- BSD license -- someone from some corporation
> downloads the source, modifies it, incorporates it
> in some product, ships it. There is no interaction
> whatsoever -- no email, no "Hi I like your software",
> nothing -- it disappears into a black hole. -- Until years
> later, when some new-hire from said company gives
> you a call, because "they saw my name in the code",
> and wanted some free support (for their years-old,
> hopelessly-out-of-date snapshot) . In short, BSD
> licensed code fails to nurture a community, or any
> sort of feedback, interaction, mutual cooperation;
> its a one way street from creator to profiteer.

This can happen, but the opposite (commercial companies giving money to academia to keep up the good work) also happens. True, we rarely receive software feedback, but we have received long-term support, quite significant amounts. We have also sponsored third parties to work on things they put in the public domain.

> The GPL license is very much the opposite: It does
> not bar corporations from using the code, or even
> selling it; but it does require that the fixes and changes
> be made public. This means that the rank-n-file
> corporate software jockeys sign up for the mailing lists,
> participate in the discussions, and send in patches.
> You get a real community out of it, and you actually
> see the communal improvements happen -- which
> everyone shares. The license fosters a community.
> That's really the crux of the difference between the
> licenses.

I'm delighted you have good experience with GPL -- my experience is that most of our commercial users wouldn't touch GPL'ed material with a ten foot pole. My previous commercial company, MetaCarta, actually pays a very good programmer to keep on working on (BSD licenced) open source code. Corporations are not necessarily evil (and Google is necessarily not evil, or so they say).

Andras Kornai

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