Talk:Viral license

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References and language[edit]

Interesting how the article has survived over 5 years, no references, and at least redir-undo cycle. I've added some inline references, but without re-writing the article, so hopefully the refs are in context. I've also added a singular footnote, but there are definitely more to be found. This, for instance, is a good critique of the phrase, but I'm not convinced of the reliability of the source. And I also feel that the tone of the article could be brought more into WP:NPOV, but will leave it as-is now. Yngvarr (t) (c) 12:21, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

//The interoperability clauses are often pragmatically inoperative

This point is pretty important, if true. Needs clarification.

//...due to the vigorous enforcement and strict interpretation of the GPL as it related to integration, aggregation, and linking...

//In recent years, a number ..... have dropped efforts and support .... in response to this trend.

What/whose actions are considered by "vigorous enforcement"? What trend?

//have vocally opposed this restrictive interpretation and enforcement.

"Interpretation" within the GNU community or what? -- (talk) 00:03, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

False/Misleading information[edit]


"The term 'viral' is an apt analogy for these licenses, as they are designed to spread widely in an uncontrolled manner."

This is opinion. The term viral is vaguely (not) defined - referring to computer virus or biological virus? While the qualities of a virus(computer? Biological?) do include "spread[ing] widely in an uncontrolled manner" they are also able to act within/on the host because of their ability (not granted, but taken) to act without consent of the host. Licenses are not operational code. It is text, that must be read and agreed to by both parties, unlike the functions of a virus(biological) that does not require agreement from the prospective host, nor a virus(computer) that typically is installed in stealth, without host knowledge. Finally, the use of the term "Virus" in this incorrect analogy is innappropriately misleading to the uninformed of both the computer and biological audiences.

The statement of intent is opinion, and obfuscation, I believe. It can be rephrased as observable fact: "The term 'viral' is an apt analogy for these licenses, as they are self-reproducing. Software or documents bearing such a licence may be reproduced, adapted, and propagated only as permitted by the licence, which thereby acts like DNA." Would that be acceptable? Dvalin dvalin (talk) 11:54, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Suggest the use of "Wild", or "Open" in place of "Viral", as the license is meant to distribute itself widely in an uncontrolled manner, while maintaining control of acceptance by the legally agreeing user. R0bert Jan, 2009

That is a Wild Goose Chase, I submit, since there is no evidence that the licences were ever intended to be wild. Careful reading of e.g. the GPL shows considerable thought has gone into mandating constraints to the spread of the intellectual property. The prime intent which can be inferred from such a reading is ensuring that derivative works provide all of the original benefits and obligations. Dvalin dvalin (talk) 11:54, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

I added the term "reciprocal" now, which is the best term I have heard of. However, there should be probably a whole article about reciprocal vs. permissive (or "academic") licenses, and only having a sidenote about the viral term usage. The term viral, because of its negative associations, is anyway used often for non-neutral discussion. --TJ (talk) 10:58, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

But "viral" is the term used on mailing lists, I observe. The "academic" "reciprocal", or "permissive" terms are unlikely to be helpful to people seeking to understand terms in common usage. Dvalin dvalin (talk) 11:54, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

"The viral analogy..."[edit]

'The viral analogy for licensing can be extended to distinguish between concepts such as open source and free source. ' [which is viral?] (uncommented from source:) Not specified which one usually uses viral licences. Also, I have never heard of free software being called free source.

Citing the preceding Comment/Question, and the length of time it has gone unanswered, I am going to remove 'The viral analogy for licensing can be extended to distinguish between concepts such as open source and free source. ' on the grounds that it remains unexplained how the analogy extends to said concepts.

R0bert Jan, 2009

The alternative vaccine analogy[edit]

In 2003-Aug-14 Arnaldo Mandel, professor of computer science at the University of São Paulo (Brazil), sent a message to a now defunct mailing list called with the following observations, in Portuguese:

Olá a todos.

Estou há tempos lendo a lista, mas fiquei quieto até agora. Saio ganhando, já que li opiniões e idéias interessantes.

Uma coisa que me deixa um pouco perplexo é o fato de vários participantes, claros adeptos de SL, que compreendem a GPL, aceitem a terminologia microsoftiana e chamem a GPL de vírus.

A GPL não é um vírus: ela é uma VACINA. Sua função é impedir que um software livre seja contaminado por software proprietário.

Nessa metáfora do vírus existe um bem sucedido truque de marketing, trocando os papéis do que é saudável e o que é doente. É bom não cair nessa.


Which I translate into English like this:

Hi everyone.

I'm reading this list for a long time and stayed quiet so far. I go out winning, since I read interesting opinions and ideas.

One thing that makes me a little perplexed is the fact that several participants, clear free software enthusiasts who understand the GPL, accept microsoftian terminology and call the GPL a virus.

The GPL is not a virus: it is a VACCINE. Its function is to prevent free software from being contaminated by proprietary software.

In this metaphor of the virus there is a successful marketing ploy, exchanging the roles of what is healthy and what is sick. You'll do well not to fall into that.


I think this is an accute perception. Wouldn't it be nice to have it explained as an alternative analogy to the virus one in the main page?

I'm sorry but I can't find a reference to the original post by Arnaldo Mandel. I found this post of my own refering to it though.

Gnustavo2 (talk) 22:45, 5 June 2016 (UTC)

Dubious Quotation[edit]

The cited page of text provides "weasel-words" as a basis for the term Viral License. The quote is misused, and actually represents "Viral License" as a sort of law-lingo, an unofficial term used in the realm of law.

R0bert Jan, 2009

Rewrite and removed tags[edit]

I rewrote this article based on the refs. Since basically everything is sourced now, I removed the POV and misleading tags, what do you guys think? If it still seems biased or incorrect let me know. Cheers, — sligocki (talk) 06:10, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

It's awesome. Nice work! R0bert (talk) 05:33, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

POV editing[edit]

Recently User:Audriusa made a number of edits that seem to me overly point of view. Specifically, he/she altered the lead to emphasize how the term is pejorative and biologically incorrect. I think that this article should be focused on what the term means and why it is used while also noting disagreements about the naming. Specifically, if anyone wanted to work on the Misunderstandings section (or summarize parts of it in the lead), that would be a great addition to the article. However, simply stating the reasons that the term is inappropriate in the lead of the article seems inappropriate itself (sorry for my lack of eloquence).

In addition, I don't agree that the adjective viral is necessarily negative. Viral marketing and viral videos do not seem to hold a negative connotation. Much like a viral license, these are both spread intentionally by people unlike biological viruses which attack the body and spread themselves despite our best efforts.

Finally, there is a clearly negative effect of viral licensing from the point of view of BSD licensers. As stated in the article, BSD licensed software can be "eaten up" by GPL licensed software and people who prefer a more permissive license can be limited in how they use so-called "free software". I am not advocating this point of view, but it is worth considering.

Cheers, — sligocki (talk) 22:42, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. I agree that unsourced opinion needs to stay a long ways away from the article. Sourced opinion may be fine, and facts may be fine. It's just that going around slapping a {{fact}} or {{cn}} tag on every sentence of another editor is also counterproductive to the goal, "increasing the reader's understanding of the subject". —Aladdin Sane (talk) 00:44, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
If doubt if any sources are required to support the claim that diseases and computer viruses cause negative associations for the most of the people. If such references are really needed, they are likely provided in the articles about viral diseases and computer viruses. Also, the term 'viral' is covered in the Wiktionary from where all 3 meanings are taken. Well, if this is really not enough, it is easy give a lot references, see [1] for instance. Also, the article only neutral when all major opinions are covered, and the 'viral license' term is opposed by some groups of people, this is as true as it is supported by other groups of people. I agree with your sentences that more references are and put them. A deny that this is a POV editing. Audriusa (talk) 14:45, 16 December 2009 (UTC)
I'm not seeing it, Andriusa. "Viral" has come to describe anything that (and I'm having trouble knowing exactly how to put this) spreads on its own. For example, we might say that "viral marketing" is disseminated not by the actions of the marketing company, but by the reactions of the targeted demographic. There may or may not be anything inherently negative about this specific usage.
As I'm personally annoyed by that kind of licensing scheme, I can see why some might intend the term as sort of a smear, but, given the recent use of the word viral, I'd wanna see an example.
J.M. Archer (talk) 22:05, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I think that the entire concept of a "viral license", and I believe the GPL is a virus, is inherently POV. The GPL (and LGPL) states its intentions, and the existence of the exclusion for dynamic linking seems to validate the impression (POV ...) that the GPL intends to be a virus. That said, despite being inherently POV (which is a bad thing for Wikipedia content -- I hope we can agree with that), this is too important. Tall Girl (talk) 15:07, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
pejorative terms/names do tend to be inherently POV. Some cleaning up, and source finding would do the article some good. Belorn (talk) 22:34, 22 February 2012 (UTC)

Redundant article or page?[edit]

Is there any reason why this article is not merged with Copyleft? After reading the discussion and the article, it seems like no one who is knowledgeable is under the opinion that there is actually any confusion with viral marketing. The only argument seems to be whether viral is derogatory or not. That being the case, all we are talking about is a persistent license and therefore copyleft which has its own similar discussion over whether or not it is a good thing or not. So I honestly ask, is there any example of a viral license that is not actually copyleft? If so then someone should add to the article to distinguish the two. Else if not then we should probably consider merging or redirecting to copyleft because I find it confusing. --Trakon (talk) 07:44, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Comments in the article history show that others have suggested a merge before now. Either copyleft or share alike are good ideas for a merge since they all refer to each other without much distinguishing them. --Trakon (talk) 07:50, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

The Copyleft article seems much more thorough than this one. It seems to me that "copyleft" is the term used mostly by proponents, and "viral" is a term uses mostly by critics. Attorney Lawrence Rosen suggested the neutral term "reciprocal license" but that hasn't caught on as much as "copyleft" has. It seems like a merge to Copyleft would be helpful. DMarti (talk) 02:18, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

It should be merge, and there is an old 2013 consensus for it that never got implemented. This article contains no additional insight which isn't already in the copyleft article, and there is no sign of improving. The second sign for a bad article is when the article talk page has been used mostly for general discussion about the subject of the article, rather than how to improve the article. The third sign is that finding any reliable sources on the subject matter is extremely hard, where the wast majority simply refer to the single event created from the microsoft statement. All points towards a merge or an deletion of the article. Belorn (talk) 15:03, 13 October 2014 (UTC)

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