The Gnu Public License was designed from a Marxist economic perspective.
Classic Marxism teaches "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." The fundamental problem with that philosophy is that our needs and abilities are adjustable according to our desires, as the Bible clearly teaches. Thus a true Marxist economy is only possible within a community of sinless persons, where everybody honors the Golden Rule perfectly. There has never been such a community on earth, and Marxism has always failed everywhere it was attempted.
The Marxist ideal is nonetheless workable in a smaller way among altruistic people who seek no personal benefit from a shared goal. The original Bolshevik revolutionaries came close to this ideal, but after their initial success they were quickly replaced by politicians eager to work the system for personal gain.
First-generation Christian organizations also exhibit this same kind of missionary zeal, and I believe that Bible translators especially can work together for the common goal of getting the Word of God into the hands of every person who wants to read it in their own language, yet without stepping on each other's personal agendas and economic requirements.
The GPL defines and encompasses two novel legal ideas, CopyLeft and
However the vast majority of real-world workers need to be paid for
whatever they spend most of their working hours doing, and most creative
works take vast amounts of time to create. Most computer software takes
more time to do well than competent programmers are willing to spend in
their leisure; they want to be paid for writing programs people find useful,
and people are generally willing to pay them to do that. However, the value
of the software cannot be realized until all the work is finished, so somebody
must invest capital (up-front money, the opposite of Marxist teaching)
to pay them, and then recover their investment by selling their products
at prices set artificially higher than the actual cost of reproduction.
They can only do this if they also prevent others from giving it away for
free. This is in fundamental conflict with the Marxist philosophy in CopyLeft.
As a consequence, very few good programs are available under CopyLeft licensing.
The only truly free speech is speech without any compulsions whatsoever, and the GPL does not grant that right. In fact the GPL relies on copyright to restrict the freedom of its licensees and thus enforce its Marxist notion of CopyLeft. They have that right under the law, but to call it freedom is disingenuous.
2006 October 24