Pick a Free OS

Capitalist view of Open Source

So how would she have looked at the GPL?

GPL is by no means a coercive or deceptive license. It clearly states the rights and obligations of any party who accepts its terms. It offers access to the intellectual wealth created by a producer, for a certain consideration. The consideration is that any derived works that are publicly distributed must also be made available under the same terms. This consideration may seem strange, but stranger contracts have been known to exist, which are legally valid and defensible.

The important thing is, there is nothing in the terms of GPL that is illegal, coercive or deceptive. If the terms of GPL are unacceptable to any party, they are completely at liberty to walk away. However, once they agree to the license, they are bound by its terms and cannot renege on them. Rand believed that one of the legitimate functions of a government is to enforce contracts.

So, far from Rand considering the GPL an evil socialistic phenomenon, it seems very likely from her writings that she would have seen nothing in it that opposed the principles of Capitalism. With GPL-ed software, there are creators owning their creations, deciding without coercion what to do with it, and entering into voluntary agreements with other free individuals to use and improve their work for mutual benefit. It is a textbook example of the enlightened self-interest that Capitalism talks about. It is clearly a way to increase wealth, not to destroy it, and therefore it is objectively good.

And what about making money? Rand always talked about "wealth" rather than money, because she realized all the different forms of wealth that are created by the human mind for man's enjoyment. In that, she remains years ahead of self-styled capitalists who, even today, see Capitalism only as a system to make money.

Statism - the enemy of Capitalism

"How does capitalism differ from statism?

Statism is the opposite of capitalism.

Only capitalism declares that each and every man, may live his own life for his own happiness, as an end to himself, not by permission of others, but by right, and that government's sole responsibility is to protect those rights, and never violate them, because they are inalienable."

Rand believed that individuals must be free to carry out trade with other individuals based on free will. She also identified forces that seek to prevent the functioning of such a free system and called them "statist", because they are enemies of progress.