GPL says: "You can only do the things we say you can do, but we'll never charge you for the right. If you need to use it differently, go invent your own way to do it."
I believe that's a pretty accurate simplification.
I think you've kind of missed the entire point of GPL with your 'simplification.'
The GPL doesn't say you "can only" do anything
. What it does say is that there is basically one thing you won't be allowed to do
The rest of it is a pile of verbiage and clarifications put there to close some loopholes, and generally keep people from trying to find new ways to get around it.
That "one thing" you're not allowed to do is to release
a proprietary closed-source product if you have incorporated GPL code into it.
If you release something to the public
(as opposed to just using it yourself, or internally like Google and others do) you must also release your source code. That is not to say you can't sell your product to a customer. All it says is that the source code for your product must be released for free and unrestricted use by anyone who wants it.
And this requirement extends to everything that incorporates GPL code. GPL is not an "anti-business' measure as some would argue. It applies just as equally to publicly released freeware. Some freely distributed distros and applications recently ran afoul of this requirement and were made to comply.
For anyone who is interested in reading the GPL (as opposed to just being told
what it says) the full text can be found here: http://www.gnu.org/licenses
Except for one person
, I have yet to meet anyone who has had a philosophical problem with the GPL after they've actually read it.
And in case you're wondering, this person's 'problem' was that she (and her attorney) couldn't figure out a legal way to violate the GPL for a commercial product they wanted to do.
And from this, it's very hard to say that one side is angelic while the other is evil.
Well, I can't speak for the white knights and angels, but I agree with you that Microsoft is not evil.
The whole problem comes down to Microsoft and FOSS living in two entirely separate universes. Their respective world views are so incompatible that no amount of discussion or compromise is ever going to resolve their differences. So why bother?
Perhaps the best outcome would be a form of parallel software evolution. It worked for marsupial/mammal development here on Earth, so it's not like it would be without precedent.
All both sides need to do is keep their claws sheathed, and it just might work.