Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
GNU is Not Unix

FSF updates Free Software definition 182

Mark Wielaard writes "The FSF has updated their definition of Free Software. It now says something about the freedom to actually run the program for any purpose, the freedom to redistribute copies to anyone, anywhere (export restrictions) and how those freedoms should be irrevocable (license termination). "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FSF updates Free Software definition

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The entire concept of intellectual property is bogus to begin with. While big businees tries to pull political moves by exploiting IP (heh, that sounds like nuking ;), organizations and individuals such as the FSF are utilizing such stupid law to counteract itself, and in many cases to wage an ideological war to restore the freedom that was wrongly taken away over the past few centuries.

    I don't see how you can equate ideological and political motivations...unless perhaps the ideological one stands to harm you financially when you can no longer hold monopolies on your proprietary software... *sigh*, we have a lot of lusers like you around anymore...

    - RF (dfelker@cnu.edu)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The GNU system
    The GNU system is a complete free Unix-like operating system.

    A Unix-like operating system consists of many programs. We have been accumulating components for this system since 1984; the first test release of a ``complete GNU system'' was in 1996. We hope that in a year or so this system will be mature enough to recommend it for ordinary users.

    The GNU system includes all the GNU software, as well as many other packages such as the X Window System and TeX which are not GNU software.

    Since the purpose of GNU is to be free, every single component in the GNU system has to be free software. They don't all have to be copylefted, however; any kind of free software is legally suitable to include if it helps meet technical goals. We can and do use non-copylefted free software such as the X Window System.


    Linux? What is Linux? Anyone see the word Linux?

    GNU software
    GNU software is software that is released under the auspices of the GNU Project. Most GNU software is copylefted, but not all; however, all GNU software must be free software.

    Some GNU software is written by staff of the Free Software Foundation, but most GNU software is contributed by volunteers. Some contributed software is copyrighted by the Free Software Foundation; some is copyrighted by the contributors who wrote it.

    So, if they didn't write it, and they don't own it,...what exactly does make it 'GNU' software?

    Also, any time you feel RMS has not gotten the credit he deserves, look at the credit he has gotten, and then look at the credit he gives....

    Gotten
    http://www.fsf.org/people/rms.html
    Stallman received the Grace Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery for 1991 for his development of the first Emacs editor in the 1970s. In 1990 he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and in 1996 an honorary doctorate from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. In 1998 he received the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer award along with Linus Torvalds.


    Gives
    http://www.fsf.org/gnu/linux-and-gnu.html and
    A complete system needs more than just programming tools; the Bourne Again SHell, the PostScript interpreter Ghostscript, and the GNU C library are just as important.


    (Am I mistaken or did he just list Ghostscript as a GNU program? Lets move on to the
    • Ghostscript
    link...)

    http://www.fsf.org/software/ghostscript/ghostscr ipt.html
    Ghostscript was mainly written by Peter Deutsch.


    GNU Ghostscript is a copyrighted work (Aladdin Enterprises owns the copyright)

    Not once in that entire page is the Ghostscript webpage linked. Only passing mention in the whole thing to even suggest it was written and developed by someone else. And NEVER is it stated that there is a *new* version of Ghostscript available for free download by those who choose. The GPLed version is so outdated as to not work with many printers, yet does RMS "help his neighbor" by linking to the site were one may freely get the version that WILL work? No, he furthers his own agenda by trying his hardest to mention the true developers as little as possible....probably making many think this is the only version available (who would know from his site?) or possibly, the only version that works with "GNU" systems.

    Then you have his "testimonials" page were it states that some of these people used GNU software to develop proprietery works, so the testimonials have been edited to censor out any refference to their product....supposedly because if he mentions them then we will be so easily manipulated by the mere mention of the product that we will want to go buy it now. I suppose maybe he thinks because FSF mentioned it we will all think it is now "endorsed" by the FSF and we so trust them implicetly that instead of thinking for ourselves we will go buy this thing he was talking about.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...never see the source of that crap that have to worry constantly that it might be taken away, ripped out from under a project of mine which heavily depends on it. What sort of shit are you smoking? The Leaf of Commercialist-Exploitationist America? Is there a reason you're so wrapped up in the wants of these businesses who do not give a damn about anything but themselves, and who are trying to promote their own deceptively pseudo-free software by labelling it ``Open Source''?

    No Free Software of ``Open Source'' definition has ever included software for which the only license allowing you to use it can be revoked. Stating this explicitly is nothing new. See, it's kind of simple, dufus: there is no Freedom to copy, no Freedom to prepare derivative works, etc., if such pseudo-freedom depends on the arbitrary choice of the ``owner'' not to revoke.

    Do you think you could see about finding the tiniest piece of a clue before posting here or anywhere else again? - or for that matter, before opening your mouth or touching a keyboard again? The FSF has no way of telling the likes of Apple and IBM that they cannot make their fake ``Open Source'' licenses which the traitorous ESR embraces. (It's the responsibility of the governments of the world to do that, by revoking all IP law...) However, the FSF, in promoting Free Software (both its use and the concept of Freedom in general) most certainly can and should clarify what is and what is not Free, and point out that pseudo-free licenses with termination clauses in them really don't give you any freedom at all - at least not in any practical sense.

    What problem do you have with this? My guess is that you really despise Free Software, being yourelf dependent on proprietary control of IP, and just use ``Linux'' because you're tired of seeing the BSOD. What can I do about it? Nothing, most likely... But you sure are pittiful...

    - RF (dfelker@cnu.edu)
  • Free beer (level 0) I understand and accept, but the "freedom to redistribute" (level 2) seems to create some deep moral problems.

    Why should someone be able to profit by selling something I created? That doesn't sound like freedom to me and it just doesn't feel right. It is neither "free beer" or "free speech", what it is - is "free labour" which in other words is "freedom to be exploited".

    Take the leading Linux distro RedHat for example. These guys are making millions of dollars of profit selling CD's of mostly software they did not create. They are profiting from the free labour of thousands of generous programmers. This seems like exploitation, a loop hole in the GPL, and it just doesn't seem right. Yes, RedHat does "re-invest" some of its profit back into the Linux community by funding certain projects, but does this allow them the right to get rich off of other peoples hard work? The GPL says yes.

    ESR's Cathedral and the Bizarre, is just that, bizarre. He lays out several business models that will work with "open source". What about the traditional software company model? ERS and RMS want you to think that it is dead. Well it's not. The commercial Linux apps are on the way. I don't care how much of a free software zealot you are and free software is great but there will be some commercial apps you will want.

    Here is what I think is going to happen. Freedom is great but freedom to be exploited is not. So software developers are going to create and release free software FSF level 0 only. And the distribution part is going to cost. It is still free to the end user but it is not free to the corporation.

    Say no to the GPL and stop being exploited.

    Feed me, I will program for food.

    e
  • AIDS research. This is an example of how an international research community got together to do something useful.

    The Internet. The whole thing got started as a defense industry research project.

    Buy into the MIT Media Lab's research of cool toys: wearable computers, etc.
  • Hey Bruce:

    Here's something I've always wanted to ask you, as the author of these two documents.

    When the DFSG was being written, I suppose the aim behind it was to use it as a clear and unambiguous guide to deciding what software packages could be included in a free OS distribution. That is, as a guide to evaluate existing software licenses. I am inclined to think that you people never had in mind back then for it to be used as a guide to writing new free software licenses.

    However, then the OSI sprang up, and adopted the DFSG as the definition of Open Source Software (TM). Now we have all these companies taking the OSD, each drafting its own license to meet it.

    The question is, was there any thought given before the adoption of the DFSG to whether the OSD would end up being used for these ends?

    ---

  • "This is licensed for use under the terms of the GPL, version 2 or later, at your discretion".

    Say GPLv3 comes out, and you don't like it. Fine. You can just exercise your discretion and continue to use your GPLv2-licensed software under the same terms.

    However, say the GPLv3 added some new feature you really like. Then you can accept the terms of the GPLv3 and benefit from that feature.

    ---

  • Am I a slave because I read a copyrighted novel?

    This is a completely different issue. Hey, try reading the philosophy section at www.gnu.org; some of the articles go into the reason we have a copyright system--- because most people in the 19th century didn't own the means to print their own copies. This means that the government offered protection to the publishers, so that society at large could benefit from having novels available.

    The confusion comes from the fact that free software is somewhere between proprietary and public domain software.

    This is no fact. All public domain software is free software. (But not all free software is public domain.)

    Open Source is a much more acurate term in this sense, but still covers software that's not "free".

    Excuse me? Which non-free product meets the OSD or the DFSG? (Irregardless of ESR's rushed, unconsulted declarations.)

    Anyway, the term Open Source (TM) has been intended from the beginning to be coextensional with Free Software. Read the OSI website, for god's sake.

    We need a new term for free software. How about "open license" or just plain "copyleft."

    People have suggested "libre software", to avoid the abiguity of the english term "free". But I don't think that will ever stick.

    "Copyleft" is (IMHO) the idea of using copyright to defend free software from being absorved into copyrighted proprietary software, that is, fighting copyright with copyright. This is an FSF idea, and is embodied in the GPL.

    ---

  • Users can pay programmers to write software. You know, software doesn't write itself.

    Need something the existing software can't do? Hire programmers to write and maintain a program to do it.

    ---

  • Cellular2DSource. txt [airwindows.com]
    SiteBotSource.txt [airwindows.com]
    StaccatoSource.txt [airwindows.com]

    Sorry RMS- free software is bigger than you are, and more important than wars over some company's stupidities (serious Mac users love and hate Apple's inimitable little ways- we know they're nuts, but they're _our_ nuts)
    There's at least three GPLed programs that run on MacOS- FSF supported in the sense that they are just as GPLed as anything else, the license is serious and doesn't become invalid when used on a platform RMS doesn't like.
    He can hold whatever grudges he wants. They do not affect the license he wrote that I use. I don't see that the revisions change it for me. If he does do something that changes it for me, I will fork it and hold it at a previous level which does not ruin the plain and clear GPL concept by playing politics with companies.
  • Picture RMS scampering over to Gosper's side, sometime after the big LISP machine split-up that wrecked the MIT AI lab.
    RMS: Hi! Whatcha doin'?
    Gosper: ...I CAN'T TALK ABOUT IT. *turns away*

    Why is it so difficult to understand that the whole GPL thing was inspired by the tendency of proprietary software to _close_ lines of communication? How many times have you said, "Damn, I just did the greatest... um, idea, it's an idea I have for a program, but I can't really tell you about it because it's sure to be a trade secret... but it's really great!"
    It's 'free speech' because the system devised by Stallman encourages chatter among programmers and a _social_ sharing of ideas that is not directly forbidden by proprietary software, but which just withers and dies due to pragmatic proprietary business reasons...
    In a sense it's like saying, "Rather than just share your trade secrets with no protection for the sake of being able to talk freely about them, join this group where you can talk freely with the other members of the group, but still be protected against the loss of your trade secrets to outsiders!"
    Doesn't that sound more sane? Only works if you _have_ the group- but he does have the group, now.
    Software is not little corporate towel designs creatable by trained monkeys. Software is ideas- and I hope the really good ideas get made under the GNU General Public License. That is the group with which I talk freely.
    The fact is, software may not be all that much like 'free speech'... but proprietary software is very much like restricted speech! Is this such a far flung analogy, really? It makes very good sense to me, and I've abided by NDAs quite virtuously in my time (for whom, I still will not say). I like the idea of not having to, and also not having to watch your back for industrial spies listening in on the conversation...
  • ...then free software meets the users' needs wonderfully. Take Apache, where the enduser is the sysadmin, a person comfortable with text-based config files; it's an excellent example of successful free software, performing its job far better than commercial software.

    On a side note, free software developed with financial backing from those who would profit from end-user support is filling in many of the holes, too; GNOME, developed with financial support from Red Hat, is an excellent piece of software.
  • That could, I suppose, be a concern in some situations.

    Seeing as my library's going to be in a piece of embedded hardware, though, there's really no risk of that happening here.

    Frankly, it would be a very unprofessional-looking stunt for a company to do... I really don't think there's a chance of it happening in much any circumstances.
  • I'm not speaking this based on some FSF publication, but my experience in contributing to free software projects.

    Free software does not belong to "someone else". When I work on a piece of free software, it is as my own; I just happen to be working w/ a bunch of other folks on it.

    This phrase, "someone else's software" implies individual ownership. Copyright? Sure! But does a person own their free software? Do you own the words you speak? If someone uses a phrase or quote they heard from you without asking, are you offended? Perhaps legally, but I'm not going to check before using an argument I heard you succesfully debating with; You shouldn't be obligated to check with me either.

    A maintainer has responsibilty for their project and recieves a great deal of good will from the community. However, it is not "their own" in the way you speak of.

    Working on a large project will help you understand this; I reccomend starting with something like Crossfire (if you like game programming; the source is very readable) or WINE (if you have experience with Windows API coding).

    ---

    Btw, I certainly don't believe use of a free licence should be a requirement. I _do_ believe that commercial software development is likely to result in lower-quality software, and that the assurances provided by free software (eg hardware support -- POVRay will always run on any platform I want it to; If no binaries are available, I can recompile, modifying as needed). But don't think that we want "freedom of software" to be governmentally assured; This would be far more a restriction of freedom than a guarantee thereof. By making free software voluntary, we ensure that we work with not "someone else's software" but OUR OWN.
  • The competitors would have to abide by the GPL; Only my employer gets a non-GPL licence (and thus the ability to use my code in their commercial product). This means that the competitors would have to put their entire competing product under the GPL to use my source (note it's not LGPL I'm using; dynamic linking won't get them around it), and none of 'em have the balls to do that.
  • ...if you were obligated to release your results freely? (Re the "If my 'restrictive' software simply didn't exist you would be no further along).

    I don't know who you work for; There certainly may well be places where it is neccesary that software be commercial. However, there are also plenty of places where it's not so.

    I'm doing some work involving one-way hashes. If I write a library with one-way hash algorithms optimised for a small memory space (as is the situation I'm dealing with) to help me in creating the final project I'm being paid for, how is my employer hurt if I release that library under the GPL (granting my employer a licence to do whatever-the-heck he wants w/ it, so they don't have to deal with the GPL restriction)?

    In situations like this, it's all gravy. Not only does the product get created, but the library may occasionally be upgraded by other folks using it at no additional cost. Does doing this somehow make the product "developed more slowly"? I'd hope not.
  • I'm being paid a fixed, pre-agreed for the finished end product. If I happen to use a library which I happened to write on my own time (me being the one who decides what time is my own) in creating that end product, they've nothing to complain about.
  • Posted by Gordon Matzigkeit:

    As I've said before, you may be interested in the FIG License [fig.org].

    Committed to freedom and diversity.
  • Posted by Gordon Matzigkeit:

    The FSF is trying to strengthen the definition against things like the FIG License [fig.org].

    However, as I wrote in a submission to Slashdot, I don't believe there is a conflict between the FSF's and FIG's idea of free software.
    Committed to freedom and diversity.

  • Posted by Gordon Matzigkeit:

    I'm not exactly leaping to the defense of the FSF, because I don't think they're particularly right, nor do I think you're particularly wrong.

    I'm replying so that you can start to understand the mental processes that go on in RMS's head, and the reasons why I don't find him offensive.

    Linux is not considered part of the complete GNU system because the complete GNU system uses the Hurd running on Mach instead. That's the same reason why the NetBSD kernel is not considered part of the complete GNU system, even though it's free software too.

    GNU/Linux means the complete GNU system, but instead of the Hurd and Mach, it uses Linux.



    What makes something GNU software? The same thing that makes it Linux software. Linux software is called Linux software because it interoperates with the Linux kernel. GNU software is called GNU software because it interoperates with the GNU C Library, GNU Emacs, GNU Wget, GNU cc, etc.

    Note that GNU software and Linux software are not mutually-exclusive terms. Think postmodernist: is Perl GNU software or Linux software? The answer is both, plus even more. Perl is Win32 software, Perl is Solaris software, Perl is Artistic software, Perl is GPLed software, etc.



    Before you leap to using Ghostscript as an example of RMS stealing credit from Aladdin, write to L. Peter Deutsch, and ask him what he thinks of the matter.

    Also, before you claim that RMS is censoring the commercial testimonials, you'd have to talk with those people to find out what they think about the issue. I'd be surprised if they were as angry as you are about it.

    RMS tends to respect peoples' wishes for privacy if they don't grant him permission to
    use them as examples.
    Committed to freedom and diversity.

  • Posted by Gordon Matzigkeit:

    ``No, nooooooo! Not Emacs! AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!''

    Committed to freedom and diversity.
  • Posted by Gordon Matzigkeit:

    You may be interested in helping me work on the FIG License [fig.org].

    Committed to freedom and diversity.
  • Posted by Gordon Matzigkeit:

    What you say is true. I would never claim that it is immoral for people to benefit from another's voluntary contribution.

    All I claim is that it is not always in the best interests of the Creator to do things that maximize other peoples' benefit at their own expense. Here is the situation I imagine:

    You are somebody who loves to paint houses, but nobody knows about you, and you don't have enough money to buy new houses so you can paint them.

    And so, you make your own house a masterpiece, hoping that it will attract a buyer, so that you can move out of it and use the profits to buy another house (which you will then paint).

    Sensing there is money to be made, a large corporation moves to your neighbourhood, and buys everybody else's house (but not yours). Then they use their extensive wealth to advertise your house on the front page of every paper.

    The neighbourhood is in huge demand. People visit and move there in droves so that they can look at your beautiful house all day. The corporation makes a lot of money from selling the other, unadorned houses (especially the ones that have a clear view of your house).

    However, you see none of that money. No matter how beautiful you make your house, nobody ever offers to buy it. No matter how many people you talk to, all you meet are people who want to look at your house, not live in it.

    In fact, the corporation and your neighbours get extremely hostile when you talk about moving to another neighbourhood. In all senses of the word, they own you and your house, but they have not paid you for it.

    The only payment they offer is advice and offers to improve the house. At first you accept them with great pleasure, but later you realize that many of them only care about the house, not you.

    And so, shaking your head in disgust, you leave the neighbourhood. Some people miss you, others are angry at you, but you have already been replaced by teams of people who continue to paint your house, and make it into a greater masterpiece than even you could do.

    Next time you begin painting a house, you think twice: ``Why will this be different than the last time?''



    That is the question I had to ask myself after I quit working on GNU Libtool, and moved on to Debian GNU/Hurd.

    The FIG License [fig.org] is an attempt to answer that question. I do not care about Free Software as much as I care about Creativity. I firmly believe that it is possible to be both moral and profitable, and I'm looking to make this dream a reality.

    I want to eliminate SAS (Starving Artist Syndrome) from our world. Come and help me, if you believe in the cause. The only thing we Creators have to lose are our self-imposed chains.

    Committed to freedom and diversity.

  • It's more like "Oh.. Apple put some things in their license that a) we didn't think of in the beginning but that b) we disagree with."

    So they drafted a new definition to cover the ideas in the APSL they didn't agree with.

    Doesn't have anything to do with a personal grudge as far as I can see.
  • Are you suggesting that he should have called for a vote on what his opinion should be?

    RMS stated his opinion on the subject. The fact that you posted what you did indicates that he did not dictate anything.

    You remain free to release your software under any terms you like.

  • "Free beer" as a required aspect of free software is one heck of a trap. Requiring as a condition of the license that no one may make money by selling the software entirely inhibits the type of business model enjoyed by Red Hat and other commercial free software distributors.

    Due to the freedom to redistribute software without restriction, economic forces will tend to drive the monetary price of free software dramatically downward. Therefore, free speech will eventually lead to free beer, but forced free beer will tend to stifle the free speech part by limiting distribution only to those who can distribute without fee.

  • The problem is, a large proportion of those who don't understand the model (at least, the noisier ones here) are fond of referring to research as "academic welfare", which makes it unsurprising that they also don't grok free software. Do you have any suggestion on explaining to them why this is important, or is it hopeless? :-)

    Daniel
  • I'm kinda befuddled by this comment -- the previous poster has a concern about the GPL, and all you can do is claim that they're too stupid to understand Linux?

    The concern is specifically that someone is trying to force him to use the GPL, and that someone is the FSF. They don't merely recommend that people use the GPL (which is praiseworthy); they also include legal language in the GPL which says that anything linked to a GPLed program must itself be GPLed. Why couldn't they have said "must be level $n$ free or better"?

    However, as long as we've got the LGPL I'm happy. I wish there were a few clear choices, though. We could use:

    - full GPL (total protection, only GPL)
    - half-GPL (freedom to link to free software)
    - demi-GPL (freedom to link to open source)
    - LGPL (freedom to link anywhere, including icky anti-free)
    - open source
    and I suppose:
    - icky closed-source
    - even ickier anti-free software

    The reason why open source became and remains so popular is that it offers a wide range of options for licensing. The reason why it garners so much oposition is that it is almost capable of replacing free software, while allowing latitude in licensing above what free software can allow.

    If the free software camp would officially offer a definition and license more restrictive than LGPL but less so than GPL, this problem would be moot. In addition, we could generally place any foreign license somewhere on that scale.

    -Billy
  • That makes absolutly no sense. The GPL has already been revised once, and I assume it will be again. It is a liscence...a legal document. As such, it needs to be updated to match the legal landscape of the times. Hell, even the US Constitution has needed a few tweaks. Granted, no such changes should be taken litely. Regardless of how I might feel about rms's views and expression of those views, I have faith that he takes the issue of Free Software very seriously.

    As for the "Freedom to do what you want to do with someone else's software", that applies if they chose to release under a free liscence. In addition, rms is stating his (and FSF's) view that it is morally wrong to "hoard" software. You're free to ignore his view.

    That's the whole point of freedom. You have the responsibility for your own actions and the freedom to excercise that responsibility. Just because rms states his view doesn't mean you need to follow it.

    Finally, I have a suspision that it isn't just us crazy Americans' that have a 'notion of "freedom"'. Freedom is for everyone that chooses it. Because you have free will you can also choose not to be free. Or you can even choose not to choose...to accept the level of freedom "society" presents you.
    --
    "First they ignore you.
    Then they laugh at you.
    Then they fight you.

  • why is it hypocritical? Surely you're be giving up liberties if you were forced to contribute. The GPL is more reasonable; if you distribute the software the source code must also be available, but if you never distribute it, you aren't forced to do anything.
  • i think that their point is that ideas should not be considered property. once you have given your idea to someone else, you cannot seriously expect them not to do with it what they please. their point is that it is morally wrong to expect that and therefore your idea cannot be considered truly free because it is morally impaired by your expectation.

    it is this understanding which has led many (most?) countries not to allow patents on software. the US is the big exception and i must disagree with its interpretation of patent law.

    -l
  • Then we'd better start collecting and posting the versions of the GPL/LGPL as such, and referring to them by their revision levels. If business, government, non-profit orgs, schools, etc., -- all the suits that came to the party -- can't point at a specific immovable document and say "that's the document our cooperation is founded upon" without fear of someone changing it on them, most of our momentum will die in confusion and permanent distrust. FSF will have devalued its most powerful product.
  • Hmm. As I'm sure you've grokked from others here, this is aimed almost directly at the OSI's approval of the APSL. There is almost certainly no rapport being established between the two, particularly now that it has become such a personal battle between Perens, ESR, and RMS.
    -luge
  • To clarify: it is the FSF that has always been the primary pusher of free as free speech, not free beer. the free beer advocates are ESR and the OSI, most definitely not the FSF.
  • _They_ (the FSF) updated _their_ definition of free software. I don't know if it was RMS making the decision unilaterily, or after a great deal of discussion about the GNU people. The document is unsigned.

    As for worrying a benevolent dictator, you're entirely right. But RMS isn't and can't be that dictator, because he won't make the compromises nesseccary to lead the community. ESR has and appears much closed to "benevolent dictatordom". For some of the dangers of this, cf. the recent debian-devel archives for a thread called "email threat".
  • I think they are just clarifing things they didn't feel needed clarified before. I've read other documents before the APSL thing where mentioned the ability to modify the program and keep it to themselves as an important feature.

    I don't think it's hypocritical. If you make changes, it's still your right not to share with the world - perhaps because it has personal details, because you're embaressed of your coding, or maybe because it would be too much work IYO. RMS has usually been discussing if you give it out - but you don't have to give it out.
  • I might add one thing, they state that a user should be able to modify the program and keep it to themselves, without even mentioning their existence to anyone else. Is this not, however, completely contrary to the idea of free software, where everyone contributes? I smell hypocrisy.

    I disagree. The idea is that free software should not place restrictions on those who use it. If you modify a program, and keep the changes, who is using the software?

    You are. You are now the user. According to the spirit of free software, you can now do anything with that software that does not restrict the freedom of others.

    For better or worse, that freedom includes not giving it away. However, if you were to distribute that modification in any way, there would be other users, whose freedom you would (according to the fsf) not have the right to restrict.

    My $.02

  • It's communist. "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" -Marx, "Software must be freely distributable so you can help your neighbor." -Stallman

    Communism is not just a few pithy statements you can regurgitate in hastily formed arguments. It's an entire cosmology, not just an economic proposition. Christ says we should share as well, does that make RMS christian?

    His political ideas really don't have a great deal to do with the FSF, which has one very simple goal.

  • Hmm...

    I really don't like the idea to see one person define what freedom means to all of us...


  • It's only about a year or two before prozac's patent becomes public-domain or whatever it is that lets other companies make generic prozac, which is basicly as close as drugs can get to open-source

  • That little exchange deserves its own /. thread.

    ---------------------------------
    "The Internet interprets censorship as damage,
  • They did this because they believe in something.
    From a philosophical stand point, I agree with all of it. As free software grows as a movement, there are going to be redefinitiions and some of them are going to come as responses to newcomers introducing new ideas and licences. Why is it bad that the FSF is responding to Apple's terms? They'd be failing as an organization if they didn't.
  • You kid, of course. Anyone who calls RMS a dictator can hardly know the man.

    Mr Stallman is, simply, far more ethical and conscientious than current social norms tolerate. Whatever sense of obligation or compulsion you feel is either because of the force of his persuasion or because the software industry and its fiercely creative "free" netherworld are mediaocracies rather than democracies and these folks are being led by the nose to either uncritically embrace or oppose RMS's opinions. Get a brain.

    I don't agree with all that Richard says, but he has brought and kept issues critical to the essence of software and freedom on the front page, as well as seasoning them with proper and just notions of ethics and values. I cannot stand by and see him maligned unjustly.

  • ...that using proprietary software is like submitting yourself to slavery.

    Am I a slave because I read a copyrighted novel? No! Is a shareware programmer a slave-owner? Again, No!

    The analogy is a little more fitting if you personify your software. :) In the case of proprietary software your software itself is a slave of the writer, since s/he is the one who ones it, and you have only payed to use its services.

    Whereas with free software, your software it your own slave... Hmmm. I guess maybe the metaphor breaks down. :) Oh well.

  • free software has as much to do with free speech as it does with free beer, that is, nothing. Those two phrases are simply used to illustrate two different meanings of the word "free" in English in order to emphasize the FSF doesn't mean "no cost" as in free beer.

    The only connection to free speech is that they use the same sense of the word "free". Software is not the same as speech so no need to drag in all the emotional baggage of the rest of that phrase.
  • In fact RMS (and others) made just this objection to pre-release versions of the Netscape Public License that effectively required ALL changes be made available to Netscape.

    Based on this feedback the final version of the NPL was changed to a "source follows distribution" model like other free licenses.
  • INAL but according to my understanding of the copyright code if you work for a company producing code you don't own it, the company does. For instance if you were to leave company A and go to work for company B you couldn't just take the code with you and sell it to them because company A owns it. This would be considered theft just the same as if you cracked their server and took the source. For this reason some employees when they go to another company have to work in a different department (ie. Wallmart and Amonzon.com agreement). It has even been cloudy for the Judical system with cases of workers getting arrested for trying to sell a program the work on the side at their job. Even though the Program was not for work it still was developed at the job and was therefor owned by the company.
  • Those posts are really sad. I'm hoping somebody was emulating Bruce/Eric and that these are not their actual comments, very embarassing. Sometimes I'm turned off on reading some of their philosophies because of the egos, but I (or we) shouldn't judge a whole movement based on the personalities of a few.

    Anyways, this post is *** waaaaaaay *** of topic, if not depressing.
  • >I might add one thing, they state that a user should be able to modify the program and >keep it to themselves, without even mentioning their existence to anyone else. Is this >not, however, completely contrary to the idea of free software, where everyone >contributes? I smell hypocrisy.

    There is no hypocrisy involved here. Free software is about freedom. There is no reason whatsoever to require a user to report trivial changes which are completely localised. How would you like it if you had to report something like changing the spelling of a printf from (for example) the US spelling to the UK spelling?
    And there is no requirement of contribution inherent in free software. Contribution is merely a good idea - for example it stops upgrade patches from failing due to your own non-contributed patches.
  • The FSF is trying to draw the distinction between a free (no cost) product or commodity, and free (intangible but distributable) information.

    The right to freedom of speech allows you to speak your mind without fear of reprisal as long as you don't use your freedom to harm others (slander, libel, shouting "Fire!", etc.) Due to your right to freedom of speech, you can't be prohibited from passing information to others. Likewise, free software gives you the right to inspect, modify, and redistribute it as long as you don't infringe other's rights (for example, by adding code which you don't have the rights to use). Thus, free software also allows you to pass information to others without restriction.

  • I'm not sure exactly what you are referring to. The FSF didn't "crack down" on anybody. They simply offered their comments on a publicly-announced issue, the APSL. Apple hasn't violated the law or any FSF licensing agreements. Apple doesn't have any licensing agreements with the FSF that I know of. It is entirely their right to license their code and product in any manner they see fit. The free software community may believe that such a license isn't in the best interest of the community and/or Apple, but that doesn't make the APSL illegal or a licensing violation.

  • I'm not really surprised by the modifications to the definition of Free Software. They are essentially just the codification of the objections that the FSF has to the tenets of the Open Source(tm)(s)(r) movement, and in that sense are essentially not anything new. What I didn't know, before I had browsed around fsf.org site a bit, was exactly how overboard these people had gone. O fun! O joy! Check out the words-to-avoid [fsf.org] page and learn about the new, improved GNUSpek! Helps you avoid "incorrect thinking"! Read about the pitfalls of the Open Source movement (it allows bourgeois companies to take advantage of the "fuzzy thinking" of the proletariat). Come to the FSF web site and correct your wrong thinking! RMS complains rather vehemently about the injustice of copyright law and the penchant of the SPA of trying to get the government to enforce it. This, it just recently occured to me, ignores one simple fact: copyright law does nothing but create a default bargain between the author/publisher and the user. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. If you don't want your work to be covered by US copyright law, release it to people under your own agreement, as the FSF does with the GPL. [Technically, it's still covered by US copyright law, but you render that a moot point with the correct agreement terms]. The upshot of all this is that the pigs and the SPA are essentially doing nothing more than making sure that people keep their word, that they abide by the agreement they made in order to get access to the works. Keeping your word is a good thing, no? And if the software you wanted to use wasn't worth the price you paid for it and the restrictions that came with it, then why did you buy it? There can be no reason. The simple answer is that in some way, for some reason, it WAS worth it. [ASIDE: Now, that *reason* isn't necessarily just. Refer to the terms "network effect" and "lock-in"] More importantly, RMS knows this. And yet, rather that merely exhorting people to release their works under an alternative agreement, he rails on and on and on about the evils of copyright, as if changing the default bargain will keep companies from using the most profitable (i.e., generally one of the more restrictive) bargain they can come up with. But, RMS continues to rail on about how copyright violates the Right Of The People(tm) to share software with their neighbors. Let me get this straight: I've got something in my head. You don't have any damned right to anything with it. Now, if I write it down and don't share it with you, you still don't have any damned right to it (and thus far, couldn't do anything about it if you did). But, if you and I come to an agreement about the conditions under which I will show it to you (and only you), then you somehow magically gain the right to blab it out to everybody once I turn my back? Is this true even when you promised me you wouldn't? " Cooperation is more important than copyright [fsf.org]," true, but keeping your word is often more important than cooperation. Personally, I think RMS is so concerned that the argument be viewed in his light because he'd like to see a lack of protection for creators and publishers enshrined in the consitution he refers to so much. Don't get me wrong: I pirate [hah!] my fair share of shit. I sometimes even pirate stuff that I could afford to buy. However, I view this as something akin to petty theft (when I can afford it), and something a bit less than that when I can't. I certainly don't delude myself into thinking it's my right. And I don't worry about the SPA showing up on my doorstep either: it isn't the least bit interested in stopping piracy that doesn't result in a loss of income; it's just interested in making sure that those who can pay are scared enough to. As far as the SPA showing up and auditing businesses, more power to 'em! If a company is using software to make money, then it oughtta by golly be prepared to share the wealth with the people who gave them the software thant helped them make the money. And that's just all I've got to say about that. RMS also complains at length about the fact that publishers profit more than artists from copyright non-infringement, although I'm not sure exactly how relevant this is given his contention that artists don't have any more right to a work than users do. This ignores yet another blatantly true statement: if authors didn't make more money by going through a publisher than by not, then they would not. Now, I agree with all the Utopians out there on this point: that era's probably gonna come to a close pretty soon. Just ask the RIAA. And to that, I say "good riddance!" But to imply that, in the present day, a publisher's income from things that don't get pirated is somehow ill-gotten gains, despite the money that the publisher put into it (manufacturing, marketing, etc.) is ludicrous. Percentage-wise, publishing a book or a program is probably a bigger gamble for the publisher than it is for the author. As ye sew, so shall ye reap, or something like that. Also, don't get me wrong on two other counts: a) I hate big software business and big publishing business, and nobody's ever accused me of being an unfettered free-market guy. I just don't have an objection in principle to the line of work they're in. b) The pathetic results of my programming endeavors are available under the GPL. It's a good license, and I used it because I wanted to contribute back to the community. So I did. I think I'll list it on Freshmeat in a couple of weeks. Watch out soon for subScript, the wonderfully inept text-to-PS convoita! I love free software, and I'm not opposed to it, either :P. However, I don't think that all software must be free, nor that it's everyone's responsibility to support only free software. cheers ya'll, -k. ^-^ a) I hate big software business and big publishing business, and nobody's ever accused me of being an unfettered free-market guy. I just don't have an objection in principle to the line of work they're in. b) The pathetic results of my programming endeavors are available under the GPL. It's a good license, and I used it because I wanted to contribute back to the community. So I did. I think I'll list it on Freshmeat in a couple of weeks. Watch out soon for subScript, the wonderfully inept text-to-PS convoita! I love free software, and I'm not opposed to it, either :P. However, I don't think that all software must be free, nor that it's everyone's responsibility to support only free software.
  • I'm not really surprised by the modifications to the definition of Free Software. They are essentially just the codification of the objections that the FSF has to the tenets of the Open Source(tm)(s)(r) movement, and in that sense are essentially not anything new.


    What I didn't know, before I had browsed around fsf.org site a bit, was exactly how overboard these people had gone. O fun! O joy! Check out the words-to-avoid [fsf.org] page and learn about the new, improved GNUSpek! Helps you avoid "incorrect thinking"! Read about the pitfalls of the Open Source movement (it allows bourgeois companies to take advantage of the "fuzzy thinking" of the proletariat). Come to the FSF web site and correct your wrong thinking!


    RMS complains rather vehemently about the injustice of copyright law and the penchant of the SPA of trying to get the government to enforce it. This, it just recently occured to me, ignores one simple fact: copyright law does nothing but create a default bargain between the author/publisher and the user. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.


    If you don't want your work to be covered by US copyright law, release it to people under your own agreement, as the FSF does with the GPL. [Technically, it's still covered by US copyright law, but you render that a moot point with the correct agreement terms].
    The upshot of all this is that the pigs and the SPA are essentially doing nothing more than making sure that people keep their word, that they abide by the agreement they made in order to get access to the works.


    Keeping your word is a good thing, no? And if the software you wanted to use wasn't worth the price you paid for it and the restrictions that came with it, then why did you buy it? There can be no reason. The simple answer is that in some way, for some reason, it WAS worth it.


    [ASIDE: Now, that *reason* isn't necessarily just. Refer to the terms "network effect" and "lock-in"]

    More importantly, RMS knows this. And yet, rather that merely exhorting people to release their works under an alternative agreement, he rails on and on and on about the evils of copyright, as if changing the default bargain will keep companies from using the most profitable (i.e., generally one of the more restrictive) bargain they can come up with.
    But, RMS continues to rail on about how copyright violates the Right Of The People(tm) to share software with their neighbors.
    Let me get this straight: I've got something in my head. You don't have any damned right to anything with it. Now, if I write it down and don't share it with you, you still don't have any damned right to it (and thus far, couldn't do anything about it if you did).

    But, if you and I come to an agreement about the conditions under which I will show it to you (and only you), then you somehow magically gain the right to blab it out to everybody once I turn my back? Is this true even when you promised me you wouldn't? " Cooperation is more important than copyright [fsf.org]," true, but keeping your word is often more important than cooperation. Personally, I think RMS is so concerned that the argument be viewed in his light because he'd like to see a lack of protection for creators and publishers enshrined in the consitution he refers to so much.

    Don't get me wrong: I pirate [hah!] my fair share of shit. I sometimes even pirate stuff that I could afford to buy. However, I view this as something akin to petty theft (when I can afford it), and something a bit less than that when I can't. I certainly don't delude myself into thinking it's my right. And I don't worry about the SPA showing up on my doorstep either: it isn't the least bit interested in stopping piracy that doesn't result in a loss of income; it's just interested in making sure that those who can pay are scared enough to. As far as the SPA showing up and auditing businesses, more power to 'em! If a company is using software to make money, then it oughtta by golly be prepared to share the wealth with the people who gave them the software thant helped them make the money. And that's just all I've got to say about that.

    RMS also complains at length about the fact that publishers profit more than artists from copyright non-infringement, although I'm not sure exactly how relevant this is given his contention that artists don't have any more right to a work than users do.


    This ignores yet another blatantly true statement: if authors didn't make more money by
    going through a publisher than by not, then they would not.


    Now, I agree with all the Utopians out there on this point: that era's probably gonna come to a close pretty soon. Just ask the RIAA. And to that, I say "good riddance!" But to imply that, in the present day, a publisher's income from things that don't get
    pirated is somehow ill-gotten gains, despite the money that the publisher put into it (manufacturing, marketing, etc.) is ludicrous. Percentage-wise, publishing a book or a program is probably a bigger gamble for the publisher than it is for the author. As ye sew, so shall ye reap, or something like that.

    Also, don't get me wrong on two other counts:

    a) I hate big software business and big publishing business, and nobody's ever accused me of being an unfettered free-market guy. I just don't have an objection in principle to the line of work they're in.

    b) The pathetic results of my programming endeavors are available under the GPL. It's a
    good license, and I used it because I wanted to contribute back to the community. So I did. I think I'll list it on Freshmeat in a couple of weeks. Watch out soon for subScript, the wonderfully inept text-to-PS convoita! I love free software, and I'm not opposed to it, either :P. However, I don't think that all software must be free, nor that it's everyone's responsibility to support only free software.

    cheers ya'll,

    -k. ^-^

  • But there is the distinction between the knowledge that is published and the process which is patented. I like RMS's model even better for research (if you publish, you can't patent).

    No, I don't believe copying is an issue because copying software means giving someone access to it. There is no access problem for published research because there are lots of decent academic libraries (and these days IEEE will even let you order reprints of articles on-line for a small fee). The fact that they are tightly bound in copyrighted journals prohibits no-one from making copies for FAIR USE, i.e., education or more research. Making a packet for your classroom is just a matter of convenience for the students (they could march up in droves to the library and make their own copies) but doesn't impact upon the freedom of access.
  • It is certainly permissable to link GPL'd code with code under a different license. Otherwise how would GPL'd and LGPL'd code exist? The other code simply cannot add additional restrictions. I hope you don't claim that free software has to allow linking with code under any license. In that case only public domain software would qualify.
  • Using free software is not, of course, going to legalize things that are currently illegal. "Yeah, I posted kiddie porn on the 'net, but I processed the pictures with the GIMP, and its license says I can do whatever I want," isn't going to cut it with the FBI, obviously...

    On the flip side, though, things that are legal should not become illegal because of the software you used to do it. For example, if you're normally allowed to create an image or document and sell it, it should not become illegal because the graphics editor or word processor you used doesn't allow commercial use...
  • Posted by Mike@ABC:

    OK, first impressions suck. Glad everyone chipped in to clarify. I'm glad I asked.

  • Posted by Mike@ABC:

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but does this definition dovetail a little better with what the Open Source Initiative is pushing? If so, then this is a good thing. If Stallman, Raymond and everybody else can agree on this definition (or another) and run with it, that can only be good.

    I like it, but it's not like I write software. I write about software. What does everybody else think?
  • I don't pretend to have a good answer, but at least the FSF ought to take their blinders off and admit that "free beer" is a part of free software.

    Linux today linked an article about 6 weeks ago where RMS was in asia, and was asked about pirated commercial software. I can't rembember the exact qoute, but it was something to the effect that what they (the software "pirates") were doing wasn't exactly in the spirit of free software, but it was still a good thing bringing software to people at a price that they could afford.

    It seemed odd to me that RMS would even give a nod to anyone distributing software without source code.

    Anyone have the link to this story?

    TedC

  • While it's likely that all the hoopla over the APSL triggered this rewrite, it was a long time coming, and provides a useful framework for discussion of any particular licensing terms. Nothing I saw in it indicated an attempt to rule out the APSL per se; it all fit logically into the free software framework. The issue of restrictive laws (e. g. export controls) was handled sensibly; there is no good reason for any free software license to specifically incorporate these laws, since all contracts are implicitly governed by law.

    The issue of forbidding a user from modifying a program for strictly private use (with no distribution) isn't quite what it looks. While it sounds like it should be in the spirit of free software to require even private modifications to be made publicly available, it would contravene the spirit of personal privacy that's necessary in any free society. Furthermore, it would be impossible to implement in practice.

    At what point would the modifications have to be made public? As soon as the user has made any change at all? Taken to extremes, that would require that the user use a text editor that immediately modified the backing copy, and that the user always keep the source in a publicly available location (e. g. an anonymous ftp server). So one might then take a different tack, and say that it's as soon as the modified code "works". What's the definition of "work" here (remember, this is a license that binds as strictly as any other kind of license, and terms must be precisely defined)? That's not too hard for someone to get around; simply break something else and don't attempt to fix it.

    This pedantry aside, the importance of a zone of privacy (which includes one's computing) is essential to a free society. The only issue is when software is distributed.
  • There is no concrete line between free and non-free, there are only degrees of freedom.
    Yes, public domain code IS more free than GPL code. I know that the restrictions in the GPL are designed to safeguard the freedom of the users (especially users of derived works) but they are still restrictions.

    IMHO it is up the author to decide what level of freedom to provide in his license. What I object to is the FSFs total conviction that they occupy some sort of moral high ground. Software released under a license which grants less freedom is judged "immoral" while software which grants more freedom is "misguided" or worse "fails to safeguard freedom".

    LGPL has fewer restrictions that GPL, hence it is more free. Public domain is more free still. As an example of how these extra freedoms can benefit users, commercial companies take public domain code, add some extra functionality to make it useful and sell it to people. RMS calls this "freedom subtracted" software as opposed to "value added" (fair comment), but to non-programmers, an executable that does what you want is better than source code that doesn't.

    I agree with FSF hierarchy of freedom, and I think more freedom is generally a good thing. I just wanted to point out that there were other levels besides the one's they defined. My take is that it is purely up to the author to decide what license to release code under. I almost never pay attention to arguments based on somebody else's interpretation of morailty.
  • 4. The freedom to link the software with code that is under a different license.

    ie LGPL passes 1-4, GPL passes 1-3.

  • Free is free.

    When you free a program, yes, you're absolving yourself of the right to prevent anyone using it for whatever purpose they so desire.

    If someone uses Mutt to distribute kiddie porn, that's none of the Mutt team's business. It's the police's business, of course...

    Now, consider if the mutt team decided to forbid mutt's use for child pornography. By omitting to forbid its use in drug dealing, couldn't they be accused of supporting drug dealing?

    Best to remain neutral, and leave those issues to the people it concerns.




    --
  • The reason they did this should be painfully obvious. They did it specifically so the APSL (and several other licenses) would violate the rules. I'd say RMS and the FSF still have whatever twisted grudge they once had against Apple.

    I might add one thing, they state that a user should be able to modify the program and keep it to themselves, without even mentioning their existence to anyone else. Is this not, however, completely contrary to the idea of free software, where everyone contributes? I smell hypocrisy.
  • The FSF is basically his, or at least he's the figure head for it. He's got the right to make statements, you've got the right to ignore them or choose some license that fits your needs. That's freedom.
  • > without even mentioning their existence to anyone else
    No, this makes a lot of sense. Say I fix a small annoyance for me, or even change the Makefile so that "make" installs as "gmake." I've just modified the software, should I be forced to publicize the fact and make this "modification" available to everybody? You could say you only have to give away "signifigant" changes, but how do you define signifigant? Also, if I'm in the middle of modifying some code which I plan to release back at some indeterminate point in the future, should I be required to make my changes available at every step of the way? In short, I think that as a "headache preventer" this is a good clause. There are also some good side effects of this(although "good" in this case is obviously a matter of opinion). HP has said that they have internal Linux and GCC ports running on Merced which they won't release until Merced is released. Chances are if they were required to release their internal work, they would never have started it until the chip was released.
  • I'm fine with RMS's clarifying his terminology, tho at this point I can't decide whether it sounds more like later Ayn Rand (in ONL etc.) or early L. Ron Hubbard.

    He must not touch the words or language of the GPL or LGPL, though. This entire movement -- freely shared creative programming as anything but strictly a hobbyist category -- will sink into quicksand immediately if he does.
  • Well, I can change the OSD but I'm not sure that OSI and SPI are just going to go along with whatever I do.

    I do agree that the OSD should have an addition that the license must be irrevocable. When we wrote it, that situation simply had not come up.

    Bruce

  • While RedHat is "making millions" distributing this work of others, even others are "making millions" by "stealing" RedHat's work. Or didn't you notice all those new distributions that are "based on RedHat". You can be sure they didn't pay RedHat anything (well they may have bought a disk) and are profiting off RedHat's labor!

    I think this is a good indication that Free Software works. You just said somebody is making millions off it, even though others can "steal" it for free. So where is the complaint?

  • This is the kind of thing the FSF excells at and is one of the reasons why I'm grateful for their existance. The note was reasonable, well argued, and provides room for some diversity of opinion on which is the best liscense while providing a fairly clear benchmark about what is and isn't Free Software.
    I appreciated the levels of Freedom too, because they offer hooks to get non-programers commited to Free Software. I think the strictly Open Source POV misses out on this argument because it is primarily aimed at Programers and Bussinessmen (IMHO, of course ;-)).
    It's too bad so much acrimony gets stirred up when we really want the same things and we can all benefit from the diversity of opinion (or even just focus) that exists in the world. We won't all agree about every detail but I think we can live side by side if we are more careful of each other's feelings.
  • So it would be ok for me to decide that my name is "God", and insist that people address me as such when asking me questions?

    Everybody has a freedom of opinion, but not the freedom that others comply with your opionion.

    In your example, a questioner has the right to use the N-word, but since that word is widely held as a pejorative, the questioner would no doubt outrage most of the audience, not just the person he is addressing.

    "Linux" is not held as a perjorative, except by an extreme element of the Free software community.
  • Your employer is paying you to write this. I don't know what you're being paid, but I think it would probably be fair to say several grand total.

    Now, if you GPL it, your competitors can get the library for nothing, and use it in a similar product. This gives them a lower barrier to entry, which can hurt your employer in the long run.
  • If demanding that people who ask questions at the GNOME release use GNU/Linux rather than Linux is not imposing his beliefs on people is not imposing, then I don't know what is.
  • France and other countries lean closer towards RMS' beliefs. It is essentially a socialist philosophy

    It's communist. "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" -Marx, "Software must be freely distributable so you can help your neighbor." -Stallman

    Pure Communism is supposed to happen automatically (of course, it doesn't), not with a central authority enforcing it, like under Socialism. When asked "Isn't the government just a logical extension of the community?" in an interview, RMS replied, "Um, no, I don't think of the US government that way.". So I don't think Socialist is a good label for him.

  • What? you don't want to start a consulting service for that game you've just written? :)

    Seriously though, the only way to guarantee ROI is to charge thousands of dollars for the first few copies.

    Also a service-based software industry will lead to poorly written software to guarantee service contracts.

  • I doubt that most self-respecting interviewers would though.
  • I may be wrong, but here's my understanding of how that would be viewed.

    If a derivative of a GPL'd work was coded in that fashion, and only used internally, then the derivative is not GPL. Because it hasn't been released yet. When the author(s) decide to release their work, they have to do it under GPL, but not until then.

    I don't think having your code stolen and made public could be considered a release. Regardless of the license involved. Even if it's a GPL derivative, the stolen code is not, because it hasn't been released by its author(s). It's been stolen.

    It's stolen code, not a published/distributed work, and should probably be considered such. It should be the author(s) decision if and when to do that, and that fact shouldn't be negated if stolen and published by someone else, even if they are an employee.

    I'm sure this view is full of technical errors, and I apologize if so. (I'm not a lawyer.) But I think I understand the basic priciples/intent behind the GPL, and I think you can at least see what I'm trying to point out.

    Now, if the disgruntled employee IS the author, that's a completely different scenario. They can do what they want with it, but things might get a little uncomfortable at the workplace if they did.

    What about if he/she is one of many authors?: That would be an ugly mess to figure out. I guess it be the same as if they were the sole author, only it would be akin to forking the code.

    Interesting things to think about, though.

  • Marx may have popularized socialism, but he was by no means the definitive author of it. While RMS may lean into the communist camp, his basic philosophy has a great deal in common with socialist philosophy. It is socialist to the extent that he believes that their should be no private intellectual property. He also believes such a system can work. Either that, or he'd rather have a mediocre 'free' system, than a thriving restrictive one.

    Weather or not Stallman advocates governmental enforcement of his philosophy is irrelevant to me. What I will say, is that for a man who believes in 'freedom', he says alot of stuff to the contrary. If he could have it his way, people would not be able to enter into contractual relations(licenses). I do not regard this as freedom. Neither do I see the ability of an individual to protect his source code as a detriment to society. The alternative, no protection, is much worse.



  • I think a pure 'free' software system would fail miserably. I think the system is fine just the way it is now. Both 'free' and commercial software can operate side by side uninhibited by one another, for the most part.

    Free software simply doesn't exist for the same reasons that commercial software does. Free software exists for coders, by coders. It exists to 'scratch an itch', the developers itch. Commercial software exists to make money, the only way to do that is by filling customers needs. Where customers have needs, there is money, more often than not. Where there is money, there will be software.

    The same can not be said for free software. Free software exists only at the pleasure of the coder. While there may on occassion be some intersection, between what the rest of the world wants and what the coder codes, it is slim by its very nature.

    Can you name one piece of free software that meets the end users needs and wants, and does a better job of it than commercial software? While Linux is a great system, it is a system that appeals to a very small segment of the population, a segment which has a great deal in common with the coders. It is most certainly not intended to be easy to use or setup. Technical merits come before ease of use issues in linux. The whole recent wave of 'end userness' (user friendliness) in Linux is essentially a fad. The free software community desperately wants to prove itself, to slay the beast that is Microsoft. It is not a natural component. Nor is the flood of recently announced free end user applications. eg: Office suites, etc. How many free developers are really interested in weather or not Joe Executive can do his work under free software.

    Anyhow, I dont have enough time to finish this thread....good bye ;)

  • RMS doesn't represent America. No one does, but particularly not RMS. His very beliefs conflict with the entreprenuerial spirit which is heavily ingrained into american culture. If anything, France and other countries lean closer towards RMS' beliefs. It is essentially a socialist philosophy.

    However, I agree with you. The whole freedom of software argument doesn't hold any water. Nothing I code on my own actually detracts from anyone's life. While my license or usage restrictions might be somewhat restrictive, you still have a choice. You can buy it, or you can find an alternative. If my 'restrictive' software simply didn't exist you would be no further along. In fact, I'd say free software would be no where if it weren't able to latch on to advances made by the commercial software industry. The free software alternatives come along slower. To RMS this may be preferable, having absolute freedom over the software he uses, even if that means that he doesn't get software as soon, if at all. This is simply not acceptable to me.


  • While it may a sys-admin may technically be called the end user, this is not the definition I intended. However, there are plenty of people who administrate systems who do not find text based interfaces an acceptable solution. This is why NT is winning over small offices. While I agree that Linux is vastly superior to NT, it is the software companies' ultimate duty to satiate the person who makes the purchasing decision.

    Gnome is quite nice, but they're still behind the eight ball. RedHat is paying for this. They are technically a for profit company. While Gnome may be under GPL, continued work depends on the success of RedHat. Since Red Hat can not profit directly from the creation of Gnome, they are going to have to depend on their support and 'convience' operation growing. I have my doubts about both of these. If Linux matures, and Red Hat code becomes the standard, I assure you companies will come in and 'borrow' all of RedHat's GPLd code. All they'd have to do is stick it on CD, and write their own manual. The support thing is shaky.

    Red Hat also does not have a great deal a capital. Given the fact that Gnome is driven 99% by RedHat's capital, how do you expect projects like these to compete with larger firms that have far larger profit margins.
  • "We have been accumulating components for this system since 1984"

    GNU has never claimed to have "written" every part of the "GNU System". The GNU Project has always been about gathering together (and writing) free software into a complete, comprehensive free OS--an OS called the GNU system.

    Linus Torvalds arrived in shining armor and contributed a free kernel. There is now a complete GNU system called GNU/Linux. There are also a bunch of other mostly free operating systems based on the Linux kernel (i.e. Redhat, Caldera, SuSe, etc), as well as others based on the BSD foundation.

    Some of us remember when having a Unix system at home was either expensive (SCO) or useless (Coherent). We tend to appreciate the work the GNU project has done--both writing *and* gathering together--a system which is free in every sense of the word, not to mention their continued proclamation of the "freedom" ideology. It is also my opinion that the success of GNU/Linux, as well as the other Linux distributions, helped create the push within the BSD community to create a no-cost version of their OS. Before FreeBSD, I know of no BSD distribution that didn't cost money (please correct me if I'm wrong about that).

    P.S.
    To those on the BSD side of the fence, I intend no slight because I don't consider your license "free", but I agree with RMS's view that freedom of the user is more important than freedom of the developer. Thus, I want the stuff I use to be protected from usurpation, and the BSD license doesn't do that. I respect those who hold the BSD position, however.
  • I like to make the comparison between making money on free software and making money selling air.

    Everybody has free access to air (obvious special cases aside). Yet there are plenty of companies that make some or all of their money selling it. None of them have a monopoly, anyone is free to go into the selling air business. None of it denies anybody free access to air. Some people have air filters or purifiers to make the air (eg in their homes) cleaner. That obviously improves the quality of air overall, but does it matter that that gives some air-selling company a slightly better product?

    (Examples of companies that make money selling air: Air Liquide, a multinational company that sells liquid air and liquified gases extracted from air; dive stores etc, that charge for refilling SCUBA tanks; gas stations with the coin-operated tire inflators, etc.)

    Of course, if you've got your own special air purifier that makes a high grade air that you don't want anyone bottling up without paying you, you're free to seal up your house and not let any of it out.
  • Unless you're writing the code under some contract which states otherwise, the library you're developing for your employer on you employer's time is what's known in copyright law as a "work for hire", in which case your employer, not you, is legally considered the author and copyright holder. In which case, releasing it under the GPL can only be done by your employer.
    If the library is useful, you've deprived your employer of potential revenue he might have gained (which would have paid your salary) by selling/licensing the code.

    Consider what Disney's reaction would be if one of their animators released the cels that he drew.

    (Of course, if you developed the lib on your own time, with your own resources, that's a different issue.)

  • Actually you can get around the GPL with dynamic linking, provided you can distribute with the non-GPL'd software a non-GPL'd dynamic library with the same API (however crappy the implementation might be).

    That way, you're distributing a set of non GPL'd code that happens to run better if the user swaps out the crappy library for the GPL'd good one.

    Probably not worth the trouble in most cases, but it doesn't violate the letter of the GPL.
  • It is free beer. RMS is just trying to get you to think beyond the narrow "freeware" scope when you think of free software.

    But I think your problem is coming from the word "free" itself. It implies that software that's not "free" is "anti-free", and this is totally wrong. I really diskliked one of RMS recent statements that using proprietary software is like submitting yourself to slavery.

    Am I a slave because I read a copyrighted novel? No! Is a shareware programmer a slave-owner? Again, No!

    The confusion comes from the fact that free software is somewhere between proprietary and public domain software. Open Source is a much more acurate term in this sense, but still covers software that's not "free". We need a new term for free software. How about "open license" or just plain "copyleft."
  • You definition of left-wing is different than mine, and assumes a one-dimensional political spectrum. But I digress...

    Of course the military should be able to fully benefit from free software. It wouldn't be free otherwise! Would you deny soldiers the rights of free speech, worship and association? Look at that last one a moment. Because I have the right to associate or not with the military I cannot deny them the same right to associate or not with anyone else.

    Think "free association, not free beer."
  • "They are profiting from the free labour of thousands of generous programmers. This seems like exploitation, a loop hole in the GPL, and it just doesn't seem right."

    This is not exploitation. Read your dictionary. Nobody was forced to give their software to Redhat, the FSF or anywhere else. Besides which, Redhat is not making money on other people's software, they're making it by selling manuals and support and hoodwinking big corporations. If you don't want your software being sold for money by others, then don't make it free software.
  • "I might add one thing, they state that a user should be able to modify the program and keep it to themselves, without even mentioning their existence to anyone else. Is this not, however, completely contrary to the idea of free software, where everyone contributes? I smell hypocrisy."

    I see where you're coming from, but I don't think it's a case of hypocrisy. Say, for example, you have a program that you use, and you customize it by adding some hard coded values into the source code. (You might do this to speed some things up, or to workaround some problems with your setup, or whatever.) These values would be specific to you, but probably useless for virtually everyone else. Why should you make that public? Why would anyone want you to?

    On the other hand, if you make some in-house changes that other people might find useful, it's probably in your own best interests to release them. Other people might pick up on them and take them further; everyone would benefit from this.

  • by Gleef ( 86 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @11:40AM (#1945588) Homepage
    No, it doesn't dovetail better with the Open Source definition of the OSI. In fact, it points out a failing of the Open Source definition.

    Both the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiatives are talking about software licenses. Software licenses are essentially based on copyright law, since in most cases, you have to copy software (i.e. install it) in order to use it, so your rights to copy it must be clearly defined. Copyright law only governs distribution of intellectual property, not use, so when both the FSF and OSI were defining things, nobody thought to point out that the freedom to use the software was important, it just went without saying.

    Some recent licenses (such as IBM's Jikes license, and the APSL) have come out with terms saying that the company (IBM or Apple) can under certain circumstances terminate your right to use the software. The OSI has taken the position that such terms are not against the rules. The FSF has taken the position that these terms take away a fundamental freedom, just one they hadn't bothered to write down. Personally, I think such provisions are probably legally unenforcable, but I am not a lawyer, and I don't think either organization wants to sue IBM or Apple. In absence of that, I personally agree with the FSF, such terms make software non-Free.
  • I think RMS is (quite rightly) trying to elevate the status of software to that of academic research, in which the different levels of freedom that he outlines are taken for granted, to the benefit of the entire research community.

    1) The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (level 0).

    Academic research does not come with any prohibitions on its use. If its published, it's usable by anyone for anything.

    2) The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (level 1).

    This is the entire point of publishing research, so that others may see how it works and possibly modify it.

    3) The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (level 2).

    Publishing your research means that anyone has access to it at a decent academic library, so copying is not even an issue.

    4) The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits. (level 3).

    Again, this is inherent in academic research. Publishing your results allows others to improve on your ideas or borrow your ideas for another purpose.

    Removing any one of the above freedoms from academic research would be a ghastly proposition for all those involved. It would also harm basic research.

    I think that developing software should be considered a form of academic research. By realizing that what RMS is trying to do is not so far fetched (i.e., "free research" is already taken for granted), free software can be better appreciated by those who don't understand the model.
  • by Aaron M. Renn ( 539 ) <arenn@urbanophile.com> on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @09:46AM (#1945590) Homepage
    The GNU project has never gone into extreme detail on all the criteria software needs to meet in order to be free. Much like the famous Then the Open Source people took the Debian Free Software Guidelines and tried to turn them into a more legalistic framework. Companies now view the Open Source Definition as the "law" they have to comply with, and as with any laws, seek loopholes that will allow them to comply with the letter but not the spirit of the document in a way that gives them an advantage.

    Unfortunately, finding loopholes in the OSD doesn't really make the resulting code free. (For example, those with termination clauses). Thus, the explanation of what free software is needs to be tightened. Richard Stallman did not just unilaterally change the definition of free software. Instead, he made explicit something that was true all along, but was never actually stated.

    I hate to see these definitions become more legalistic. This is probably somewhat necessary though. Corporations who have no background in the free software community need more detailed information than those of us who have been immersed in it for some time. We just need to make clear that these documents aren't laws to be worked around and that finding a loophole in one of them doesn't mean your software will be considered free.
  • by Aaron M. Renn ( 539 ) <arenn@urbanophile.com> on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @11:07AM (#1945591) Homepage
    You could insist that they call you God if they want to interview you or talk to you.
  • by Aaron M. Renn ( 539 ) <arenn@urbanophile.com> on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @12:36PM (#1945592) Homepage
    What I'm trying to say is that the "What is Free Software?" essay on the GNU web site is not meant to be a legal style definition of free software. You could (perhaps) devise a license that met the criteria there, but it would still be considered non-free. For example, the termination clause licenses fell into this category until the FSF updated the web site to address that particular problem. The Open Source Definition is presented as "meet these requirements, get our trademark".
  • by Aaron M. Renn ( 539 ) <arenn@urbanophile.com> on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @10:51AM (#1945593) Homepage
    So you think that it is "imposing" on someone to insist that they not use a term you find offensive when addressing you. It a black man imposing if he objects to someone saying "Hey, nigger, I've got a question for you?" Stallman probably doesn't feel as strongly about GNU/Linux as that, but the same principle applies. People are asking Stallman questions they want the answer to. If they expect him to answer them, then they have to comply with his wishes in addressing him or he will exercise his free speech right not to answer. If the people asking questions do not wish to use GNU/Linux, that is certainly their right, just as it is Stallman's right to suggest that they use a different term and to refuse to answer if they do not.

  • You are certainly free to choose another definition and select software based on that or any other criteria. Stallman speaks only for himself and the GNU project that he is the head of. If other people choose to accept his opinions, that is there choice. But he is not forcing his definition on anyone else. If many people choose to agree with him, then that is a tribute to his persuasiveness.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @10:31AM (#1945595) Homepage Journal

    Given the way society has become increasingly dependant on computers and the internet to function, I argue that free software (as defined by FSF) is becoming essential to the stability of our economy and perhaps our society.

    If proprietary and IMHO monopoly software is allowed to become essential to our infrastructure, the licensing terms on that software will go from being a simple cost to being more like a tax, or at least a cover charge. We have enough of those from natural monopolies as it is.

    By specifying that acts of civil disobediance cannot disallow membership in society and commerce (by terminating the license to use these essential services), the FSF takes an important stance for civil liberty in general.

  • by Harmast ( 6975 ) on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @09:44AM (#1945596) Homepage
    I guess the factions are finally getting down to cases. The level structure (may be new, but this is the first time I've seen it) is interesting. The highest is improve software and the lowest (ie, most important requirement) is usage.

    This ordering, more than any other showcases the difference between FSF/RMS and ESR/OSS. The former sees an egalitarian ability to use software as the key to the Free Software Movement. Source code is the key to using however you want (without source you can't use EMACS on your old Timex/Sinclair) because it gives you platform and site freedom. ESR and his fellow travellers on the other hand, see software as a mertocracy of craftsman. "Let me have the source so I can improve it and we all have better products," is their mantra.

    Like most ideology issues, I think the majority of the community is somewhere in the middle. Yeah, we want source to improve and fix, but we also want it to port and steal (oops., borrow). For the the times RMS has been called a hippie/socialist/commie/loser/whatever we still don't like the Apple license.

    If their is any single thing from the FSF I'd like to see OSS adopted is the permenance of the license. This to me, even more than source, is key. If I know what the rules will always be I can make a much more imformed and productive choices. I don't so much object to more restrictive source licenses (one time fees and such) as I do to licenses that can be pulled out from under me at any time, after months of work on my part.

    One final question for the FSF guys. Given the generally left leaning politics of your staff, have you considered the free to use cause and military usage? What if copylefted imaging aided in missle design or crypto added in war radio traffic? Is the principle of free usage important enough to override other principles. I ask because I've seen a lot of source availible (and source not availible) with free licenses except for the US Military/any military/US Government/any government/the Pentagon/etc. Would such a line violate free software principles in your POV (this is not to be insiteful, but a question of opinion...can we restrict people we don't like...the army, fundies, Green Peace, Discordian, whoever, from usage and still have freeware?).

    Herb Nowell
  • Saying that Red Hat derives a benefit from someone else's voluntary labor is to state that they are benefitting from a positive externality. There are many instances of these. For example, if I paint my house, the value of all my neighbors' houses increases in value. Does that mean they are exploiting my unpaid labor? In general, America does not try to eliminate positive externalities. I do not get paid for everything I do that benefits someone else.

  • by Aaron M. Renn ( 539 ) <arenn@urbanophile.com> on Wednesday April 07, 1999 @09:58AM (#1945598) Homepage
    I'd like to draw a distinction between what I think Stallman is trying to do and what Raymond is trying to do. Stallman is trying to explain what free software is. Raymond is trying to define what open source software is in a more rigid sense for his branding campaign. I do not see them as two conflicting defitions.

    Restricting software to non-military use would, technically, make the software non-free. The underlying prinicple of free software is that the user is more important than the author. Proprietary software claims the author is more important than the user, and thus gives to the author the right to decide who can use the software and what they can do with it. Putting restrictions on the use of software based on the author's own private morality might seem reasonable (if you agree with the author's moral sense, that is), but is a form of controlling the users and dividing them nevertheless. It is basically saying "I will give you this software, but only if you promise not to share it with some other people I don't like". This is the classic proprietary divide and conquer the users strategy.

    Don't forget, one person's no military use is another person's no use on the Sabbath. Or no use by homosexuals. Or no use by the KKK. Or no use by breweries. Once unleashed, where does such a thing stop?

It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats.

Working...