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May 9, 2002
From: Leon Brooks <email@example.com> To: Linux Weekly News - Letters <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Is free enough? Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 19:15:56 +0800 On last week's LWN front page, Jonathan wrote: > Is it not enough that the resulting software be free? No. It must also be libéré, befreit, liberato, and so on; the word `free' is a near-perfect illustration of the ability of commerce to drag down a language. BSD is almost entirely unencumbered, but it is not libéré, only at large. Unfortunately, the only reasonably free populations on the planet are that rapidly dwindling number who are prepared to insist on their freedom. The FSF should not have a monopoly any more than Larry Ellison or Bill Gates, but should not be dismissed, either. The GPL does have the extremely useful property of insisting that any enhancements to software are available for all to criticise and/or benefit from. It is proper for the FSF to claim as much of the pie as it can for its cause, and proper for representatives of other licencing schemes to lobby for their own points of view. You can bet the colectivo norteamericano will be lobbying for all its worth. How about you? What are you doing about this windfall? Cheers; Leon
From: email@example.com (David Moles) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Subsidizing the development of non-free software Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 10:13:55 -0700 (PDT) In regard to FSF Europe's suggestion that copylefted free software be given preferential funding treatment over non-copylefted free software in the EU's "Sixth Framework Program", LWN writes: > LWN has often pointed out the benefits of the GPL. But this sort > of attempt to create governmental preferences for a specific > software license could well be self-defeating. Reasonable > people - all of whom support free software - can and often do > disagree over software licenses. This recommendation looks like > an attempt by one group to grab preferential treatment over the > others. Is it not enough that the resulting software be free? The free software and open source communities should not let political, personal, and "religious" issues cloud discussion of these questions. If you write software, I support your right to release it under the license of your choice. But this is not a simple matter of disagreement over software licenses among reasonable people. Let me put the question another way: Is it acceptable for private interests to take free software developed with the public's money and make it into software that is not available to the public? This is the question the EU needs to think through. Some people would say it is. Some people (Microsoft, for one) have gone even farther and say it's not only acceptable, but desirable. Personally, I would prefer not to see my tax dollars subsidizing the development of non-free software. And, make no mistake, that is what you are doing when you fund the production of non-copylefted free software. Is it enough for version 1.0 of the resulting software to be free, if subsequent versions are not? -- David Moles ----------------------------------------------------------------- "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest." -- Robert Heinlein, "Life-Line" (1939)
From: Mike Howard <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Necessity of Copyleft Date: Thu, 02 May 2002 09:43:37 -0400 LWN says: > LWN has often pointed out the benefits of the GPL. But this sort of > attempt to create governmental preferences for a > specific software license could well be self-defeating. Reasonable > people - all of whom support free software - can and often do disagree > over software licenses. This recommendation looks like an attempt > by one group to grab preferential treatment over the others. Is it > not enough that the resulting software be free? No. Perhaps you are not familiar with the way UNIX distributions used to be constructed prior to GPL. Code was often donated to the public by either being placed in the public domain - uuencode/uudecode, Gilman's tar program - or released under something like the Berkeley licence - sendmail, the Berkeley sockets distribution, all the underlying TCP/IP implementation, and many other things. Vendors, such as SCO, used slightly modified versions of the code and documentation giving neither credit to the authors [or as little as possible] and distributing the code as a proprietary implementation. The result was that they were able to sell publicly available code which was incompatible with the publicly available implementations and hide their trivial modifications. They also published butchered and degraded versions of the public documentation - at least in the case of sendmail - without crediting the original authors or leaving pointers to the original, more complete and more useful documentation. The Copyleft stops this practice and is indispensable in preventing its odious return. -- Mike Howard <email@example.com>
From: Daniel James <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: re: The Trouble with Vorbis Date: Fri, 3 May 2002 12:28:48 +0100 Hello, On your 'Linux in the news' page this week, your editor mentioned the article The Trouble with Vorbis on Kuro5hin, and added 'Ogg Vorbis may not be as free as it seems'. I for one don't share the criticisms of this piece. It's not good enough for some people that free software developers spend years of their life working on projects with modest reward - they have to deliver full documentation to third parties too. And turn down opportunities to earn a living while they're at it. I too look forward to the release of a Vorbis specification which can be adopted as a standard, but neither I nor anyone else is in a position to demand it from the developers. Daniel James
From: David Fallon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Brian Beesley <BJ.Beesley@ulster.ac.uk> Subject: Response to your letter to lwn.net Date: 02 May 2002 14:52:32 -0700 Cc: email@example.com Hi, this is in response to you letter to lwn.net (http://lwn.net/2002/0502/letters.php3) In general, I agree with you, but I wanted to raise some specific points that you may have missed. In particular, your point four: > 4. I don't see any reason to accept the inclusion of "billboards" into > the linux product (source or binary), even if commercial organizations > were to offer real money to sponsor their inclusion. IMO "free > software" means "free of intrusion by advertising" as well as "free as > in beer" and "free as in spirit". The problem here is, if we accept > advertisements in source code, where do we stop? Advertisements > appearing during system startup? Advertisements during user login? > Advertisements appearing at random times during normal operation? You have the right idea, but you miss the point of open source. I applaud anyone clever enough to convince people to pay him or her to include advertisements in the kernel source. Why? Because, as it's an open source operating system, your or I are in no way forced to view or use those advertisements. Envision the scenario where linus was paid a great deal of money to put an advertisement saying "brought to you by nike" instead of the standard kernel messages. While linus is off rolling in his piles of wealth, all the kernel developers have switched to alan's tree. And 15 minutes after the kernel is released, a patch appears on the kernel mailing list to remove it. You or I are only forced to deal with these things when we deal with proprietary software, when we don't have the rights inherent in the GPL. Just like when dealing with free speech, it's critical for open source advocates to hold up the right for everyone to modify the source, no matter how repugnant the change. It will never be a problem, because fundamentally the system works. Your right to include the advertisements is a confirmation of my right to patch them right out of existence. Anyways. Rock on, and thanks for taking the time to read this, if you've gotten this far. :) -- dave
From: Jason Baietto <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: GPL virus... Date: 01 May 2002 23:14:33 -0400 First, let me state that I'm a huge fan of Richard Stallman and the FSF. However, while reading your recent interview with Richard Stallman, I couldn't help but make a connection between the GPL and his analogy of patent-infected code being like salmonella-infected food. Many people who don't agree with the fundamental principles of the GPL refer to it as a "virus". While I don't subscribe to this view myself, it seems that if a GPL virus did exist it would have to be called..."Stallmanella" :-) Take care, Jason