|| ||David.Kastrup@t-online.de (David Kastrup)|
|| ||Releasing old software into public domain.|
|| ||12 Sep 2002 13:05:57 +0200|
|| ||firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com|
Pavel Roskin has suggested that
Reading recent discussions in the online media, it is clear that
many people have an issue with the copyright laws that make
copyrights remain in force for many decades.
I believe that the Free Software Foundation should release into
the public domain all the software currently under GPL, that is
at least 15 years old, and for which FSF is the sole copyright
GPL is a great license because it uses the copyright law to make
software free. However, 15 years should be enough for software to
enjoy copyright protection. Even when our goals are noble, we
should not be using the copyright law beyond the fair limit that
we would like it to have.
In my opinion, FSF could make a good point by releasing its old
software into the public domain. That would be an example for
other copyright holders, even those who produce non-free
I find that this suggestion speaks of a complete misunderstanding of
the Free Software Foundation's aims as I perceive them. The Free
Software Foundation is all in favor of a legal system where the
copyright laws do not permit restricting the freedoms of software
users arbitrarily. Such a system does not exist. The GPL license is
used for effectively creating a pool of software which uses those
exact copyright laws for securing a sanctuary _effectively_ protected
from the bad sideeffects of said laws.
The difference to software released without similar restrictions is
that that is subject to unfair treatment: it can be used in
proprietary software products, whereas those proprietary products may
not in turn be used in the free products.
The FSF has chosen to release their software under a license which
does not merely ask for fair play, but requires it. Making software
available as free-for-all would be diluting their message. Apart from
that, authors having contributed to GNU software have received written
assurances that their contributions may not be used in proprietary
products. Even if the FSF was willing to make such a contraproductive
move, it would probably not be allowed to do so for legal reasons.
This is my personal view and reading of the matters and in no way
is a statement of opinion from the FSF itself.
David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum
to post comments)