Get ready....

Derek J. Balling dredd at
Thu Apr 15 04:09:42 UTC 1999

>The author of the GPL, as far as I can infer from his writings and talking to
>him, does not believe that "alteration of a copyrighted work is a PRIVILEGE,
>not a right", because he does not believe that software should have any owners
>at all.
>Without understanding that, you can't understand the language of the GPL in
>its proper context.  To put this another way, if copyright is not a real
>right (or intellectual property is not real property), then "true freedom"
>includes the choice to _ignore_ license restrictions altogether.  Since
>copyright law does not provide this, Richard Stallman invented copyleft in an
>attempt to emulate as far as possible what life would be like if that choice
>were recognized as a right.

The author can believe whatever he likes. Unfortunately, he's placed his
work under the laws of the US, where I'm forbidden because of his wording
from altering his writing. Ideologies aside, I cannot break the law.

If he wanted to grant freedom to people, he should not have explicitly gone
out of his way to remove those freedoms.

>If you think it's obvious that intellectual property exists, you'd naturally
>say that it's essential for software authors to have the choice of what
>license to use.  If you think it's obvious that intellectual property doesn't
>exist, you'd equally naturally say that it's essential for users to have the
>freedom to copy (etc.), and that it's wrong to try to use licenses and
>copyright law to deny these freedoms to users.  The philosophy of the GPL,
>which you don't have to accept in order to use it, and which accounts for
>Stallman's decision to copyright the GPL itself, presupposes that users have
>the right to use and copy software, and that software owners do not have the
>right to stop them: in other words, that IP does not exist.

Right, which means that for all intents and purposes, the GPL is not
practical, because very few commercial entities are going to be willing to
live strictly and without change within the GPL model.  And, since
alteration is verboten, a new license must be created which accomplishes
the same goals as the GPL, BUT allows alteration for the real-world
conditions which exist, so that the REST of the world can take the parts
that work for their business model and alter/delete the rest, but leaving
intact a "trail" so that users can be familiar with the "parent" license,
and look for changes between generations.

>As Martin Pool just wrote in another message:
>> The text of the GPL is not licensed to you under the GPL: you may think
>> that's inconsistent, but it makes sense in terms of the FSF's goals.
>(And, of course, it doesn't make sense in terms of goals which are at odds
>with the FSF's goals.)

Agreed. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the commercial world is at odds
with the FSF's goals. *I*'m at odds with the FSF's goals.

Heck, after the GNU code got co-opt'ed out from under him to get used in
Linux [NOT GNU/Linux] I'm surprised that Stallman isn't against the FSF's
goals. :)  I bet he wishes, secretly deep down in his heart of hearts that
he had just a LITTLE say in how the code was used so that he could try and
get some recognition for all the work. :)  That's not bad, its a natural
thing - to want recognition for your work. FSF (and company) have put a lot
of effort into GNU, and their license allowed people to take all the work,
call it something else and package it up as Linux.


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