copyright discussion

sambc at sambc at
Tue Sep 11 11:23:12 UTC 2001

>I don't pretend to fully understand your 'movement'. I konw the principle 
>behind copytleft: it is a means to an end. But as I understand it, within 
>your belief that everyone is free to copy software, there are restrictions on 
>further use and a flat fee is payable. Am I misguided. You do not accept the 
>principle of an absolutely free public domain. 

My goodness!! I think here you are somewhat 
mislead. The OSI (and the FSF, a seperate and 
very different entity) fully support copyright 
and the protections of an author's IP. People are 
not free to copy software unless the copyright 
holder says so. However, we promote the use of 
software licenses which allow this, as well as 
allowing modifications under various terms, and 
the distribution of these modifications.

Note that when I say 'we' I refer to the public 
involved in the movement. I do not represent the 

Public domain is a knotty legal point, varying 
between jurisdictions. It is believed that in 
some jurisdictions that one cannot surrender ones 
rights into the public domain.

And I'm not sure where the flat fee came from. 
Certainly when we talk about free software we use 
it in the sense of the french "libre" - free 
speech. Not as in the french "gratuit" - free 
beer. People can charge money for free software, 
but it tends not to do much good as one person 
can always buy it and then redistribute as much 
as they like. Consequently the only times free 
software is often sold is in convenience packs, 
prepackaged cd-roms, and the charge is small, 
reflecting only the cost of the media and the 
time to copy it, with a little profit.

No-one is completely free to copy all software. 
It is the believe of some that operating software 
(drivers, operating systems, etc) should always 
be free & open, and that this would benefit the 
world economy. Others disagree, all within the 
movements of Open Source and Free Software

>I was not trying to insult you but was merely trying to provide some balance. 
>Often in a frenzy against something, one's analysis can be self-serving 
>rather than balanced. I was just shocked to see how one-sided the discussion 
>seemed to be and thought an alternative may have been appreciated. 

Well, although your reasoning was perhaps 
misguided, I think the contribution was still 

Sam Barnett-Cormack
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