[ppc-mobo] Re: GNU License for Hardware

Richard Stallman rms at gnu.org
Fri Oct 15 21:00:15 UTC 1999

    Then what is the benefit to anyone of me foregoing my OCR?

I can tell you the benefit for which I would forego the use of such a
program.  I do not want to be in the position of having a program and
not being allowed to share it with you.  I would rather have no
program for the job, than have a non-free program.  With no program, I
have nothing to be ashamed of.

								A program
    that is never written is trivially not free.

A program which doesn't exist cannot be described either as free or as
non-free.  It is outside the scope of that distinction.

    So what's wrong with substituting an
    existing non-free program for a non-existent non-free one?  _Freedom
    is not decreased._

There is a sense in which your freedom is not decreased.
But there is another sense in which it is.

In regard to the use of that non-free program, you are
under the domination of someone else, in a way that would
not happen if you had no non-free software.

For me, I object to this domination so strongly that I try to exclude
it completely from my life.  If I let it have a foothold, then
non-freedom is back in my life, and in that sense, I am less free.

Perhaps I can explain better with an analogy.  (Analogies are
never valid as proofs, but they can be useful as explanations.)

Suppose you live in country A which is a free country.  Suppose you
are not allowed to enter country B, which is a dictatorship.

Now suppose the situation changes and you are allowed to enter country
B, subject to its restrictions on speech, secret police, and such.  In
one sense, this decision gives you increased freedom, because a
strictly larger set of options is open to you.  I think that is the
sense that you are using for the comparison.

But if you start spending much of your time in country B, I would say
that your life is less free in another sense, because the oppressive
system of country B now dominates a part of your life.  I think that
sense is more important.

I occasionally go to countries ruled by dictatorships, but only for
brief visits (and I go there to do something in my way for the cause
of freedom).  I don't want living in them to be a normal part of my

I also occasionally try out a non-free program to see what it looks
like, or because it is running on someone else's computer.  But I will
not put them on my computer.

More information about the License-discuss mailing list