Free World Licence.

Ross N. Williams ross at
Tue Oct 19 04:02:22 UTC 1999


>A lot of good intentions, though. Enough good intentions to pave a major
>highway to hades.

I understand your point if view, but I think it's far more complicated
than this.

I could accuse the Open Source definition of being a well-intentioned
road to Hades because it accepts licences other than GNU; it accepts
licences that allow proprietorization.

At 8:05 PM -0700 18/10/99, Arandir wrote:
>On Mon, 18 Oct 1999, Ross N. Williams wrote:
>> Hi Everyone,
>> I have created a new free software licence on which I would appreciate
>> some feedback. The licence is called the "Free World Licence" and its
>> main feature is that it allows the software to be used on free platforms
>> only (GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, GNU/HURD etc - the "Free World").
>Major problems with this! I won't bother reading further. Despite the fact that
>this would the license non-free and non-opensource,

Non free? It's free of charge and the source code is available and you
can modify it and pass on modifications etc. Sounds free to me.

As "Open Source" is a certification mark, I can't say whether the FWL
Open Source, but the source is certainly available etc!

For the last year, I have been listening to the open source movement
droning on that free software (and hence free platforms) are going to
take over the world. A point about the Free World Licence is that if
the movement believes its own rhetoric, it should have no problem
with the FWL because if everyone in the future is going to be running
free platforms, the licence is not restrictive! In fact, in a world
where everyone runs free platforms, the FWL *PROTECTS* the freedoms
by providing a huge disincentive for anyone to take a platform
proprietary. If all free software was under the FWL, then proprietary
platforms would suffer a lot and more people might flow to the free

If the rhetoric of the open source software movement is correct, then
open source software will perform better then proprietary software
in the long run. If this is the case, then the tactical decision to
starve proprietary platforms of open source software must be a winning
long-term strategy against the proprietary platforms.

The counterargument is that by allowing free software applications on
proprietary platforms, the free software is competing with commercial
application vendors and so denying them revenue. So it's not a black
and white issue. It depends on whether you think free software should
fight commercial software at the platform or application level. As
the platform is the main architectural "lock" on users, one might
argue that that battle is more important.

>it's just doesn't make
>sense. It's rather elitist, saying in effect that some people are more
>deserving of others merely due to their choice of OS. Very exclusionary! If you
>are of the mindset that feels Free Software == Freedom, then why deny freedom to
>those who need it most? Imagine Abraham Lincoln proclaiming emancipation only
>to those slaves that had already been freed.

I can twist this analogy around completely and say: Why should Abraham
Lincoln in the North (free world) provide resources to the South
(proprietary world) when the South is doing bad things (slavery)?
He didn't do that - he waged war!!!! You're asking for Abe to
provide supplies to the Confederacy during the war!

Actually, it's all sort of analogous to arguments for and against
economic sanctions against dictatorships.


Dr Ross N. Williams (ross at, +61 8 8232-6262 (fax-6264).
Director, Rocksoft Pty Ltd, Adelaide, Australia: 
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