Subject: Re: IPL as a burden
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 16 Jan 2001 11:10:52 -0800

Manfred Schmid <> writes:

> > > > If I want to run your program on several different computers, then
> > > > removing the license information is clearly an improvement for me.
> > > > With open source programs, you don't get to define what an improvement
> > > > is.  I do.
> > >
> > > You do have to stick to the license terms and the definition of an
> > > improvement is not totally up to you.
> > 
> > For open source software, the definition of an improvement certainly
> > is up to me.  Just as with free speech I can say what I want, with
> > free software I can improve what I want.
> > 
> I would propose a bet: You name me a country you deem to have free
> speach and I will show you a way to get in jail in that country within
> 24 hours just by executing free speech. I would put a serious amount of
> money on that (execution of course would be up to you :).
> Free speech is not a right that grants you to do whatever you want, it
> has its restrictions and may conflict with other rights. Take the source
> code of any command line GPLed program, remove the code lines, that
> print out the GPL information, redistribute it and you got a problem
> with this improvement.

To cut this short, I concede that you are right, and I was wrong: the
definition of an ``improvement'' is not totally up to me.

But eliminating execution fees is within the scope of what is totally
up to me under an open source license.

> > I will start calling ``license fees'' ``execution fees'' to try to
> > avoid any possible language problem.
> > 
> > > Again, we think the matter is not free beer but free speach. If you
> > > would like to run IPLed software on several different computers, the
> > > price may be higher, but we do not put any license matters in your way.
> > 
> > The higher price is a execution fee.  It is not compatible with the
> > OSD.
> I could not find this. GPL reads 
> "When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price.
> Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the
> freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this
> service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you
> want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new
> free programs; and that you know you can do these things."

What is your point?

The GPL says ``The act of running the Program is not restricted....''
That is what prohibits execution fees.

> To me, a lot of the discussion gets down to the "free beer" question.
> May I ask the Board for an official statement: Is the charging of
> license fees (or execution fees) definitely a no-go to qualify it as
> OSI-compliant Open Source?

You may ask this question, although I already know what the answer
will be.  Since the OSI board is not particularly responsive, I
recommend that you send a separate mail message with a different
subject line which simply asks this question.  You may want to send it
to; see