Subject: Re: GNU and classified software
From: Frank Hecker <frank@collab.net>
Date: Sun, 01 Apr 2001 22:27:35 -0400

kragen@pobox.com wrote:
> As an FSB, you're quite entitled to refuse to do business with
> companies not in America, companies not willing to pay you, companies
> you don't like the politics of, companies whose CEO slept with your
> wife, or companies without any personnel holding an SCI for a
> particular compartment.  You just can't require that your customers
> not share your free software with companies not in America, companies
> not willing to pay you, or companies without any personnel holding an
> SCI for a particular compartment --- if you do, it's not free.
> 
> I don't know whether writing classified software constitutes imposing
> such a requirement.

Not to speak for others, but I believe the argument is that it is: That
the issue regarding the GPL is not whom you choose to distribute the
software to, but that 

a) you have distributed the software with the additional proviso that it
be treated as classified data (and hence subject to all the regulations
concerning how classified data must be handled);

b) you had (at least in theory) the ability not to treat the software as
classified, i.e., you could have sought declassification of it prior to
distributing it; and

c) the recipients of the software do not have that ability -- they are
bound to treat the software as classified data, and cannot declassify it
themselves (because they didn't create it -- I think this is how
declassification works).

Whether one agrees with this argument or not, I think it is clearly a
different argument than the argument about whether the GPL constraints
your ability to choose to whom you distribute the software.

Frank
-- 
Frank Hecker            work: http://www.collab.net/
frank@collab.net        home: http://www.hecker.org/