Subject: Re: Do We Need a New Evangelist
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 30 Mar 1999 14:01:51 -0500

   Date: 30 Mar 1999 18:48:03 -0000
   From: Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com>

   Ian Lance Taylor writes:
    > Free software is software which is freely available to all within the
    > community, for which nobody has any special rights.

   Disagree.  Strongly.  Author has special rights.  Author can
   dual-license.  Author has right to acquire good reputation and avoid
   bad.  Look at all the free software licenses.  They *all* address the
   need to protect reputation.  Why is public domain rarely used?
   Because it has no requirement to protect reputation.  Strip
   attribution?  Fine.

You're right, of course.  I didn't feel any need to consider that
particular right, since it is shared by all types of free software.

However, a license like the NPL provides additional rights beyond that
to the original author.  Those are the rights I was thinking of.  As I
read the NPL, it permits Netscape to take modifications made by other
people and repackage them as proprietary software.

The GPL does not provide that right to anybody, including the original
author.  (The original author can dual-license his or her own code,
but can not do so with code written by other people, in the absence of
a copyright assignment).

The BSD license provides that right to everybody.

So I still see a difference.


Anyhow, arguing these details misses my larger point, which is that I
believe that people have become able to speak of the differences
between free software and open source software.  I see this in the
discussions on slashdot, for example, where people talk about ESR
vs. RMS.  Perhaps these people are mistaken.  Perhaps I am simply
misinterpreting what I am seeing.

The bulk of my message was only an attempt to explain that perception
in terms of licensing details, and that may have been a mistake.
Since prominent free/open software proponents disagree publically, I
may merely be seeing the result of people choosing sides on the basis
of charisma or other intangibles.  In short, politics.

Ian