Subject: Exploring the limits of free software
From: Brian Bartholomew <>
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 15:39:27 -0400

If I understand Cygnus' product offerings correctly, they do the
following, which is considered by many (most?) people to be free

	obscure the relationship between commercial and gratis

	do not put commercial product up for ftp gratis

	charge $6K for a copy (GNUPro with all targets)

	withhold releasing improvements gratis for several months

	do not release related code that gives a unique advantage in
	maintenance, such as regression test base

	collateral and documentation are proprietary

	do not give gratis support

	allow improvements in new files to be proprietary (eCos, not GNUPro)

Now suppose I make one or more of the following incremental changes to
those business practices:

	tell customers bitcopies do not inherit brand properties

	do not put anything up for ftp gratis

	pay customers a bounty not to redistribute

	charge $10K, $100K, USL Unix source license price, $1M, $10M,
	Microsoft Windows source license price, $100M, $1B

	tie free licensed products to proprietary licensed ones, and
	intermix them throughly on the distribution

	make it confusing enough to need documentation to use

	make it unreliable enough to need support to use

	allow improvements in old files to be proprietary

	withhold releasing improvements gratis for 1 year, 2 years, 5
	years, 17 years, or until the copyright expires

When does it stop being free software?

A member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF)
Brian Bartholomew - - - Working Version, Cambridge, MA