Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: Richard Stallman <>
Date: Tue, 25 May 1999 04:24:09 -0400

    However, what _I_ disagree with, Richard, is what I perceive as your
    strongly held belief that there is only one way to free software, and
    that is monopoly[1] free software, namely GPL programs with copyright
    assigned to a single holder powerful enough to defend them, in a pure 
    free software environment.

I hope you'll be glad to know that I don't think this way, and I never
have.  I think that all the ways of releasing free software are
basically good.

I think some are better than others; I've thought about this for a
long time and have careful reasoning for it.  When the issue arises of
which way is best, I argue for copyleft with the best of my ability.
But that doesn't mean I condemn the people who are arguing the other
side.  These issues are a matter of what is more or less effective,
not a matter of right or wrong.  The bottom line is, non-copylefted
free software IS free software, which means it is basically a good

I have said this time and again, in speeches, in interviews, and in
messages--every time the issue comes up, for a decade or more.  I am
sure I would never say the opposite.  If you thought so, it must
be due to a miscommunication.

But I wonder, how did you become so *certain* that I hold a view which
I have never endorsed, and often denied?  Didn't you feel at least
a little doubt?

Another person wrote to me privately, urging me not to condemn people
who write non-copylefted free software; he too was completely sure
that I do condemn them, and saw no need to confirm that.

This seems to happen often; many people are quite sure I think this or
that ridiculous or outrageous thing, when I don't.  This pattern seems
to play a significant role in the waves of criticism I receive.  Does
anyone understand why these misunderstandings happen so often?