Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: Richard Stallman <>
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 05:37:41 -0400

      You would never condemn any way of releasing free software
    according to your own technical definition; you often make statements
    that are very easily perceived as condemning what many people perceive
    as "free software", because it does not meet the technical definition.

That is true.  I've put a lot of thought into where to draw the line
between free software and non-free, and I think I have found the right
place for it.  If other people have different ideas, they have a right
to their views, but I also have a right to follow mine.  If you
interpret my statements using their definitions and criteria, you get
a meaning that wasn't mine.

If anyone doesn't know what my definition is, it's not because I
haven't said.  It is in
When I say I think all the ways of doing free software are basically
good, I'm using that definition.

There are real disagreements about which is the best way to release
free software, and I will argue strenuously about those issues.
But--on my part at least--those arguments are just a matter of which
way is *best*.  An unwise choice may lead to an outcome that is
inferior, to a great or small extent, but that doesn't necessarily
make it bad, or make it evil.

Thus, I urge people to use copyleft, rather than imitate the X11
license; but at the same time, whenever people make changes in the X
code, I urge them to cooperate with the XFree86 group.  I disagree
with their choice of license, that license has led to very unfortunate
problems and dangers in the past--but still, the software is free, so
it is basically a good thing.