Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: Richard Stallman <>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 08:00:39 -0600 (MDT)

    Yup, and it's hard to get "more free" than BSD.

That depends on how you measure freedom.  You can measure by what is
permitted by the license of a specific release of the program, or you
can average the freedoms that the users of the program have.

If you use the former method, the BSD license is certainly more
permissive than the GNU GPL.  But if you use the latter method, you
will find in many important cases that the average user of the
non-copylefted program has less freedom.

BSD is an example of this.  When you think of "BSD", perhaps you tend
to consider only the free versions of BSD.  But there is also a
non-free version of BSD.  I don't know what fraction of the users of
BSD systems use the non-free version, but it could be substantial.

X11 is another example; in its heydey, I am pretty sure that most
users were using non-free versions.  Apache is also an example.

Non-copyleft license don't directly take away anyone's freedom, but
they reduce the community's commitment to freedom, by encouraging
business to tempt all of us each day to give up some freedom for some
added convenience.  To resist the temptation takes strong will, which
not everyone has.  I think it is a mistaken strategy.

For more explanation about this issue, see and