Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: "William C. Cheng" <william@cs.umd.edu>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 15:51:37 -0400

  Richard Stallman wrote:
  > 
  >     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.

After reading this a few times, it seems to me that Richar'd ``measure
of freedom'' is about:

    freedom for code

and most people's measure of freedom is about:

    freedom for people

Certainly, GPL gives the most freedome for code.  But it clearly gives
the people receiving the code less choices.  Can't we focus on the
people when we talk about freedom?  After all, a license is passed from
one person to another and not by code having babies.
--
Bill Cheng // bill.cheng@acm.org <URL:http://bourbon.cs.umd.edu:8001/william/>