Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Fri, 28 May 1999 11:04:20 -0700

Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> >>>>> "kms" == Karsten M Self <> writes:

>     kms> Early in the history of emacs, RMS found himself in the
>     kms> position of having written and distributed as free software a
>     kms> product which was being remarketed as proprietary, excluding
>     kms> _even him_ from using, viewing, distributing, or modifying
>     kms> _his own_ software.
> Excuse me.  Are you saying that the vendor of the proprietary product
> collected up and somehow destroyed all copies of the source code?  Or
> was it the license that was buggy, allowing the vendor to somehow
> acquire his copyright?
> Or, as would be true of BSD-licensed code (remember where we started),
> are you asserting his property right in code that was not written by
> him, because the code written by him was still available (to him and
> everyone else)?

AFAIK and understand the story, this was prior to the development of the
GNU GPL, though I'm not sure what (if any) licensing was applied to
emacs at the time.  The problem wasn't that RMS couldn't modify code
wholly of his own creation, it was that the third party's modifications
were not available to RMS to incorporate into his own code, nor could
RMS start a new code tree based on the third party's source.

As I understand, the effect was similar to what might be possible under,
say, the BSD or Artistic License, where a third party is allowed to
spawn a proprietary development tree, subject to some limitations, but
not providing the four software freedoms enumerated by RMS.

RMS saw this, and it was not good.

And on the eighth day, He created the GNU GPL.

Karsten M. Self (

    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Welchen Teil von "Gestalt" verstehen Sie nicht?

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