Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: [was Cygnus] now Ghostscript and Aladdin
From: Richard Stallman <>
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 00:22:32 -0400

Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:

    I think it is plausible, although unlikely, that a future FSF board
    could adopt an Aladdin-like license, and use the assignments to change
    the entire corpus of FSF-assigned GNU software to AFPL.

Our charter is to make free software.  Using the AFPL would violate
charter, so it would be hard to do this even if we wanted to.  But I
didn't realize until seeing Turnbull's message that our assignment
contracts would permit this.

We have not tried to make assignment contracts rule out everything
that we should not do, because that is a very hard task--as hard as
writing a legally airtight and perfect-for-all-time definition of free
software.  We tried to explicitly rule out certain gross abuses.  The
backup defense is that the author can exercise unlimited nonexclusive
rights to the code.

But it might be feasible to make the assignments rule out this
particular thing.  I will talk with our lawyer about a possible way of
doing it.