Subject: Re: "On Virus" -- get real
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 12:55:54 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "rms" == Richard Stallman <> writes:

    sjt>     Hereditary fails the hierarchy test; heredity is
    sjt> hierarchical, software reuse is not.

    rms> Heredity is not hierarchical in species that reproduce
    rms> sexually.

For a single characteristic, introduced as a specific mutation, the
graph of individuals containing that mutation is (nearly) a rooted

    rms> Nor in object-oriented programming systems with multiple
    rms> parents.

It's a DAG, although all the interesting issues involve DAGs that
aren't trees.

    sjt>     Your GPL imposes binding conditions on my use of a public
    sjt> good.

Quoted out of context.  The point is whether a "partner" is actually
able to participate, see below.

    rms> A free software package has some of the characteristics of a
    rms> "public good", but it may not precisely fit that category.

Stipulated.  I think it's clear why I abused that term in this way; I
will be happy to gloss (out of band) to anyone who asks.

    rms> But suppose for the moment that we call it a public good,
    rms> there is nothing wrong with imposing some conditions on its
    rms> use, for the sake of the community.  There are binding
    rms> conditions on the use of other public goods, such as parks
    rms> and roads, and that is a good thing.

The point is not whether they are good or not, it is whether I
participated in specifying them or not.  Since I did not, calling it
"partnership" is a severe abuse of terminology, justified only by the
click-wrap license.  Given that we are now consciously engaged in a
discussion about connotations of terminology, I think it fair to call
use of the word "partnership" in this context deliberately misleading.

    sjt>     As for "the spirit of all parties being equal," you will
    sjt> always be free to sell a license on your code to Microsoft,
    sjt> for any price with any terms for them (except that you can't
    sjt> abrogate anybody's free software rights on already published
    sjt> portions), and I never will.  Not on your GPL code.

    rms> I think you have misunderstood the situation here, because it
    rms> is entirely symmetrical.  He could license his code in some
    rms> other way, but not your code; you could license your code in
    rms> some other way, but not his code.  Neither of you could
    rms> license the combination in any other way, except by mutual
    rms> agreement.

No, you have misunderstood the situation.  Where in the GPL does it
say that I must produce any free intellectual asset to receive a
license to use free software?  Nowhere.  There is no axis of symmetry
pertaining to "my" code vis-a-vis "his" code in the GPL.

Thus, there is only one free entity in question, and that is the one
to which he has applied the GPL.  My rights and that of the author are

University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."