Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999 17:24:07 +0200

On Wed, Oct 27, 1999 at 08:54:54AM -0600, Richard Stallman wrote:
> 	Ian> Would free software ever have come into existence without a
> 	Ian> moral dimension?  In the early days of the GNU project,
> 	Ian> nobody was saying that free software was better in any
> 	Ian> economic sense.
>     Yes.  ARPA.  BSD.  X Window System.  
> Actually none of these three is an example of that.
> ARPA was not particularly concerned with free software for any reason.
> Most implementations of the ARPAnet were not free software.
> BSD originally was proprietary software.  The BSD developers became
> interested in making it free later on as a result of inspiration from
> the GNU Project.  I have not heard that economics played a crucial
> role in their thinking about the matter.
> The developers of X made it free, but their reasons were not concerned
> with economics.  They wanted a big success, defined as "many people
> using X."  So they wrote a license to encourage adoption.
> The idea that free software made economic sense judging by purely
> practical terms is a fairly recent one.  I hope it is correct,
> but I don't feel confident of it.  I would rather make arguments
> based on freedom as a moral issue.  Not everyone cares about that
> premise, but for people who do care, the argument is much stronger.

Unfortunately ... very few of them ... by choice or by obligation.

Believe me, I switched to economic arguments here because I was not
given any other choice. They got me a long way ... to the point that
my opponents appear ideology driven... and that is damning.

But I still have problems with lawyers ... they do not understand
either technology or economics. They pretend to deal with semantics
when their job should be restricted to syntax (they are unable, most
of them, to undertsand the semantics).


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