Subject: Re: Be and free software
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999 11:29:48 -0500 (EST) writes:
 > Russell Nelson writes:
 > > All OSI certified Open Source software is free software.  Period.  End
 > > of sentence.
 > Only if you agree with OSI definition and the way that OSI interprets it.

It is our intention that any OSI approved license will allow
modification and redistribution of the software.  How could this not
be free?

 > The example of the latter that Bradley might be thinking of is Darwin.
 > IIRC, when Apple came out with Darwin, ESR said that it passed the OSI
 > definition but many others looked at it and thought that it was not free
 > software.

Many others were wrong.  Now, I will admit that we made a small
mistake, which is to allow Apple to withdraw distribution because of
patent infringement in an area where the patent has no jurisdiction.
However, that has been fixed in APSL 1.1.

In particular, the APSL took a lot of heat for dealing with patents in
advance.  The GPL is still subject to patent law, but takes no notice
of it.  In particular, if you have written some software using a
particular algorithm, and someone else owns that code (because it's
patented), then you MUST stop distributing it.  Apple's lawyer argued
that they must also stop others from distributing it, and so the APSL
reads that way.  I don't know that there's any precedents regarding
libre software and patent infringements.  I think Apple's lawyer
wanted someone other than Apple to pay to set that precedent.  :)

 > An example showing the former to be problematical is the one just discussed
 > where Cygnus does piece-work for a chip company to create for them modified
 > GPLed software (eg a port of gcc).  The copyright on the modifications is
 > now owned by the chip company, who also has the source-code.  But the
 > software is not being distributed and source is nowhere available.  Is that
 > software currently free?  It probably will become so, and they are limited
 > in what they can do without making it free.  But is it before they release
 > it?

Yes, of course.  The GPL is not designed to grant any rights to people
who don't have the software.  There's no free software license which
puts the onus of distribution on the holder of a copy of the software.

-russ nelson <>
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