Subject: Re: Cygnus and proprietary software
From: Brian Bartholomew <>
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 1997 19:29:37 -0500

> So do you think that the FSF should not sell $5000 deluxe distributions?

Did I say that?  If the only way to get FSF software was on $5000 CDs,
I would be unhappy.  Instead, I would prefer that Cygnus put their
stuff up for ftp.  If FSF|Cygnus|Whomever wants to sell distributions
for arbitrary amounts as consulting work or a donation, that's fine.
Meanwhile, I can still effectively traffic in the software with ftp.

> non-freely-redistributable software generally implies that someone
> has a monopoly on controlling the distribution of the program.

Yes, but it doesn't imply the program has a monopoly on those features
in the marketplace.  Windows and Sun's C compiler are both non-freely-
redistributable.  Windows has a near-monopoly on the desktop OS
market; that's bad.  Sun's C compiler is not a problem because there
are plausible alternatives.

> Is your license going to mean that I can't run the software on top
> of a proprietary kernel?

That's a very interesting question, as is its opposite: can you run
proprietary programs on an OS under my license.  In my opinion, the
current GPL isn't protecting the FSF agenda very well.  Witness the
problems: GPL programs you can't ftp, patches to GPL programs you
can't compel distribution of, rereleasing programs as proprietary
after they have been developed under the GPL, mixtures of GPL and
proprietary that don't repay the GPL developers.

I want my license to prevent writing a proprietary tool that uses a
free tool.  Once the sapling starts free, I want the whole tree
downstream to stay free.  This includes all its derivatives and
add-ons, including the commercially interesting potentially-profit-
making ones.  However, it's very easy to make a license too
restrictive such that nobody would choose to use it.  I have the
feeling the early GPL explored this territory and didn't find a
workable tradeoff.  Also, requiring users to publish all their
programs is a ridiculous imposition upon privacy.

Another member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF)
Brian Bartholomew - - - Working Version, Cambridge, MA