Microsoft tries to prevent Free Software (Spiegel Article)

João Miguel Neves jneves at
Wed Jul 4 14:53:48 UTC 2001

On 04 Jul 2001 14:59:39 +0200, Alessandro Rubini wrote:
> It's important to spread correct information instead. But it may or
> may not appear as a reply to microsoft.
> I think the GPL is "persistent" (which is a better word in my opinion
> than hereditary or inherited). We should spread that word. The GPL has
> long been attacked as "viral", not only by proprietary companies, by
> the BSD world as well.
> I'm willing to spend some time on that, which is a real issue. Any
> suggestion on how to proceed?
I think we need a "Free Software FAQ". This FAQ would be non-technical
user oriented and would serve to counter soome FUD. As possible, it
should contain either parts of other documents and/or links to them. No
answer should take more than a couple of paragraphs. My suggestions for
some questions are:

Q: What is free software ?
A: A minimal description of the 4 freedoms.

Q: What's the difference between commercial and proprietary software ?

Q: What's this GPL thing I heard about ?

Q: What's copyleft ?

Q: Why are companies/people calling GPL a viral license ?
A: Some companies/people believe that all software should be available
to be made proprietary, that is, you can make a change to it and
restrict their freedoms if they choose to use the modified version. This
strategy is usually called "embrace and extend".

As a copyleft license (see above) GPL does not allow a programmer to
modify software covered by the GPL license and then restrict the
freedoms on the modified version. Basically this means that it allows no
parasites, companies/people that build on others work and then treat
them as their own. 

I hope this helps.

						Joao Miguel Neves

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