Logo timeline

Frank Heckenbach frank at g-n-u.de
Thu May 10 22:58:04 UTC 2001

Lutz Horn wrote:

> On Thu, May 10, 2001 at 01:31:34PM +0200, Klaus Schilling wrote:
> > John Tapsell writes:
> >  > On Thu, 10 May 2001, you wrote:
> >  > > 
> >  > > On Thu, May 10, 2001 at 09:56:24AM +0200, Stefan Meretz wrote:
> >  > > > Is there a copyleft license preventing from making money with
> >  > > > free software?
> >  > > 
> >  > > No.
> >  > > 
> >  > But you can always write one :)
> > 
> > No, you can't, because the software would not be free if its license
> > prevented that.
> This is some interesting point. The freedoms 0-3 as described on
> http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html dont't contain this notion.

: The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).

> So, to make this short, there may be one interpretation of freedom 2,
> the interpretation given by the FSF(E). But I don't accept that one
> body, the FSF(E), as the sole interpretational right and the only power
> to define how the four freedoms have to be interpreted.

Well, the freedoms and the "interpretation" are two consecutive
paragraphs from the same text, so it seems natural to consider them
together. Of course, you're free to agree to only one part of them,
or completely disagree with RMS or whatever, but I think the FSFE,
as the sister organization of the FSF, should support the FSF's

> But I guess
> that's what is meant by "authorative information" :-)

It's authoritative as far as any software under the GPL, BSD license
or any other DFSG/OSD conforming license is concerned. I'm sure the
FSFE would not claim that any software which does not permit
commercial use and/or distribution does. (In fact I think, since
such software is not free according to all the definitions
mentioned, the FSFE would not talk about such software at all and
therefore also not give any misleading information about it.)

> And that's why this whole thing will lead to nothing. If you are not
> willing or not able or too "realistic" to actively consider some ideas
> that sound utopian, why all this fuss?

I'm certainly willing and able to consider such ideas, but:

- This thread did not start with some utopian ideas, but with
  someone criticizing the active "political" work done by the core
  team. IMHO, there's a lot of work to be done, both on the
  technical side (to make free software a viable and better
  alternative to proprietary software, and simply to produce a lot
  of interesting projects -- note that I'm not saying the FSFE or
  any other organization has to coordinate or even control it all, I
  say we (or most of us) need and want to write some code) and on
  the political side (to make sure writing, distributing and using
  free software remains legal, that the infracstructure of the
  future (formats, protocols etc.) remains open, etc.). Discussing
  utopian ideas in order to stop actual constructive work is a bad
  thing, IMHO.

- Most of these ideas have been discussed back and forth for years
  (maybe not in an only-European forum like this, but with
  participation of many Europeans as well), and I'm wondering if
  anything really new has been said in this thread (including my own
  comments ;-).

- Quite a few of the "realists" have been "doing" free software for
  some years, i.e. (in varying degrees) written, used, distributed
  and evangelized free software. Some (including some of the core
  team members) have found ways that allow them to use free software
  for most of our work, write and improve free software and make
  enough money with it, not to get very rich, but to be able to do
  it this way and not have to waste our time in other jobs. IMHO
  this is quite a comfortable situation, both for themselves (who
  can enjoy hacking and using free software, not only at night, and
  don't have to beg for food) and for all who like free software
  (because more free software is written this way than would be

  So this "model" really works, because we do it. I can't say this
  of the anticommercial ideas presented here. I have asked some
  quite concrete questions in my previous mails. Most of them went
  unanswered. So to me it seems only like some vague ideas (ok,
  maybe I should expect this from "utopian ideas").

So, perhaps the real confusion here is mixing up utopian ideas and
real, you might say pragmatic, actions, and we're better off
separating them.

I also like to have utopian ideas and I'd like to discuss them in a
separate thread -- but I prefer to remember that they're utopian.
The ideas can appear fantastic and unrealistic, but when you try to
derive some course of action from them, the actions must be
questioned whether they're realistic.

E.g., if living in a society without money is the utopia, I agree
(yes, really, though my mails so far may not appear like this). But
if your consequence it to disallow the use of free software in
connection with money, I disagree because that's no realistic way to
reach the goal. It won't make the money disappear, but it will
severly hurt the free software. So it's ineffective towards one of
my visions (society without money), but destructive against another
one (world without proprietary software), and therefore I reject
this consequence (not the vision!). If you have any workable plans
on how to realize vision #1, I'm all ears. Until then, I prefer to
concentrate on vision #2 because I see a bigger change to reach it
(or at least comer close to it).

Maybe this distinction helps to make it clear that we might not
disagree on the visions, but "only" on the consequences we draw from


Frank Heckenbach, frank at g-n-u.de
PGP and GPG keys: http://fjf.gnu.de/plan

More information about the Discussion mailing list