Free software on proprietary formats ?

Alessandro Rubini rubini at
Sun Nov 21 11:29:14 UTC 2004

> Sure, but not only : any java source code can be edited with a text editor

Actually, that's not an issue. Source code is correctly defined in the
GPL as the preferred form for modification, irrespective of what such
form is.

The fact that such software can't be used without running non-free
software is an issue, but it doesn't affect the freeness of that
copyrighted work. It's like free software packages that only run
under Windows or MacOS.

The fact that it cannot be modified with free software is an issue,
too but, again, it doesn't affect the legal status of the specific work.

I agree that if such source isn't even readable without non-free tools
(because the format is undocumented or whatever) we have a serious
issue, but it's about the environment where such work of art is
designed to live, not about the status of that specific work.

It is the same as free documentation or free drawings written with
proprietary applications. The .doc or .ppt formats aren't really
useable in the free world -- I don't care that some companies spent
many man-years to be more-or-less able to read them: this is just a
very expensive workaround and the situation is still the same as you


More information about the Discussion mailing list