Savannah rejects a project because it uses GPL

Alex Hudson home at
Tue Feb 14 23:27:58 UTC 2006

On Tue, 2006-02-14 at 23:28 +0100, Bernhard R. Link wrote:
> Here we differ. There are just different definitions of what
> software means. But this does not change the fact that freedom matters.
> There are of course different forms of freedom needed for different
> things. 

I think you're probably right here, and one of the things the FDL didn't
really get right was that it was attempting to treat the digital and
non-digital forms of a work equally, when functionally they are not.

> So there are many reasons to not make a distinguish between all those
> bits contained in an OS by some undefinable criterias wheather they
> cause the creation of something the CPU interprets (machine code)
> or to be interpreted by something interpreted by the CPU (scripts)
> one the one side, and things interpreted by something interpreted by the
> CPU (images, texts, ...).

I actually think you're confusing two issues here. The first is, is
there some standard of freedom which should apply to all digital
content? And the second is, assuming there is a standard, is it possible
to apply it to any digital content?

Let's assume the first part for convenience - let's say that we have
some given standard of freedom, and that we think all digital content
should be upheld to that standard. Is the second part true?

I would say not - I don't believe it's possible to uphold a standard of
freedom without distinguishing between "all those bits" ;). 

As an example, let's say I have a simple BSD-style licence which allows
me to modify and redistribute a digital work. If I apply it to a digital
photograph, is that photo free? I would say it pretty much is. 

However, if you apply that licence to an executable binary of Emacs (for
example), I would say that is not free - sure, in theory I have the
freedoms, but in practise without the source I'm stuffed.

Both the photo and Emacs binary are "just a load of bits", but without
distinguishing them somehow it's difficult to talk about whether one or
the other is "free". I don't see how it's possible to say the photo is
free, but the binary is not, without distinguishing them somehow.

Because of this, I would find it difficult to talk about "free software"
when "software" includes a variety of non-executable works - I believe
it's over-generalisation.



More information about the Discussion mailing list