Do Not Ask The Butcher To Protect The Lamb

Andreas Roehler andreas.roehler at
Tue Mar 14 12:51:56 UTC 2006

GPLv3 - Further Step Towards An Orwellian Society?:

Remarks On Software Licensing.

No-one should use a right against an other one, if he
hadn't a harm caused by this violation, even if the
other one violated his right.

The reason is, that rights - and laws denying or
granting them - are no values by them-self, but derived
from the interest to live in peace and without harm.

If there is no harm, you should not start a legal
strive. Respectively: if there are big harms and some
minor - to say mince - one, you should address the big
harm, not the mince, not to lose your creditability.

Certainly we all get harm from undisclosed software, it
dangers us, threatens us, takes our dignity. But what
is harmful here at the first stake, that are not small
companies using free software without declaring it
properly, but the big one, forcing us to accept human
right violation disguised as licenses.

We have the right to know, what we are doing with our
computers, because we are held to be responsible for

So we should address the big one with complaints and not
the smallest, weakest and less harmful violators.

On the other side a severe cultural setback is to be
feared, referring to the law enforcement in

In general if something is declared to be free, thats
it. You take the newspaper from the grocery if its
offered as free, without reading the impressum or some
licensing there. You will give away or even sell your
free newspaper careless, because you got it for free.

There is already a contradiction between free and
licensed: The licensed isn't free at all and never will
be. All licensing starts with the non-free and needs
it. As it needs it, it lives from it and will strive to
reassure this - non-free - existing conditions of their
own. The good Bertolt Brecht inside another
freedom-project once tried to solve this contradiction
in his play "The Good Men From Sezuan". However, once
living in the GDR I experienced the outcome (which was
not so one-sided bad as depicted now, sure) and don't
need it again.

So if you are going to license, I suggest not to label
it as free. Its an allure to make mistakes.

Respectively - and quite naturally - some companies
didn't care much about copying conditions and other
license stuff, because it has been declared to be
free. There was certainly some surprise about the first
legal cases. I uphold that this surprise did not foster
the idea of free software and did not won assistance for
it - on the contrary.

That German Courts now seem to follow GPL-claims,
proves nothing. They are obeying since 1945 and until
then US-troops beneath their civil-habited helpers feel
at home in Germany. If you heard otherwise, its just to
win an election. Won cases as against Sitcom are no
victory of freedom at all.

Beside the conditions in Germany: If we look backward
in history: Who did the biggest crimes always and
always again? Just that corpus, who sermons to save our
life and to protect our freedom. Will that corpus, who
organized Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, who caused the
death of ten-thousands Iraqis, defend open source and
free programming? We should not ask the butcher to
protect the lamb.

So, if its written: "The Linux kernel is in legal mud
waters.  There are many files in it that violate the
GPL," (Alfred M. Szmidt, Wed Feb 1) what, if our brave
lawyers of Munich, who got the preliminary injunction
against Sitcom, will get one against all European
Linux-Distributors? AFAIK, a preliminary injunction
don't need much, its given at the risk of the suer
quite easily - followed by tremendous consequences for
the firms concerned. So not just GPLv3, already GPLv2
may turn out not as a defense but a major menace of
free software and all ideas alike.

With all your gifted folks around, you will find better
ways then the law enforcement procedures. Do not feed
the mill of the mighty and their lobbyists. Why not
rather reward these companies, which comply? Why not
establish a network - if not already done - of
assistance around free software? Also there is the
instrument of black- and white-listing.

Not do be mistaken, dear members of the FSF and authors
of the GPL: The above mentioned is not about your
intentions, its just an essay to contribute to the
defense of the giant gift, that Richard Stallman and the
developers around FSF made to all of us. Thanks BTW for
all these (free?) licensed software and Emacs at

All the best

Andreas Roehler

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