does a free license make software free?

chrysn chrysn at
Tue Aug 28 19:26:07 UTC 2007

i recently stumbled upon a piece of software [1] a wikipedia article [2]
tells the following about:
> The actual code of Core Force is not publicly available; however, due
> to its Apache license 2.0
> <>, the software is
> completely free for commercial or noncommercial use and can be freely
> reverse engineered <>,
> disassembled <> or decompiled
> <>.
(core force is described as "free software" throughout the article)

as far as i know (or read [3]), the apache license is a non-viral free
software license, which allows using code in a proprietary application.

now it seems the core force team has done so (it is based on another
piece of free software) and decided to stick to the apache license. as i
understand the license, it does not require the author (core force) to
release the source code, it just gives permission to users to
re-distribute it ("in Source or Object form"), although the source is
not provided by the author, so the users would be allowed to
re-distribute the source /if they received it/.

all together, it seems to me that corelabs are not strictly violating
the license, they are just using it unusually, but if this was possible,
the usual assumption "it is released under a Free license, so it has to
be Free software" would not hold.

what am i wrong about?


ps: i have not modified the wp article yet as of awaiting the outcome of
this thread, but describing core force as Free software is definitely
wrong (contradicting the preconditions of freedom #1)


More information about the Discussion mailing list