[nSLUG] Richard Stallman in Halifax

Daniel Morrison draker at gmail.com
Fri Jan 30 14:23:04 AST 2009

2009/1/30 Ian Campbell <ian at slu.ms>:
> On Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 01:20:35PM -0400, Daniel Morrison wrote:
>> 2009/1/30 Joshua B. <juggins at gmail.com>:
>> > I don't think the two meanings are all that distinctly different.
>> > "Free" means unrestricted, the requirement to pay for access, or the
>> > right to use, is a fundamental restriction.

>> "I am free", or "I am a free man", which seems to mean, according to
>> you, that "I cost nothing".  Or perhaps, that I have the freedom to
>> charge whatever I want for myself, including "nothing".
> His very first definition was "unrestricted", which I think is in sync
> with "I am free", or "I am a free man."

The point is: free applies to beer (things), Free applies to people (speech).

If _I_ am unrestricted, that does not make me free of charge. And if EMI
releases an album "for free", that does not mean you can hand out copies to
your friends, broadcast it on public radio, etc... becuase you do not have
those freedoms.

>> How do you explain that most every other language in the world has two
>> separate words for the two separate meanings, if in fact they are not
>> "all that distinctly different"?

> I explain it as "they're different languages."

cat -> chat
dog -> chien
free -> libre
free -> gratuit

Your explanation is short-sighted.

>> Challenge: name a "freedom" which is not permitted by Free software.
>> Hint: a restriction (i.e. the right to restrict distribution of
>> portions of the software, such as the source, is not a freedom).

> Here's a restriction not permitted by Free software: linking
> proprietary code to code licensed under the GPL... or the TiVo drama
> in GPLv3. I can't make use of your code even if I leave it open. How
> is that Free?

False argument. You can link proprietary code to GPL code all you want.
You just can not redistribute the result. That would be restricting others'
freedoms.  You can, however, redistribute your Free code along with Free
instructions so that others may perform the same linking that you did.  That
way everyone else can enjoy the same freedoms you do.

2009/1/30 David Payne <david at payneful.ca>:
> Software released under the GPL has a restriction, you can't make
> derivative copies and release your copies without access to the source
> code.  In most peoples eyes this is a *good* restriction, but it's a
> restriction none the less.  Truly free software would be in the public
> domain.

Again, freedoms apply to people, not to things.  Free software is software
which does not interdict people's freedoms. Public domain software does not
interdict people's freedoms, but it can change to proprietary software in the
blink of an eye. Free software, yes, restricts you in the sense that it
prevents you from restricting other people's freedoms. Apart from that, you
can do whatever the hell you want with it.

> Not being aloud to release software without source code is less freedom
> than being able to do what ever you want with the software.

I'll concede this, but I'll only say that the philosophy behind Free
software simply places greater value on community freedoms than individual
freedoms, and in so doing guarantees that Free software grants almost
unlimited freedoms to everyone.  Public domain software grants unlimited
freedom to you, including the right to limit other people's freedoms.

Look, guys, I'm not RMS' lapdog. These are complex and weighty issues, and I'm
not even sure that I'm completely convinced.  But when I read some of what is
said, and think: "There's something wrong with this... how would RMS respond?"
I can't help but to give it a try. And much like RMS, I find an inexplicable
resistance.  What is it that you just don't get here?


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