[sf-lug] Free software talk

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Dec 19 04:45:57 PST 2008

Quoting David Sterry (david at sterryit.com):

> I'm trying to go by the FSF's definition of free software and that
> doesn't include BSD.

Please consult http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/index_html , at
your leisure.  Quoting:

   Modified BSD license [link]
   (Note: on the preceding link, the modified BSD license is listed in
   the General section.)

   This is the original BSD license, modified by removal of the
   SOFTWARE LICENSE, compatible with the GNU GPL. [...]

   Original BSD license [link]
   (Note: on the preceding link, the original BSD license is listed in the
   UCB/LBL section. This license is also sometimes called the "4-clause
   BSD license".)


Emphasis added, in both cases.  (This _is_ a page that FSF's had posted
pretty much since God was in knee-britches, by the way.)

I happen to have been involved with FSF for, well, decades, and FSF has
_always_, consistently and clearly, classified not only BSD but also all
other classic permissive licences (MIT/X11, Apache Licence v 1.x, QPL
1.0) as free software licences.

I don't know what you _thought_ FSF had said to the contrary, but I can
assure you that FSF has never, in its entire existence, asserted that
good permissive licences are non-free.

> In addition I realize there are many motivations for writing free
> software but I liked the idea that it was close to music since that
> was most novel to me.

Well, the reason I stressed the extreme diversity of underlying reasons
-- including, as my final two examples, business models that quite
frankly use copyleft to support proprietary-software business models -- 
is that I get really, really tired of people speaking as if free / open
source software is inherently some sort of gentleman's hobby and/or
charity ideological cause.

Sorry, but that's bunk, and the world really should have gotten over
that in March 1998, when Netscape Corporation went MPL (with a brief
transition from the short-lived NPL licence) and suddenly the entire
business world was willing to admit that it was already using Linux and
other free code for..., well, damned near everything.

> Incidentally, that concept actually came out of a quick thread on the
> FSF internal forum.  If you're a member of the FSF(I just joined), I'd
> encourage you to go there and participate in their(for some reason)
> private forum since it's sorely lacking in attention for an org of
> 7000+ members.

Well, er, I sincerely hope you will go back and correct FSF's
comprehension of its own founding documents.  ;->

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