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Re: Freedom to take freedom (was Re: [Fsfe-uk] Accountants need MS...)

From: Dave Crossland
Subject: Re: Freedom to take freedom (was Re: [Fsfe-uk] Accountants need MS...)
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2008 12:59:13 +0100

On 21/01/2008, Lee Braiden <address@hidden> wrote:
> On Monday 21 January 2008 21:31:03 Dave Crossland wrote:
> > Debian rejected them because Red Hat made a RETARDED additional
> > anti-tivoisation restriction. But this is a lot better than non-free
> > Microsoft fonts.
> You know... with most things in the free software movement, I'm right there,
> in total agreement with Stallman and the FSFE and all.  Sometimes I wonder
> though... if we agree in principle that some freedoms (such as the freedom to
> enslave) should not be given, on the basis that they take freedom from
> others... then why do we flat-out reject additional restrictions?

Because this is about a tightly defined kind of freedom - "software
freedom," as defined by the FSF's 4 freedoms definition - and not
about "freedom to do anything at all." The GPL sets out the 4 software
freedoms in the preamble, gives the legal basis of them (access to
source code and permission to modify and redistribute) and then has a
range of restrictions to help guarantee them.

Permitting further restrictions in 1991 would have been very risky.
Its amazing to me that it took so long for real loopholes to be
figured out :-)

But in 2008, permitting further restrictions that don't interfere with
software freedom makes sense, as it allows the GPLto be compatible
with more free software licenses (notably the Apache 2.0) and the
"Additional Terms" section of v3 is about that.

> For instance, I for one think it would be a good thing to restrict the right
> to use my software for military purposes.

That would be an unacceptable restriction on use; while I sympathies
with pacifists, I would not want to restrict people from defending
themselves from an attack. If the UK became occupied by the USA, I
would want to be able to use free software to fight for my

> I also think the GPLv3
> anti-tivoisation measure, and the Affero measures are both good ideas.

Affero is criticised as a restriction on use, which is why it isn't in
the mainline GPL.

> I suppose what I'm saying is that, when a group tries to implement additional,
> laudable restrictions, like anti-tivoisation, we should probably respect
> their dilemma a bit more, even if we can't get behind it for technical
> (implementation/enforcement) or practical (common denominator) reasons.

Anti tivoisation is a clear software freedom issue; it turns software
freedom into something theoretical, not practical - which makes me
amused when "practical" developers denounce it :-)


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