Free Software vs. Open Source [was: Re: [Marxism] this vi-rus is evil!]

Rogelio Rodríguez at
Tue Feb 3 10:35:14 MST 2004

Mallard Q. Duck (2004-02-03):
> Actually, that's the difference between "copylefted" free software and 
> other free software, such as software in the public domain. The BSD 
> licence is a free licence, but "not a very good one" in the eyes of the 
> Free Software Foundation, because it is not a "copyleft". The term 
> "copyleft" is literally meant to mean "copyright serving the opposite 
> purpose of most copyrights." In other words, "the licenses for most 
> software are designed to take away your freedom to share and change it. 
> By contrast, [copyleft licenses are] intended to guarantee your freedom 
> to share and change free software--to make sure the software is free for 
> all its users." Copylefts guarantee you freedom, and only take away your 
> freedom to deny freedom to others. Not all those who support free 
> software projects are guided by "Free Software Ideology." The BSDs are a 
> great example of this.

The GNU way (GPL) emphasizes "freedom" for the source code itself
rather than for the developer or user--though not necessarily
adverse to the latter. I say so because a piece of code placed
under the GPL is to remain "free." If that piece of code should
come in direct contact with other code--other code distributed
with GPL code compiled into it--all of the software package must
be GPL'ed, must be "freed." It's free for it's own sake, thus
"free software"--"free as in free speech not free as in free
beer." Free software being free coincidentally affords users and
developers the redistribute it, modify it, etc. (But are these
not freedoms exercised, if you will, by the code itself?)

Source code under the BSD license ("open source") on the other
hand is not so privileged. Under this license, source is just
that--source code--not some hallowed entity that is free or
yearns to be. This license privileges the developer. The source
code is not free from the developer, as it were.



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