Re: GPLv3 Position Statement

From: Linus Torvalds
Date: Fri Sep 29 2006 - 13:50:22 EST

On Fri, 29 Sep 2006, Alan Cox wrote:
> That cuts both ways
> "If you don't want to use all this handy free code then don't lock your
> system down or go use OpenBSD"

That's a fallacious argument for two reasons:

- the GPLv2 allows usage in any circumstances except the geographical
limitation that can be forced on it by other laws. No serious lawyer I
have ever met is even ambiguous about this. There's just no question -
people may not be happy about it, and iirc the FSF at some point tried
to claim somethign else, but this really isn't all that controversial.

So the whole "If you don't want to use all this handy free code"
argument is simply WRONG. It's based on a premise that just isn't true.
All that handy free code is perfectly usable for things like a secure
terminal or something else that doesn't allow you to change its
behaviour because of some load-time consistency check.

You cannot make a logical argument that as it's axiom takes something
that is patently false. It may still be "logically consistent", but it
has no _relevance_, since it has nothing to do with reality.

- It tries to equate the word "free" (which means so many things that it
almost lacks meaning) with "not able to authenticate". Which is just
one of hundreds of ways to read it, and it is extremely irritating how
the FSF thinks that _its_ definition of the word free somehow trumps
everybody elses.

We already had that discussion ten years ago, and it's why people who
want to be clear in their speaking (and thinking) use the term "Open
Source". Because the OSI rules generally speak about concrete things
that mean only one thing, which means that they actually have a
well-defined _meaning_ in any discussion between two parties.

A lot of people seem to think that the problem with "free" was just the
confusion between "no cost" and "freedom". Those people seemed to never
really understand an even deeper problem in the whole FSF language use.

In other words: anybody who wants to have a logical argument about the
real world needs to start with (a) acknowledging facts and (b) avoid using
words that may mean something else to the other side.

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