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View Full Version : Doing research paper, confused by fsf's definition of Free Software.



indigo0086
10-12-2007, 06:54 AM
http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/free-sw.html


A program is free software if users have all of these freedoms. Thus, you should be free to redistribute copies, either with or without modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone anywhere. Being free to do these things means (among other things) that you do not have to ask or pay for permission.

So does this mean that the initial distributor has the right to distribute the software for pay along with anyone who obtains it, or does it mean that those who redistribute it for pay, need not have to have paid to do so? I'm still doing the research so it will probably come soon enough, but I'm a little confused early on with the definition.

laserlight
10-12-2007, 07:20 AM
Perhaps this would become clearer if you look at GPL v2:
"You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee."

So asking for permission to distribute is made distinct from the physical act of distribution.

indigo0086
10-12-2007, 07:22 AM
I see, I am going to look to that.

I wonder what groups could be against free software ;)

CornedBee
10-12-2007, 11:22 AM
All those that make money by selling software, obviously. But few are against free software in general, only against the free software that is directly competing with their products ;)

To wit: Adobe, even Microsoft, they all have some open source and free projects. But not, usually, where their core competencies lie.

Sang-drax
10-12-2007, 11:30 AM
The people who are against public healthcare because it is communistic, might not like free software.

brewbuck
10-12-2007, 12:18 PM
So does this mean that the initial distributor has the right to distribute the software for pay along with anyone who obtains it, or does it mean that those who redistribute it for pay, need not have to have paid to do so? I'm still doing the research so it will probably come soon enough, but I'm a little confused early on with the definition.

You have to remember that the definition of "Free Software" and "Open Source" is highly politicized. There are serious philosophical issues underlying what LOOKS like very simple language. A lot of people claim that there are ways to adhere to the letter of the definition while violating its "spirit." Especially for the purposes of a research paper, I would not rely SOLELY on the definition of Free Software given by the FSF.

indigo0086
10-12-2007, 12:51 PM
Well my research paper is going to be 4 pages in length and it's covering the general issues and sides taken in regards to it's ethics (yes, it's an *gruk* ethics paper Xb). So I'm not going to go into too much detail in the definition or the verbiage but focus more on what effects free software as a movement/philosophy/golden rule or whatever you may call it.

Rashakil Fol
10-12-2007, 03:24 PM
The people who are against public healthcare because it is communistic, might not like free software.

Not really. People who think that being nice to others is evil are the kind that wouldn't like free software.

MacGyver
10-12-2007, 09:49 PM
The people who are against public healthcare because it is communistic, might not like free software.

Communists don't like free software. Actually, communists don't like anything free.

whiteflags
10-12-2007, 10:24 PM
Communists don't like free software. Actually, communists don't like anything free.
Politics are officially above me: I think Sang-drax made more sense than you did. Though it's only because I think I understand why public health care may be communistic to some.

People think public health care is communistic because it leads to a system that becomes uncomfortably burdened by its patients to such a degree that it stops working and thus fails to generate meaningful incentives for contributors. I'm still working out how this relates to free software, but he's way ahead of you.

I'm pretty sure if bread was free for a day in a communist society, people would take it. Nevermind if it were actually free.

Salem
10-13-2007, 12:41 AM
The 'free' in 'free software' is akin to 'free speech', not 'free food'.

Cheeze-It
10-13-2007, 09:33 AM
And Salem wins.

indigo0086
10-13-2007, 09:49 AM
Well the definition does state in the first paragraph

...you should think of ``free'' as in ``free speech,'' not as in ``free beer.''

Though I don't like beer, free or not, so salem does win.