Subject: Re: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Mon, 05 Nov 2001 01:31:10 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

| The comparisons being drawn relate to software;

  Software is not materially different from any other object being traded.

| when Microsoft offers a "free" copy of IE, or Oracle offers a "free" copy
| of some database product, or Franz offers a "free" copy of ACL, you don't
| have any of those freedoms either.

  Part of the problem here is equivocation.  These "free" things mean only
  and explicitly "free of charge", not any political mumbo-jumbo.  They
  also come with extensive licenses that you have to agree to.  When you
  get GNU software, this licensing stuff is _not_ made explicit up front in
  all cases, and the consequences are far from obvious.  I believe this is
  intentional.  GNU Emacs is the only GNU program I know that does a really
  good job of making the licensing issue explicit and clear, and Debian is
  the only GNU/Linux distribution that does a good job of making their
  policies explicit.  I think the strings attached to GNU "free software"
  should be advertised much more vigorously.

| You can't modify IE and pass it on, even though "it's free."

  True, but they only come sue me if I do something I am not licensed to
  do.  In the case of GNU GPL'ed stuff, they can, in theory, force me to
  give away stuff that is not related to the object whose license I have
  supposedly violated.

| And remember, there's no such thing as "free beer," because you can only
| ever _borrow_ beer.  :-)


| What would be the circumstance where you're _less_ free to use a GNU
| program than you are to use Internet Explorer?

  Well, when you would like to exercise those source access options...

| Remember, the fact that you have access to sources for the GNU program
| provides options you'd never be likely to have with IE...

  True, but they come with a very hefty price tag.  It is in fact a very
  good idea _not_ to exercise those options because of that price tag.

  Norway is now run by a priest from the fundamentalist Christian People's
  Party, the fifth largest party representing one eighth of the electorate.
  Carrying a Swiss Army pocket knife in Oslo, Norway, is a criminal offense.