Response from M-Systems

Richard Stallman rms at
Sun Jul 11 00:46:51 EDT 1999

A couple of months ago, I asked our lawyer a similar question: whether
someone could permit distribution of a GPL-covered program, but then
use a patent to try to restrict the running of the program.  Such a
possibility would be disastrous, since it would mean that the program
was not really free, despite the use of the GPL.

The lawyer told me that licensing the distribution of a program
automatically licenses users to run it.  I was relieved.

I cannot be certain that the case I asked him about is entirely
equivalent to this one.  What I can say is that IF a program can be
restricted in the way you suggest, it is not free software.  That is
not a solution, it is a danger.

I don't think this danger exists, but if it does, I will do my best
to safeguard against it with changes in the next version of the GPL.

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