Response from M-Systems

David Woodhouse David.Woodhouse at
Mon Jul 12 06:56:53 EDT 1999

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

That seems very strange to me - I'd be very interested to know why he believes 
this. Distribution and usage are two distinct activities; one of which is 
explicitly allowed by the GPL, the other of which is explicitly not covered by 
the GPL. 

> 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. 

This is only with regard to software patents, a local issue in some parts of 
the world which have insane legislation.

If a tinpot dictatorship somewhere ruled that source code should never be 
available to the end user, the GPL would be unusable in that country, and by 
the same logic, no software anywhere would be truly free. But would we stop 
using the GPL?

What I'm trying to say is that software patents are a local issue. GPL'd code 
is truly free in all parts of the world with sensible legislation, and in 
those parts that aren't included in that description, we have to fight it in 
other ways. We can't just say 'well the software's not free' and reject it 

----                                 ----                                 ----
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 Project Leader,     Process Information Systems      Mobile: (+44) 976 658355
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