Freedom Issue #2938

free license concern

telur - over 2 years ago - . Updated over 2 years ago.

% Done:



please enlighten me if im wrong

in fsf essentials freedom, freedom 1 stated that everyone that choose to distribute libre software are obliged to release the source code as well.

lately i found that bsd family licenses doesnt enforce one to release source code, thus they are not obliged to make source available if they want.

im confused:
1.are bsd license fall into nonfree by these definition, because they allowed distribution without source code ?
2.and what about other license that had these similiar problem (non copyleft license in general) ?

some resources:

"The BSD license (unlike some other licenses) does not require that source code be distributed at all"

"The GPL is copyleft. It requires you have to disclose your source code and make the modified version open source as well.
The BSD license family (including the Modified License), on the other hand, doesn’t compel you to do any of the above. They have fairly relaxed redistribution terms."

The Linux GPL license tends to be more strict on the developers, forcing a release of all modified source code. BSD developers on the other hand have no such restrictions. The thing to keep in mind is what the non-developing public gets out of all this.
Manufacturers may opt for BSD as their operating system of choice when creating new devices instead of Linux. This would allow them to keep the code modifications to themselves as the use of Linux would have come with the stipulation of releasing the source code to the public.
The restrictions set on Linux by their license provides those seeking applications for the system an assurance that if one is made, they will have access to it. The BSD license allows its developers the choice to remain greedy and tight-lipped on kernel and system modifications, meaning that even if something is made, the general public may not even have a clue to its existence.



Updated by bill-auger over 2 years ago

if this ticket is not related to any specific parabola package,
it would have been more useful as a discussion topic for the
forum or mailing list - i will need to close it as 'not-a-bug' -
if you care to re-post it on the forum, i would copy over my


Updated by bill-auger over 2 years ago

freedom 1 stated that everyone that choose to distribute
libre software are obliged to release the source code

the four freedoms do not state that precisely - freedom#1
states that some software provides freedom#1, IFF the source
code is freely available, modifiable, and re-distributable - it
is not implying that binaries compiled from freely licensed
source code, must themselves be freely licensed - inherently,
binaries can never provide all four freedoms - it is generally
not possible to determine which source code any binary was
compiled from; so binaries are not the_thing that one wants
(or has any use for) regarding software freedom - that inversion
is subtle; but it is asymmetrical for binaries (one does not
imply the other) - only the GPL makes it symmetrical for binaries
- the confusion you have there is probably regarding the
difference between the four essential freedoms, and the
extra stipulations of the GPL,

in short, the four freedoms apply to the case where one has
acquired some freely licensed source code - it is not implying
that one must be able to acquire the source code, in order for
the source code to be considered as libre

all of the popular permissive licenses provide all four freedoms
to anyone who acquires the source code; which is why they are
approved by the FSF and the OSI - the GPL goes beyond the four
freedoms, to ensure that everyone who acquires binaries without
source code, can claim the four freedoms, simply by asking
the person who gave them the binary, to also give them the
source code

perhaps it helps to look at it this way: executable binaries are
not the_thing which license cover essentially - binaries are a
convenience service, which someone provides for users, on the
behalf of those users - that person is most often not the
author; and it is not done on the behalf of the author

if one has only a binary and no source code, it is true that one
does not have all four freedoms - in that case, one probably does
not have the license either, unless it is a GPL program - without
some form of license, one has none of the four freedoms - much
less, one probably does not have so much as the permission to
possess a copy

if one wants all four freedoms, then one should ask the person
who compiled and distributes that binary, for the source code
- in the case that the source code from which it was compiled is
GPL-licensed, and if that person refuses to provide the source
code, then that person would forfeit the permission to distribute
it - it would also imply that even the person who asked for the
source code, would have no permission to posses the binary, and
must delete it - in the case that the source code from which the
binary was compiled is permissively-licensed, there is no
obligation for that person to provide the source code upon request
- some licenses do not even require binaries to convey any license
or attribution, in which case, one may not even know the author
was or who to ask for source code - the binary is essentially
proprietary in such cases (so perhaps one should simply delete it)

regarding those quoted bits of advice: though they are
essentially correct, they are either confused or are
intentionally confusing, regarding the terms of the GPL -
the subtext is a common mis-conception/dis-information, due to
casting the issue in terms of "open-ness" or "generosity" on the
part of the author - that mis-conception, leads people to
describe the GPL as more "restrictive" than permissive licenses -
the restriction (if youd call it that) is merely such that people
must not restrict others; in the same way as a civil law may
"restrict" people from committing some offense against others,
in contrast to: "do as you please - just dont blame me" -
permissive licenses are mainly about satisfying the legalities
of software distribution, analogous to commercial laws - the
GPL is more akin to civil laws, with the emphasis on how people
treat each other in a civilized society; a concern which is absent
from the open-source philosophy - the four freedoms address
neither activity; but only static, objective properties of the
license - they are just criteria, useful when discussing the
issue of software freedom, or as a guide when choosing software

whenever people describe the GPL as more "restrictive", the
implication is regarding the freedom and interests of the author,
exclusively - anyone who describes it that way, is not at all
considering the freedom or interests of users - from the
point-of-view of 'open-source', the license exists only to
protect the author from copyright violation or warrantee claims
- the GPL does that too; but furthermore, the GPL is primarily
concerned with protecting the freedom of the software users, by
protecting the software itself from being proprietarized - it
is an agreement between the author and users - permissive
licenses do not consider users of the software to be party to
the agreement, nor as any sort of stake-holder; so there are no
prescriptions regarding the interests or actions of users


Updated by bill-auger over 2 years ago

  • Priority changed from bug to discussion
  • Status changed from unconfirmed to not-a-bug

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