Friday, August 27, 2004

Free as in Liberty

After nine years, people still don't get it. "The word 'Free' doesn't refer to price; it refers to freedom," said Richard Stallman; president of the Free Software Foundation. And it is all about freedom. I quote this in the context of my new project MUSIC, that got approved recently and I have been able to put up a one pager on my development site

I was choosing the licensing for the project and got engrossed in thoughts about the different ways software affects lives of both consumers as well as producers of the intellectual property. Much software these days is sold in shrink-wrapped cardboard boxes, often for thousands of dollars. For that, you get a handful of CDs or a DVD containing a program that the computer can execute, but which can't be modified. Companies keep their source-code the actual language in which programmers write, a closely guarded secret.

Stallman's vision of freedom is software that has no secrets. It comes complete with source code so that anyone who gets it can take it apart, see how it works, and make changes. But most important, people can share free software with their friends just by making a copy without having to pay royalties, shareware fees, or any thing at all. In the shrink-wrapped world, that's called piracy. In Stallman's world, it's called being a good neighbor. " I don't think that people should ever make promises not to share with their neighbor," he said.

I created my project as an L-GPL, instead of a GPL simply because I would not want people of closed code school of thought to not make use of this software. The LGPL-style license allows the use of MUSIC in both commercial and open source projects. In fact Mark Fleury (in case you don't know he is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of JBoss) has a great blog on LGPL vs BSD style licensing here

If you too have comments about the open source licensing, do use the comments section to add your 2 cents.

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