[Colchester] The fifth freedom

Jai Harrison jai at jaiharrison.com
Mon Jul 14 21:48:46 BST 2008

On Mon, Jul 14, 2008 at 9:24 PM, Wayland Sothcott
<wayland at sothcott.co.uk> wrote:
> Jai Harrison wrote:
>> -- I posted this message on the Ubuntu UK Mailing List but felt it
>> would be appropriate here too --
>> I have been thinking about this for a long time and contacted the FSF
>> a while ago concerning how the GPL doesn't ensure my freedoms anymore.
>> They directed me to the Affero General Public License and I have
>> decided to license any of my work that I release under it to ensure it
>> remains free.
>> This is a big problem nowadays though. I'm using Google Apps for Your
>> Domain which most likely uses code that was previously free. Google is
>> one of the companies that makes a lot of money out of free software by
>> making it proprietary in a sense that the GPL doesn't prevent. There's
>> an interesting post on linux.com about this:
>> http://www.linux.com/feature/140934
>> What do you guys think about the theft of our freedoms that web
>> applications are introducing and on the requirement of a fifth freedom
>> to be introduced to protect free software from nasty corporations who
>> choose to exploit it (e.g. Google).
>> _______________________________________________
>> Colchester mailing list
>> Colchester at mailman.lug.org.uk
>> https://mailman.lug.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/colchester
> Hello Jai,
> I think you are confusing free beer with liberty. As far as I am concerned I
> am at liberty to use GPL programs comercially. I can sell them to people and
> I can modify them. Even if I did not write them.
> I have done this with IP-Cop, Debian, Open Office and many small
> applications. What I don't do is pretend that I wrote them and if I have
> made improvements then I feed these back to the user forums and contribute
> plenty in the way of support to orther users. In the case of programs like
> Spybot, I make occasional donations and encourage my users to. However I
> will charge my users when I clean up their computer using Spybot. You don't
> have to be a programmer to contribute to the Open Source, GPL and Free
> software programs on offer.
> Linksys got their WRT54G router off to a head start by using Linux. However
> they were suprized when they were legaly bound to publish the source for
> others to use. Many groups have used the source to do their own improved
> versions of the code. dd-wrt is the one I use but if you love the command
> line then use OpenWRT which is very powerfull. I contribute to the forums
> and gave the dd-wrt people the occasional donation. I use dd-wrt
> commcerially. Linksys have learned that you can't adopt GPL code as your
> own, it always belongs to the original creator. We do have to stay vigelant
> to make sure the big companies are not stealing ownership. We want them to
> use GPL because it helps them make better products and helps us take those
> products and make them even better.
> Microsoft have done well basically because they allowed their programs to be
> copied and allowed everyone to write for their operating systems. They can
> squeeze this a bit to create some money but if they squeeze the life out of
> the pirate and 3rd part program market then they kill their own products.
> Those programs that required dongles have not done as well commercially as
> those that technically allow free copying. Think of the original PlayStation
> Ve the Nintendo Game Cube (?), duplicating the games CDs for a PlayStation
> was far easier than duplicating games cartidges. What Linux and the GPL
> market does is make a virtue out of copying but not killing the possibility
> of charging money for the finished product. Granted that GPL is tipped
> firmly in favour of not paying for stuff but it's still massively comercial
> by virtue of being able to charge users for setting things up in the
> specific way they need. GPL is much better at meeting specific needs since
> you can get in and change the code. You might not do this yourself but you
> could pay the developer or find one which someone has already forked the
> code.
> Are you in danger of becomming a Freetard? That means you think it's wrong
> to be charged money for something.
> Regards,
> Wayland.

No, Wayland. This is about companies that have realised they can
modify GPL code, improve upon it and then withhold the freedoms from
users whilst exploiting a loop hole in the GPL that allows them to
provide a service over the web without providing the actual script
(only what it returns) and thus stealing from free software developers
and the community. This is a serious problem and a great example of
this is Meebo which uses libpurple (a part of Pidgin) yet they don't
make the source available because the flawed GPL doesn't require them

The reason that there are 3 versions of the GPL is because the prior
versions didn't ensure freedom thanks to loop holes that were
discovered. A major loophole in the GPL allows our freedom to be taken
from us and, as such, I argue that the definition of Free Software as
per the FSF is inaccurate and the licenses they recommend are

More information about the Colchester mailing list