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Tue, 18 Dec 2001 08:18:23 -0700
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The GNUstep project would like to apologize for announcing that
we had been given, as a donation, a license for a proprietary
program. We made a mistake in announcing this, but the first
mistake was in asking for a donation of that kind. The GNU
Project gladly accepts donations of computers, money, and other
services, and gladly thanks the donors for them. But we can't
accept a copy of a proprietary program, because we criticize
proprietary software on ethical grounds and we have to live by
our ethical principles. And we can't advertise a proprietary
program no matter how grateful we feel towards its developer.
How did we make the mistake of asking for a donation of that
kind? We were so absorbed in looking for ways to improve GNUstep
that we forgot the larger goal and principles of the GNU Project.
We forgot that "donating a license" for a non-free program is
just making a special exception to a general policy of
restricting all the users. We're supposed to be working on
changing this restrictive situation for everyone, not obtaining a
special exception for ourselves. We're supposed to be taking the
proprietary software off our machines, not putting more of it on.
Announcing this problematical donation was a further mistake,
because it had the effect of advertising the proprietary program.
Our principles say we should only help publicize a software
package if it's the sort of package that we're trying to
encourage--that is, a free software package.
This just goes to show how people working on a technical project
need to recall the larger context--the long-term goals and
ethical principles--and not get lost in the details of the
specific technical problems to be solved today.
We hope you can learn from this mistake. Please consider the
benefits of free software that respects your freedom. And if you
find a non-free program that you really would like to use, don't
try to get a copy. Write a free replacement for it instead!
Adam Fedor, Digital Optics | I'm glad I hate spinach, because
http://www.doc.com | if I didn't, I'd eat it, and you
http://www.gnustep.org | know how I hate the stuff.
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