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How the Swedish Pirate Party Platform Backfires on Free Software

Jul 24, 2009, 20:03 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Richard Stallman)

"The GNU General Public License and other copyleft licenses use copyright law to defend freedom for every user. The GPL permits everyone to publish modified works, but only under the same license. Redistribution of the unmodified work must also preserve the license. And all redistributors must give users access to the software's source code.

"How would the Swedish Pirate Party's platform affect copylefted free software? After five years, its source code would go into the public domain, and proprietary software developers would be able to include it in their programs.

"But what about the reverse case? Proprietary software is restricted by EULAs, not just by copyright, and the users don't have the source code. Even if copyright permits noncommercial sharing, the EULA may forbid it. In addition, the users, not having the source code, do not control what the program does when they run it. To run such a program is to surrender your freedom and give the developer control over you."

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