[Fsf-friends] Definition of Users of Free Software

Viswanath Durbha viswanath.durbha@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
Wed Nov 22 20:28:25 IST 2006


I just have a fundamental question on Free Software.

We define Free Software as a software that gives the four fundamental
freedom to it's users. But what is the definition of "Users"? Let me explain
my question better by giving an example.

Let's say a school hires a bunch of programmers to write a program that
restricts students to do certain tasks on the school computers. The
programmers write and release the software under GPLv2. It is released only
to the school administration and not available to the students or to the
general public. The school goes ahead and installs it on all school
computers. Of course, whoever is the administrator for the school, he will
have access to the source of the program and so he/she can modify to
relax/tighten the restrictions in future if needed. So essentially, this
particular "User" has all the four freedoms.

But are the students, who actually use that program on those computers
entitled to the source? Can they also modify that program to circumvent the
restrictions? Or do we not consider them as "Users" of that program and
hence decide that they are not entitled to all the four freedoms?

If students are also entitled to the four freedoms, then how can we use
GPLv2 license to develop any kind of software that restricts the
capabilities of some users?

Thanks and Regards,

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