[Fsf-friends] Definition of Users of Free Software

Krishna Pagadala krishnaact@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
Wed Nov 22 23:15:58 IST 2006

"The law typically views a corporation as a fictional
person, a legal person, or a moral person (as opposed
to a natural person);" 

And hence free software considers the school as
"user". So the question then is does the school have
the rights? In your example, yes, the administrator

Also in your example I assumed that the school owns
all the computers. But suppose you take your computer
and the school installs the software on it then they
are obliged to give you the code.

The reason why Free Software treats organisations as
people is simple. Take a bank, if they are using free
software. Do we really want everyone in the bank to
change software on the banks computers? It is freedom
enough if the bank has that freedom (delegated to a
human person).

To answer your question of law a "user" is anybody
that  the law views as a "person".


--- Viswanath Durbha <viswanath.durbha at gmail.com>

> Hi,
> 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,
> Viswanath
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Misinterpreting Copyright by Richard Stallman http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/misinterpreting-copyright.html
"Die Gedanken Sind Frei": Free Software and the Struggle for Free Thought by Eben Moglen


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