Free software/free culture does not accept discrimination

Update: After reading the full notice on Fedora download page, Mr. Stallman says that Fedora didn’t require users to promise anything therefor it’s not a violation of free software terms.

If you study it carefully, it does not require the downloader to promise not to do certain things. Rather, it requires the downloader to affirm awareness of these US rules, which may or may not apply.

Because of this, it does not contradict the GPL.

However, as our discussion shows, it is easy for people to misundestand and get the wrong idea about what it actually requires. They mey THINK it requires something that would violate the GPL even though it actually does not.

Richard Stallman

Original note:

Following my email message to Mr. Stallman, I had a lot of other discussions with different people but I think the best response was from Mr. Stallman himself.

He stated that the notice on Fedora download page makes it nonfree and the limitations are not compatible with GPL license.

Here’s Mr. Stallman’s email message:

[[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider ]]]
[[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies, ]]]
[[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden’s example. ]]]

> I believe parts of this notice are violations of software freedom. The notice says that Fedora complies with “Unites States Export Administration Regulations (the =E2=80=9CEAR=E2=80=9D) and it’s prohibited for use in connection with the design, development or production of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, or rocket systems, space launch vehicles, or sounding rockets, or unmanned air vehicle systems.”

As stated, that would make Fedora nonfree. However, Fedora cannot impose such requirements on GPL-covered programs unless Fedora has the copyright.

The GNU Project encryption programs were developed outside the US and I think users get them without passing through the FS.

> The other part says “You may not provide Fedora software or technical information to individuals or entities located in one of these countries or otherwise subject to these restrictions.”

Isn’t it a violation of freedom 2 (The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others)?

Yes, it would be — but I don’t think anyone can enforce it on you if you are outside the US and you download Fedora. That is why I did not make a fuss about it.

> So does that mean that I, a typical user of free software, am restricted from using and distributing a software that is licensed free? Do you and free software movement accept this discrimination?

The reason for section 8 is to prevent patents from being used to make a program effectively nonfree.

If in country C some company Q threatens to make the program priorietary by suing the users using Q’s patent, that would in effect make the program proprietary.

Using section 8, the developer can say, “You can’t make my program proprietary. With section 8 I make it not available at all in country C. Give my program liberty or give it death!.”

In other words, “I’d rather destroy my program than let you turn it into your proprietary product.”

RMS's email regarding Fedora's discrimination and violation of software freedom terms.

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Ali Reza Hayati

Entrepreneur, hacker, cypherpunk.