Saturday, April 17, 2021 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Richard M. Stallman

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I figure that since proprietary software developers use copyright to stop us from sharing, we cooperators can use copyright to give other cooperators an advantage of their own: they can use our code.

 
Richard M. Stallman

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The programmers who write improvements to GCC (or Emacs, or Bash, or Linux, or any GPL-covered program) are often employed by companies or universities. When the programmer wants to return his improvements to the community, and see his code in the next release, the boss may say, "Hold on there--your code belongs to us! We don't want to share it; we have decided to turn your improved version into a proprietary software product."
Here the GNU GPL comes to the rescue. The programmer shows the boss that this proprietary software product would be copyright infringement, and the boss realizes that he has only two choices: release the new code as free software, or not at all. Almost always he lets the programmer do as he intended all along, and the code goes into the next release.

 
Richard M. Stallman
 

I would dramatically reduce the safeguards for software from the ordinary term of 95 years to an initial term of 5 years, renewable once. And I would extend that government-backed protection only if the author submitted a duplicate of the source code to be held in escrow while the work was protected. Once the copyright expired, that escrowed version would be publicly available from the copyright office.
Most programmers should like this change. No code lives for 10 years, and getting access to the source code of even orphaned software projects would benefit all. More important, it would unlock the knowledge built into this protected code for others to build upon as they see fit. Software would thus be like every other creative work open for others to see and to learn from.

 
Lawrence Lessig
 

The GNU GPL is not Mr. Nice Guy. It says "no" to some of the things that people sometimes want to do. There are users who say that this is a bad thing--that the GPL "excludes" some proprietary software developers who "need to be brought into the free software community."
But we are not excluding them from our community; they are choosing not to enter. Their decision to make software proprietary is a decision to stay out of our community. Being in our community means joining in cooperation with us; we cannot "bring them into our community" if they don't want to join.
What we can do is offer them an inducement to join. The GNU GPL is designed to make an inducement from our existing software: "If you will make your software free, you can use this code." Of course, it won't win 'em all, but it wins some of the time.

 
Richard M. Stallman
 

The current term of protection for software is the life of an author plus 70 years, or, if it's work-for-hire, a total of 95 years. This is a bastardization of the Constitution's requirement that copyright be for "limited times." By the time Apple's Macintosh operating system finally falls into the public domain, there will be no machine that could possibly run it. The term of copyright for software is effectively unlimited.

 
Lawrence Lessig
 

That free culture was carried to America; that was our birth 1790. We established a regime that left creativity unregulated. Now it was unregulated because copyright law only covered "printing." Copyright law did not control derivative work. And copyright law granted this protection for the limited time of 14 years.

 
Lawrence Lessig
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