Re: Why is Nvidia given GPL'd code to use in non-free drivers?

David Schwartz (
Fri, 3 Jan 2003 19:10:30 -0800

On Fri, 03 Jan 2003 15:30:32 -0500, Richard Stallman wrote:

>You don't really have freedom now, if you need a non-free module. In
>the long run, your best chance of being able to use a fully free
>GNU/Linux system on the hardware you use is if we stand firm together
>for the freedom of the system.

But I don't want to coerce other people into providing me with my freedom.

>If open source is so good, companies with closed source products will

Yes, even without being coerced and pressured to do so by restrictive

>I don't support the open source movement, but I know what they say
>about this. They say that open source usually leads to more powerful
>and reliable software. Nothing assures us that will persuade all
>companies to adopt the practice. You have simplified their position
>to a point where they would not recognize it.

The point is not to persuade companies to adopt the practice. The point is
to show that the practice is superior and let the companies that adopt it
prosper and those who don't fail. The GPL weakens this position by providing
proprietary software with an excuse.

It is roughly comparable to the United States embargo on Cuba. We want Cuba
to change, so we don't let them use any of our stuff. Force them to be free,
or we won't touch 'em.

It fails for the same reason. If you believe in freedom, set the example.
Set people free. Defend fair use, first sale, and a very strict definition of
a derived work.

That's real freedom, and the GPL works against it by attempting to coerce
freedom by using legal tools that problably shouldn't exist.

>You seem to be saying that we should sit back and let these inevitable
>forces either convince all companies to make software free--or not.

No. We're saying that we shouldn't try to rig the system. We should allow
free software to win in a fair fight. Not by using vicious legal tools to
coerce others to provide your freedom.

>If we had such a passive attitude, no free system would exist.
>GNU/Linux exists because of people who were willing to work to have
>freedom. Freedom does not yet prevail, and we have plenty more work
>to do to make that happen. And after we fully have freedom, we will
>still have to work, to make sure we don't lose it.

Defending shrink wrap licensing agreements, arguing to weaken fair use and
first sale doctrines, and arguing that if you include a header it's a derived
work is a strange way to defend intellectual freedom.


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