RMS Irony

For some reason I was googling Richard Stallman today and came accross a something that he wrote concerning Harry Potter. What intrigued me was not the content of the article, but the copyright at the bottom:

copyright (c) 2005 Richard Stallman
Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire page are permitted provided this notice is preserved.

I find it strange that he would place a copyright notice on his work at all. Isn’t this the man who so vehemently opposes copyright and patent laws? Why is his article not released into the public domain, where I can redistribute the work without presving said notice?

Seems ironic, don’t you think?



  1. Because if he released the text into the public domain, other people would then become free to take his words and then incorporate them into not-free works. In the absence of complete abolition of the copyright and patent laws, RMS’s strategy has been to take those laws and use them against those who would seek to make software non-free. So he copyrights his work, and then distributes it under a license that lets anyone copy and modify it, *as long as* they give the same rights to any other users.

    It’s oddly self-consistent. I don’t really think it’s workable in the greater scheme of things, but it’s logically a much more pure and just system of property rights than the current one.

  2. This is the exact flaw in the GPL philosophy. RMS tries to insist that only something under GPL is truly free, when in reality, it is nearly as draconian in enforcing a doctrine of intellectual property. Linux would be far more useful if it was not under a GPL license. Despite openly supporting open source, IBM itself refuses its programmers to look at GPL source code for fear of legal action. Shouldn’t free software truly be free (as in speech)?

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