[ANSOL-geral]Richard Stallman: SCO smear campaign can't defeat GNU community
Rui Miguel Seabra
rms arroba ansol.org
Wed Jun 25 18:27:02 2003
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Richard Stallman explica porque a campanha de medo e desinforma=C3=A7=C3=A3=
SCO n=C3=A3o consegue derrotar a comunidade GNU:
SCO smear campaign can't defeat GNU community
By Richard Stallman
June 23, 2003
SCO's contract dispute with IBM has been accompanied
by a smear campaign against the whole GNU/Linux system. But SCO made
an obvious mistake when it erroneously quoted me as saying that "Linux
is a copy of Unix." Many readers immediately smelled a rat--not only
because I did not say that, and not only because the person who said
it was talking about published ideas (which are uncopyrightable)
rather than code, but because they know I would never compare Linux
Unix is a complete operating system, but Linux is just part of one.
SCO is using the popular confusion between Linux and the GNU/Linux
system to magnify the fear that it can spread. GNU/Linux is the GNU
operating system running with Linux as the kernel. The kernel is the
part of the system that allocates the machine's resources to the other
programs you run. That part is Linux.
We developed GNU starting in 1984 as a campaign for freedom, whose aim
was to eliminate non-free software from our lives. GNU is free
software, meaning that users are free to run it, study it and change
it (or pay programmers to do this for them), redistribute it (gratis
or for a fee), and publish modified versions. (See
In 1991, GNU was mostly finished, lacking only a kernel. In 1992,
Linus Torvalds made his kernel, Linux, free software. Others combined
GNU and Linux to produce the first complete free operating system,
GNU/Linux. (See http://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html.)
GNU/Linux is also free software, and SCO made use of this freedom by
selling their version of it. Today, GNU runs with various kernels
including Linux, the GNU Hurd (our kernel), and the NetBSD kernel. It
is basically the same system, whichever kernel you use.
Those who combined Linux with GNU didn't recognize that's what they
were doing, and they spoke of the combination as "Linux." The
confusion spread; many users and journalists call the whole system
"Linux." Since they also properly call the kernel "Linux," the result
is even more confusion: when a statement says "Linux," you can only
guess what software it refers to. SCO's irresponsible statements are
shot through with ambiguous references to "Linux." It is impossible to
attribute any coherent meaning to them overall, but they appear to
accuse the entire GNU/Linux system of being copied from Unix.
The name GNU stands for "GNU's Not Unix." The whole point of
developing the GNU system is that it is not Unix. Unix is and always
was non-free software, meaning that it denies its users the freedom to
cooperate and to control their computers. To use computers in freedom
as a community, we needed a free software operating system. We did not
have the money to buy and liberate an existing system, but we did have
the skill to write a new one. Writing GNU was a monumental job. We did
it for our freedom, and your freedom.
To copy Unix source code would not be ethically wrong, but it is
illegal; our work would fail to give users lawful freedom to cooperate
if it were not done lawfully. To make sure we would not copy Unix
source code or write anything similar, we told GNU contributors not
even to look at Unix source code while developing code for GNU. We
also suggested design approaches that differ from typical Unix design
approaches, to ensure our code would not resemble Unix code. We did
our best to avoid ever copying Unix code, despite our basic premise
that to prohibit copying of software is morally wrong.
Another SCO tool of obfuscation is the term "intellectual property."
This fashionable but foolish term carries an evident bias: that the
right way to treat works, ideas, and names is as a kind of property.
Less evident is the harm it does by inciting simplistic thinking: it
lumps together diverse laws--copyright law, patent law, trademark law
and others--which really have little in common. This leads people to
suppose those laws are one single issue, the "intellectual property
issue," and think about "it"--which means, to think at such a broad
abstract level that the specific social issues raised by these various
laws are not even visible. Any "opinion about intellectual property"
is thus bound to be foolish. (See
In the hands of a propagandist for increased copyright or patent
powers, the term is a way to prevent clear thinking. In the hands of
someone making threats, the term is a tool for obfuscation: "We claim
we can sue you over something, but we won't say what it is."
In an actual lawsuit, such ambiguity would make their case fail, or
even prevent it from getting off the ground. If, however, SCO's aim is
to shake the tree and see if any money falls down, or simply to spread
fear, they may regard vagueness and mystery as advantageous.
I cannot prognosticate about the SCO vs IBM lawsuit itself: I don't
know what was in their contract, I don't know what IBM did, and I am
not a lawyer. The Free Software Foundation's lawyer, Professor Moglen,
believes that SCO gave permission for the community's use of the code
that they distributed under the GNU GPL and other free software
licenses in their version of GNU/Linux.
However, I can address the broader issue of such situations. In a
community of over half a million developers, we can hardly expect that
there will never be plagiarism. But it is no disaster; we discard that
material and move on. If there is material in Linux that was
contributed without legal authorization, the Linux developers will
learn what it is and replace it. SCO cannot use its copyrights, or its
contracts with specific parties, to suppress the lawful contributions
of thousands of others. Linux itself is no longer essential: the GNU
system became popular in conjunction with Linux, but today it also
runs with two BSD kernels and the GNU kernel. Our community cannot be
defeated by this.
Copyright 2003 Richard Stallman. Verbatim copying and
redistribution of this entire article are permitted without royalty in
any medium provided this notice is preserved.
Richard Stallman is president of the Free Software Foundation and
author of the GNU General Public License.
+ No matter how much you do, you never do enough -- unknown
+ Whatever you do will be insignificant,
| but it is very important that you do it -- Gandhi
+ So let's do it...?
Please AVOID sending me WORD, EXCEL or POWERPOINT attachments.
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