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Re: The General Public Licence (GPL) as the basic governance tool

From: Ludovic Courtès
Subject: Re: The General Public Licence (GPL) as the basic governance tool
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2020 13:55:02 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.3 (gnu/linux)

Hi Christophe,

Christophe Poncy <> skribis:

> Simple user here.
> On 2/16/20 20:28 PM, Jan Nieuwenhuizen wrote:
>> Of course it is a personal choice for every one of us whether or not to
>> uphold these basic GNU values.  I know that GNU maintainers are not
>> required to adhere or uphold even any free software values and I must
>> say that was pretty shocked when I learnt that, but it makes me happy to
>> be able to make this commitment of freedom towards our users.
> FWIW: I do NOT need it. We have the GPL to protect that freedom. Please,
> don't take users hostage. This anti-social contract could make us lose
> it. Let’s call a cat a cat. It's a tool for you, not for us. Anyway, it
> misses the point of free software, his glory, and all that it embraces.
> It could help to produce better software by establishing the social
> domination of programmers, but in a world governed by code, we have to
> focus on the GPL. [1]

As a GNU user, you may not know it but GNU maintainers do not currently
agree to uphold the free software values that we care about; they merely
agree to more specific GNU policies.

The Social Contract is a way for interested GNU maintainers to state
their will to uphold these core values.  As we wrote before:

  The goal of the GNU Social Contract is to state the core values GNU
  maintainers who have endorsed it are committed to uphold.  It is both
  an agreement among us, GNU contributors, and a pledge to the broader
  free software community.

You are right that the software license gives you, the user, a guarantee
that the four freedoms apply.  But there’s more to a project like GNU
than its licenses: there’s the people who make it and their vision for
the project.  I think it’s good to have a shared vision among the makers
of GNU, and a well-defined relation between them and their users.

I hope this sheds some light on the rationale!


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