The GNU Project has quite a lot of philosophical and political articles out there. There is no way that I could respond to all of them, so I won't even try. But I will take specific positions and ideas from the GNU Project and rebut them.

Odds and Ends

To Link or Not to Link

The inconsistancies of the Free Software Foundation are endless. One notable example is their stance on the runtime linking of applications to libraries.

In section zero (0) of the GNU Public License, it clearly states that "Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope." This seems pretty clear. If I don't copy, distribute or modify a GPL program, than I can do anything else with it. I can run the program. I can fold, spindle or mutilate it. I can even use GPL programs to create non-GPL programs, for example, GPL emacs to write it and GPL gcc to compile it.

According to this paragraph, I can even link non-GPL applications to GPL libraries at runtime. Furthermore, section two of the GPL says that "Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest your rights to work written entirely by you" No part of the GPL library is distributed with the non-GPL program. In addition, all parts of the non-GPL program are legally under a separate and distinct copyright. Certainly, the non-GPL program counts as a work written solely by someone other than the GPL library's author. Note that static libraries are different beasts entirely, and this discussion does not cover them.

However, the Free Software Foundation disagrees. They consider that non-GPL program as "derivitive" of the GPL library, and maintain that you may not distribute it. However, the GPL clearly defines derivations when it says "that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it, either verbatim or with modifications and/or translated into another language." The above example is clearly not a derivation since it does not contain any portion of the GPL library.

"But, but, but.." stammers the GNU disciple, "what about the library's header files! You've included those and thus you're distributing GPL code!" Technically speaking, I may have included GPL code within my non-GPL program, especially if it used inline functions and macros. However, the GPL also says that it only covers "the Program or any derivative work under copyright law." Copyright law, in every country that I am aware of, allows the use of references within other works. This is known one example of Fair Use. Footnotes in a book are one example of this. The use of the library's API, or header files, clearly falls within the definition of being a reference.

Whether or not a judge would agree with my argument should a case such as this ever reach a court of law is uncertain. However, if the Free Software Foundation wishes that folks don't link non-GPL programs to GPL libraries, then they need to change the GPL to limit usage permissions, as certain proprietary libraries have.

Copyrights and GNU

The validity of copyrights and other intellectual properties have been endlessly debated for centuries. I have no hope of swaying anyone one way or another, so I won't attempt to. However, I can certainly point out the inconsistancy of the FSF in regards to copyrights and software ownership.

Case One: A world in which copyrights do not infringe upon the liberties of others. In such a world, the Free Software Foundation is way off base arguing that software should not have owners. They are insulting when they call copyright holders tyrants. In such a world, pages upon pages of FSF essays are rendered inconsistant so long as they call themselves the Free Software Foundation. Furthermore, by calling software ownership immoral, and then turning around and copyrighting all of the GNU software, they are exhibiting extreme hypocracy.

Case Two: A world in which copyrights are an infringement upon the liberties of others. In such a world, what what happen to the GNU Public License? It would be a meaningless set of words. The sole power of the GPL is the fact that it is copyrighted. If the FSF attempted to enforce the GPL, they would be committing a gross immoral act. In such a world all software would be under the public domain. From their essays, this is apparently what the FSF wants. But in this idyllic world, non-free software would continue to exist! The only thing that would change would be an increase of the various copy-protection schemes. The FSF would have accomplished nothing except to make Free Software public domain. But if that is what they want, then why don't they make their own software public domain today?