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The Free Software Definition [复制链接]

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发表于 2009-10-14 15:46 |显示全部楼层

We maintain this free software definition to show clearly what must be
true about a particular software program for it to be considered free
software.  From time to time we revise this definition to clarify it.
If you would like to review the changes we've made, please see
the
History section
below for more information.
Free software is a matter of liberty, not price.  To understand
the concept, you should think of free as in free speech,
not as in free beer.
Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute,
study, change and improve the software.  More precisely, it means that the
program's users have the four essential freedoms:
  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make
          it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a
          precondition for this.
      
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor
          (freedom 2).
      
  • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements
          (and modified versions in general)
          to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3).
          Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
      

A program is free software if users have all of these freedoms.  Thus,
you should be free to redistribute copies, either with or without
modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to
anyone anywhere
.  Being free to do these
things means (among other things) that you do not have to ask or pay
for permission.
You should also have the freedom to make modifications and use them
privately in your own work or play, without even mentioning that they
exist.  If you do publish your changes, you should not be required to
notify anyone in particular, or in any particular way.
The freedom to run the program means the freedom for any kind of person
or organization to use it on any kind of computer system, for any kind of
overall job and purpose, without being required to communicate about it
with the developer or any other specific entity.  In this freedom, it is
the user's purpose that matters, not the developer's
purpose; you as a user are free to run a program for your purposes,
and if you distribute it to someone else, she is then free to run it
for her purposes, but you are not entitled to impose your purposes on her.
The freedom to redistribute copies must include binary or executable
forms of the program, as well as source code, for both modified and
unmodified versions.  (Distributing programs in runnable form is necessary
for conveniently installable free operating systems.)  It is ok if there
is no way to produce a binary or executable form for a certain program
(since some languages don't support that feature), but you must have the
freedom to redistribute such forms should you find or develop a way to
make them.
In order for the freedoms to make changes, and to publish improved
versions, to be meaningful, you must have access to the source code of
the program.  Therefore, accessibility of source code is a necessary
condition for free software.
Freedom 1 includes the freedom to use your changed version in place of
the original.  If the program is delivered in a product designed to
run someone else's modified versions but refuse to run yours —
a practice known as “tivoization” or (through
blacklisting) as “secure boot” — freedom 1 becomes a
theoretical fiction rather than a practical freedom.  This is not
sufficient.
One important way to modify a program is by merging in available free
subroutines and modules.  If the program's license says that you
cannot merge in a suitably-licensed existing module, such as if it
requires you to be the copyright holder of any code you add, then the
license is too restrictive to qualify as free.
In order for these freedoms to be real, they must be permanent and
irrevocable as long as you do nothing wrong; if the developer of the
software has the power to revoke the license, or retroactively change
its terms, without your doing anything wrong to give cause, the
software is not free.
However, certain kinds of rules about the manner of distributing free
software are acceptable, when they don't conflict with the central
freedoms.  For example, copyleft (very simply stated) is the rule that
when redistributing the program, you cannot add restrictions to deny
other people the central freedoms.  This rule does not conflict with
the central freedoms; rather it protects them.
Free software does not mean non-commercial.  A free
program must be available for commercial use, commercial development,
and commercial distribution.  Commercial development of free software
is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is very important.
You may have paid money to get copies of free software, or you may have
obtained copies at no charge.  But regardless of how you got your copies,
you always have the freedom to copy and change the software, even to
sell copies
.
Whether a change constitutes an improvement is a subjective matter.
If your modifications are limited, in substance, to changes that
someone else considers an improvement, that is not freedom.
However, rules about how to package a modified version are acceptable, if they
don't substantively limit your freedom to release modified versions, or
your freedom to make and use modified versions privately.  Rules that if
you make your version available in this way, you must make it available in
that way also can be acceptable too, on the same condition.  (Note that
such a rule still leaves you the choice of whether to publish your version
at all.)  Rules that require release of source code to the users for
versions that you put into public use are also acceptable.  It is also
acceptable for the license to require that, if you have distributed a
modified version and a previous developer asks for a copy of it, you
must send one, or that you identify yourself on your modifications.
In the GNU project, we use
copyleft
to protect these freedoms legally for everyone.  But
non-copylefted
free software also exists.  We believe there are important reasons why
it is better to use copyleft
,
but if your program is non-copylefted free software, it is still basically
ethical.
See
Categories of Free Software
for a description of how free software, copylefted software
and other categories of software relate to each other.
Sometimes government export control regulations
and trade sanctions can constrain your freedom to distribute copies of
programs internationally.  Software developers do not have the power to
eliminate or override these restrictions, but what they can and must do
is refuse to impose them as conditions of use of the program.  In this
way, the restrictions will not affect activities and people outside the
jurisdictions of these governments.  Thus, free software licenses
must not require obedience to any export regulations as a condition of
any of the essential freedoms.
Most free software licenses are based on copyright, and there are limits
on what kinds of requirements can be imposed through copyright.  If a
copyright-based license respects freedom in the ways described above, it
is unlikely to have some other sort of problem that we never anticipated
(though this does happen occasionally).  However, some free software
licenses are based on contracts, and contracts can impose a much larger
range of possible restrictions.  That means there are many possible ways
such a license could be unacceptably restrictive and non-free.
We can't possibly list all the ways that might happen.  If a
contract-based license restricts the user in an unusual way that
copyright-based licenses cannot, and which isn't mentioned here as
legitimate, we will have to think about it, and we will probably conclude
it is non-free.
When talking about free software, it is best to avoid using terms
like give away or for free, because those terms imply that
the issue is about price, not freedom.  Some common terms such
as piracy embody opinions we hope you won't endorse.  See
Confusing Words and Phrases that
are Worth Avoiding for a discussion of these terms.  We also have
a list of translations of
free software into various languages.
Finally, note that criteria such as those stated in this free software
definition require careful thought for their interpretation.  To decide
whether a specific software license qualifies as a free software license,
we judge it based on these criteria to determine whether it fits their
spirit as well as the precise words.  If a license includes unconscionable
restrictions, we reject it, even if we did not anticipate the issue
in these criteria.  Sometimes a license requirement raises an issue
that calls for extensive thought, including discussions with a lawyer,
before we can decide if the requirement is acceptable.  When we reach
a conclusion about a new issue, we often update these criteria to make
it easier to see why certain licenses do or don't qualify.
If you are interested in whether a specific license qualifies as a free
software license, see our list
of licenses.  If the license you are concerned with is not
listed there, you can ask us about it by sending us email at
[email=licensing@gnu.org][/email]
.

If you are contemplating writing a new license, please contact the FSF
by writing to that address. The proliferation of different free software
licenses means increased work for users in understanding the licenses;
we may be able to help you find an existing Free Software license that
meets your needs.
If that isn't possible, if you really need a new license, with our
help you can ensure that the license really is a Free Software license
and avoid various practical problems.
Beyond Software
Software manuals must be free
,
for the same reasons that software must be free, and because the
manuals are in effect part of the software.
The same arguments also make sense for other kinds of works of
practical use — that is to say, works that embody useful knowledge,
such as educational works and reference
works.  
Wikipedia
is the best known
example.
Any kind of work can be free, and the definition of free software
has been extended to a definition of
free cultural works applicable to any kind of works.
Open Source?
Another group has started using the term open source to mean
something close (but not identical) to free software.  We
prefer the term free software because, once you have heard that
it refers to freedom rather than price, it calls to mind freedom.  The
word open
never refers to freedom.
History
From time to time we revise this Free Software Definition to
clarify it.  Here we provide a list of those modifications, along with
links to illustrate exactly what changed, so that others can review
them if they like.
  • Version
    1.80: Freedom 1 must be practical, not just theoretical;
    i.e., no tivoization.
  • Version
    1.77: Clarify that all retroactive changes to the license are
    unacceptable, even if it's not described as a complete
    replacement.
  • Version
    1.74: Four clarifications of points not explicit enough, or stated
    in some places but not reflected everywhere:
    • "Improvements" does not mean the license can
      substantively limit what kinds of modified versions you can release.
      Freedom 3 includes distributing modified versions, not just changes.
    • The right to merge in existing modules
      refers to those that are suitably licensed.
    • Explicitly state the conclusion of the point about export controls.
    • Imposing a license change constitutes revoking the old license.

  • Version
    1.57: Add "Beyond Software" section.
  • Version
    1.46: Clarify whose purpose is significant in the freedom to run
    the program for any purpose.
  • Version
    1.41: Clarify wording about contract-based licenses.
  • Version
    1.40: Explain that a free license must allow to you use other
    available free software to create your modifications.
  • Version
    1.39: Note that it is acceptable for a license to require you to
    provide source for versions of the software you put into public
    use.
  • Version
    1.31: Note that it is acceptable for a license to require you to
    identify yourself as the author of modifications.  Other minor
    clarifications throughout the text.
  • Version
    1.23: Address potential problems related to contract-based
    licenses.
  • Version
    1.16: Explain why distribution of binaries is important.
  • Version
    1.11: Note that a free license may require you to send a copy of
    versions you distribute to the author.

There are gaps in the version numbers because there are many other
changes that do not affect the substance of the definition at all.
Instead, they fix links, add translations, and so on.  If you would
like to review the complete list of changes, you can do so on
our cvsweb
interface.


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