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<title>Why Copyleft?
- GNU Project - Free Software Foundation</title>
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<h2>Why Copyleft?</h2>


<div  class="important">
<p><em>When it comes to defending the freedom of others, everyone's freedom, to lie
down and do nothing is an act of weakness, not humility.”</cite>
</p> humility.</em></p>

In the GNU Project we usually recommend people
use <a href="/copyleft/copyleft.html">copyleft</a> href="/licenses/copyleft.html">copyleft</a> licenses like GNU
GPL, rather than permissive non-copyleft free software licenses.  We
don't argue harshly against the non-copyleft licenses—in fact,
we occasionally recommend them in special circumstances—but the
advocates of those licenses show a pattern of arguing harshly against
the <acronym <abbr title="General Public License">GPL</acronym>. License">GPL</abbr>.

In one such argument, a person stated that his use of one of the BSD
licenses was an “act of humility”: “I ask nothing of
those who use my code, except to credit me.” It is rather a
stretch to describe a legal demand for credit as
“humility,” but there is a deeper point to be considered

Humility is abnegating disregarding your own self interest, self-interest, but you and the one who
uses interest you
abandon when you don't copyleft your code are not the only ones affected by your choice of which
free software license to use for is much bigger than your code.
own.  Someone who uses your code in a nonfree program is trying to deny denying
freedom to others, and so if you let him do it, allow that, you're failing to defend their
those people's freedom.  When it comes to defending the freedom of others, everyone's
freedom, to lie down and do nothing is an act of weakness, not

Releasing your code under <a href="/licenses/bsd.html"> one of the BSD licenses,
licenses</a>, or some other lax, permissive non-copyleft license, is not doing
wrong; the program is still free software, and still a contribution to
our community.  But it is weak, and in most cases it is not the best
way to promote users' freedom to share and change software.

Here are specific examples of nonfree versions of free programs
that have done major harm to the free world.</p>

<li>Those who released LLVM under a non-copyleft
license <a href="https://www.anandtech.com/show/5238/nvidia-releases-cuda-41-cuda-goes-llvm-and-open-source-kind-of">enabled
nVidia to release a high-quality nonfree compiler</a> for its GPUs,
while keeping its instruction set secret.  Thus, we can't write a free
compiler for that platform without a big reverse engineering job.  The
nonfree adaptation of LLVM is the only compiler for those machines,
and is likely to remain so.</li>

<li>Intel uses
<a href="https://www.tomshardware.com/news/google-removing-minix-management-engine-intel,35876.html">a
proprietary version of the MINIX system</a>, which is free but not
copylefted, in the Management Engine back door in its modern

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<p>Please send general FSF & GNU inquiries to
<a href="mailto:gnu@gnu.org"><gnu@gnu.org></a>.
There are also <a href="/contact/">other ways to contact</a>
the FSF.  Broken links and other corrections or suggestions can be sent
to <a href="mailto:webmasters@gnu.org"><webmasters@gnu.org></a>.</p>

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<p class="unprintable">Updated:
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$Date: 2021/08/28 14:06:13 $
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