Comments on Roderick Long's Article
by Richard Stallman
Free software is a matter of freedom. From our point of view,
precisely which legal mechanism is used to deny software users their
freedom is just an implemementation detail. Whether it is done with
copyright, with contracts, or in some other way, it is wrong to deny
the public the freedoms necessary to form a community and cooperate.
This is why it is inaccurate to understand the Free Software Movement
as specifically a matter of opposition to copyright on software. It
is both more and less than that.
However, you will often hear people of right-wing ideological
persuasion argue in vague way that some general moral principle of
property rights compels us to cede our freedom to a system of
copyright, regardless of how this affects our way of life. The
right-wing Libertarian counterargument, coming as it does from a group that
regards property rights as the highest moral principle, is useful as a
refutation. It shows that even if you adore property rights for
physical objects, you are not compelled to accept copyright.