1998-10-04 - Re: propose: `cypherpunks license’ (Re: Wanted: Twofish source code)

Header Data

From: Adam Back <aba@dcs.ex.ac.uk>
To: rms@gnu.org
Message Hash: 0be5eea515f7895febefc3d4d07c46caa22e11cc63065c7517a0f09b0af502b8
Message ID: <199810050004.BAA00788@server.eternity.org>
Reply To: <199810042124.PAA06245@wijiji.santafe.edu>
UTC Datetime: 1998-10-04 11:16:20 UTC
Raw Date: Sun, 4 Oct 1998 19:16:20 +0800

Raw message

From: Adam Back <aba@dcs.ex.ac.uk>
Date: Sun, 4 Oct 1998 19:16:20 +0800
To: rms@gnu.org
Subject: Re: propose: `cypherpunks license' (Re: Wanted: Twofish source code)
In-Reply-To: <199810042124.PAA06245@wijiji.santafe.edu>
Message-ID: <199810050004.BAA00788@server.eternity.org>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Richard Stallman writes:
> A couple of people responded to this
>     It isn't surprising that people who want to write non-free software
>     are disappointed that the GNU project won't help them.  What is
>     amazing is that they feel this is unfair.
> by expressing doubt that anyone really thinks so.

Well I don't think it's unfair, and it's my post you quoted as an
example!  Anyone who writes something is clearly free to put anything
they like in their licenses.  This was not the point being made.

As there seems to be some confusion, let me try to summarise why
several people have said they prefer BSD license (or indeed LGPL) to
GNU GPL _in the particular case of crypto code_:

Cypherpunks are interested to deploy crypto code with out backdoors
(`cypherpunks write code' and all that).  Consider for a moment that
this is your primary aim.

It is useful to build upon on other cypherpunks code.  (Having to code
everything from scratch is going to take you a long time..., let's see
we'll start with re-writing a bignum library from scratch).

You would like your code to be widely deployed, and some companies are
good at distributing code.  If you could get them to include crypto in
their applications that would be a lot of crypto out there.

So when someone writes crypto code form this perspective the BSD
license better achieves their aim.  This is not an insult to the FSF's
aims.  The BSD license (for example) is in some ways more free than
the GNU license: it allows free distribution, but is less strict in
propagating this to derived works.  This lesser strictness is useful
for crypto deployment because it allows commercial derivative works
(what you have termed proprietary) software.  Cypherpunks want to
encourage these also, though they would prefer that source be
available so that people can check for quality, correctness, and for

The comments on having to re-write GNU code which several people made
(in the context of crypto software) are not saying that it is "unfair
that GNU contributers don't do free work for the cypherpunk cause",
what it is saying is this:

If your aim is to maximise crypto deployment, use BSD or some other
relatively free distribution license other than GNU, so that we can
more rapidly write and deploy crypto software to undermine the power
of the state.