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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
  2. <html>
  3. <head>
  4. <title>Four Freedoms - FSFE</title>
  5. </head>
  6. <body>
  7. <p id="category">
  8. <a href="/freesoftware/basics/summary.html">Basics</a>
  9. </p>
  10. <h1>Free Software's Four Freedoms</h1>
  11. <p>
  12. When you speak about Free Software, you speak about freedom. And
  13. more precisely, about the four freedoms to <strong>use</strong>,
  14. <strong>study</strong>, <strong>share</strong> and <strong>improve</strong> the software.
  15. Thanks to an analogy to a recipe, it becomes quite clear how these
  16. freedoms work and why it is important that the
  17. <a href="/freesoftware/basics/sourcecode.html">source code</a> of a
  18. program is available to everyone.
  19. </p>
  20. <p>
  21. Let us assume, we want to prepare a soup. In front of us, we have
  22. the recipe and the ingredients. We are allowed to use the recipe
  23. for any purpose: we can cook for dinner at home or at a friend's
  24. house, in holidays, in a foreign country. This is what is meant
  25. by the first freedom: the <strong>unlimited use for any
  26. purpose</strong>.
  27. </p>
  28. <p>
  29. Now we take the recipe, and we can read what ingredients are
  30. needed. This is more or less the source code of the software.
  31. Without the source code, I cannot understand the software, exactly
  32. as I'm unable to cook the soup without having access to the list
  33. of ingredients. This is the meaning of the second freedom: I need
  34. the <strong>right to study how the program works and understand
  35. it</strong>. It's of no use for me to have a packet soup, where
  36. the composition is unclear and the recipe kept secret.
  37. </p>
  38. <p>
  39. Now we can also think it a bit sad to cook alone. I am allowed to
  40. invite some friends for dinner, or to bring them my soup when I am
  41. inivited, or even to give them the recipe so that they can enjoy
  42. my soup even when I'm absent. And my friends can also copy the
  43. recipe and give it away to their friends... This is the third
  44. freedom: <strong>the right to share copies of the software</strong>
  45. and hereby to help people.
  46. </p>
  47. <p>
  48. A step forward is to see that even if I find that my soup is good,
  49. it could taste better. On the recipe there is some advise: to add
  50. some parsley. But I don't like parsley so I try it with basilic.
  51. And so it does indeed taste better. And so I take my own copy and
  52. modify it: I erase parsley and replace it by basilic. When a
  53. friend asks me for my recipe, I give him the new, modified
  54. version. This is the fourth freedom: <strong> the freedom to
  55. improve the program and to distribute the improvements to
  56. the program</strong>, so that everybody profits from it. Since
  57. I'm allowed to do that, my friend's soup also tastes better. Or
  58. perhaps they will also want to add another ingredient, say some
  59. cream, and they will modify their own copy. Things have always
  60. evolved that way, since cooking was invented. People haven't
  61. cooked at first a turkey filled with orange and red-cabbage with
  62. cardamom seeds but rather with a roasted deer over a camp fire.
  63. If noone has the right to reveal how to make things better, we
  64. would perhaps still be eating roasted deer with raw nark or such
  65. a thing. Awful thoughts.
  66. </p>
  67. <p>
  68. It seems evident, that I'm allowed to give away a recipe or a soup
  69. or even to improve it. If we carry this logic over software, we
  70. can easily see that in the case of proprietary software, I'm not
  71. allowed to copy neither to distribute the software: that's
  72. illegal. I'm not allowed to help people.
  73. </p>
  74. <p>
  75. If you think that since you can't program, these freedoms are of
  76. little use for you, please think this over: even if you can't do
  77. it on your own, these freedoms give the possibility to those who
  78. can program better than you do to solve the problem for you.
  79. Without the access to the source code however, this remains
  80. impossible.
  81. </p>
  82. <h3>Further links</h3>
  83. <p>This explanation also exists in video format, at the <a href="http://ia331413.us.archive.org/2/items/WOS4-Show_des_freien_Wissens/show.ogv">Free Knowledge Show (Show des freien Wissens)</a> (430 MB, OGV, in German)
  84. </p>
  85. </body>
  86. <timestamp>$Date$ $Author$</timestamp>
  87. </html>
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