Free means free, seriously
I have read through a couple of recent phlog posts about free software,
copyright and free software licences  and I thought I could share
my opinion on that.
The whole idea behind the Free Software movement is that knowledge
belongs to nobody and to everybody at the same time. In particular,
software does not really belong to their original creator, but is
instead a fluid "common" forged by its users. This is something most of
us have forgotten, for a lot of reasons, but "using" a software is,
first and foremost, adapting it to your own taste and preferences.
In the hacker culture, sharing knowledge is as natural as breathing.
Software, as a piece of knowledge and ingenuity, cannot conceivably
belong to anyone in particular, in the same way as the Pythagora's
theorem or General Relativity don't belong to anyone but to humanity at
large. For a hacker, software is not about "using computers", rather
about getting as close as possible to the machine, understanding how it
works, working around its limitations, fulfilling its potential,
breaking it and mending it, and becoming better at all those activities
in the meantime. That's the same mindset of a physicist or a
mathematician: you don't do physics or maths because you want to use
your results to get a specific job done. You do it for the fun of
discoverying how far you can go, how much you can understand, how deeper
you can penetrate the mistery.
The findings of a physicist working on condensed matter can be used to
reduce pollution or to improve oil extraction. The equations of a
mathematician can help understanding cancer or building a bomb. Yet, the
physicist and the mathematician keep working on their stuff because of
their need to know more, better, deeper. Why should it be different for
About copyright: it's just a necessity, the only way to ensure that
liberated software does not get chained again. In a perfect world, we
would not need any toool limiting or constraining the creation and
dissemination of knowledge. Unfortunately, the only legal way we
currently have to ensure that a software will remain free is by claiming
copyright on it and establishing that it must remain free. And free
really means "free", not just "Free for this purpose" or "Free for this
entity". Freedom has no exceptions.
About copyleft (which must not be confused with Free Software): it is
just a "guerrilla" weapon, a necessary tool needed to destroy the same
tool forever, and make it useless. Adopting it or not is mostly a matter
of preference, not substance.