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Learning GNU Emacs, Second Edition by Eric S. Raymond, Bill Rosenblatt, Debra Cameron

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Appendix F. Public Statements

This appendix covers two important documents that you should be familiar with: the GNU General Public License and the GNU Manifesto. The General Public License defines the terms under which GNU Emacs, other Free Software Foundation products, and many privately written programs are distributed. We print the license in its entirety. The GNU Manifesto is a larger document that states why the Free Software Foundation exists.

Following this material, we have a brief description of the League for Programming Freedom, an unrelated organization that may be of interest. We tell you where to get the league’s two position papers, and print a membership form from one of the position papers.

Note: documents are reprinted verbatim.

The GNU General Public License

All copies of GNU Emacs are distributed under the terms of the General Public License, which is commonly known as a copyleft. In essence, the General Public License states that anyone who receives GNU Emacs has the right to give copies of Emacs to others; that anyone who receives Emacs may not place further restrictions on its distribution; and that if anyone distributes any improvements to Emacs, he or she must distribute these improvements under the same terms as the original program itself. You are allowed to charge for distributing Emacs, so “free software” isn’t necessarily cheap in that sense. However, you cannot restrict anyone’s (including your customers') ability to use the program or to give it ...

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