Dominion Over Property
Software isn't free, as in the expression “the birds are free to fly.” Software is someone's property, and you can't use another person's property—to fly or to do anything else—without that owner's permission.
And so this explanation of the law relating to software freedom actually starts with the other side of the coin, property rights.
Most people think of property as something tangible, discernible by touch. We exercise dominion over tangible land and call it our real property. We put personal things on our land and call that tangible stuff our personal property. We expect to have wide-ranging rights to use our property for our own benefit and enjoyment, with minimal interference from others. We assert that we own our ...