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FSF works with PayPal to the benefit of the free software community

by peterb Contributions Published on Nov 23, 2009 11:53 AM
The Free Software Foundation thanks PayPal for responding to its concerns and making its terms more free software friendly.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Monday, November 23rd, 2009 -- Usually when you hear good news about licensing from the Free Software Foundation (FSF), it's because some noteworthy software has become free software or GPL-compatible when it wasn't before. Today's news is a little unorthodox because it doesn't fit that description--but it will still be a big help to free software developers.

A large number of people in the free software community feel that PayPal is a convenient way to send money to others. Part of the reason for this is that you can use many of PayPal's services with only free software--they typically don't require special proprietary software, or even JavaScript.

However, FSF recently discovered that PayPal had added a proprietary software license to its User Agreement. FSF license compliance engineer Brett Smith explained, "Of course, the FSF couldn't agree to those terms, so as soon as we learned about them, we contacted PayPal to see if we could make other arrangements. The company listened to our concerns, and specifically excepted us from these conditions. But not only that: next year, PayPal is also updating its user agreement to ensure that the free software community can continue to receive and make payments without having to accept a proprietary software license."

FSF executive director Peter Brown said, "We'd like to express our appreciation to PayPal for taking time to hear us out and make this change. The company easily could have insisted on keeping the terms as-is. But they recognized how important this issue was to the community, and put in the effort to listen to us and accommodate our concerns. We want to thank them for that generous help."

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at and, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

Media Contacts

Peter Brown
Executive Director
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942


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