I'm amazed there's any dead horse left to flog....
I looked through this thread and I didn't notice anyone addressing the following point; so I shall do so.
The OP has, in a couple of places, referred to "copywritten" software. The term "copywritten" makes no sense: copyright is spelt "copyright" not "copywrite". And everything that is written, drawn, filmed, etc is automatically covered by copyright laws - it belongs to the creator except for a few exceptions (eg if you write something in the course of your work the copyright may belong to your employer). Some jurisdictions require the creator to register the copyright; in the UK creators "assert their moral right to be identified as the work's creators". But under international treaty copyright is automatic. As soon as you write something, you own the copyright.
It is copyright law that allows licenses like the GPL to work. As the creator of a program holds the copyright to the program, he can impose restrictions on what can be done with it. Usually, copyright is used so only the copyright holder can modify and distribute the program. But the GPL uses copyright law so the right to modify and redistribute is given to everyone. The GPL and similar licenses are often referred to as "copyleft" as they turn usual copyright terms on their heads.
"All people are scum. No matter what they look like." ~ Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan #4
A bit of a wild thought ride reading this thread. It's been fun thinking about the world from all the viewpoints, particularly those I disagree with. Thanks.
For me, discussing proprietary vs free software or this codec vs that codec obfuscates a more important issue, which is how will any given piece of software help our children, help our communities, help our city councils, our governments to build stronger communities, to have fun, to increase accessibility, to improve the delivery of services?
What type of software license is suitable to do these things?
And a small example of why 'it' is more than just a single person's own OS. My children attend a school, the school requires them to use MS and other proprietary products. Just by that my children are disadvantaged, they can not work on their school work at home as can their classmates.
If you have read this far... I support free software, I want my machine to be totally free, don't mind at all those who use/buy proprietary software for themselves and glad I live in a world where I can choose software that supports my personal philosophy.