GNU Emacs is free software; this means that everyone is free to use it and free to redistribute it on certain conditions. GNU Emacs is not in the public domain; it is copyrighted and there are restrictions on its distribution, but these restrictions are designed to permit everything that a good cooperating citizen would want to do. What is not allowed is to try to prevent others from further sharing any version of GNU Emacs that they might get from you. The precise conditions are found in the GNU General Public License that comes with Emacs and also appears following this section.
The easiest way to get a copy of GNU Emacs is from someone else who has it. You need not ask for our permission to do so, or tell any one else; just copy it. If you have access to the Internet, you can get the latest distribution version of GNU Emacs from host `prep.ai.mit.edu' using anonymous login. See the file `/pub/gnu/GETTING.GNU.SOFTWARE' on that host to find out about your options for copying and which files to use.
You may also receive GNU Emacs when you buy a computer. Computer manufacturers are free to distribute copies on the same terms that apply to everyone else. These terms require them to give you the full sources, including whatever changes they may have made, and to permit you to redistribute the GNU Emacs received from them under the usual terms of the General Public License. In other words, the program must be free for you when you get it, not just free for the manufacturer.
You can also order copies of GNU Emacs from the Free Software Foundation, on various magnetic media or on CD-ROM. This is a convenient and reliable way to get a copy; it is also a good way to help fund our work. (The Foundation has always received most of its funds in this way.) An order form is included at the end of manuals printed by the Foundation. It is also included in the file `etc/ORDERS' in the Emacs distribution. For further information, write to
Free Software Foundation 675 Mass Ave Cambridge, MA 02139 USA
The income from distribution fees goes to support the foundation's purpose: the development of new free software, and improvements to our existing programs including GNU Emacs.
If you find GNU Emacs useful, please send a donation to the Free Software Foundation to support our work. Donations to the Free Software Foundation are tax deductible. If you use GNU Emacs at your workplace, suggest that the company make a donation. If company policy is unsympathetic to the idea of donating to charity, you might instead suggest ordering a CD-ROM from the Foundation occasionally, or subscribing to periodic updates.