press release critique

Stefan Meretz stefan.meretz at
Wed May 2 08:06:13 UTC 2001

Hi everybody,

I want to explain my critique why I think that -- in my view -- FSFE differs from FSF, and
this is bad.

The sense of copyleft is to keep and increase the freedom using software. The way to do
this is to exclude the possibility of making software scarce (freedom is inherited). These
principles are introduced and explained in GNU Manifesto.

GPL says that it is allowed to take a fee for distributing free software, however this is
only a means to balance some expenditure -- not the goal!

Press release about founding of the FSFE says that free software has the goal to make
money with it. This is exactly the opposite of the spirit of GPL and GNU Manifesto! This
is because making money presuppose making things scarce. If you have free software which
is inherently not scarce, you have to make other things around free software scarce in
order to be able to sell free software or the things around. And this is exactly what Eric
Raymond in his propaganda says (see the magic cauldron:

Free software and freedom in general cannot survive on an island. All other things around
free software have to be free as far as possible. Therefore we have a special license for
documentation (FDL) etc. Other examples are support - we help people to use free software,
however no for the purpose of making money!

A fee is ok, but "making money" in Raymond style is against the spirit of GNU Manifesto.

Last point is the slogan "equal chances for people and economy" on the web site. I can't
understand the message. Equal chances between what and what? Between people and people?
Between economy and economy? Between people and economy? The first is ok (but not really
good: equal chances is not the same as freedom). The second doesn't make sense (economy is
one 'entity' so there is no 'between'). And the third is crazy, because people never have
same chances as 'economy'.

Increasing freedom for people always implies reducing the opportunity for economy to make
things scarce. Freedom finds its borders where the freedom of others is touched. Making
things artificially scarce by companies touches freedom of the people. This has clearly
explained by RMS in GNU Manifesto.

As RMS said: We should more talk about freedom. And not of making money, I add.


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