press release critique

Peter Gerwinski peter at
Wed May 2 14:06:42 UTC 2001

Hello, Stefan Meretz,

you wrote:
> 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!

Here I agree.

However this fee must be nontrivial in order to compensate for the
big lot of work which is necessary to produce the free software.

When I, as a Free Software programmer, ask my clients to pay such a
significant fee, they sometimes say that the GPL only allows for a
nominal fee - which is not true.

This is why we always stress that Free Software can be commercial.

We would prefer if it would not be necessary to make money at all,
but In the world as it is right now we cannot survive without a
monetary compensation for our work.

> 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. [...]

We so not make anything scarce - just the opposite.

Good programming services are inherently scarce.

Non-free software is artificially made scarce. It cannot be copied
without loss of legality.

Initially, Free Software is scarce as well: It is written
specifically on the demands of the user. Once it is released, it
becomes less and less scarce because it can be copied without loss.

In the spirit of Free Software, nothing is made artificially scarce.

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

It is not, as others have pointed out. The spirit of the
GNU Manifesto is about freedom and has nothing to do with money.

> 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.

Exacly. Thus instead of _making_ things scarce we search for
opportunities for economy where things _are_ scarce.

Hope this helps to clear things up a bit


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