press release critique

Stefan Meretz stefan.meretz at
Thu May 3 10:57:22 UTC 2001

Hi all,

many thanx for re's addressing really different aspects. I try to
move back to my point, from which my thinking starts, and this is
scarcity as a precondition of economy. I accidentally pick Josef's

> freedom and "free of danger" exclude each other. Freedom means risk. If you
> want safety, you have to give up freedom.

You compare apples and pears. You can combine freedom, risk and
safety in a carthesian product. Freedom means freedom - and nothing

However the essential question is: how to extend freedom? There are
two paradigmatic answers.

a) the economic answer: you extend freedom on one side at the cost
of another side. This has nothing to do with immorality or stuff. It
is how market economy works: You can only bring you forward if
others are not brought forward. You only get a job, if others not;
you only get a costumer if others not etc. Here scarcity (sometimes
hidden) is a precondition of economic success.

b) the free software answer: you extend freedom on all sides. This
has nothing to do with higher morality or stuff. It is how free
software works: You can only bring you forward if others are going
forward, too. You only get success if others get the success with
you. Here richness (here in human sense of creativity etc.) is a
precondition of free software success.

Ok, all schemes are too schematic;-) - but this is roughly how it
works. In reality you'll find a lot of a/b-mixtures. And again this
is not "bad", it is just like it is in a society where beside free
software we need money for something to eat etc. - well,
sometimes;-) [I for myself decided to reduce my goodpaid job to two
days, because I want to develop free software and free theories.
Nobody must do it like this, others have a business or drive taxi]

However, we should clearly face the dynamic of these two different
logics, because it is important what messages are send by FSFE for
example. And the general message of FSF is: extending freedom
through extending b-logics. And the message of FSFE is: extending
freedom through extending a-logics? This cannot be true.

Well, I know these textes about commercial free software etc. There
are really _not_ main parts of FSF-philosophy. Or some statements
from some programs. I only want to say: Don't put them in the middle
and change the b-message into an a-message. Roughly said.

One more word to scarcity: Natural scarcity does not exist, because
everything, what we have is produced. So richness and scarcity and
the way we live is produced (this includes the inherently limited
earth and its substances - but this is not my point here).

MJ Ray writes:
> Stefan Meretz <stefan.meretz at> writes:
> >
> > All these models base on making things (or services etc.) scarce. And
> > scarcity and freedom are a contradiction.
> A lot of those things are naturally scarce.  Models 9.1 (loss leader),
> 9.2 (widget frosting) and 9.5 (expiration) are artificial restraints,
> though, and are not really based around Free software, merely Open
> Source.

This is my point: making things to be an "economic value" implies
making them scarce. And ESR proposals are combining free software
with scarcity.

> 9.3 is on programmer performance, 9.4 on physical products, and 9.7 on
> content performance, which are naturally scarce items.  There is no
> need to artificially restrain the liberty of the code to create that
> scarcity.

9.3 is on support, e.g. selling specially adapted free software and
giving support to this special adaption. The counter model is having
the support from the fs community. 9.4 is on physical products,
right, this is a problem for GPL-society;-) [see Interview with
Stefan Merten (not me!) with NetTime]

9.5 and 9.6.? These are ugly tricks to extend scarcity directly into
free software (via giving software free only in future or using a

The point is not whether those tricks base on artificial restraints
or not. The point is how to deal with scarcity? Software is always
scarce (especially good one). But it is a difference to go in
a-logic the redmond way or to go the free software way in b-logic.
This is the point.

> Therefore, having shown cases where scarcity and freedom co-exist and
> allow non-zero valuations, I reject your assertion.

Rereading it I find them confirmed.

But what does your defense mean??? Do you support ESR's trial to
extend a-logic into the field of free software? I am confused.


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