[ox-en] press release critique

Russell McOrmond russell at flora.ottawa.on.ca
Sun May 6 17:47:13 UTC 2001

On Wed, 2 May 2001, Raju Mathur wrote:

>     Stefan> GPL says that it is allowed to take a fee for distributing
>     Stefan> free software, however this is only a means to balance
>     Stefan> some expenditure -- not the goal!
> I don't see this either mentioned or implied anywhere in the GPL or
> the GNU manifesto.

  As someone who makes a living at servicing free software, I have to
agree in general.

  On the other hand, I am unconfortable having a movement that indicates
making money is part of it's goal because of the variety of ways that
making money for oneself has been abused as an excuse over the years for
exploiting others.

  There is no legitimate reason one can't make money at something without
exploiting others, it is just not the image that comes to peoples minds at
this point in time and we need to be aware of this.

> resources which diminish by sharing: if I have 10 Rupees and give you
> 5, the total amount of wealth in the world does not increase.
> Similarly, if I have 10 hours of consulting time available in a given
> period of time and give you 5, the total amount of consulting time
> available in the world does not increase either.

  This is where the advantages of Intellectual Freedoms vs Intellectual
Property can be given as example as I don't agree with the comparison as
it doesn't take the inefficiencies and exploitation of Intellectual
Property into consideration.

  In an Intellectual Property world if you spent 10 hours solving a
problem, and I spent 5 : your time is wasted if I filled for a patent on
my solution first, or had a copyright on the information first.

  In an Intellectual Freedom world it is only a matter of communications
as to whether or not we end up 15 hours ahead of the game by the two of us
working together on the problem.  This freedom is very much a matter of
efficiency as it enables us to advance further by not wasting so much time
re-inventing things.

  It is not whether or not the world will 'gain' more than 15 hours total,
but how much the world will loose due to inefficiencies in the system.

> While I may also dream of a world where Free Software results in free
> everything, I'm willing to take things one step at a time and make
> money out of Free Software while still being a staunch advocate of
> Freedom from IP.

  I'd like to not have to worry about making a living as well, but see no
moral issues with making money from the SERVICE of working on Free
Software, just have huge moral problems with arbitrarily making things
scarce and inefficient.

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

  If you solve the corruption/inefficiencies/etc problems because of the
lack of freedom first, and the issues relating to fair commerce can solve
themselves. I just don't think people should be taking things so literally
to assume that this means that making money on Free Software is somehow an
incompatable thing - the only thing it suggests is incompatable is to
unfairly extract wealth by exploiting others via taking away their

 Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
 NAFTA as a tool to force technical standards compliance in Government
 New FLORA Weblog:  http://weblog.flora.org/

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