about free software

Markus gnufriend at gmx.de
Mon Aug 22 00:52:02 UTC 2005

i hope i don't bore you, but i have some additional questions to my previous
topic "why free".
First let me say, that since the last linuxtag i have this great "Free
Software - Free Society" t-shirt from the FSFE. Now after i have wear it the
last few weaks people often ask me what it means and what the FSF-Europe is.
And i have some problem to explain it to normal people.
About the FSFE i usually say that it's a organisation which takes care about
all aspects of freedom in the digital age, mostly software freedom. I think
this is a short and clear statement.
Than it comes to Free Software, ok i can explain clear and short what Free
Software is with the 4 freedoms.  But than mostly it comes the question why
is it important and the assumption that it will never work for all areas
were software is used. Here i need your help and some short and clear
explanations, because i'm struggling if i try to explain it.

Here the three main arguments were i have problems to find the right

1. "Why does i need this freedoms? I have used software for many years and
had never the need or idea to modify the software, the software just does
the job and thats ok."
If i point him to the freedom to share the software with their friend than i
just get the answere that he just do it whether the license allows it or
not. So he just don't care if it's legal or not.

2. "What is if there is no Free Software who does the job i have to do?
Sould i don't do the job with my PC just because the licence of a program is
non-free?" I think that's the typical argument of a pragmatist.

3. This is the economy argument. That there is some kind of software who
just no one write in the spare time. Either because there is not much
personal need for it or because if you don't work in this special area you
don't know what exactly is needed. The argument is that for this kind of
software you need a company who write it and it's cheaper for the particular
customer if the company uses a non-free license and distribute  the costs on
all costumers than one customer have to order a "special-development" and
have to pay the whole development costs.

What would you answere to such statements?

Than i have one more question from the "Free Music License" and GFDL
dicussion. It seams that some people accept different kind of freedom for
software, technical documentation, privat thoughts, musik,..
But if you make all this distinctions, could you partition the software
field too? For example a distinction between functionally software and
entertainment software like computer games. Do you think it would be
acceptable for entertainment software to just keep the freedom to share the
software verbatim with your friend but give the game vendor a monopoly for
some time to sell the software? If some people accept this for music with
the argument "it's just entertainment", than i think it would be acceptable
for computer games and maybe other not that functional and "important for
the world" software too.


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