GNU Business Network Definition

Sean DALY sean.daly at
Fri Jun 9 16:18:00 UTC 2006

I, too, think a list with three companies on it won't improve anything.

Perhaps strict definitions, certification, is not the best method to advance the cause of Free Software in business. Certification implies an authority, and to be worth anything must follow clear criteria when handing down decisions. How is the granting authority constituted? What about appeal, or oversight? is certification renewed every year? How are audits performed? What happens when a previously certified business changes its business practices, or is bought out by a non-certified company? etc., etc.

Also, I think it is important to distinguish between non-IT businesses, interested only as end-users and not concerned with distribution;  and IT businesses for whom the GNU GPL distribution clause has a direct impact. The former businesses call upon the latter ones for services; I think a different communication strategy is necessary for these two groups (as, by the way, different strategies for SME and big corporation end-users).

Aside from last week's startups, any business needs to transition to Free Software; and I think we could better guide and encourage these transitions in the best direction, rather than hand out pass/fail grades at this point in time.

My point of view is that a key element of copyleft -- that a company renounces a copyright monopoly over code -- is the best way to make the transition to Free Software. I believe that as companies learn that they have more to gain than to lose, they will move to Free Software. I have worked in business for many years, and a functioning business is always practical; so let's steer companies away from compromises with nonfree software in the name of practicality, and towards habitual copylefting of their developments instead, by stressing the superior quality of FOSS due to the peer-review model for example.

Wild idea: perhaps a way to attack the proprietary drivers problem would be to negociate a kind of "simultaneous mutual disarmement" -- ask competitors to open their drivers at the same time so they keep their status quo while liberating their software. perhaps we have a role to play as mediators in this regard?

Sean DALY.

> Message du 09/06/06 17:32
> De : "Alfred M. Szmidt" <ams at>
> A : "Shane M. Coughlan" <shane at>
> Copie à : discussion at
> Objet : Re: GNU Business Network Definition
>    There is absolutely no reason freedom and practically cannot go
>    hand in hand.  They already do.
> There are several reason, one is that sometimes it is more practical
> to use non-free software, this goes against the goals of freedom.  The
> other is that supporting non-free software how ever obscure can lead
> to the spreading of this obscure piece of software.
>    The reason I suggest that the provisions of the GNU Business
>    Network Definition pertaining to support contracts are potentially
>    unreasonable is that branding and certification are key when it
>    comes to business confidence.
> Supporting non-free software goes against the goals of the GNU
> project.  Since GBN is part of the GNU umbrela, it makes very little
> sense for it to list companies that support non-free software.  I
> don't see what the problem is, the goal is freedom, not huge list of
> companies that do unethical and immoral things.
> Cheers.
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