Defining Free Software Business - excurse to CSR

Shane M. Coughlan shane at
Wed Jun 21 17:28:16 UTC 2006

Hash: SHA256

franz schaefer wrote:
>> I like to reason around 'ethics' and have suggested the following:
>>    A company that daily accepts its social responsibility towards 
>>    reaching freedom in the digital age, respecting the ideals 
>>    contained in the GNU Manifesto.
> since you explicitly mention "social responsibilty" here. i think the whole
> debate has a lot in common with the CSR discurse.
> CSR - corporate social responsibilty. it is the new hype word that everyone
> uses. the ideas behind it is that corporations do not want to go through the
> tedious process of convincing/bribing government to make laws in their
> interest but to make them themself.

CSR is a promising avenue.  It appears to affect very large companies
more than Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).  Leveraging CSR would
allow the GBN to be marketed as a positive solution for companies
wishing to gain social legitimacy.  However, CSR depends on a company
making enough money to have time to fret about its public social image.
 Most companies are so busy just staying afloat that they can't invest
resources into these matters.  In other words, CSR is a great selling
point to large enterprises but it might make up a much smaller part of
the decision-making process in a SME.

It would be interesting to read through CSR literature and to examine
how GBN marketing could utilize terms and concepts that would resonate
with the CSR approach.  It might create greater 'buy-in' from firms that
are currently non-free.

> 2 have labels: one positiv and one negative. "GNU friendly bussiness" and
> "hostile to free software" (e.g. because they do not give out hardware specs
> for drivers). so if one corporation wants to polish up their public image
> with a CSR report they could go for the first one but they will not want
> that someone who googles the company name finds them listet on the list of
> bad corporations....

I believe this idea may have merit.  A list of companies that do *not*
support Free Software may be useful for people making partnership and
purchasing decisions.  However, at the same time this would potentially
introduce an air of negativity to the GBN.  There is a danger with
introducing a concept like this that freedom friendly companies may be
alienated.  A degree of direct negativity towards xyz company might
unnerve perfectly innocent parties.  It may also open the GBN to
criticism as an 'extremist' network with a hidden agenda.  In other
words, such a list could be used by critical parties to formulate
charges against the GBN.


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Shane Martin Coughlan
e: shane at
m: +447773180107 (UK) +353862262570 (Ire)
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