GNU Business Network Definition comments

Alex Hudson home at
Mon Jun 26 10:00:45 UTC 2006

On Mon, 2006-06-26 at 09:54 +0100, Shane M. Coughlan wrote:
> I believe it's true that consumers will be interested in the products
> and services offered.  However, if the GBN were only to apply to the
> actual products and services (with no provision for business structure)
> it would become a product label applied when convenient.  This may occur
> in the same way that the OSI trademark can be applied if a product uses
> one of their approved licenses.  It is therefore possible that Bob's
> Non-Free Software Services could offer one application that would get a
> GBN stamp, while continuing to offer and support a full range of
> non-free products.

Right. But I guess what I'm asking implicitly is, what is the goal of
the GBN?

If the GBN only applies to companies whose entire product and service
range excludes any non-free software (for the GNU definition of non-free
software), it could only apply to a very few companies, I think.

While that's not a problem of the definition, it is a problem for the
utility of the definition. If GBN is to be useful, it has to generate or
help identify a market for free software solutions. Businesses have to
recognise the value in being in the GBN. If they don't, it just becomes
a marginal label that a few businesses use, few consumers recognise, and
(more importantly) doesn't convert non-free businesses into free
software businesses.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure I particularly care whether or not a
business sells non-free software. I'm also a vegetarian, but I'm not
sufficiently ardent that I won't visit a restaurant that serves meat: I
won't visit one that doesn't sell enough vegetarian courses, though. For
most, this is also an ethical issue, but the variety of vegetarian food
available (which in the UK is a lot - much better than most of Europe,
and certainly the US) hasn't come about by militant vegetarians only
visiting those restaurants that don't serve meat.

Food also gives us other examples: South African products during
apartheid, salad products from Spain/Africa, anything from Nestle. I
consider[ed] buying these products as ethically dubious, as do/did many
other people in this country. However, the decision as to whether or not
to stock such products is a matter for the supplier as far as I'm
concerned: and in fact, Nestle matches up quite closely with your "Bob's
non-free software services" example, because they supply Fair Trade

The example of Nestle is kind of a good one. They're a corner case; a
company who are quite commonly thought of as being corporately
unethical, yet have ethically-branded produce. I don't get hung up about
that though; I don't think it's an issue. What is more important is that
Fair Trade produce are now commonly available in all supermarkets in a
wide range and variety, and it encourages people to think ethically.
That would demonstrably not have happened if only select companies whose
whole operation could carry the mark were allowed to use it.



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