3rd Fellowship Raffle to attract more Fellows

Sam Liddicott sam at liddicott.com
Thu Mar 15 12:12:58 UTC 2007

* Kaloian Doganov wrote, On 15/03/07 10:46:
> Bernhard Reiter <reiter at fsfeurope.org> writes:
>     The process is a high chance that there is more freedom in the
>     end.  Compromises like this - take proprietary stuff to liberate
>     it - have been made by GNU hackers and FSF before, e.g. running on
>     proprietary operating system when the other have been unpractical.
> This is not the first time when FSFE representative used FSF and GNU
> Project as an excuse for distributing proprietary software.  This is
> non sense, since neither FSF nor GNU had ever distributed proprietary
> software.
> Please, choose a better example when justifying your actions.  You're
> not like FSF, you're like Linspire or the Debian Project, etc.
Like most disagreements, the different proponents use the same word to
represent different concepts.
Words to watch out for here are "distribute" "your" "our" "FSF".

There is a difference difference between distributing munitions for use
and distributing munitions for destruction.
Of course in the second case the word "distribute" may not be the right
word because the recipient group is so small and select.

There is a difference between distributing a proprietary OS for
convenience in another task, and distributing a proprietary OS because
you're trying to remove it and merely haven't finished yet; and that is
what this is about.

For a moment, let's not talk about how the word "distribute" applies and
whether or not this word has usually had bad connotations when used in
the context of non-free software; lets not worry about how our enemies
might describe us, let's actually look at the activities that are going on.

1. FSFE wants to co-operation of willing hackers to make some non-free
platforms free.
Lets agree on whether or not this is good. I think we agree that it is.

2. In order to do this the FSFE needs to transfer said devices into the
hands of said willing hackers.
And some people think this is wrong because the transfer could be termed
"distribution" and the FSFE mustn't do what can be called "distribution
of non-free software".

Someone here is bowing to language instead of ideal; and I cite this as
a real life example of how controlling language controls the ability to
think and express ideas, and ultimately to act.

>     It is just a proposal for doing something useful with the devices.
>     Sending them back will also not be good, as the necessary public
>     reasoning will be quite a lot of work and negative one as well.
> Of course sending them back to the vendor is not nice, and it looks
> like according to FSFE's values, distributing proprietary software is
> much more acceptable.  You value your "public image" more than
> software freedom.
That's funny, because I just made that case about you, but it all hinges
on what "distribute" actually refers to.
I suppose you don't think that police confiscation of illegal drugs
itself constitutes drug trafficking?
Or handing over a dangerous gun for crushing constitutes gun-running?
> Making a mistake is one thing.  Trying to justify it in this way, so
> persitently, is something quite different -- it shows that you have
> betrayed our values.
That's a very overloaded use of the word "our" just there.
I ask you to define it in that context, do you mean that you represent
the "true" FSF?

And what are those values that _you_ speak of?
As far as I can tell it is fear of what can be described as distributing
non-free software and fear of being accused of behaving in a non-free
way, instead of actually getting on with the business of liberating.

Why is "distributing non-free software" against FSF ideals? It's just
words to describe some activities which are against those ideals, such
activities as promoting use of non-free software. This proposed activity
does not promote such use.

I fear that by extending statements to mean more than was originally
intended we commit the same sins as the RIAA, MPAA who are trying to
pretend that copyright morally grants rights that were NEVER discussed
by legislators when copyright was first legislated, and to have these
new rights enshrined in law WITHOUT having the discussion now.

As an example, Orange (mobile phone co where I worked) were denied use
of footballing photos on internet phones. Although they had licensed use
of the images on the internet, lawers decided they hadn't licensed use
over "mobile internet"! WTH? So you could get the images on your phone
browser using WLAN but not using GPRS.

My point is any decree or doctrine against "distribution of non-free
software" was NEVER intended to discourage "here, hack this and make it
free" activity, and that is ALL that this discussion as actually about.

If anyone wants to repeat the "we don't distribute non-free software"
line they ALSO need to show that such a policy was intended to cover
such an activity.


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