Examples of proprietary control

Kim Tucker kctucker at gmail.com
Tue Oct 13 15:58:47 UTC 2009

This may be at a different level from what you have in mind, and relates 
more to the standards issue you would prefer to deal with later; but the 
issues are inextricably linked: access to data/ information/ knowledge 
in free/open standard formats via free/open protocols with software 
libre, ... saving lives and enabling a2k and innovation in communities 
towards self-determination, self-empowerment, etc.

"There have been tragic examples of people being unable to access 
information required to save lives on account of proprietary and 
encrypted file formats (see for example When Open Standards Really 
Matter - The Katrina Factor)".

This sentence indicates possible consequences in certain contexts:
"If a learning resource helps a community to decrease infant death rates 
through better primary health care and strategies for managing HIV/AIDS, 
the license should not disallow users to help their neighbours in the 
next village by sending them a copy, or a localised version."


The Katrina link in turn refers to a tsunami disaster in Thailand: "Each 
uses different data and document formats. Relief is slowed; coordination 
is complicated. The need for common, open standards for disaster 
management was never more stark or compelling."

You might also find it interesting to read thoughts about the advantages 
of FLOSS for "developing" nations. Find relevants links here:

and older docs which reflect the thinking in South Africa some years back:

Foss Policy Approved by Cabinet:

Free/Libre and Open Source Software and Open Standards in South Africa: 
A Critical Issue for Addressing the Digital Divide:


Carsten Agger wrote:
> I'm doing a text about the potential damages of proprietary software and
> have mentioned the "celebrity cases" of Windows installing "Windows
> Genuine Advantage" with the automatic updates, Apple reserving the right
> to zap any and all iPhone Apps it doesn't like and the Amazon Kindle
> censorship case - trying to argue, obviously, that if all software was
> shipped as free software as a matter of course, that kind of behaviour
> would not be as big a problem as users and organizations would be able
> to change it.
> Does anyone know of more striking cases, possibly a list, of people who
> have been badly bitten by proprietary software. (There's the standards
> issue, of course, but that deserves to be treated apart).
> br
> Carsten Agger
> Denmark
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