Commercial Software (was: Re: Nokia spreading FUD?)

Alex Hudson home at
Wed Mar 16 12:14:58 UTC 2011

On Wed, 2011-03-16 at 12:02 +0100, Michael Kesper wrote:
> > What is harmful, though, is attempting to portray people as siding on
> > one side when they're actually on the other. It's divisive.
> I see a real and great danger in the classification of software as
> "commercial" as every time I saw this phrase used, it was used to sell
> proprietary licences as "licences for commercial use".
> By the repeated use of phrases like that, the impression is built that
> commercial use is not possible with Free Software licences.
> So it _is_ harmful to try to classify software as "commercial" or not.

Except that you're conflating two different things there.

Classifying software as either "free software" or "commercial" is simply
factually wrong. I object to being lumped into that, and that's what I'm
complaining about.

Classifying software as either "commercial" or "not commercial" is a
matter of opinion. If you don't want to do that, that's fine. Having an
opinion on the subject does not make one a free software supporter or

Saying you can't call software commercial because people might infer
that you're saying free software is non-commercial, is a sad argument
based on Orwellian new-speak.

It's not just "commercial". People label software licenses as
"professional", or "enterprise", or "business", or any other number of
terms. These words are _also_ not harmful!

What matters is if software is free or not. I use the word "free", even
though in its regular use in English, 99% of people do not understand my
meaning. So I explain it. If people have it explained _clearly_ to them,
the commercial/professional/enterprise/whatever problem just doesn't
come up.

Nokia have a table on their licensing page which helps explain the

This whole topic was about whether they're spreading FUD. Actually, I
think they do a pretty good job of saying "proprietary" in the right

Instead of all this argument to- and fro- about whether or not this word
is harmful, or that word is harmful, why don't we just e-mail Nokia and
suggest to them that under the "GPL" section of that licensing page they
make clear that such applications could be sold commercially so long as
the source is made available gratis? 

Is there anything else missing/wrong with the page? 



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