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

Michael Kesper mkesper at
Wed Mar 16 13:10:43 UTC 2011


On Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 12:14:58PM +0000, Alex Hudson wrote:
> 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
> not.

I'm saying (and seem not to be the only one), that this classification
makes no sense and is just used by people who want to sell proprietary

> 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.

I'd rather say every software is commercial and so, as stated above,
this classification makes no sense.

> 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!

You say this is not harmful.
For you and me, this may be true. But for people who don't know enough about
freedom of software, all these labels can be used to create the impression
that there are two different "kinds" of software:
"commercial" vs. "free"
"enterprise" vs. "hackerware"
"business" vs. "hobbyist" etc. etc.
So, these labels can (and I'd say _are_) used to create negative
connotations for Free Software (resp. Free Software licences)

> 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.

Yes, but if people already have got these false images, your work is

> 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? 

They misnamed their proprietary licence as "commercial", that's the main
mistake I see here. Probably _nobody_ would care about this licence if it
wouldn't be named like that.

Best wishes
Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) []   (
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