What's so important about the ethics of free software?

Timothy Pearson tpearson at raptorengineering.com
Mon Dec 19 20:28:17 UTC 2016

Hash: SHA1

On 12/19/2016 02:14 PM, Charles Cossé wrote:
> If I write a 2 line program that prints "hello world" and don't license
> it under a FLOSS license, the user is still free to use it or not use
> it.  According to FSF(E) doctrine, however, I am "unjust" and
> "immoral".  Read the links you sent some posts back.  FSF(E) makes no
> exclusion for asymptotic or trivial cases.

If I may jump in with a perspective from "across the pond", I would
argue that the only case in which libre software takes on a moral
imperative is when said software becomes critical for business or life
in general; i.e when using the proprietary package becomes largely
unavoidable or a choice is presented to either use the proprietary
package or to e.g. stay out of a particular field of study or business.
 For many of these smaller cases, there is no moral imperative simply
because one is not forcing other people to use the package in violation
of their personal beliefs and views on libre software / software freedom
in general.

What would handle this quite nicely is something we already have in
place for trademarks; specifically the concept of a "genericized
trademark".  Just as trademarks can be handed into the public domain if
they become the primary public descriptor for a specific class of
products, it might work well if the source code / rights for an
application are handed into the public domain once that application
becomes completely unavoidable for business and/or life.  The bar for
this would obviously be set fairly high, but it would seem to protect
against the situation we see now where only one specific, proprietary
software package is supported for tasks like tax filings or even life
support; cases where a true moral imperative can be widely agreed exists.

- -- 
Timothy Pearson
Raptor Engineering
+1 (415) 727-8645 (direct line)
+1 (512) 690-0200 (switchboard)
Version: GnuPG v1
Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla - http://enigmail.mozdev.org/


More information about the Discussion mailing list