Is lack of software freedom a valid reason for refusal?

Adonay Felipe Nogueira adfeno at
Fri Sep 22 12:48:14 UTC 2017

I would go for the following:

For the job, if the job *doesn't* require adapting or making a software
(probably a non-free one), I would accept it, would work for some time,
then slowly spread the free/libre software philosophy in the workplace
(I would do so through civilized conversations and formal process). If
some outsider asks what you're doing there: tell that, besides being
employed to do what you're doing there, you're also responsible for
convincing the organization to use, adapt, require and provide
free/libre software --- in case the organization does all these things,
but with non-free software --- and also tell that this is somewhat slow
process which also deals with people's biased mindsets (which is
true). If you get fired and people ask why, tell them that the
organization failed to do what was suggested and that their negligence
made the collaboration impossible.

Before the process of making the suggestion to the organization, it's a
good idea to conduct research on what are their needs in regards to the
software functionalities ([1][9]). And if some free/libre software lacks
such, help this software by either hiring someone to make it that way
and upstream changes, or also do it yourself --- if you do know how
to. This is why the money you get from the job is important. However, it
must be noted that I said "functionalities", so this doesn't involve
asking the organization "which license is preferred?", because they'll
probably make biased arguments towards permissive/lax/non-copyleft
(e.g.: "MIT" (Expat or X11?), BSDs), weak copyleft (e.g.: GNU LGPL) or
out-of-date strong copyleft licenses (e.g.: any GNU AGPL/GPL that isn't
equal to "3+"/"version 3 'or later'"). We must get GNU AGPL 3+ ("3 'or
later'") in all the things now, both to avoid SaaSS and digital
handcuffs, besides individually-held copyright assignments and
community-oriented copyleft enforcement ([2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]). ;)

At least in hostile environments, it's best to start aiming for 1% of
free/libre software there, than aim immediatelly high (100%) ([1]).

As for jobs where you would be paid to make non-free software or adapt
some software in order to make a non-free one --- these two also include
webpages that have JavaScript code, because this one is *client-side*,
for more information see the GNU LibreJS ([10]) project and FSF's FreeJS
campaign ([11]) ---, in the moment of signing the employement contract
--- or if not "sigining": accepting it verbally ---, make use of the
ContractPatch ([12]) *before* accepting/signing the contract. While you
have the unsigned contract on your hands, consider consulting a lawyer
--- paid or /pro bono/ --- and also making meetings involving the lawyer
and employer to reduce the gap in bargaining power ([1]). If the
employer denies, refuse the contract.

In both cases (direct software development and not), look out for
contract terminology such as "ownership", "invention", "copyright",
"intelectual property", "confidentiality", "conflict of interest" ([1]).

As for what programs are used during work, you can talk to the cowerks
or direct supervisors to get the real information on whether any
software is allowed, rather than the head CTO ([1]). Formal culture is
different from informal. Besides, if the organization has the "Bring
Your Own Devices" policy, then you can argue that in the same way that
the current employees are able to bring their own non-free software and
"feel satisfied", then the employer shouldn't discriminate against you
bringing free/libre software to make your work ([1]).

About the requirement to use non-free software in order to pay for
parking cars, perhaps writing free/libre software replacement for this
is another good use of the money one gets from the jobs. It's also
possible to take public transportation or even asking someone who also
goes in the same direction as you to take you there --- or to some part
of the path. I don't know if the city were you live requires the same
payment for parking bicycles, but you could also think of the
possibility of using these, and also of using skateboards and roller
skates, instead of the polluting and space-consuming ones (e.g.: cars,
motorcycles, trucks, SUVs).

Finally, discrimination against us free/libre software activists seem to
be common nowadays, including here in Brazil, Latin America. I wonder if
there is a formal organization with which we can talk to and say "hey!
we exist, and most employers don't seem to care"? ;)

[1] <>
(CC BY-SA 4.0).

[2] <> (CC BY-SA 4.0).

[3] <> (CC BY-SA 4.0).

[4] <> (CC BY-SA 4.0).

[5] <> (CC BY-SA 4.0).

[6] <> (CC BY-SA 4.0).

[7] <> (CC BY 4.0).

[8] <> (CC BY-SA 3.0).

[9] <> (CC BY-SA 4.0).

[10] <>.

[11] <>.

[12] <>.

Carsten Agger <agger at> writes:

> I imagine a number of situations:
> * Suppose I'm unemployed and dedicated to only using free software - I'm
> offered a job where I'll have to use Windows and Microsoft Word. If I
> refuse the job because of software freedom. Can I still be claim
> unemployment benefit?
> * I'm an unemployed programmer and get offered at job where I have to
> *write* proprietary software - I refuse because I won't participate in
> taking users' freedom. Can I still be claim unemployment benefit?
> * I want to park my car in the city, but it's only possible to pay by
> downloading one of two proprietary apps (real-world situation in
> Copenhagen) on my smartphone. Can I refuse to pay an eventual fine on
> the grounds that I couldn't pay?
> ... etc.
> I think the ideal must be for the lack of software freedom to *always*
> be accepted as a valid reason to refuse a given piece of software, but
> pragmatically, it may not always be possible (especially, many people
> like to have jobs and may prioritize that above not using/writing
> proprietry software).
> _______________________________________________
> Discussion mailing list
> Discussion at

- Palestrante e consultor sobre /software/ livre (não confundir com
- "WhatsApp"? Ele não é livre. Por favor, use o GNU Ring ou o Tox.
- Contato:
- Arquivos comuns aceitos (apenas sem DRM): Corel Draw, Microsoft
  Office, MP3, MP4, WMA, WMV.
- Arquivos comuns aceitos e enviados: CSV, GNU Dia, GNU Emacs Org, GNU
  GIMP, Inkscape SVG, JPG, LibreOffice (padrão ODF), OGG, OPUS, PDF
  (apenas sem DRM), PNG, TXT, WEBM.

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