Subject: Re: Why GNU's freedom message is so important (was Re: improving...)
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2002 09:45:51 -0500 (EST)

Norbert Bollow writes:
 > Still I'm firmly convinced of the importance of GNU's message
 > about the ethical problems with non-free software.

And such a message is SO off-topic for FSB.  Argue the benefits of
open source software if you want.  But RMS doesn't do that.  He
doesn't argue that open source software is any better than proprietary 
software.  He argues that people should use open source software EVEN
IF it makes it harder for them to use computers, or get anything done
with their computer.

Try selling software that way: "Buy my software.  It's free, but it's
harder to use."

Security is very difficult to sell absent a threat (see my
.signature).  You can argue with customers until the cows come home
that your software is secure and your competitor's is not.  They won't 
see it as a feature until and unless they feel threatened.

And people won't perceive freedom as a selling point until Large Evil
Proprietary Software Businesses start threatening their freedom.  RMS
argues that that has already happened, but people don't value the
freedom to copy programs.  Most users believe that programs should be
owned.  If you try to argue that software should not be owned, you get
into the realm of economics.  Argue economics with people, and their
eyes start to roll back in their heads, they get weak in the knees,
and they start to sway back and forth.

No, the freedom that is going to have to be threatened is the freedom
to use the software as they wish, not to copy it.  It may very well be 
that the free software business has to hang on, waiting for a giant to 
fall, much as the maple seedling can stay a foot tall, hardly growing
from year to year, waiting for the giant to create a space in the
canopy for it.

-russ nelson     | Crypto without a threat
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