Subject: Re: Business Alliances
From: Seth Gordon <>
Date: 07 Mar 2003 10:30:38 -0500

You say in your article:
"By the way, here is a reason why I expect business alliances to work
better for companies that adhere to the stricter principles of the Free
Software philosophy than for those who adopt the more permissive Open
Source philosophy, which does not consider software freedom a matter of
ethics: In a community with less clear moral standards it is much easier
for untrustworthy companies to get away with just about anything while
still maintaining a moderately good reputation. On the other hand, when
a company builds a good reputation among thoughtful members of the more
principled Free Software movement, then the company has a valuable asset
that could easily be lost through any action that would be perceived by
the Free Software community as a betrayal. It is much easier to trust a
company not to commit certain kinds of actions if that company has much
more to lose than to win from such actions. This makes it easier to
trust principled Free Software companies than companies which subscribe
only to the Open Source philosophy."

I don't see why this is true.  Free software does not remain free
because it is sponsored by a company with a Free Software reputation; it
remains free because of its license.  IBM sells plenty of proprietary
software, and has a massive patent portfolio to boot, but if they
release some code under the GPL, I don't see why I shouldn't work with
it; if I run a company that has the opportunity to form a partnership
with IBM, leading to the development of more free software, I don't see
why IBM's lack of a Free Software reputation should hold me back.

Furthermore, a company that devotes itself to free software may
radically change its business strategy, disappointing anyone who relied
on its Free Software reputation.  Cases in point: VA Software,

"[The Bush Administration] is taking out a personals ad reading
'Hubris seeks Nemesis for consensual scene.  Serious offers only.'"
  --Patrick Nielsen Hayden
// seth gordon // // //