Subject: Re: The merger: a user's perspective
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 15:03:03 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com> writes:

    Ian> You shouldn't let this obscure the fact that everything that
    Ian> Cygnus and Red Hat do, as corporations, is about business (or
    Ian> at least it should be--corporations do make mistakes
    Ian> sometimes).

If you say so; I haven't read their charters.  But please remember
that a corporation can be chartered to do pretty much anything legal.
An obvious example is a non-profit company.  But that's really a
matter of tax law AFAIK; there is nothing that says a for-profit
company must have profit as its goal, only that it is free to do so.

Of course it's very hard to define degrees of "for-profit-ness."  But
maybe what is needed here by the _free_ software community is a form
of corporate "charterleft" for business practices to match its
"copyleft" for intellectual assets.  A real example of this kind of
instrument is the so-called "ethical mutual fund," whose prospectus
explicitly eschews profit opportunities which stem from investments in
businesses whose practices are deemed unethical by definition in the
prospectus.  These funds in fact often do reasonably well, both in
terms of ROI and in terms of attracting investors.  I don't see why
various kinds of "ethical software development corporations" couldn't
do the same, although I would expect on a rather small scale.

Objectively, I agree with your assessment that this merger, by itself,
anyway, will probably not have all that great an effect on many
individual members of the free software community, nor on its
projects.  But remember the leverage that single individuals can have,
both politically and economically, in this community.  Given that, I
can _imagine_ ESDCs being as big a force in the FS community proper as
the GNU GPL itself.

-- 
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