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Re: The Spirit of Free Software, or The Reality

On Sat, Jul 04, 2015 at 07:40:28PM +0200, Jan Gloser wrote:
> It would be really nice if we didn't have to care about money at all. Let's say
> you would make software and give it for free. If you needed a house, you would
> go to someone who specializes in that and he would build the house for you, for
> free. If you needed shoes ...  you get my point, right? Then we could live like
> a huge happy tribe, sharing everything we have. This is a very nice philosophy.
> It has a history though. It also has a name. Communism. And history has shown
> us that communism on a large scale does not work.

True. But you're confusing several matters.

When "production" involves material goods, it's normal that you can't
expect to get those goods for free. After all, if I give you an apple,
or shoes, or a house, I no longer have that apple, shoes, or house, and
so it is fair that I would expect some compensation for those goods.

When "production" involves "copying digital information from one hard
disk to another", then this is not the case anymore. If I allow you to
copy some digital data off my hard disk onto yours, then in the worst
case I've lost some of my time and less than a cent of extra
electricity. I could ask you for compensation for those things, but most
likely the time spent figuring out how much you'd owe me would cost both
of us even more than what the original cost to me would've been. So it's
likely better to just not charge you for that at all.

Additionally, when in the free software world we use the word "free", we
don't usually refer to price; instead, it is more likely that we refer
to "freedom": your freedom to improve the software that I've given you.
This is why Debian insists on not allowing non-free software into its
archive; not because we are against money changing hands, but because we
insist on the ability to modify and improve software.

Speaking personally, I must say that I agree with your sentiment that
there is nothing wrong or dirty about money. Money can be a good
motivator for doing a job, and it can help people concentrate on a task
at hand knowing that they don't have to worry about having a job.

But that has nothing to do with freedom, nor the reason why we block
non-free software of becoming part of Debian.

It is easy to love a country that is famous for chocolate and beer

  -- Barack Obama, speaking in Brussels, Belgium, 2014-03-26

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