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Re: [ox-en] Germ of a new form of society or germ of a new form of business?

On Sun, Jan 25, 2004 at 02:45:05AM -0000, Niall Douglas wrote:
The result I would still call free software though it won't fit the
OSI definition. Put it this way - it's close enough and I don't
think anyone other than the GPL zealots will complain.

Can you elaborate on what you think this quasi-free software will look

I think that by characterizing those people that cling tightly to the
principle freedoms of Free Software, and by extension into the OSD,
Open Source as well, as "GPL zealots" you mean to trivialize both
their position and their influence. I think this position biases your
arguments and, at least for folks like me that are probably in the
group you would characterize as "GPL zealots", offends your audience.

Granted: the pull for something less than "Free as defined by the Free
Software Definition" is strong. *Many* people don't like the idea of
non-commercial use and this is just one example. Lots of software is
licensed (or temporarily licensed) under any number of quasi-free
licenses. But this sort of quasi freedom has yet to be successful in
any widespread way for a number of reasons (here are three):

 1) People want to be able to call their work Open Source or Free
    Software (People often dismiss this but I've seen it happen
    multiple times);

 2) People want to combine their software with GPLed code or build off
    an existing virally licensed FLOSS application or library;

 3) People want to include their software in an OS like Debian or
    Gentoo that enforce strict Free Software guidelines;

Debian has a space for "non-free" software on their archive most of
which falls into this definition of quasi-free because Debian must be
able to at least package it (change it) and give it away for
free. non-free is shriveling away and dying. There is only a fraction
of applications there than there were a few years ago. Applications
are being rewritten and replaced with truly Free ones.

Some software, like LaTeX, was released under a not-quite-free license
and the authors kicked and screamed but finally was able to work with
Debian-legal to come up with a license that would fit the definition
(and principles) of Free Software. Being distributed in Debian and
being Open Source was simply *that* important to them.

I could go on for a while.

People *are* driven to FLOSS by non-philosophical reasons but the fact
that FLOSS was created with a specific and inflexible definition is
what has allowed FLOSS to develop into a recognizable
social/development/etc movement and, now that it has critical mass,
will make it a hard beast to slay through the type of erosion into
quasi-FLOSS you seem to describing.


Benjamin Mako Hill

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