Free software & money

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Lyberta
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Free software & money

Postby Lyberta » Sat Oct 29, 2016 3:12 pm

Thread where this discussion started
The counter-question: why they SHOULD give the source code? I don't know much english folklore but in russian language there's a well known proverb. I don't know how to do literaly translation but the direct translation will sound like this:

With the thankfulness you won't eat fully.

How do programmers earn money to not to die from hunger? Probably they sell their knowledge by writing code.
How do musicians earn money to not to die from hunger? Probably they do recodings, performances and tours.
The only difference is the appetite. One category of people does things for good, the other - for money, the third - for fun.
But all of them want eat, everyday.

Also that's why I don't publish source code for my project. Because I spend a lot of time for writing plugins that bless good to others. But for about the year of existence of the project I've collected only $150 donations and published source code for only one plugin (all as promised on the official site). This fact gives reason to think about the future release model. Probably the best way would be to port the source code to Windows and MacOS platform and sell licenses for them still keeping the linux distribution free for use.

Yes, Free software is good. But Free does not mean that the time spent for writing this software shouldn't be paid.


We who benefit from software can easily forget that someone creating so-called 'free' software
comes at the (high) price of the author's limited waking hours, that could be spent with family, friends,
or in paid occupations. It is a balancing act for someone who loves to code, and loves to share,
but needs to buy life's necessities. Coding is difficult, a coder must be a linguist, a mathematician,
an engineer, an artist, a scientist in one or more disciplines, and expert in how the implemented code
behaves in the end-users world.


I have worked for a software company and I wrote code for money. I had the highest salary in my family. But I wasn't happy about that. Proprietary software is an injustice and I couldn't ignore the fact that I was a part of the problem. I've tried to compensate for it by donating to Free Software Foundation, but it wasn't enough. In the end, I quit.

Now I have only 250$/month but my conscience is clear. I can spend time writing free software and make this world a tiny bit better. I would love to write free software for money but there are not a lot of people who are willing to pay on this conditions.

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Re: Free software & money

Postby rghvdberg » Sat Oct 29, 2016 3:51 pm

But why is proprietary software injustice?

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Re: Free software & money

Postby Lyberta » Sat Oct 29, 2016 3:57 pm

https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html
The Injustice of Proprietariness

If the users don't control the program, the program controls the users. With proprietary software, there is always some entity, the developer or “owner” of the program, that controls the program—and through it, exercises power over its users. A nonfree program is a yoke, an instrument of unjust power.

In outrageous cases (though this outrage has become quite usual) proprietary programs are designed to spy on the users, restrict them, censor them, and abuse them. For instance, the operating system of Apple iThings does all of these, and so does Windows on mobile devices with ARM chips. Windows, mobile phone firmware, and Google Chrome for Windows include a universal back door that allows some company to change the program remotely without asking permission. The Amazon Kindle has a back door that can erase books.

The use of nonfree software in the “internet of things” would turn it into the “internet of telemarketers” as well as the “internet of snoopers”.

With the goal of ending the injustice of nonfree software, the free software movement develops free programs so users can free themselves. We began in 1984 by developing the free operating system GNU. Today, millions of computers run GNU, mainly in the GNU/Linux combination.

Distributing a program to users without freedom mistreats those users; however, choosing not to distribute the program does not mistreat anyone. If you write a program and use it privately, that does no wrong to others. (You do miss an opportunity to do good, but that's not the same as doing wrong.) Thus, when we say all software must be free, we mean that every copy must come with the four freedoms, but we don't mean that someone has an obligation to offer you a copy.

Primary And Secondary Injustices

When you use proprietary programs or SaaSS, first of all you do wrong to yourself, because it gives some entity unjust power over you. For your own sake, you should escape. It also wrongs others if you make a promise not to share. It is evil to keep such a promise, and a lesser evil to break it; to be truly upright, you should not make the promise at all.

There are cases where using nonfree software puts pressure directly on others to do likewise. Skype is a clear example: when one person uses the nonfree Skype client software, it requires another person to use that software too—thus both surrender their freedom. (Google Hangouts have the same problem.) It is wrong even to suggest using such programs. We should refuse to use them even briefly, even on someone else's computer.

Another harm of using nonfree programs and SaaSS is that it rewards the perpetrator, encouraging further development of that program or “service”, leading in turn to even more people falling under the company's thumb.

All the forms of indirect harm are magnified when the user is a public entity or a school.


There are a lot of other articles by Stallman discussing other aspects.

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Re: Free software & money

Postby sadko4u » Sat Oct 29, 2016 4:00 pm

Oh, damn, I'm tired, i'll better go play some music stuff or write another useful audio plugin for Linux.
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Re: Free software & money

Postby sysrqer » Sat Oct 29, 2016 4:37 pm

FaTony wrote:https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html
The Injustice of Proprietariness
<snip>


There are a lot of other articles by Stallman discussing other aspects.


It would be nice of you could explain in your own words instead of copy pasting. But, to play devil's advocate, the response you posted really only gives examples of when proprietary software has been bad, it doesn't actually answer why proprietary software is an injustice. There have recently been quite a few serious security flaws found in the linux world which have been lurking there for years (or decades). By the reasoning of using particular bad examples of proprietary software one could say that free software is insecure. Obviously this is false and not a good argument but so is listing examples of particularly bad proprietary software and saying all proprietary software is an injustice.

Let me be clear, I actually agree with your position and am not defending the likes of skype.

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Re: Free software & money

Postby rghvdberg » Sat Oct 29, 2016 6:29 pm

Forgot to say that I appreciate you opened a thread for this discussion instead of commenting on every other post. Kudos to you.

Just some random thoughts.

The spying thing is bad, no doubt about it. Don't care to much about it though.

How is software different from other stuff I buy?

I spent an enormous amount of money and time to learn music. Now I teach music and play it. I'm not giving that away for free either. Got 3 kids to take care of..

Also saying that people can't use some software is denying their freedom.

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Re: Free software & money

Postby Lyberta » Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:46 pm

rghvdberg wrote:How is software different from other stuff I buy?


Well, there are 2 categories of things. Physical stuff and digital stuff. I have no problem with physical things because it is hard to produce each copy so it is fair to sell it for money. Digital things are hard to develop but extremely easy to copy. Therefore, the development must be funded and distribution should not be prohibited. Free software as well as free cultural works give the right to use, study, distribute and modify. People should be free to build on top of other works because there are zero natural laws that prohibit it.

OTOH there are patents. Patents are pure evil and should be completely abolished.

rghvdberg wrote:I spent an enormous amount of money and time to learn music. Now I teach music and play it. I'm not giving that away for free either. Got 3 kids to take care of..


I've spent no money at all to learn. Just searched the web and read Wikipedia. That's enough to get most of the stuff. Now teaching music is providing service. You can't easily copy or distribute service. Therefore I have no problem with selling service. But if there is some digital product and it will be distributed, it must be free (as in freedom).

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Re: Free software & money

Postby sysrqer » Sun Oct 30, 2016 3:04 pm

FaTony wrote:...it is hard to produce each copy so it is fair to sell it for money. Digital things are hard to develop but extremely easy to copy. Therefore, the development must be funded and distribution should not be prohibited.

This doesn't make sense, the 'therefore' doesn't follow from the premise you gave. Why must distribution not be prohibited? Just because it is easy to copy?

FaTony wrote:Patents are pure evil and should be completely abolished.

Why? If you want to convert people you need to give reasons, not just dictate what is right or wrong.

FaTony wrote:Now teaching music is providing service. You can't easily copy or distribute service.
...But if there is some digital product and it will be distributed, it must be free (as in freedom).


This can quite easily be copied and distributed. If I am video conferencing, or lecturing, or providing written/printed works, then that can be made in to a digital copy (or perhaps is already in digital form). Now, from your logic that should be distributed freely because is it digital and easy to copy. How do I protect my career in this case? Do I have no right to?

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Re: Free software & money

Postby sadko4u » Sun Oct 30, 2016 6:10 pm

FaTony wrote:I've spent no money at all to learn. Just searched the web and read Wikipedia. That's enough to get most of the stuff. Now teaching music is providing service. You can't easily copy or distribute service. Therefore I have no problem with selling service. But if there is some digital product and it will be distributed, it must be free (as in freedom).

So... Writing software is not service now? Wow. So, If I complete writing the software and found an audience that uses it, I shall immediately distribute it free? Are you serious? Please don't complain about selling the license keys for 'copying bytes' and asking money for the working product. These two ways are commertial but completely different.
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Re: Free software & money

Postby CrocoDuck » Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:17 pm

Hi there, my 2 cents here. Not a developer really (trying to start learning the basics...)

I think that the biggest ethical problem of proprietary licensed software is that often the licence works in a way that makes the product "not yours". Usually, with the physical objects we buy we detain much more consumer rights. I loose my warranty on my fridge if it damages as direct consequence of me not following specifications and manuals. When thinking about software the license is usually kinda more restrictive. For example, there are programs that are not allowed to be installed on any computer I own, but just on one. As I am the owner of the software I bought, I would like to do with it what I want, not what the developer actually requires. In fact, software licenses are pretty clear on that usually and declare the developer as owner. So, am I renting it? It's like buying a car and be forced, by contract, to be able to park only in a specified spot or be able to wash it only at Corporate affiliated facilities. Imagine if car manufactures allowed themselves to specify who can repair it, which roads we can drive in... and designed themselves as actual owners.

Now, don't get me wrong: if you agree with a license and you think its fair I have nothing against you buying the licensed product. It's the free choice of a thinking adult human being (actually, I use some piece of proprietary software). Still, I think that many commercial software licenses do not make the products I buy "mine", and from my -personal- point of view they are kinda evil: I want to become the owner of something as soon as I buy it.

In nuts: I am not strictly against proprietary licensing, but I want it to be a good deal for the money, which usually means granting some substantial rights to me. This does not happen too often. For example, I will never buy mathworks or comsol products (I used those only with the University provided licenses). Of course, libre stuff wins over proprietary as it grants all the rights I want for 0 money... but not always I can find the specific thing I search in the libre sphere. I can be happy with a large enough set of priority rights with my software, which is why I don't only use libre but also open source.

I can then accept commercial (or not libre) licensing if it makes sense, but I like patents way less. The reason is that they are legally binding documents with which one takes the commercial prerogative over something. Now, at first sight it is OK: it makes you able to use your intellectual property while being protected. However, there are few things that backfire:

  • It makes possible for companies to establish legally protected monopolies, which is not right nor good for economy
  • It significantly slows down science and technology development, which is fed by the free circulation of discoveries and independent validation of results
  • It is used by influential corporation to compete on the plane of legality instead of innovation and quality, see Apple VS anyone else

In particular, the last point is pretty bad in my opinion. Influential corporation can use their lawyers army to sue anybody that lawfully attempts to implement similar technologies to ensure they maintain monopoly of the market, using the fact that the technology implemented by competitors is so similar to their proprietary one. Also, it happens that to circumvent patents some designs are released by competitors with alterations that significantly decrease performances. This clearly is not improving the market nor technology and science. I know it is a strong thing to say, but I do believe as well that patents should be abolished and substituted with some other kind of safety mechanism for intellectual property, which allows at the same time circulation of the underlying principles and technology.
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Re: Free software & money

Postby tramp » Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:05 am

CrocoDuck wrote:It significantly slows down science and technology development, which is fed by the free circulation of discoveries and independent validation of results


This is the most important part, I think. And this is as well the reason why today's Linux Kernel developers get paid for there work.
Companies like Intel, Red Hat, Linaro, Samsung, SUSE, IBM, Renesas, Google, AMD, Texas Instruments, . . started to understand the benefit of open source development, so they pay together 80% of the kernel development. All together there are 7,7% of the last kernel development cycle (3.19 - 4.7) which wasn't paid.
Those companies have no problem with, that we, the Linux Community, benefit from what they have paid. It simply didn't harm there own usage/business.
Making a business with open source, still is a hard to archive when you are not a big player, but, in turn that is as well true for making a business with close source apps.
And most of the binary Music apps coming from the close side, are still for free, so it isn't the money which counts here.
So what counts? My guess is, it is to hide knowledge, and that is, well, decide yourself how you find it, . . .
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Re: Free software & money

Postby Lyberta » Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:48 pm

sysrqer wrote:This doesn't make sense, the 'therefore' doesn't follow from the premise you gave. Why must distribution not be prohibited? Just because it is easy to copy?


Exactly. No matter what human laws you invent, the majority will still go to any torrent site and download unauthorized copies without asking your permission.

sysqer wrote:
FaTony wrote:Patents are pure evil and should be completely abolished.

Why? If you want to convert people you need to give reasons, not just dictate what is right or wrong.


Patents are monopoly. Any monopoly is bad because it contributes to high prices. People die every day by not having money to buy overpriced drugs. The 15 day package of a single pill I'm taking is 129$ that is 258$/month. It is only 1 single drug out of several that I need. I earn 250$/month. Had I not been able to get it for free, I would die already.

sysqer wrote:
FaTony wrote:Now teaching music is providing service. You can't easily copy or distribute service.
...But if there is some digital product and it will be distributed, it must be free (as in freedom).


This can quite easily be copied and distributed. If I am video conferencing, or lecturing, or providing written/printed works, then that can be made in to a digital copy (or perhaps is already in digital form). Now, from your logic that should be distributed freely because is it digital and easy to copy. How do I protect my career in this case? Do I have no right to?


Go to patreon or any crowdfund site and if your stuff is good enough, you will get good money.

CrocoDuck wrote:I think that the biggest ethical problem of proprietary licensed software is that often the licence works in a way that makes the product "not yours". Usually, with the physical objects we buy we detain much more consumer rights. I loose my warranty on my fridge if it damages as direct consequence of me not following specifications and manuals. When thinking about software the license is usually kinda more restrictive. For example, there are programs that are not allowed to be installed on any computer I own, but just on one. As I am the owner of the software I bought, I would like to do with it what I want, not what the developer actually requires. In fact, software licenses are pretty clear on that usually and declare the developer as owner. So, am I renting it? It's like buying a car and be forced, by contract, to be able to park only in a specified spot or be able to wash it only at Corporate affiliated facilities. Imagine if car manufactures allowed themselves to specify who can repair it, which roads we can drive in... and designed themselves as actual owners.


The proprietary software never was a user's property. You buy a limited license to use the software under the unjust owner's conditions.

CrocoDuck wrote:It's like buying a car and be forced, by contract, to be able to park only in a specified spot or be able to wash it only at Corporate affiliated facilities.


It is already happening. Cars are full of proprietary software and spy on you and you have no rights. They put DRM everywhere and under DMCA you wouldn't be able to repair it in unauthorized centers.

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Re: Free software & money

Postby ssj71 » Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:18 pm

Call me a fence sitter but I see both sides of the coin here.

sysrqer wrote:But, to play devil's advocate, the response you posted really only gives examples of when proprietary software has been bad, it doesn't actually answer why proprietary software is an injustice.


I think it actually did answer it. The point is the power is still in the hands of the IP owner (developer or company selling proprietary software). They could use it for good or evil or just not use it, but they have the power over the user. The real point of debate IMO is whether its evil to allow someone to have power over your computing.

FaTony wrote:Digital things are hard to develop but extremely easy to copy. Therefore, the development must be funded and distribution should not be prohibited.

sysrqer wrote:This doesn't make sense, the 'therefore' doesn't follow from the premise you gave. Why must distribution not be prohibited? Just because it is easy to copy?

FaTony wrote:I have no problem with selling service. But if there is some digital product and it will be distributed, it must be free

sadko4u wrote:So... Writing software is not service now? Wow.

I think you both missed the point of his argument (or I am). The point is that service and hard goods are not easily reproducible. Even youtube tutorials are not as good as a private lesson from a capable teacher. Therefore there are natural properties that keep the intrisic value of these products and you can make a living selling them. Digital goods have no such natural properties or laws that prevent distribution. He's not saying that devs shouldn't get paid, but his argument is that they need to make money from the development of the program, not from the selling of it (through proprietary means) because that is exploiting the user, taking away their freedom of computing.

The real world problem I always run into when considering this argument is HOW?!?
I love freedom of computing. But part of my work is developing software and I really don't see how you can make libre software financially sustainable. So I'm on the fence. If developers are generous/rich enough to give their software out for free: wahoo! If not, I really hold nothing against them.

Now for large companies, I think many really are holding too many rights, abusing the power they have over the user. So the best thing I can think of is to create awareness of what user's rights are with the software they actually use, how limited it is. Unfortunately when its easy to copy/crack warez and all that and most people have been using software with such license for as long as they've had a computer, it will be hard because most won't care.

Its not the situation as I'd like it, but thats about how I see it.
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Re: Free software & money

Postby CrocoDuck » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:23 pm

ssj71 wrote:I think you both missed the point of his argument (or I am). The point is that service and hard goods are not easily reproducible. Even youtube tutorials are not as good as a private lesson from a capable teacher. Therefore there are natural properties that keep the intrisic value of these products and you can make a living selling them. Digital goods have no such natural properties or laws that prevent distribution. He's not saying that devs shouldn't get paid, but his argument is that they need to make money from the development of the program, not from the selling of it (through proprietary means) because that is exploiting the user, taking away their freedom of computing.


Uhm... I don't think this point about "ease of copying" is actually very relevant. Especially when formulated in this way:

FaTony wrote:No matter what human laws you invent, the majority will still go to any torrent site and download unauthorized copies without asking your permission.


We are committed to open source and libre software because the principles behind it, which involve rights, law, legality, ethics and science. Suppose that for some whatever reason digital goods were extremely hard to copy. Then we wouldn't have good reasons to develop, use and contribute to libre and open source? We would still have all the good reason we always had, many of which we already listed.

Think of Science. In many regards, open source and lbre software development are a sort of application of scientific methods and paradigms to software development. Is it easy to "copy" a particle physics experiment? You cannot really build CERN into your backyard. Still, all Scientific results should be published and accessible. They must be disseminated so that validation can follow and knowledge can be built upon the results. And it is simply not right to put a brake on knowledge by limiting dissemination, or by putting few people in power to detain knowledge. Here I found an example of material that it is extremely hard to copy: it requires you to understand extremely complex theory and be able to put together extremely complex experiments. Still, it is not enough to justify closure of the "license".

Going libre / open source is a choice of principles: wether people will resort or not to steal is not a reason to embrace libre / open source. I mean, not the strongest and more motivated one: should really libre / open source exist because people use torrent? Should we really be driven by what the majority of people do instead of think for ourselves and do what we think is right? Especially when people are, at the end, committing an offence?

I see better what FaTony was meaning thank to ssj71, I think. However, when something it is written that way, it -sounds- like that, instead of having deep reasons to embrace a community, libre / open source lovers are just a bunch of people that want free-as-in-beer stuff and will resort to steal if they have none. I -know- that FaTony does not mean to say that. Just pointing out the effect it makes at first sight.
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Re: Free software & money

Postby ssj71 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 4:14 pm

CrocoDuck wrote:We are committed to open source and libre software because the principles behind it, which involve rights, law, legality, ethics and science. Suppose that for some whatever reason digital goods were extremely hard to copy. Then we wouldn't have good reasons to develop, use and contribute to libre and open source? We would still have all the good reason we always had, many of which we already listed.


I just mean to say that I think if this were this the case, we wouldn't need to talk about it because it would be very easy for anybody to enforce whatever licensing they choose. Companies would probably be much more willing to open source because they could still make revenue from doing the hard part (distribution).

I didn't think he was saying open source enthusiasts use warez. In fact true libre software fans care more about license and legality than any other users. I think its the people who don't care, who just want a free ride and are willing to copy (they don't care at all about licenses) are the biggest reason why this is such a big issue. Companies research more and more strict DRM and dongles and methods to protect their IP from them, and FLOSS software becomes even more and more important to protect the users from these practicies, yet become more and more difficult to fund.
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