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Re: [OT] Re: realplay.el interface with Real Player v. 1879

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Re: [OT] Re: realplay.el interface with Real Player v. 1879
Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2007 00:51:56 -0400

    yes, i realise that. the question in the end is what is the best
    strategy. making some compromises along the way to enhance the
    spread of one's ideas, or sticking strictly to one's ideals, even if that
    means that your message won't be heard by as many people.

It is sensible to make compromises to enhance the spread of our ideas.
The issue here is about other compromises that distort the ideas

Our message is that non-free software is unjust and illegitimate.  But
our actions speak too.  If we treat non-free software as legitimate,
that becomes a part of our message.  Then it isn't the right message
any more.

Consider for instance "open source", started in 1998 as a way of
talking about free software while not aiming ethical criticism at
non-free software.  Some of the people who started open source sought
to bring the free software message to more people, by presenting it in
a different way.  Their manner of presentation was to take the easier
course, not confronting the central ethical issue.  They made the
usual arguments that "to change the world, you have to be big."  They
thought they could present the same issue to more people using their

Their actions did bring a message to a lot more people, but it wasn't
the free software movement's message.  It had changed into a message
of "it's ok for you to use any non-free software if you want to."
What they considered a mere change in presentation of the message had
gutted its heart and soul.

In a world where proprietary software is widely used, it is easy to
drift into treating it as normal and legitimate.  In many situations,
that is the easiest way out.  But it is also disastrous, because it
would enfeeble our message to the point were it becomes useless.  We
have to put limits on this, and I've chosen GNU Project policies to do

I am not sure if these limits are in the right place.  I sometimes
worry that they are too permissive, and that our message is already
weakened by our support for widely used non-free operating systems.
However, we are at least trying to confront this problem.  We will
not neglect it, because we know what that leads to.

There is another reason to be skeptical of your advice: you disagree
with the message you are trying to help us present.  I am sure you are
sincere in trying to think about it from our point of view, but your
real views will have an effect.

You're not the first person to have offered that advice.  I've
probably heard it dozens of times.  And often it seems to come
from people that don't really want what we are aiming for.

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