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Re: lynx-dev Licensing Lynx: Summary

From: Gene Collins
Subject: Re: lynx-dev Licensing Lynx: Summary
Date: Tue, 05 Oct 1999 16:58:30 -0400

Well, lots of sighted folks struggle with accesssing the net as well. 
Blind folks just have to be a bit more picky about what screen reader
and other software they put together for their systems.  The point is
that if the screen reading software and operating system are well enough
integrated, then it won't matter what browser, word processor,
spreadsheet the blind person is running, they'll have access to it.

There used to be a few specially written programs for blind folks using
the Apple II.e.  When the IBM pc came along and general system wide
speech access became available, the special programs for blind folks
dried up.  Why?  Because we were suddenly able to use standard off the
shelf software that everyone else was using, which opened up employment
opertunities, and made getting tech support a whole lot easier.  What
I'm saying is that the point of accessibility should be at the system
level, not at the application level.

Your attempt to license the Lynx software is honorable, and please
except my appology if I seemed to imply that it wasn't.  It's your
concept of what you think blind people need that I have an argument
with, not your intentions to be helpful.

As for your assertions about the quality of gnu software, I'll just say
that I've found it to be every bit as good and even better than some
commercial software on the market from a very large developer.  That's
one of the reasons you were interested in licensing Lynx in the first
place, it's quality, right?  And as for some other company copying Lynx
and using it without regard to the gnu license, that would be just as
much an act of piracy as an individual unlawfully acquiring commercial

My appologies to folks on the list if this discussion has strayed a bit
from the topic of Lynx support and development, but there are some
points here that I felt needed to be responded to.  If you read my
friend Sandi Ryans post, I think you'll conclude that there are others
who are much more emotional about the issue than I am.

Gene Collins

>At 02:39 PM 10/5/99 -0400, Gene Collins wrote:
>>Brett, in plain unvarnished language, you are full of it.  Lynx has been
>>under the gnu license for a long time, and I as a totally blind person
>>have been using lynx for just about as long.
>Good for you. I'm trying to get other blind people ON the Net, and they
>don't find it to be optimal -- or even practical. They get quite
>discouraged, and I can understand why.
>>I've found the developers
>>of lynx to be more than responsive to my needs as a blind person.  For
>>you to expect that others who have written software and put it under the
>>gnu license to just hand it over to you for whatever kind of a fee is
>>totally irresponsible.
>No; it's absolutely responsible. Certain large companies I might name
>would just have copied it. We were actually offering programmers money
>for their efforts. Horrors! What a concept!
>>What blind folks really need is general access
>>to operating systems, and the wide variety of software they run.  Other
>>vendors have for the most part solved those problems.
>Poorly, IMHO. I've watched users struggle.
>>   There may be a
>>few blind folks out there who would make use of a special browser for
>>blind people, but probably not as many as you seem to think.  If you
>>don't believe me, go talk to the folks who wrote webspeak.
>So, fine. If we don't do a good enough job, we'll fail. What skin is it
>off your back? Whether we succeeded or failed, it would not hurt you --
>or Lynx -- or anyone else one bit. So, the only reason to withhold the
>code is spite.
>>The last
>>thing blind folks need is one more programmer or group of programmers
>>who think they are going to balance their check books on the backs  of
>>blind folks.
>You apparently have bought into Richard Stallman's delusion that anyone
>who programs for money expects to (or will) get rich. Well, I have
>news for you: NO ONE is making much money off of accessibility software.
>We'd merely like to be able to keep the gas turned on, thank you very much.
>>In short, the gnu license is a reality, and you'll just have to live
>>with it, or not.  Complaining about it on this list, or other lists
>>related to gnu software probably won't generate much sympathy for your
>Perhaps when good software does NOT appear, people will wonder why. And
>the answer will be that nobody fed the programmer.
>>   If you are looking for something to develope and get paid for,
>>I'd suggest you do a little market research on your ideas, and then find
>>some venture capital to back you.  If they won't, then that's the way
>>the world turns.
>They won't -- and for good reason. No money there. You should be grateful
>that we'd even try.
>--Brett Glass

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