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

From: Tim X
Subject: [OT] Re: realplay.el interface with Real Player v. 1879
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 19:18:18 +1000
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.1.50 (gnu/linux)

David Hansen <address@hidden> writes:

> Free software somehow has to interact with the "real world", which -
> sadly - is dominated by proprietary software and file formats.  A lot of
> people switched to free software after free office software became
> reliable in reading M$ office files.  I think the case with mplayer is
> similar.  No one forces you to use the binary only codecs, mplayer
> already does a pretty good job w/o them (except for listening to BBC
> radio but hopefully the BBC comes to its sense...).
> And when it comes to patents or restriction circumventions:  the legal
> status is different from country to country.   I don't think this makes
> mplayer "non free", it's the laws in some countries which restrict the
> freedom here.

While I can appreciate what your saying, I think you may be missing some of the
subtlety of Richard's point. Its not sufficient to protect our freedoms to just
switch to using free software unless that software is really free and actively
protects our freedom. While mplay itself may be free, the fact it supports
non-free codecs encourages the continued support of those codecs or at the very
least reduces any potential pressure that might exist to convince content
produces to use free rather than proprietary codecs. 

The difference between Richard's and your perspective is that your approach is
possibly focusing more on the usability issues and allowing users to benefit
from a free platform while still being able to access proprietary content as
easily as users of closed proprietary systems. I think Richard's perspective
would be that this has the danger of giving up some of our freedoms without
really realising what we may be sacrificing in the long term for a short term
gain (i.e. access to the proprietary content). Richar's perspective is likely
that if you believe your freedom is important enough, you will sacrifice short
term access to the content in favor of protecting your long-term freedom.
Furthermore, he is likely to argue that most people aren't really aware of the
value/importance of such freedoms until they have been lost and once lost, are
very difficult to get back. 

I think Richard's point is very important and completely missed by some groups.
for example, some GNU Linux distributions and some free software have made it 
easy to obtain, install and use proprietary codecs. this is often justified by
arguing that it makes GNU Linux more accessible and popular. However, this
totally overlooks the potential danger this has in weakening our freedoms. If
it is as easy to use proprietary codecs as truely free ones, then there is
little encouragement for producers to change to free alternatives. 

I guess the basic difference in perspectives depends largely on your values and
to what extent you are prepared to sacrifice material satisfaction for
moral/ethical values. 



P.S. I also don't think you can claim FSF supports the use of non-free codecs
because EMMS is under the GPL. As far as I'm aware EMMS is not an official GNU
project and therefore is not officially supported by the FSF. Software released
under the GPL doesn't also mean it is supported by or in any way approved by
the FSF.
tcross (at) rapttech dot com dot au

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