[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

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

From: Tim X
Subject: Re: [OT] Re: realplay.el interface with Real Player v. 1879
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2007 19:28:08 +1000
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.1.50 (gnu/linux)

Joost Kremers <address@hidden> writes:

> Tim X wrote:
>> David Hansen <address@hidden> writes:
> [...]
>> While I can appreciate what your saying, I think you may be missing some of 
>> the
>> subtlety of Richard's point.
> and perhaps you're missing some of the subtlety of david's point: if
> mplayer did not support non-free codecs, some (many) people wouldn't even
> consider giving GNU/Linux a try.
> now, even if you should agree with the FSF that all software should be free
> in their sense, i.e. licensed under GPLv3, (a point i personally don't
> subscribe to, btw), you may still argue that the chances of reaching that
> ideal are better when some non-free content and/or software is supported:
> it enhances the spread of GNU/Linux, which it turn makes free software more
> visible, which in turn may convince more people to release their software
> (and entertainment content, etc.) under free licenses. if there had been no
> support for proprietary formats in GNU/Linux, it might well have been that
> so few people would have started to use it that it would never have gained
> the momentum it has now.

No, I'm afraid you totally missed my point. I appreciate what David was saying
and said as much and in fact summarised what I thought was the argument pretty
much exactly as you put it when I wrote about some GNU Linux distros and
software making it easier to use non-free codecs to encourage increased take-up
of GNU Linux. 

I'm not subscribing to any specific school of thought/arguement and in fact had
the exact same perspective as you outlined at one time. However, after reading 
a lot of what
Richard has written and listening to a number of his interviews, I began to
appreciate what he was trying to get across. My response to David was an
attempt to explain this perspective a bit further because I don't think
Richard's point is self evident - there are subtleties here that are easily
overlooked. My personal view is still evolving as I consider the issues and to
some extent, they are quite heavily influenced by what I observe occuring in
the industry, society and on the political and legal fronts. I will admit
though that over the last few years, I'm beginning to lean further and further
towards Richard's perspective. 

The point I think you miss is that bringing people over to a free OS is
pointless if in doing so we sacrifice those freedoms in order to do it. The
objective isn't to make GNU Linux the most popular OS or even increase the size
of its user base - the objective is to protect our freedoms. If we sacrifice
those freedoms for the sake of popularity, then we have possibly won a battle,
but lost the war. If the objective is to foster a social belief in free
software, how is that advanced by facilitating the use of non-free codecs (even
if that does expose more people to free software?).. 

The alternative argument that believes attracting more people to free software,
you increase its exposure and increase the likelihood of creating more demand
for a free software model and content that is based on such a model. However,
this comes at a high cost if you believe that the freedoms the GPL attempts to
protect are what is important. I also suspect that there may be a flaw in this
argument in that it assumes that if enough people support free software through
their use of GNU Linux et. al, content providers will begin to provide content
based on free codecs. I'm not convinced this does actualy follow and
wonder what the incentive would be for content providers to switch anything if
they know that users of free software are still able to access their content. 

A part of the reason for my skepticism is that I don't believe the majority of
GNU Linux and other free software users are doing so because they are concerned
about the potential loss of freedm associated with proprietary closed systems.
I think the vast majority use it because it is free in the sense of free beer.
I regularly see people posting from GPL based software stating they don't
support the GPL or agree with its philosophy, yet they are quite willing to
take advantage of it. I regularly see people moaning that free software is
destroying their livelihood, yet they themselves use it. I often see people
using GNU Linux, gcc and other free software to develop their own applications
which they will not release under a free software license because they want to
sell it and prevent others from possibly using it without paying or using it as
a basis for something they intent to sell etc. These are not people who
understand or appreciate the freedoms the GPL attempts to protect. These are
people who want to pay little, but dream of selling for a lot. Essentially,
these are people who care more about their own individual short term situation
than about the long term outcomes or impact to society over time. 

As I'm not Richard and I'm not an FSF representative, I want to be clear that
this is my interpretation of what Richard's arguement is. While he may feel I'm
misrepresenting his position, its not intentional. I have also heard him state
pretty much all the arguments I have presented here. For example, I have heard
him clearly state that his objective is not to see GNU Linux become more
popular at the cost of freedom. In one interview, I heard him state that he
would prefer to see GNU Linux with a smaller user base if getting a larger user
base meant sacrificing any of the freedoms that the GPL works to protect.  He
further argued that the problem was that most people didn't realise what it was
they were losing or giving up by implicitly supporting non-free software
through making it easier to use such software on GNU Linux.

I suspect that as you don't personally agree with the GNU philosophy you also
likely don't feel the freedoms it attempts to protect are as important or are
at as great a risk as Richard and others believe. I therefore don't expect you
to agree with an argument that emphasises the importance of protecting freedom
over expanding the user base. 



tcross (at) rapttech dot com dot au

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]