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[libreplanet-discuss] My First of Five

From: Julien Kyou
Subject: [libreplanet-discuss] My First of Five
Date: Tue, 05 Apr 2016 06:49:33 -0400
User-agent: K-9 Mail for Android

I need some help. I've managed to get this guy to at least do some of his own research into Free-Software, but he is a Proprietary Sympathiser. It's really hard to understand>relate>address his issues/concerns.

On April 4, 2016 , Julien Kyou <> wrote:
>A Short time after that discussion I learned that the FSF doesn't
>support Free-Culture, I do. Its about perspective really. The FSF is
>about *Freedom of Use*, Free-Culture is about *Freedom of _expression_*,
>I get that we are different people and as such receive the world
>differently, but Facts are Facts and should not be ignored.
>Governments and Corporations are Spying on us[1][2][3][4][5][6] I can
>and probably will get more (not Microsoft) proof but I think 6
>citations is enough for a decent case.
>Companies are using DRM to lock us in to our devices. This is not the
>intended purpose, though neither do/should we like that much more as it
>denies all four of the essential software freedoms (I will cite them
>later). The Copyright Office has finally started to listen to us and
>become aware that DRM is corrupt, though they still have not arrived at
>the appropriate solution[7][8] I just learn of this on the 3rd but
>still please sign.
>What are these freedoms and why are they so important[9][10]. I'd like
>to say more but I really want to get that petition to you while its
>still somewhat relevant.

I'm not against any of this free software, but I'm not convinced it's the only way, or even the ideal way. As I said earlier, I'm glad it exists - alternatives are the very thing that will keep proprietary software non-ridiculous - but a lot of the negatives listed in those articles are:

-Dictated by the US government. If all of a sudden everyone ditched Windows, you can be sure they'd try to impose their spying on Linux too, trying to take down any sites that do not comply. (I'm reading the transcript of the Ted Talk and it definitely looks concerning, but I still blame the US, not proprietary software.)

-Not nearly as bad as they claim. FSF seems to be very biased, using arguments against Windows 10 I've heard before and found (through experience) to be false or simply overstated.

-A company just trying to make profit.

Freedom is great, but there is always a cost. You cannot have all the freedom you want because at some point that will infringe on someone else's freedom. Even the freedom to not be spied on infringes on the government's ability to keep people from dying from terrorist attacks. (Though it looks like the Ted Talk covers this and explains the spying is not stopping any terrorism, at least in this instance. I remain doubtful that you can have high security without some internal spying, but I agree wholeheartedly that the current implementation should be stopped/shut-down/reversed/disbanded.) Thus, when they say "Freedom means having control over your own life.", I do not agree - no one has complete control over their own life. To have complete control over your own life is to be able to subject others to your own will. I know this is not what they want (or you want), but that would be the "maximum freedom" for one person. (Obviously it is better to maximize the freedom of all people, which means respecting each other.)

Anyway, if I make a game as an entrepreneur, all these ideologies say I have to do it as a hobby, not a career, since there's no way I would be able to sell it [explained below]. I find this unacceptable. These ideologies might work amazingly well in a different economic system, but not in the current one (note: I'm not saying they don't work at all, I'm just saying they aren't "amazing").

Explanation: How would I make money off of a game?

-I could try to sell it normally and ask everyone for a set price. But, since it's free, I have to have the source code somewhere the public can improve it. So, no one buys it, they just recompile it from the source code.

--Actually, I don't see how we're allowed to sell it at all. If the public has a right to the source code running on their computer (for free), then they also have a right to the executable file (FSF argues these are equivalent, just that the executable cannot reasonably be understood or modified by humans). If I sold the source code for a million dollars (arguing that after the first purchase, that person could upload it so everyone else could use it for free), you wouldn't call that free software, would you? So why in the world am I allowed to do it for an executable file?

--Worse, "In order for freedoms 1 and 3 (the freedom to make changes and the freedom to publish the changed versions) to be meaningful, you must have access to the source code of the program. Therefore, accessibility of source code is a necessary condition for free software. Obfuscated “source code” is not real source code and does not count as source code." ( ) proves that you must also provide all resources required to play the game. Did you have to hire some artwork done? Too bad, no one has to reimburse you for it.

There are only a few methods of money making I've heard of, employed by companies or individuals creating free software:

-Advertising. I suppose you have to make sure not to use Google's advertising system, since that would be "unethical" according to FSF. I don't know how much this limits the effectiveness of advertising. How is advertising legal in FSF, anyway? Don't users have the right to turn off all advertising? If not, they have the right to use or make software that forbids advertisements from coming in, right? There's no way around this (that I can see).

-Hiring yourself out to other companies that want product improvements. (I find it interesting that this works, whereas selling yourself to individuals would never work. If your product became popular amongst dozens of companies, I imagine you'd find yourself in the same problem. Why hire you for a feature when it will probably get done by someone else? Worse, why spend money that will help your competitors?) The system is set up so that investing in this "free software" company is undesirable!

-Charging for support. This is an interesting one, since with proprietary software support is usually free (since you've typically already bought it or otherwise given them money). Ironically, this encourages free software developers to intentionally add bugs so that they can charge for more support. (ex, Skyrim was very popular despite having many bugs because the rest of the program was so cool. I imagine the principle would be the same for other software, too.) Obviously you would still want the program functional, but what about putting in a feature that breaks after the user's used the software for a while? Make it sneaky so that it looks like an honest mistake! Sure, you'd have the ability to fix it yourself, but if you could do that, you'd not need support. So what if someone else finds these bugs and fixes them? Sure, they'd have the right to distribute this software for free, but you wouldn't have to accept that fixed version into your code base. Thus, the company could still insist on distributing the bugged version, requiring clients to pay for support to maintain its functionality. I imagine the company could get away with a number of tactics in this line:

--Fix the bug with bugged code

--Fix the effects of the bug, but don't fix the bug for a while

--Charge by the hour and pretend that it's taking a long time to find the bug, even if you knew where it was all along

It's possible that other companies might compete with you for the role of support. This minimizes the effects of the above problem (since another company could effectively take over your project if you got too much bad press), but also proves that just because you made the software doesn't mean you can get any money from it -- a bigger company might come along and usurp the "support" role right from under you.

-Finally, there is the crowd-funding and donation methods. Both suffer from what is sort of the "Tragedy of the commons" -- it is not usually in one's self interest to fund something if you're going to get it for free later if you simply don't pay now. Crowd-funding can offer individuals fame/customization as a reason to pay (ex, Undertale put a couple characters in from individuals who donated $500 or more), and it's true that wikipedia has survived off of donations alone. I would argue that donations are the only way that free software could work.

One might argue that, with pirating so readily available, a person is donating money when they purchase the game anyway. This isn't completely true -- many people consider pirating to be immoral (especially if they like the game/software, they are more likely to pay for it even if they've already pirated it)

"[...what is/are the advantage(s) of free software?] Life without freedom is oppression, and that applies to computing as well as every other activity in our lives."

This isn't really an answer, in my opinion. I've already discussed that there is no such thing as "ultimate freedom". There is a difference between having rules and having oppression.

I find their quote after "Instead, each class should have this rule:" very interesting. It sounds like what scientists need to do (and, so I just read, apparently are hesitant to do). Both fame and fortune can be stolen away when you use their plan.

In general, I find much of the FSF's goals to be unreasonable. If we lived in a world without money, I would wholeheartedly agree with their approach (though stealing fame would still be an issue). Alright, if we lived in a world where no-one was selfish, I would wholeheartedly agree with their approach. Until then, it seems as hopelessly optimistic as the original idea of communism, which thought that humans might some day work together without money.

Therefore, I do not consider it unethical to use proprietary software - though it is not ideal, at least people get paid for their work.



Forgot to address a few things:

-FSF was suggesting that a central server that runs a program for you is a bad idea. Although their point is good (that it is dangerous to have this), it nonetheless has its advantages:

--Multiplayer games could not run without this happening

--Secure databases that must be protected from tampering (ex bank accounts, multiplayer games, cloud storage) could not work without this happening

--It is a lot less bandwidth, user time and effort to send a few bytes of data to a computer and have it run the code vs sending a request for it to send KB or MB of data that makes up the program, then download dependencies, install the program, run it, then go to the trouble of uninstalling it after you're done with it.

I would not sign the DRM thing even if it was active without more convincing (it sounds like the deadline is March 2 and we're in April). I do not see how DRM locks you out of your device, nor locks you into your device in any special way (other than being unable to copy stuff you aren't supposed to copy). Forcing DRM out of the system without fixing the system is implicitly allowing piracy, which isn't healthy. Many things we get for free require DRM (ex loaning library books or movies; you can do this online, but only with DRM), or else they wouldn't be offered in the first place.

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