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Proprietary Text Editor: some free software humour

category: general [glöplog]
what exactly is unethical? mind, things cannot be unethical, only actions. as such, is it:

- using proprietary software
- making proprietary software
- giving away proprietary software
- selling proprietary software

and can you support it using some form of applied ethics?

(btw nearly all demos are proprietary, what the hell are you doing here?)
added on the 2009-04-06 13:14:11 by skrebbel skrebbel
just one comment, to sum up all discussion: Jeskola Buzz Machine. (and what happened to the source code).
added on the 2009-04-06 13:15:31 by bizun_ bizun_
skrebbel: I posted a link back there, did you read it? I am not retelling it here, because Stallman wrote it very well and in very understandable language.

As for demos, they are not exactly software. Like music is not exactly software, though it does have a source file. I believe that demos can be proprietary in a sense that if people don't open the source code it is ok.

As for what is unethical, please do refer to that link - at the very end of page 4. It is tiring to repeat all the arguments over and over again ;)
As for demos, they are not exactly software.

... *sigh*, you might want to get your facts rinsed a little.

I believe that demos can be proprietary in a sense that if people don't open the source code it is ok.

The thing you're doing now is called double-standards.
added on the 2009-04-06 14:51:42 by decipher decipher
Decipher: no, I don't think so. The standards for free software are clear. Software needs to be free when we are speaking about tools. Demos are not tools, by the most part. Users simply watch them, they don't use them. It is an important and principal difference.
skrebbel: I posted a link back there, did you read it?

yes, and if that's applied ethics then i'm your grandma. i'd still like you to answer my question - what exactly do you consider unethical? using, making, giving away or selling proprietary software? stallman does not clearly answer that either.

i, personally, make proprietary software any time. for example yesterday, when i wrote a 3 line batch file to fire up dune 2 in dosbox. i do not intend to spread that batch file, or to show people the source, simply because i'm sure nobody gives a damn. am i now evil? nigga pleaz!
added on the 2009-04-06 15:02:07 by skrebbel skrebbel
oh, and there is no "page 4" on that URL you posted. you're doing this on purpose, aren't you?
added on the 2009-04-06 15:04:01 by skrebbel skrebbel
ah, never mind, you meant of this thread. i do not see the answer there though, you just say that proprietary software is unethical. which is sort of like saying that refridgerators are unethical, or snails.
added on the 2009-04-06 15:06:56 by skrebbel skrebbel
well they are
it is incorrect to look at it that way. you are not evil. most evilness comes from prosecuting people who share and from end user licenses which prohibit you to share with your friend. That creates a society where people sign up to not share anything with each other. The only reason why it seems like not a special problem is that 1. copyright laws do not work in many countries and people still copy 2. the problem is long term, when law tells people not to share things and that derivative work is illegal, people's thinking changes - slowly, but changes. Even today many USA people, at least those that I know, are very afraid of even the word mp3. To them it's all soaked in illegality.

so making proprietary software is evil.
using it is not directly evil, but it is indirectly spreading it and making other people use it to communicate with you (like using Word files).

why is making proprietary software evil? because it divides people. it tells them - if you want to use our software, you should sign up that you will not copy it to anyone. in other words, the premise here is this: for us to get more money, you should promise you won't give a copy to your friend so that he will be forced to buy it. If he can't buy it, he will not use our software. Does that sound ethical to you?

As for general and applied ethics - real ethics are always concrete and applied. In the end all the generalizations are incorrect, you have to look into each situation. Stallman's analysis is more than fulfilling. It is based on many general ethical premises many of us share.
Dude, get this: people want to make money by selling software, no one will buy it if they can get it for free. How hard is that to understand?
added on the 2009-04-06 15:21:35 by stijn stijn
If he can't buy it, he will not use our software. Does that sound ethical to you?

What the hell is unethical about that?
added on the 2009-04-06 15:23:06 by stijn stijn
Dude, get this: people want to make money by selling software

added on the 2009-04-06 15:26:53 by decipher decipher
@Louigi Verona: I agree it is good to think carefully about these issues, and not just act like the answer is obvious.

However, I find Stallman's article unconvincing, at least for the moment. He says, of copyright:

"it restricted only the mass producers of copies"

"An ordinary reader, who did not own a printing press, could copy books only with pen and ink, and few readers were sued for that."

I think that the same is largely true of how copyright is enforced with
software. I'm not very knowledgeable, but it seems mostly large file-sharing sites are prosecuted (as in Stallman's "mass producers of copies"). When people give a copy of software to a friend, they can be pretty confident nobody will bother prosecuting them (as in Stallman's "pen and ink").

I don't see how Stallman's argument can be made to work. It is based on the fact that:

"Software differs from material objects—such as chairs, sandwiches, and gasoline—in that it can be copied and changed much more easily."

What about digital versions of _anything_? If I write a book, it can easily be digitized and copied without denying anyone else use, etc. I still think authors (and software developers) are entitled to _market determined_ benefit for their efforts.

I am open to changing my mind of course, perhaps I misunderstand the purpose of copyright a little. For now though, I can't agree with Stallman, even though I _love_ things like gcc and Linux.
added on the 2009-04-06 15:28:37 by pdx pdx
Louigi: you're separating software + real world stuff like it's totally separate. It isn't. Some people make software as a hobby, in their spare time, and give it away for free. Totally fine. Other people make physical stuff, and give it away for free. Great!

But the rest of the world works like this: I make stuff, and sell it. I use the money to buy food, clothing, etc. The people making food and clothing generally don't give it to you for free, so I'm not going to give away whatever I make for free either, whether it's software or apples.

So here's how it works: you buy an apple from me, fine. You want to give it to your friend? Give it to him, sure. But don't give it to him and steal another apple from me for yourself, because if everyone does that, I have no money, and my children starve. No more apples get made, so you starve too. And I visit your house in the night and cut your balls off because you killed my children with your thieving.

And don't give me any bullshit about "derivative work" too - that's MY fucking apple you just covered in chocolate, and you didn't pay for it!

If you think everything should be free software - ok. But keep in mind that if people don't get paid, they produce very little, and it tends to be of lower quality. Progress would be extremely slow, and we'd probably be stuck with software from 20 years ago. And try applying your ideas to the rest of the world - how advanced do you think computers would be without big money spending big money on development and research? We'd probably not even have transistors...
added on the 2009-04-06 15:32:31 by psonice psonice
pdx: I agree that giving a copy to a friend should not be prosecuted. But fact is - that it is. If they only said - use our software, but do not sell it, do not mass market it, etc., it would've been much more ethical, yeah. But the end user license, if you do follow it, tells you that even copying this same software to your second machine is illegal.

Basically, what proprietary software developers are telling us is that: imagine your computer can't copy files. Let's treat software as if it is a material object.

As for your argument and psonice's arguments concerning authors making a living, it is based on an assumption that selling copies is the only way to make a living. But it is not. The amount of ways to make money in a free software world is enormous and is proven to work magnificently. It is just a different economical scheme where distributing copies cannot be a business in itself. There is really nothing utopian here.

As for works of art, Stallman actually does propose a copyright system. He has articles on that same site - different types of work should have different copyright schemes. For works of art there should certainly be a period of time during which an author has an exclusive right to copy his work. In the modern world it can be up to 150 years if the author lives a long life. Stallman proposes 5-10 years after date of publishing.
louigi: go on then, how can I make money from my software without selling it? My customers don't pay for support, and wouldn't (as they don't need it), and wouldn't accept advertising. There's no scope really for selling services to go with it. So I make my software free, and lose say $500 per month.. where does that money come from?

About giving a copy to a friend.. well, I've done this plenty of times too. What I would say is this: If you and your friend are musicians, and you are sharing a music program you will use a lot, then you have just stolen 1 copy of the software from the developer, and taken his money. I don't see that there's any other way of seeing it.

If it's a copy of photoshop, which you know how to use but only use for making a funny pic for pouet, then you wouldn't have bought it anyway. It's still stealing, but it's like stealing something that wasn't used and won't be noticed at least. What you could say though, is that by copying that software, you've not bought some cheap + simple app from some small guy trying to feed his family, so it's still pretty bad.
added on the 2009-04-06 15:55:49 by psonice psonice
Louigi: believing software -needs- anything else but the software itself (as in, the "services" you mention), is silly.

Also, if I can charge for my time as a consultant (as in, providing services to those who got my software), what's the difference about charging my time as a programmer, when making the software?

If I spent 8 hours a day programming some software, which I gave for free (as in beer), and others would go, and charge their time as a consultant for my software, I'd be pretty angry myself :-)
added on the 2009-04-06 18:08:38 by Jcl Jcl
If I spent 8 hours a day programming some software, which I gave for free (as in beer), and others would go, and charge their time as a consultant for my software, I'd be pretty angry myself :-)

Why exactly? If it's a project you're willing to give away for free anyway then why would it bother you what people do with it?

Which brings me to a somewhat related topic: charging money for demos. I know that at least in the Dutch (surprise?) MSX scene it was a common practice to sell demos to other sceners. In addition to that there are some anecdotes of demo source codes that have been sold plus of course the well-known commercial demos made for companies (OS/2 demo by Valhalla, Waite Group (or something) by Future Crew, GUS demo by Triton ...). Why not sell demos, if you've put a lot of effort and time into them? Then there would probably be warez demos - what a thought :)
added on the 2009-04-06 18:17:22 by Marq Marq
Marq: because I specifically said free as in beer, not as in freedom... and noone (unless you live with your parents and get paid for everything) can spend 8 hours a day on a software they are not getting any money from (be it by selling copies, or by giving that consultancy service).

Point being, in the free as in freedom (and not as in beer) world Stallman wants to live at, noone could spend 8 hours a day making software for free (since he would need time to make other stuff that would make some income to -live-), thus, quality would surely suffer (and it does, in real world examples we can see everyday).
added on the 2009-04-06 18:23:45 by Jcl Jcl
why do i repeat myself? i dunno :)
added on the 2009-04-06 18:28:47 by Jcl Jcl
Jcl, it's called Free Market. If you suck at supporting your software, and others don't, they get the money, forcing you to keep a high standard for your clients. If on the other hand you are the only person able to provide support, what is your incentive to provide good support?

If your car is broken, you can go (or at least it used to be this way) to any garage you want to get it fixed. If one garage wanted 10,000€ to fix your windshield, you'd just go to a different one.

Monopolies are always bad for the market. (This is one reason why patents grant you only a time-limited monopoly. In order to encourage you to disclose your invention to the public, you are given a short monopoly - it used to be 14 years in 1790, and in that time, innovation wasn't so fast, so it didn't really hurt many. Patents nowadays are ridicously 20 years... At the current rate of innovation, I believe 2-5 years would be more sane)
added on the 2009-04-06 18:33:20 by Joghurt Joghurt
I know that at least in the Dutch (surprise?) MSX scene

what are you trying to insinuate here?
added on the 2009-04-06 18:33:47 by havoc havoc
BTW, nobody said Free Software has to be free of charge. There are quite a few companies that earn their money writing it.
added on the 2009-04-06 18:35:52 by Joghurt Joghurt
Yeah, but they don't exactly make their money by selling the software itself, usually ;)
added on the 2009-04-06 18:45:01 by stijn stijn


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