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"Don't talk about Microsoft" is a meme some people would gladly adopt for it is true that many in the Free Software community often appear obsessed with what Microsoft does and how could that be a part of a plan to hurt Free Software and GNU/Linux specifically. However, there are certain facts that can't be validly denied; Microsoft has a reputation of being quite a devious "competitor", if we can even fairly attribute such a noble term to them. They simply shown that they will use every trick in the book, regardless even of legality or ethics, to stay on the top.
Since I wasn't yet as clear as I'd like to be on what can we consider to be free (as in freedom) among works which are not software and not functional and wasn't yet sure what exactly was Richard Stallman's view on this issue I decided to ask him directly. Here is the resulting email conversation.
My original message:
Danijel Orsolic wrote:
I must admit I tend to be in a state of confusion about what are minimal freedoms that we should expect for works of art and other non-practical non-software works. In an interview I once watched you stated something that the absolute minimum should be to allow for non-commercial use and distribution of the work, yet people on the FreedomDefined.org seem to have come up with a definition which would exclude works licensed for use only in a non-commercial way as "free". Their definition seems to mostly be a conversion of four freedoms for software for cultural works.
It's the big problem of the net: how do you make money if everyone can access the files you produce for free?
Earning money is not evil, it makes it possible to produce more art or information. It's a waste of talent to need a day job to support what you consider your real work.
It is not enough to have Richard Stallman travel around the world endlessly giving standard Free Software speeches among other things repeating how Open Source is not the same thing as Free Software and how the operating system widely known as "Linux" is actually "GNU/Linux" (because GNU project in fact started that OS). It is not even enough to have Free Software supporters constantly keep pointing these things out and arguing why they believe so.
Due to the increased diffusion of "Open Source" as a term this article suggests its gradual phase out in favor of the original "Free Software" term and renaming of the "Open Source Initiative" into "Free Software Business Initiative" (no matter how controversial the proposal may be).
There are three ways we could look at Microsoft's recent approaches to the "Open Source" phenomenon.
- 1. They are in a process towards genuinely embracing Free Software or Open Source.