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Re: Transcript of RMS's general free software speech

From: Prophet of the Way
Subject: Re: Transcript of RMS's general free software speech
Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2007 17:18:32 +0900
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0.7 (Windows/20050923)

Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:

> It's a transript of a talk Stallman gave on March 3rd 2006 in Croatia where
> he talks about free software, why it's defined the way it is, how the GNU
> project started, why it started the way it did, what problems we face now,
> how we waste our market pressure, about patents, about copyright/DeCSS,
> about how we need to raise awareness for all the coming problems that some
> companies are making for free software, etc.

Thank you, Ciaran, for providing this.

Excerpt from the above speech:

-   Q8:  Shouldn't Free Software be more expensive than proprietary
-   software, since it's more valuable?
-   Richard Stallman:  I don't know what that would mean, sorry.
-   To ask whether software is cheap or expensive, is actually making
-   a number of hidden assumptions.  In the proprietary software
-   world, because people are forbidden to copy the program, usually,
-   there's only one place from which copies can be legally obtained.
-   So, you can then ask, how much does that one source of copies
-   charge for a copy.  So it's a meaningful question, although the
-   answer might be: this much today over here and that much tomorrow
-   over there.  There's not necessarily an answer to that question.
-   But with Free Software, because people have freedom, everyone
-   is free to make copies.  So there are many places you can get
-   a copy, and any one of them could offer to give you a copy or
-   could offer to sell you a copy.  So there is no one price.
-   But Free Software is an issue of freedom, not price.  The price
-   question is secondary.  People are free to buy and sell copies,
-   but that's just because people should be free.  The price issue
-   is not what I care about.

Sometimes useful things are less expensive than useless things. This is called the 'paradox of value', a phenomenon known to economists for centuries.

"Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarce any thing; scarce any thing can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarce any value in use; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it." - Adam Smith 'The Wealth of Nations' Chapter 3 (1775-76)

It would be a harsh world if water were priced above diamonds.

My answer to the above question would be: "There are people who think that free software is more valuable. And they turn their feelings into action by donating funds and labor to its development."

Douso, The Prophet of the Way

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