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Re: referencing non-free software

From: Ilya Shlyakhter
Subject: Re: referencing non-free software
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2018 17:50:59 -0500

"it's ethically a no-no (from a free software perspective)" -- I was
hoping to better understand _why_ it's unethical to even inform at
least FSF-literate users about a non-free program.

Also, why it's ethical not to write the program at all (giving users
_no_ freedom to do anything), but unethical to write it and then not
GPL it. I understand this about programs that trap users into
_unwittingly_ giving up freedoms they may later want, but will find
costly to regain (iOS, Facebook).  But if I'm _knowingly_ giving up
only freedoms I am _certain_ I don't need, how am I harmed?  E.g. my
lease forbids pets.  If it forbade pets in small print or unreadable
legalese, so that I could discover the prohibition only after I'm too
invested in the apartment to find another, that would be unethical.
But if I _know_ I don't want pets, why is it unethical to offer me
this lease (but ethical not to offer the apartment at all)?

Is it unethical to release a free program which in practice is hard to
change because it's not written in a modular way?

On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 3:39 PM, Francesco Ariis <> wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 09, 2018 at 02:52:00PM -0500, Ilya Shlyakhter wrote:
>> "Of the many things you can accuse the FSF of, this is not one
>> of them" -- It's a direct quote from
>> .
> Touché. You left out:
>> Those who benefit from the current system where programs are property
>> offer two arguments in support of their claims to own programs: the
>> emotional argument and the economic argument.
> the "emotional argument" being applicable here (at the risk of
> being wrong again, I did not find that specific beOrg quote via
> a customary search; I am ready to concede he will licence it under
> a free-software licence once users start to flock in numbers).
> I think it is unfair quote to the FSF, as they worked very hard to
> dismantle the `libre == gratis` equivalence. :)
> I am not going to be embroiled in this any further; *some* of the
> arguments you made in this and the orgmode ML threads seems to come
> from an open-source perspective.
> Again, nothing wrong with it, but when it's ethically a no-no (from
> a free software perspective) and practically dubious (i.e. is there
> any evidence people are turned away from Org because because of it?),
> I can see how the developers aren't impressed much by the pitch.
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