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GNU is Not Unix

FSF Launches Associated Membership Program 277

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-guess-thats-neat-or-something dept.
Andy Tai writes "The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has launched an associated membership program. Support Free Software by becoming an FSF associated member. From the FSF website: On Monday 25 November 2002, we launched the FSF Associate Membership program. Now, you can support FSF by becoming a card-carrying associate member. You can find out about the rates and benefits of membership, sign up to be an Associate Member, login to edit your membership options, and even read briefly about some current projects of FSF. " Seems a little odd to me, but what do i know ;)
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FSF Launches Associated Membership Program

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  • Bad links (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgroarty (633843) <brian.mcgroarty@gma i l . c om> on Sunday December 22, 2002 @12:34PM (#4940474) Homepage
    At present, the article's links are pointing back at Slashdot itself. The full page with the links pointing correctly are here [fsf.org].
  • by jpt.d (444929) <abfall.rogers@com> on Sunday December 22, 2002 @12:38PM (#4940487)
    ...does everyone that you are linked with automatically become a member too?
  • by ToasterTester (95180) on Sunday December 22, 2002 @12:41PM (#4940504)
    They will have to change their name to the Fee Sofrware Foundation.

    Guess Stallman finally wants a taste of the good life. Now Stallman can pay the course fee for that round of golf with McNeally and Gates.
    • For the umpteenth time, there is a difference between "free as in beer" and "free as in speech". Free Software gives you freedom in terms of use, but it does not guarantee free prices. The GPL even says that developers may sell their code for as much as they like, so long as they offer the source code with the provisions of the GPL for no more than that price again.

      The Free Software Foundation need money, and they aren't a company, so this seems like a nice way of giving it to them, which will give us all good returns in terms of personal well-being (if you really belive in Free Software) and because it will help the FSF help spread Free Software.

      And I very much doubt much of this will go into Stallman's pockets!
      • I believe in Free Enterprise. Being able to offer any product you'd like for sale at any price you'd like. I contribute by buying software that I feel is a good value to me, and I don't buy software that's not a good value to me. So far this seems to have been working pretty well. Software today is a hell of a lot better than it was even a few years ago, and it's helping to drive what's left of the US economy. Is there a good reason to support the Anti-Free Enterprise Foundation?
        • Re:Change the name (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Synn (6288) on Sunday December 22, 2002 @01:08PM (#4940622)
          FSF software is actually quite a bit more business friendly than MS software. With Linux I don't have some corp looking over my shoulder telling me how I can use their software and asking me to upgrade every 2 years for large sums of cash.

          I don't believe the FSF has ever sicked the BSA on anyone either.

          What's driving the economy isn't the software business, it's businesses using software. When businesses use open source software they can take ownership of it in ways they never could with proprietary software. There are no license restrictions, no pay to be current upgrade schemes, no sales reps dropping by the manager's office selling beta technology.

          If Linux wasn't helping to drive the US economy, then Oracle and IBM wouldn't be standing behind it.
        • "Any price that you'd like" includes free of charge. If you don't wish to partake of free offerings then don't. You most certainly don't have the right to tell anyone else who made something what terms they can distribute it under. This bears some expansion. You've been all irritated by the fact GPL distribution terms are inconvienient for some downstream developers. You favor relicensing under any terms you choose....even proprietary terms under which downstream users and developers have essentially no rights. Yet you don't seem to agree that an initial developer of a project can't choose any license he wants...even that nasty GPL. You can even resort to name calling and use words like "socialist", "commie", or even "cancer" but those developers are only exercising their rights to choose the license. Linus Torvalds said it best: "He who writes the code chooses the license."

          I also think your arguments are extremely disingenous. A few weeks ago, you were offended by the possibility that free software could be incorporated into a nefarious technology of some kind. You were arguing that free and open source software developers are responsible for what end users do with their products. [slashdot.org]

          But in some of your posts to this topic, you argue that the GPL isn't truly free because one can't relicense a derivitive work and the BSD license truly is free. So which is it? You favor usage restrictions on end users (how else would one disallow glibc being used to control a baby threshing machine) yet are offended by restrictions on developers. Incidentally, if free/OS software can be used for nefarious purposes then so can proprietary software. Any remotely effective way of making that untrue would cut the ground from under your feet even more. Not that you have much to stand on as it is.
        • Yes, I believe in Free Enterprise too. Being able to offer a cup of water for $1 million USD... and if it isn't a desert, then buy that on credit! You'll be able to pay back the loan, once you sell a few cups of water.
      • by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Sunday December 22, 2002 @12:58PM (#4940577)
        Free Software gives you freedom in terms of use...

        Except for that bit about not being allowed to change the license terms. That's a bit of a sticky wicket, isn't it?

        I've been lobbying for some time to get them to change their name to the "Partly Free Software Foundation," or the "Mostly Free Software Foundation," or the "Free-as-in-Restricted Software Foundation," or the "Free As Long As You Do What We Say Software Foundation." Strangely, none of these ideas have garnered much of a positive response from them.
        • The GPL: Free as in Herpes.
        • "That bit" is there to stop the license being useless, as its aim is to keep software being written in the interests of the community, rather than a few parties.

          If you want a license whose aim is to give maximum freedom to the user, but not the community, use the X11 license - there's no point in making a duplicate.

          Whether the GPL is then "Free" depends on whether you think individual freedom is more or less or equally important than/as the freedom of society.
          • "That bit" is there to stop the license being useless, as its aim is to keep software being written in the interests of the community, rather than a few parties.

            Ah, yes. Let's put the good of this nebulous idea called "the community" ahead of the good of the individuals. That logic has worked so well in the past, you know.

            This all boils down to the same thing: redefining "freedom" to suit one's own ends. Orwell had a name for that; he called it "newspeak."

            Let's drop the euphemisms and speak plainly: the GPL is a restrictive license, just like any other restrictive license. The GPL differs from other restrictive licenses only in what activities it does and does not allow; it is not fundamentally different from any other restrictive license.
            • Re:Change the name (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Telex4 (265980)
              Now why is it that everybody seems to quote Orwell to support their own argument. He wrote a lot of interesting essays on the use of language, and I'm not sure he'd agree with you here.

              You see, the idea that freedom = an individual's freedom to do what he/she wants, is a relatively recent idea, and is certainly not the only accepted definition. If you look in contemporary American dictionaries, they will almost always define freedom as "the right to do something without external control", which supports your post. But even the "founding fathers" recognised that freedom always comes with duty (which isn't surprising as they studies a lot of Locke's work), and that if you divorce freedom from duty, it is meaningless. The duty in your case is the duty to protect one's own freedom from others.

              But this is where that "nebulous" idea of community comes in. You see, Free Software is written in and by a community, and is then used by that community as well as others, so I do not see why "community" should be described as a hazy term. The community has a duty to protect its freedom, as well as the freedom of other communities, if it wishes to affirm the right to freedom of others (unless you don't believe in equality...). This is what the GPL does. It restricts you by giving you freedom with duty.

              Yes, it is restrictive, and so in that regard is not funamentally different from other restrictive licenses. But it is funamentally different from most other licenses, including those like the X11 and BSD licenses, in that it recognises the duty to the community which must come with the freedom the community has given.
              • You see, Free Software is written in and by a community

                WHAT!? Software is written by individuals. Sometimes those individuals collaborate, but that doesn't change the fact that they are individuals who happen to be working together. Nothing ever got done by a "community." It got done by people. High-minded talk of "communities" will get you nowhere.
                • I said "written in and by a community", so it is written by individuals in a community, and you can then look at their overall work and say "the project-x community wrote that".

                  You don't list the names of every developer who wrote some code for KDE, you say the KDE team created it. That team works as a community.

                  You seem dangerously divorced from any concepts of plurality.
                  • You seem dangerously divorced from any concepts of plurality.

                    Damn right. Except for the "dangerously" part, of course.
                    • So I take it you reject the notion that you're "American" (I'm assuming you're American from your posts and journal -- apologies if this is incorrect). You also, I assume, reject the idea that you have any moral obligations towards any other human beings.

                      Nice chap.
                    • We are clear that we disagree on the definition of freedom.
                    • I wouldn't waste any more time on Twirlip as he or she is obviously a fucking moron.
                    • We are clear that we disagree on the definition of freedom.

                      That surprises me. It is, after all, a perfectly cromulent word.

                      Freedom \Free"dom\ (fr[=e]"d[u^]m), n.
                      fre['o]free + -dom. See Free, and -dom.]
                      1. The state of being free; exemption from the power and
                      control of another; liberty; independence.

                      There's also the adjective, of which I'm quite fond:

                      Free \Free\ (fr[=e]), a. [Compar. Freer (-[~e]r); superl.
                      Freest (-[e^]st).]
                      1. Exempt from subjection to the will of others; not under
                      restraint, control, or compulsion; able to follow one's
                      own impulses, desires, or inclinations; determining one's
                      own course of action; not dependent; at liberty.

                      I have no problem with the phrase "free except," if one is up front about it. I have no problem with the phrase "mostly free," if one is up front about it. But I have a problem with people saying "free" when they mean "free except" or "mostly free."

                      What's to disagree about?
        • Re:Change the name (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Synn (6288)
          Except for that bit about not being allowed to change the license terms. That's a bit of a sticky wicket, isn't it?

          If you own the copyright on the software you're free to change the license anytime you want.

          If you don't own the copyright, then no you can't steal it and release it under your own license. Wow, what a bummer.
          • If you don't own the copyright, then no you can't steal it and release it under your own license.

            How can I steal it if it's "free?" If it's "free" I should be able to do what I want with it, right? Let's take a very reasonable case: let's say I want to create a derivative of Readline. (Imagine some neato improvement to Readline, like allowing it to support Unicode [if it doesn't already].) Let's say that I want to release my derivative under the LGPL.

            Damn! Can't do it! Readline is only available under the GPL, so people who create derivative works from it aren't allowed to release those works under any license less restrictive than the GPL.

            Yeah. That's "free" for you. It astounds me that the same Slashdotters-- not necessarily yourself, though you may be one of them too-- can deride things like the DMCA and the Department of Homeland Security while upholding the FSF as standing for "freedom." The FSF commits Franklin's fallacy more blatantly than anyone else: those who would sacrifice liberty for security-- as the GPL most certainly does, in restricting the liberty of the user to ensure the continued availability of derivative works-- deserve neither.

            Life is all about compromise. If you want to license your software under restrictive terms for your own ends, be my guest. But don't be so arrogant as to call what you're doing "freedom," and what others want to do "stealing."
            • The GPL is a free license(as in free speach), because it guarantees the continued free access to the software code.

              Your use of Franklink's fallacy is a straw man, the GPL restricts no liberties rather it inhibits the ability to restrict the freedom of the code. Get a dictionary, look up liberty, see if it says "restrict freedom".
              • the GPL restricts no liberties rather it inhibits the ability to restrict the freedom of the code

                Wow. That's some mighty impressive circumlocution you've got goin' on there.

                "The GPL restricts no liberties. Rather, it inhibits the ability..."

                Amazing.
                • Yes, it's the same "circumlocution" you find all over the Bill of Rights.

                  My freedom of speach is another person's inability to restrict what I say.
                  My freedom of religion is another person's inability to hold school prayers.
                  And so on.

                  By your logic free speach in the US really isn't free because I can't remove your ability to use that Ben Franklink quote you're so found of.

                  After all, if free speach were really free wouldn't I have the freedom to make it less free?

            • How can I steal it if it's "free?"
              Restate that to "how can I capture that if its to remain free.
              The perspective you are missing is that the freedom has to do with the ability of the software to remain free. Hence, the BSD liscense grants you the user more "freedom" in that BSD-ed software can be caputured and enslaved to the benifit of the software-slaver. GPL-ed software has a "live free or die" clause. The software must remain free, so your "freedom" to enslave is denied to the greater benifit of freedom to the community.

              In terms of sacrifing liberty for security, isn't that actually what you suggest: that the Liberty-as-in-Freedom forever of the GPL be sacrificed for the temporary Security-as-in-Economic rewards for a few right now?
              • The perspective you are missing is that the freedom has to do with the ability of the software to remain free.

                Oh, so it's the software that gets to enjoy the benefits of freedom, is that it? People are restricted in order for the software itself to have essential liberty?

                This is, in a word, nuts. "Software-slaver?" People are free in that sense; software is an inanimate object, and as such is not. To talk of software in this sense is simply absurd.
            • You didn't write Readline, so why on Earth do you expect the right to be able to do whatever you like with it?

              The author(s) of Readline have decided how they want to license their software. Their license allows all users of Readline basically unlimited Freedom to use and redistribute the code however they wish. In addition, the license allows developers *nearly* unlimited freedom to modify and redistribute Readline derivatives. The *only* stipulation is that you may not relicense your modified version. They likely did this so that no one can profit from their community effort by stealing the code. It's a guarantee of future rights, and it works for this purpose extremely well.

              Your complaints basically boil down to: "Hey, some free society! I'm not free to smash the window of a jewelry shop and take as much gold as I can carry! WTF?!?!!!!111!"

              Yes, Virginia, sometimes individual "freedoms" must be restricted in order to maximize *society's* freedoms. Take a civics class, FFS.
              • You didn't write Readline, so why on Earth do you expect the right to be able to do whatever you like with it?

                Of course I shouldn't. But if somebody says to me, "Here, this is free," that sets a certain expectation. If somebody said "you can read this, but you can't copy it," that would be just fine. But when somebody says, "this is free" and it turns out not to be, I get pissy.

                Their license allows all users of Readline basically unlimited Freedom to use and redistribute the code however they wish.

                That is not true. Nobody is, in fact, free to redistribute the code however they wish. I wish to redistribute the code under a less restrictive license than the GPL. I am not allowed to do this. Q.E.D.

                The *only* stipulation is that you may not relicense your modified version.

                That's not remotely the only stipulation. The GPL consists of page after page of stipulations. For example, the GPL says you can't sell the software. It says you can "charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy," but you can't licenses to use the software. The same is true of derivative works, which you must cause "to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties."

                The GPL says that anybody who receives a copy of your software must be allowed to give that copy away to anybody else. In other words, even if you could sell GPL-licensed software, the greatest number of copies you could ever hope to sell would be one. Everybody else will simply get it from that guy.

                But, as it turns out, that's not relevant anyway. The GPL says that you have to provide anybody who asks with a machine-readable copy of your source code at cost. So the idea of making money with your software under the GPL is completely out the window by this point.

                To say that that's the only stipulation of the GPL is a gross oversimplification.
                • You are muddying the discussion by mixing two situations. First you were talking about modifying an existing GPL'd program (Readline). Now, you seem to be talking about a hypothetical program to which you hold the copyright. In the former case, I say again: you should not expect to be able to profit from other people's work, if they choose not to allow it. In the latter case: if you desire to profit from selling your program (and you feel the GPL undermines this), then use a proprietary license. What's the problem?

                  But if somebody says to me, "Here, this is free," that sets a certain expectation.

                  You are confusing "this is Free" with "this belongs to you".

                  the GPL says you can't sell the software.
                  ...

                  the idea of making money with your software under the GPL is completely out the window

                  Provably false [redhat.com].
        • Yep, that's a sticky wicket alrighty, not being able to change the licensing terms to GPL software. It just flies in the face of true freedom!

          Kinda like how murder is illegal. I mean, in a truly free society, wouldn't I be free to chop some other person's head off if I wanted to? It's a bit of a misnomer, this "free" society idea then, isn't it?

          The lesson of this exaggerated and sensationalist example: in the real world, there is no such thing as *absolute* freedom. Any useful and practical freedom necessarily has limitations.
          • Any useful and practical freedom necessarily has limitations.

            Problem is that the limitations placed by the GPL are arbitrary and unjustified. The BSD license accomplishes the exact same thing that the GPL does-- ensuring that a given piece of software will be available in source code form to anybody who wants to see it-- without taking away the user's freedom to create and license derivative works.

            It all boils down to this: the BSD license results in software that is truly free. Anybody can use it for any purpose. The GPL results in software that is less free. There is a list of things that one cannot do with GPL-licensed software.

            Calling GPL-licensed software "free" then is incorrect. At best, it is "partially free." Deliberately continuing to call it "free" when one knows that doing so is incorrect is deceptive. Doing so on a large scale with an agenda in mind is fraudulent.
            • I dunno. I mean, I see your point, and in a way I -almost- even agree that GPL is "less free" than BSD. I don't think the limitations of the GPL are at all arbitrary and unjustified though.

              I believe that the BSD and GPL have very different goals in mind. The BSD license is meant to just get the software out there and get it used, period. It is concerned with the freedom of the user to use that particular piece of software in whatever way the user deems fit. The GPL, on the other hand, seems to be geared towards the freedom of software *in general*, slightly at the expense of the immediate user of a particular piece of software. You're right that there is an agenda in mind, but I believe that agenda is the ultimate freedom of all users to use all software in the way that many believe users should be able to. (RMS correct me if I'm wrong here). Ultimately, they're both about freedom -- there's no trickery going on here.

              So, then, vastly different scopes. BSD -> small scale practical freedom. GPL -> large scale freedom. Which is more "right"? Neither! I'm a firm believer in the merits of both licenses (and others as well).
        • Yes-yes! You are making great points.

          You need to treat the word Free like the atomic clock and keep checking to make sure you're using the correct Stallman-speak of the moment. It's free as in Stallman definition at that moment in time. It's moving target with him. The BSD license is true freedom in my opinion.
        • Yes, if I'm so damn free, why can't I sell myself into slavery? This Bill of Rights thing sucks hairy goat nads, it would seem.
        • GPL does not place restrictions on use. You do not have to agree to the GPL to use the software. Therefore, licensing issues are irrelevant and your point is immaterial. The software is free for use as the original poster said.
        • Public Software Foundation is the most accurate name I think. They even bear some passing resemblance to PBS in that they beg for funds and have T-shirts and stuff with logos as trinkets. Likewise, their software continues to appeal to a smaller slice of the community, many who believe the content is better because of the way it's funded. I haven't looked, but surely there must be an FSF totebag someplace. :)

          Of course they would never change the name because "Free" is such a powerful marketing word, and nonprofits market just like everybody else. They just do it with a different style.

          • Public Software Foundation is the most accurate name I think.

            I can't say I like that one. Public makes me think of public domain, and software that's released under the GPL is far more tightly restricted than software that's in the public domain. But at this point we're just haggling over the price, if you get my meaning.

            Of course they would never change the name because "Free" is such a powerful marketing word, and nonprofits market just like everybody else.

            Exactly. It's all about marketing, and the FSF's marketing is so politically oriented that it crosses the line into actual propaganda.
  • Many will complain that they don't support the FSF 100%. The organization has many hard line views which are too binary for most.

    Consider this, however: If you agree with the majority of their views, they still represent something closer than the alternative. And, you've already been supporting the alternative extreme every time you buy a closed source product or accept hardware with the understanding that you're at the vendor's mercy for updates and ongoing compatibility issues.

    The FSF isn't mandating that you support them financially, as closed vendors typically do. There's another form of freedom for you there: If cash is tight, don't give. You're still doing the right thing. But if you can spare ten bucks a month without grief and you're benefitting from the FSF, you probably know what the right and responsible thing is there, too.

    • You're still doing the right thing

      Talk about binary. I don't agree. It's not that cut and dried. I think that by supporting the FSF, you're deliberately undermining the economy and the entire free enterprise financial construct by supporting volunteers who write code, yet contribute nothing to the economy. I'd much rather pay for good software that provides value to me than to give money to some nebulous organization that doesn't pay taxes, doesn't pay it's employees or workers (developers). Call me nuts, but I believe firmly that people should be compensated for work.
      • It's not that cut and dried. I think that by supporting the FSF, you're deliberately undermining the economy and the entire free enterprise financial construct by supporting volunteers who write code, yet contribute nothing to the economy.

        In future, try turning your brain on before posting.

        If people write code which is useful, that is a real contribution to the economy. If they then make it freely available to all the enterprises which can make use of it, that is necessarily a bigger contribution to the economy than if those enterprises had to pay for it. Quite the opposite from undermining the economic system, free software is propping it up, making enterprises more felxible and profitable and therefore able to add more value for their stakeholders.

      • I for one am glad you constructed such a ridiculous straw man for the pro-FSF posters here to beat on.

        Call me nuts, but I believe firmly that people should be compensated for work.

        People are not compensated for work. The US Supreme Court rejected the "sweat of the brow" theory of copyright in the Feist case quite a while ago. People are compensated for ownership of a monopoly, not for "work". People who choose not to participate in the idea ownership system are at a competitive disadvantage against government granted monopolies, so there's less money for that sector of the market right now. But like the Whos in Whoville, they do it anyway because it's not about the presents. You are nuts, and you're welcome.

    • Consider this, however: If you agree with the majority of their views, they still represent something closer than the alternative.

      Hmm, let me consider the alternatives: EFF - agree with 50%; ACLU - agree with 75%; FSF - agree with 80%; myself - agree with 100%. Guess I'm donating to paying down my credit card bills.

      Support the QingPL [slashdotsucks.com]! Send me money!

  • by bconway (63464)
    Are we going to start seeing Ameritrade commercials about "I bought FSF."? Since this is Charity for Corporations week, how about spoofs where the punchline is "I bought Mandrake. All of it."?
  • If so, I'd love to know what a "bootable membership card" is.
  • "by becoming a card-carrying associate member. "

    Great, and when people call us communists they can now just say "card carrying commie!"
    • Re:Communists? (Score:3, Informative)

      Well, yeah, and of course that's the association Daddy Bush was going for when he called Michael Dukakis a "card-carrying member of the ACLU." Dukakis missed a golden opportunity at that moment, because at that time (IIRC) ACLU membership cards had the Bill of Rights printed on the back. Dukakis could have pulled out his card, read the Bill of Rights, and then said, "Okay, George, which of these do you object to?" Unfortunately, Dukakis didn't have the showmanship for something like that.

      Anyway ... seems to me "card-carrying" FSF'ers could do something similar. If you really believe in the ideology of the FSF (I don't, exactly, though I'm in sympathy with it; I posted elsewhere in this topic about "useful fanatics") then get a card. If someone then uses "card-carrying member of the FSF" as an insult, give them the "free as in ..." spiel and then ask, "What exactly do you object to?" If you're reasonably polite about it, and assuming you bathe more frequently than Stallman, you might even change someone's mind.
  • I've paid monthly as a member of a lobby group to support the company I work for. Why not support a more important politcal organization?
  • The way FSF is operating is getting closer to the PBS model everyday.

    First, they plead for memberships. Pretty soon they will have a yearly membership pledge drive. Perhaps they will start holding off releases until they can reach a goal of 1.5 million dollors every year.

    Second, they will solicit corporate sponsorship. Maybe in the next version of emacs, you will have to stare at an ad disclaiming that "Our gold sponsor is Micro$oft Corporation. Micro$oft. We bring windows to your desktop. (Or whatever their tagline is.)" Perhaps when you do C-x C-h you will see first "This feature is sponsored by GeeEee, GeeEee, we bring good things to life."

    The problems with PBS model are two fold: 1) it sure is annoying to endure these pledge drives and the sponsorship messages; 2) the sponsorship messages are not much different than commercial ads. It can be argued that PBS is not that much different than your regular commercial station. As such, it is inevitable when your sponsor will exert influence on your content, especially your editorial content.

    Similarly, it is not hard to imagine when a sponsor of FSF "gentlely" suggests that a project be cancelled or a feature be altered because of conflict.

    That will be the end of the free software movement.
    • Look, first of all, this is total, albiet bad, sci-fi. The FSF might operate like PBS because they're both driven by contributions, grants, etc. Not by unending advertising.

      There's nothing wrong at all with PBS. Granted, I'd rather see less Mobil or ADM 'sponsor ads', but where is the equivalent to Frontline, Nova, or the News Hour on regular tv? Right, there aren't any and never will be. Because quite a bit of the time, some of those shows might report on something that would conflict with one of their coporate owners. Oh no!

      I could also say, where are the Emacs and vi/vim of the M$ world? Oh wait, right. You have to buy Visual Studio if you want to compile and code outside of notepad & cmd(which, will totally work).

      The FSF provides people, who want it, a lot of stuff for free. Their annual operating budget is about $650k. Their sponsors can influence all they want, but 1) this would be self-defeating for them since there is no reason to do this, and 2) the code will always be available, sans some super govt. conspiracy to destroy every single copy of GPL code (which is pretty impossible); or people could stop using it.

      The alternative for people in other countries, not just the good 'ol us of a, is high prices for shotty software. This is not plausible way for a lot of places, especially with a lower currency value than the us dollar, to use non-free software. It's a numbers game, plain and simple.

      So, corporate sponsorship will continue to have little effect on the FSF (hasn't yet), PBS will still put out cool shows while Fox puts out another brain numbing "When bears attack, Six!", and the rest of the world will continue to use software (and organizations) they find value in.
  • Unbelievable.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lysol (11150) on Sunday December 22, 2002 @01:41PM (#4940813)
    Jesus, it's amazing! $10 a month!? Everyone bitches about M$ and Windows day in and day out. Yet I'm sure IE is prob /.'s biggest browser client. How do you get that? Uh, you have to have Windows (or CX Office/Wine :). So, short of pirating copies to install, you've all bought $100 of M$ crap! Possibly on a yearly or so basis. Then people whine about $10 for a foundation that, at least tries to help distribution of code instead of locking it all up for just a few people to benefit from!

    Does Stallman own all GPL code? No. Do users get to keep copyright to the code they contribute? Yes. Are you free to use pretty much any GPL code in your application *and* sell it? Yes. Just include the source.

    Oh, you're right, grandma and grandpa and mom and dad and Jim VC-less research Nerd down the street will wanna steal your trade secrets and compile your latest source for the coolest Mozilla plugin, therefore, screwing you out of a fortune. Get real! The reason M$ has switched from panic mode to embrace mode is because they see Linux server and desktop shipments are on the rise. Without the GPL, the computer industry would be in worse shape than it is now. If Quicken doesn't wanna write a client because they can't innovate some way to make money on Linux, then so be it. Where they fall, others will rise.

    Everyone want's freedom when it's gone or don't care about it when it's there. Well, screw that. If you don't want an IE dominated web, use Mozilla or the OS equiv. If you want a M$-less domintate office, use Open Office. If you want to have control of your own audio or video content use a GPL OS or OS X. And if you want freedom in an industry that mostly doesn't care much about your freedom, then consider a piddly, measely, $10/mo. Something you probably wouldn't think twice about paying to the latest crappy blockbuster movie out there. Jeeze, 10$..
  • Well okay ... BUT (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperDuG (134989) <be@NOspAm.eclec.tk> on Sunday December 22, 2002 @02:39PM (#4940948) Homepage Journal
    ... first off this is actually opinion-laden so it might possibly be viewed as trollish or flamebait, but I hold true that these are my true beliefs ...

    My main concern is that the Free Software Foundation doesn't deserve a cent of my money, or any of your money for that matter. The entire organization is ran quite similarly like the dictator third world countries we all hate. Don't believe me, why don't you go read any interview of the makers of Gnome (now Ximian) or linux kernel developers.

    Read here [216.239.51.100], Linus basically likes free software not because it's so super politically cool, but for other reasons like most software to him sucks so he likes to make it work for him and if he uses it he doesn't have to worry about it not staying free. Hell Miguel de Icaza is working on a .Net for linux called Mono, how much more not free software do you need to be.

    The FSF is a wonderful idealistic thing that doesn't take into account that we're not a communisitic or remotely socialistic soceity in the "developed world". And I can say developed world, because lets face it, poor third world countries don't need computers or source code to look at.

    If you are able to spend $10 a month I would highly encourage a donation to your favorite opensource project, political party, or charity, it will be money well wasted on the FSF.

  • why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krokodil (110356) on Sunday December 22, 2002 @02:57PM (#4941005) Homepage
    If you are programmer, best way to support FSF is to donate code not money. Why? Because potentially code you submit will have more value in monetary equivalent than money you likely to donate.

    But this program could be useful for people not directly connected to software industry, but who believe in FSF goals and want to help.
    • "If you are programmer, best way to support FSF is to donate code not money."

      This time I'm donating money to get the cool bootable linux distribution on a business card that they're using as membership cards!
  • Everytime there is any story about RMS or FSF, it's just yet another long flame war.

    I would bet that most people flaming against the GPL haven't written any software of substantial merit. If so, please list your projects and the license. Then I will take your opinion seriously.

    Why do most people write free software? What is the incentive to them? Why do so many non-GNU packages out there use the GPL if it sucks so bad?

    I would venture to guess that it would probably suck big time to pour your soul into some really neat software program that took you years to develop, to have some company come along, add a feature or two, close the source, sell it, and make millions, all the while you get squat, not even a credit mention.

    To the guy who is upset that readline is GPL, hey, write your own version from scratch and release it under any license you want.

    And for the record, I haven't released any public software of any kind, so yeah, my opinion on the GPL wars obviously doesn't me shit either.

  • GPL is Free enough (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ChaosDiscord (4913) on Sunday December 22, 2002 @04:46PM (#4941319) Homepage Journal

    I see alot of people complaining that the GPL isn't absolutely free, and therefore it's deceptive to call it Free Software. Perhaps, if you're willing to similarly argue that there are no free nations and no free people.

    Freedom is not an absolute that you have or don't have. It's a sliding scale. On one end is "Absolute Freedom". Absolute Freedom is only interesting in the sense that Absolute Zero [msu.edu] is interesting: useful in theory, but unattaintainable in practice. Absolute Freedom would give me the freedom to, say, murder, rob, and defraud. Relatively few people people would desire that much freedom. By accepting restrictions on themselves, they know that others who might harm them are similarly restricted. In fact, Absolute Freedom probably isn't attainable for a population of any size, someone will take that freedom to use force to remove the freedom from others.

    On the other end you have an Absolute Lack of Freedom. This really requires that we all be robots or otherwise completely controlled. If you're into predestination or the absolute computability of the universe, then you might believe that we fundamentally have an Absolute Lack of Freedom. Most people don't.

    So we have a sliding scale between these two points. To take a situation I'm familiar with, let's look at the United States. The vast majority of citizens of the United States feel that they are free people. Yet, we accept a large number of restrictions on our behavior. There are laws limiting use of violence; which chemical compounds we're allowed to sell and purchase; when we're allowed to vote, drink, smoke, and run for political office; electromagnetic emissions our computers are allowed to emit; pollution allowed from our cars; what we're allowed to say and where (no "Fire!" in a crowded theatre). Yet with these restrictions, and thousands more, we basically feel that we're a free people, a free society. We're nowhere near Absolute Freedom, but we're free enough. There is naturally a continuous struggle to define what is free enough. Some argue to increase freedom in some areas, others argue to reduce freedom in some areas. Yet we're free enough.

    So, back to software. In much of the world, the status quo is that you cannot distribute copies of other people's software. This is implemented through local copyright laws. Most software licenses start with the restrictions of copyright law, then add additional restrictions. Clearly most software licenses are less free than the default. The GPL starts with copyright law, then offers you a deal: you can have more freedom than copyright law grants, but there are some restrictions. You have a choice with software under the GPL: you can accept copyright law, or you can accept the GPL and gain certain freedoms. Yes, the GPL restricts how you can distribute copies of the GPLed software, but it's still better than the copyright default of zero copy distribution allowed. Clearly, the GPL is more free than copyright.

    Now, the GPL isn't quite as free as the BSD / MIT / X licenses, sure. But you cannot claim that those licenses acheive Absolute Freedom. Clearly not, since there is something more free than the BSD license: the public domain. In the public domain software just barely reaches Absolute Freedom. Of course, Absolute Freedom is unstable, and naturally any software of value is copied out of the public domain and incorporated into less free works. While works in the public domain cannot effectively be removed from that freedom, their mere existance supports the creation of much less free works.

    If we're going to debate the meaning of Free, we need to draw a line in the continuum of Freedom and Lack of Freedom. Would you draw it at Absolute Freedom? If we're talking about Freedom in general, you'll never achieve it. In the case of software, you there is an Absolute Freedom at public domain. Very nearby is the BSD style licenses. That certainly is a very free location on the continuum. It's so free that other people take the free thing and create something non-free. While that's very free, it seems a bit unfair to some people who want spread freedom more widely. If I create something and I want to make it free, why should my work support less free works? So I'm willing to move the line up to the GPL. Clearly less free than the BSD license, it helps to ensure that my donations to things on the Free side of the line cannot be used to support things on the Non-Free side of the line.

    Perhaps you feel that the GPL isn't free enough. But for many people it is free enough, and as such can legitimately be called Free software. (To be fair, some people probably feel that proprietary software is free enough. I suspect relatively few people who have ever tried to get additional legal copies of software that was no longer published, or support for out of lifespan software, or wanted to use software no longer supported on modern system, or subjected to a BSA audit feel that the software in question is particularlly Free.)



    • No one should have the freedom to harm anyone else
      • No one should have the freedom to harm anyone else

        I would love to agree with you. Sadly I can't.

        First we must decide what "harm" means. Bodily harm? Mental harm? Incarceration? Restraint? Verbal bashing? Anything that causes discomfort?

        The problem is that somewhere along that scale lies the ability to protect yourself and others. Not having the freedom to harm others is not something that can be enforced, only legislated.

        In order to actually prevent harm, you must be able to do something in return. That is why self defense is legal. Where is the dividing line? At "reasonable force", if I remember correctly.

        Somewhere else in the scale lies society's ability to punish crimes. A law with no consequences is worthless in preventing harm. Where is the dividing line here? We can't agree on that. Some believe capital punishment is necessary, others stop at inprisonment.

        Nobody has the "freedom to cause harm", but a lot of people are allowed to cause some harm in some situations. I might not like it, but I haven't found a usable alternative either. /RS
  • Well, I was going to make some comments about this program, and why should I give, and how might the money be used (paying programmers, pro-actively building a "legal defense fund", buying advertising in computer publications to explain the benefits of Free software, etc).

    But looking over the comments I see everybody's getting in the "free" nit-picking argument. Now, really, I know only like 1% of the slashdot population engages in this bickering, but just in case someone is learning about Free software through these comments alone, let me throw a few ideas into the mix. All of this is explained on the FSF web page but of course they insist on being precise and pedantic so it's hard to cut right to the soundbites.

    Here we go:

    * The GPL is a good example of a Free software license. So is the modified BSD license, the X11 license, the W3C license, and many others. Even placing your code into the public domain will grant users the same freedoms. And even the Apache and Perl licenses are basically Free, though the FSF discourages using them on new code for various nit-picky reasons.

    So, if you use the BSD license or place your code into public domain your software is just as free, according to the FSF, as it would be under the GPL. Even the GPL defenders seem to forget that the GPL is only one of many licenses that ensure software freedom. When someone says "I'm using the BSD license, because it's really free and the GPL isn't and the FSF has a stupid name" you should just smile politely and nod your head, because they are the ones making the distinction, not the FSF.

    * The FSF uses the term "copyleft" for the viral nature of the GPL. This is actually what many people (including Microsoft) dislike. The FSF themselves describe this is as a rather abstract concept, which is why they gave its own own made-up name and keep the concept separate from software freedom. Freedom is more concrete: it lets you do more with the software on your computer, and it gives the copyright holder less power over you.

    When you argue against the FSF's definition of "free software", make sure you're not really arguing about "copyleft". But also remember that the freedoms are what's important, not the copyleft. That's why it's the Free Software Foundation and not the Copyleft Software Foundation.

    Copyleft is a tricky way to keep software Free, by adding some redistribution restrictions. Note that non-Free licenses are themselves under a sort of "ironic copyleft" already: it's just as illegal for you to copy your neighbor's illegal Windows CDR as it was for him to download it from a P2P network and run it.

    So when flaming the FSF, please remember that the goal we mostly agree on is to make software licenses less restrictive and less obnoxious. Both the BSD and GPL licenses are less obnoxious than the license on, say, any Microsoft/Adobe/etc product, so why focus on the copyleft provisions of the GPL?

    Now, if the above makes your "GPL isn't really free" argument less useful, don't forget, you can still make ad hominem attacks on Richard Stallman's inflexible personality, leftist political views, and questionable personal hygiene. :-)

    But that won't make the software licenses you accept at home and at work any better for you. You do that by 1) writing and using Free software; 2) letting your vendors know that you prefer freedom with your software; and 3) not accepting licenses you don't agree with (and note that you don't have to accept the GPL unless you want to distribute copies of the GPL'd software).
  • Wht don't they host a Linux-based webmail service and make it much less painfull to donate. If they are already paying monthly for Webmail or are subjected to tons of spamming from free webmail services, they may be more attracted to a Ad+Spam, secure webmail service for $10/mos. Plus the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting Free Software!
  • Does anyone know if the membership fees are tax-deductible (in the US)? I didn't see mention of it on the FSF web site.

  • The Benefits are not good enough, far from it. And what is done with the money is not spelled out any where near well enough.

    Who iniated this? And Based on what?

    Maybe you should deal with the source and not the con, RMS.
  • For what does the FSF need more money? It gets programming for free (and then turns around and makes money via sales of media with the code on it as well as T-shirts), so clearly the money won't go to pay people to produce code. So, what will the money be used for? A big office staff? (Why would it need one?) Speaking junkets for RMS? A hefty salary for Brad Kuhn? Or a Gestapo-like army of lawyers to threaten commercial interests whom the FSF does not like and who have touched GPLed code?

    An organization like the FSF shouldn't need much funding. Before one contributes to or "joins" any organization, one should ask what the money will be used for. It may not be something which you want to support.

  • Support the FSF. It's not expensive ($60pa for a student) and they do a lot of great work. Where else could you get free legal representation and expertise than the FSF? I'm just wondering whether they'll send me my copy of Free Software: Free Society. My mum has been hassling me for a copy for xmas.
  • by erat (2665) on Sunday December 22, 2002 @11:48PM (#4942673)
    Here's my main dilemma with this whole program. Other than having some lawyer types on retainer, or on staff, or whatever; other than paying for a connection to the Internet (for all I know that's being sponsored by some large college, company, or other such organization); and other than authoring/maintaining some informative but kindergarten-complexity web pages (Savannah excluded), what exactly are the dollars paying for?

    - The FSF doesn't pay for GNOME, or binutils, or the Linux kernel, or probably 99% of the code out there that's GPL'd.

    - Having heard a lot more about EFF's legal efforts than those of the Digital Speech Project, I somehow doubt that legal fees are making too many FSF folks broke right now.

    - Richard Stallman seems to be making lots of personal appearances at trade shows and such... But then again, unless I'm mistaken he's paid to do that by the folks who want him to make an appearance, not by the FSF.

    - Do tapes of FSF code (you supply the tape, by the way) still cost somewhere around $200/each? Good God, that's about $500/hour for copying code to a tape!

    Look, I'm sure the FSF does have expenses, and I'm not going to bemoan them for trying to raise cash. That's what non-profits do. However, before I give dime one to a non-profit I want to know EXACTLY what that money is for. Sorry, but I don't give to slush funds.

    Learn from organizations like Linux Weekly News. When they went to a subscription model they offered details on how many folks are on staff, how many hours they're paid to work, what it costs to run the site, how many subscriptions it'll take just to break even, what their plans are for the future, etc. At the FSF, all I see is "hey, we have lots of cool stuff that's mostly done by volunteers and we've done wonders for the Free Software movement, so give us $120/year".

    Sorry, but that just isn't enough. You want my money? Justify my contribution.

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