| Thursday October 23rd 2014

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Open Source Software Is Not Piracy


open_source_beer.jpgIt’s easy to make the mistake. The idea that the fact these things are free of cost isn’t the major motivator is something that is over most peoples heads.

Take movie piracy for example. The fact that it enabled you to get movies without paying is only a tiny fraction of the allure. It’s the only thing companies see, however, and it’s the only thing militant anti-pirates can see. In 10 years, companies will look back and be amazed at how unabashedly stupid they were. They’ll realize the truth about piracy – pirates get their product to their fans better than they do. They do it in the format, at the speed, and at the quality level that people actually want. While the movie distributors still insist on this retarded idea of releasing in theaters before DVD, releasing on DVD before you can get it on demand in your home, and if anything is offered online it’s DEFINITELY not in HD.

Why can I go to piracy and get a movie in 1080p in the comfort of my home from a server that maximized my downstream and yet I can’t get it from the company that created the movie at any price? It’s even worse if I live in another country and the companies are retarded enough to think that borders still exist. You have any idea how long companies expect people in New Zealand to wait to see movies? It’s laughable!

The fact the stuff is free of charge is a very small part of piracy. It’s a very small part of the free software movement as well. But it’s all that some people can even see (if you watch closely, I might even get some replies to this post attacking me for supporting movie piracy (which I never did) that will illustrate this selective blindness quite nicely).

Here’s the article…

“Jeff Atwood’s blog Coding Horror is one of my favorites. Until yesterday, I’d been recommending it unreservedly.

Jeff’s made a big stumble, and I hope he corrects it soon, publicly. In his latest article, We Don’t Use Software That Costs Money Here, he talks about how the free software alternatives to non-free software are getting better all the time. Unfortunately, he claims that

It’s tempting to ascribe this to the “cult of no-pay”, programmers and users who simply won’t pay for software no matter how good it is, or how inexpensive it may be. These people used to be called pirates. Now they’re open source enthusiasts.

He couldn’t be more wrong. There is no equating software piracy, the theft and misuse of copyrighted software, with using open source, where the license specifically allows and encourages the redistribution of the software. Piracy violates the terms of the copyright and license. It’s possible to do this with open source software as well, by not following the terms of the license.

In fact, there’s no difference between open source software creators protecting their freely-licensed software from owners of non-open licensed software, such as the unfairly reviled Metallica, from protecting their works as well. When we applaud the Software Freedom Law Center for suing companies that violate the GPL, we should also recognize that owners of commercial software licenses should enjoy the same rights to protect their licensing terms as well.

I’m urging Jeff Atwood to correct his mistake. Open source software is nothing at all like piracy. Open source is about the license, not the financial cost.”

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