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VARLinux.org: Free Software: The Right to be a Charitable Community

Jul 16, 2001, 16:59 (26 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Ferris)

[ Thanks to Dean Pannell (a.k.a. dinotrac) for this link. ]

This column tackles the issue of where the values of the Free Software community collide with the interests of Microsoft, asking whether it's possible to maintain a collective volunteer effort in the face of an organization intent on an embrace-and-extend strategy:

"The ground isn't anywhere near as shaky as Microsoft would have Americans (or the rest of the world for that matter) believe. They have gone out of their way to paint the situation with Red White and Blue (and Green) colors and hint at the validity of the corporate model in terms of developing software.

The real issue is more direct, and often missed in the argument over the GPL vs a BSD-style license as advocated by Microsoft: Am I allowed to make something and give it away without the threat of someone exploiting my work? Is a "community" allowed to be charitable without having their charity abused? Can a group of people collaborate and create "Intellectual Property", put it under a license that insures that it can be shared with anybody? Is this legal? Does it have precedent in America (any country for that matter)?

The reality is more basic -- albeit not all that glamorous for the people wishing to retain "control" over "Intelectual Property". The reality is that communities hold strong societies together. Communities rarely intersect with corporate interest. They can do so at times (witness Red Hat for example), but it's not a necessity."

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