11.11.09

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It’s About Freedom, Not Mere Visibility of Code

Posted in Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Standard at 5:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Freedom sign

Summary: Another important reminder of semantics and why there should be more emphasis on liberty (freedom)

“Freedom” — like “choice” and “open” — can mean all sorts of things depending on the context. One can argue about the “freedom to abuse”, the “choice to interfere with a neighbour’s freedom” and “openness to intolerance”. In order to reach, maintain and preserve solidarity, these terms probably need to be defined more properly. For instance, “free” can refer to price but also a condition of existence. Freedom can refer to will (BSD) and also a state, which is possible to remove (the GPL tries to prevent this). The following new “car pedal” cartoon illustrates the effect of lack of choice, lack of diversity, a deficient sense of creativity.

A relatively new Web site, The Source, has written this short essay about Mozilla’s realisation that Freedom — not just “openness” — matters. It’s based on remarks from Tristan Nitot. Freedom is an enabler of markets, through trust, mutual respect, and faithfulness. It also states:

Firefox on Freedom

[...]

FLOSS has made incredible gains thanks to core principles – gains made despite one of the world’s largest corporations best and slimiest attempts to retard progress – but somehow, now that FLOSS is enjoying real commercial and philosophical success it is time to discard those principles?

More recently, Christopher Blizzard from Mozilla has done a lot of work to promote Ogg and that is commendable too. His company has remained true to its obligation to promote Web standards, whereas Europe is currently besieged by an attempt of proprietary giants (and their lobbyists) to achieve the very opposite. The H has caught up with the latest twists:

Protests against proposed redefinition of open standards within the EU

An open letter from Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) president Karsten Gerloff to the EU member states complains that, “In its current form, the text is a threat to the interoperability of European eGovernment services, and a recipe to maintain and even increase vendor lock-in”. He continues by stating that the “clear definition” of open standards from the first version of the EIF has been abandoned and that the term openness is being twisted to include “proprietary positions”. He adds that this runs contrary to statements by EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes that Brussels “should not rely on one software vendor and must not accept closed standards,” and that anything else would damage the European software industry.

We previously covered this in:

  1. European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Corrupted by Microsoft et al, Its Lobbyists
  2. Orwellian EIF, Fake Open Source, and Security Implications
  3. No Sense of Shame Left at Microsoft
  4. Lobbying Leads to Protest — the FFII and the FSFE Rise in Opposition to Subverted EIF

Now that Microsoft tries to redefine "open source" (and “open”), maybe it’s time to make a departure and speak about software freedom again. Microsoft has repeatedly made it clear that it continues to attack Free software, by choice [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

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