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It’s Free as in Freedom

Posted in America, Finance, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL, Videos at 2:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A rebuttal to Dana Blankenhorn, who redefines “FOSS” in a very unhelpful way

Philips has a murky history when it comes to Free software. Philips is attacking software freedom with aggressive patent fronts like Sisvel [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], but things are hopefully about to change.

A couple of days ago we showed that Philips decided to add Free software to an appliance/gadget it develops. Dana Blankenhorn wrote about this and he added a sort of slur against the term “FOSS”:

Songbird, the open source media player, is now being embedded in Philips’ GoGear line.

This is a win-win.


This is the way open source is supposed to work. It’s supposed to connect with the market. If you don’t want your hands stained with filthy lucre you’re FOSS, not open source.

The “F” in FOSS represents “freedom” and Blankenhorn clearly understands this. What is that last sentence intended to achieve then?

In another very recent post, Blankenhorn seems to be painting FOSS as anti-capitalist, so with the repetition appears a pattern which is worth addressing and hopefully tackling. He wrote:

Legally, the analysts telling mySQL’s community to shut up are saying, yes, it could. And you couldn’t say a thing about it. That’s just capitalism.

It may be, just as Tom Sawyer’s game to get his friends to whitewash Aunt Polly’s fence was capitalism. But when Mark Twain wrote that his sympathies weren’t really with Tom. He was satirizing capitalism itself, and telling young readers to be wary of its glib promises.

Blankenhorn has been citing someone whom he calls “Big Money Matt” for just over a year; his cold attitude towards GNU/Linux and perhaps an increased emphasis on money seems to be missing the point. It is worth remembering what the “F” in “FOSS” is all about. It was never about cost at all. Free software is very capitalist by nature; it also obeys other important pillars like liberty and competition.

In the following video from Digital Tipping Point, Professor Larry Lessig (a current flag holder for the FSF’s membership rally) explains how the public was led to the point of totally misunderstanding Free software and associating it with “communism”, especially in the United States.

Part I (preceded by a minute or so of introduction in Portuguese)


Part II


Part III

For referencing, the above is Larry Lessig’s keynote speech at FISL Con 5 in Porto Alegre, Brazil (2004). He speaks slowly for a crowd whose English is a secondary language.

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  1. hexx said,

    January 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm


    There are some technical issues with the Larry Lessig speech videos: I can only play the first 5 to 7 seconds of each part (using firefox 3.5.6).

  2. morris said,

    January 9, 2010 at 12:51 pm


    Why not “Software Livre”?

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I thought it was the Dutch word.

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