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Faking Freedom

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, Microsoft, OSI at 2:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“There’s free [gratis] software and then there’s open source… there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with.”

Bill Gates, April 2008

Michael TiemannSummary: The Open Source Initiative (OSI) needs to rethink its methods; Groklaw asks the OSI, “have you pruned out the Microsoft toadies/partners yet?”

Simon Phipps joined the OSI only some months ago and it is encouraging to hear him speak about bringing software Freedom ‘back’ to this organisation. When a company like Microsoft can join it while attacking “Open Source” and clearly describing it as a competitor, then something is obviously wrong. Over a Groklaw, Pamela Jones wrote about an OSI group: “I was part of that original group, and I quit in short order. My answer to his question would be this: have you pruned out the Microsoft toadies/partners yet? Got a plan at least? Until that happens, I won’t ask anyone to volunteer to help and I surely won’t either. I’d rather start from scratch.”

The OSI’s mistake of allowing Microsoft entryism is still costing it. By allowing proprietary software companies on board they diluted the impact of this organisation. We wrote about the subject in posts such as:

Yesterday, one reader sent us this item of news which shows how organisations that describe themselves as “Open” (Open Cloud Community Initiative in this case) are not truly interested in openness or even freedom. It’s just a marketing tool to them.

Why does an open cloud standards proponent get the boot from an open cloud organisation for wanting more open standards?

It sounds like a bad riddle or some strange joke on the old Orwellian concept of “some things being more equal than others”. But it’s no joke for Sam Johnston, secretary of the Open Cloud Community Inititiative (OCCI) Working Group – or at least he was until yesterday when he was abruptly sacked by the working group’s chairs

The background to all of this has been over which open licence to use. Sam Johnston has been pushing for the Creative Commons licence, and arguing against the Open Grid’s own licence, which he sees as more restrictive.

Maybe it’s time to return to “software Freedom”. It’s less susceptible to misuse.

“The FSF is needed now – more than ever,” argues Sam Varghese in his response to Brockmeier's latest insult.

When would one expect an organisation like the Free Software Foundation to be really relevant to the world of computing at large – when there is a limited threat to freedom in computing or when the threat is increasing exponentially?

One would think that in the latter case, the need for an organisation like the FSF would be that much greater. But some people think differently. People like Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, for example.

Last week, Brockmeier put forward his views – the FSF should not just say no to the use of non-free software, things like SaaS (software as a service) and devices like the iPad, it should provide alternatives, was his take.

The function of the FSF must be properly understood by potential critics. The FSF has actually stuck to its goals for 25 years; it didn’t let itself be shaped by its environment, which in the case of the OSI meant being co-opted.

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