Thursday, April 24, 2008


Quite simply, the GNU project really has nothing to do with free speech. Free software and free speech or free air cannot be likened to each other. The claim that limiting the amount of people that can access software limits the ways that it can be used and therefore falls under the domain of free speech is completely ridiculous. Let’s compare this to the act of painting. I think all paint should be free. Charging money for paint limits the amount of people that can use it and therefore the ways in which it can be used. Therefore free paint is free speech. I think anyone can see why this is illogical. Someone may argue that this does not really get to the base of the issue. One could argue that once someone buys the paint he can distribute it however he wants and that this is the true problem with software. The way software can be distributed is limited, but software is different. Unlike bottles of paint, software can be copied. If someone buys paint and then distributes it out, this is not the same as distributing software. For software to be distributed an entire copy of the product must be made. This would be like replicating a bottle of paint (let’s pretend you have some sort of futuristic replicating ray gun) and giving that entire bottle of paint to your friend. Limiting the distribution of software is truly no different than the commodification of any other object that is bought and sold. Charging for software is perfectly reasonable. A group of individuals produces a product and sells it. Software is no different. I find it difficult to view software differently than any other product. Even comparing software to art does not suffice to convince me that it should be free and freely distributable. Sure some people do art for the love of it and do not make any money off of it, but this does not mean that all art should be free. Big time artists can and should sell their work to make money. If you love to do something, whether it is art or programming, the ability to support oneself comfortably doing that thing makes it all the better. If you are producing great art and people are willing to pay for it should you just give it away for free in the name of the love of art? To me this seems silly and the same exact concept can apply to programming. It essentially breaks down to supply and demand.  In addition, the programmer is certainly not the only one who is harmed if software is moved toward the GNU ideal. There is an entire industry surrounding software and its function. If something like GNU were to take over, this entire industry would be destroyed. Countless jobs would be lost. Programming is not the only aspect of software production. Software is a huge industry and attempting to make everything in this industry free is somewhat economically irresponsible. GNU would directly damage our capitalist economy. Truly GNU is repressed communism coming out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be disguised under some democratic ideal of free speech.

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