Unofficial Fedora Spins
Posted Oct 11, 2007 8:45 UTC (Thu) by arcticwolf
Parent article: Unofficial Fedora Spins
Even with the Feature Generic Logos, the creator of "MyBlueCap" still has much work to do. It is nice of Fedora to supply some logos, but ultimately the Fedora developers have plenty to do and should not be expected to divert their efforts towards making it easy to create unofficial derivatives with software that is not free everywhere.
I think you're confusing "is" and "ought" here. Outside of the condescending tone of the above paragraph (who exactly is "expecting" anything?), the fact that software isn't free somewhere doesn't mean that the software itself is bad: it means that the laws of the countr(y|ies) where it's not are. Software patents, in particular, are not a problem with the software in question but rather with the laws of those jurisdictions where it's possible to patent mathematical algorithms and computer software and prohibit independent reimplementation.
Put another way, I'm sure you could find countries where software such as GnomeSword (a Gnome-based bible study tool) or GPG is illegal; the former because of its relation to christianity, the latter because it's an encryption tool. Is this a reason why Fedora should ("should" in the ethical sense) not contain either software? It does contain both, but of course, the answer to the aforementioned question is a resounding "no".
The same is true for software that is illegal in - say - the USA: of course the Fedora developers can't bundle software that would get them into legal trouble, and nobody in their right mind would expect them to do so. But it should be kept in mind that this is due to the laws being what they are, and NOTHING else: if software patents were abolished in the USA tomorrow, then Fedora would (and should) certainly start including this software after all. The article, as written, unfortunately seems to miss this, instead dismissing Jóhann's efforts en passant ("For those who still think that creating the Fedora-based "MyBlueCap" distribution would be a good idea [...]").
Finally, the article makes the typical but not unexpected mistake of being too US-centric - and by US-centric, I don't mean that it focusses too much on the USA (which is understandable, given that Fedora is based in the USA) but rather that it sees the USA and its legal system as "the norm", with everything that differs substantially (such as Iceland's legal system that rejects software patents) standing out. The opposite is true, of course: not having software patents is what is natural, and even though it may or may not be the norm, one should recognise that software patents are unnatural. For a publication that's dedicated to free software, I'd have expected a bit more here: if you *must* accept the fact that software patents in the USA do exist in a fatalistic manner, at least recognise that other countries that don't have them are (still?) more enlightenend in this regard, and don't dismiss them as being strange, foreign, dangerous or scary because they don't slavishly mirror the US legal system and implement this kind of codswallop as well.
Oh, and as was already pointed out, Iceland is not a member of the EU. Mistakes happen, of course, and I'm not chastising you for not doing better research there, but I also think it's both a bit sad and telling that this obvious, factual mistake hasn't been corrected in an entire week even though it was pointed out right away when the article became available to subscribers.
- Yes, I'm none anymore. Still wondering why?
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