goals of the FSF
Posted Sep 29, 2011 22:45 UTC (Thu) by pjm
In reply to: Papering over a binary blob
Parent article: Papering over a binary blob
Although I have never seen this stated, I would guess that the notion of freedom that RMS and the Free Software Foundation are concerned with is negative liberty. According to this uninformed guess, they are not concerned with your physical ability to fly like an eagle or modify circuitry, nor do they see any moral importance in whether you have software that enables you to do this or that (gives you the freedom to do this or that, one might say) (so don't see loss of (proprietary) software as a consideration when weighed against ethical considerations), but are only concerned in what others forbid you to do, for example by restrictive licenses.
Another freedom commonly not sought by those who value freedom is the freedom to remove others' freedom. This would explain why the FSF don't object to copyleft licenses, which withold the freedom to make the code proprietary or impose any other restrictions.
I've never lived in the US, but I get the impression that it's common in the US to understand words like "free(dom)" and "liberty" along these lines, and this might be why I haven't seen the FSF explain the sorts of freedom it is or isn't concerned with.
If anyone has any contacts at the FSF, then it would be good if you could encourage them to be explicit about this. It's very common for people to see FSF positions as illogical, because they aren't familiar with these sorts of distinctions among freedoms. I think if the FSF were to be more explicit as to the reasoning for some of these things, then I think people would give more weight to their positions.
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