User: Password:
|
|
Subscribe / Log in / New account

25 years of making people who agree with you cringe

25 years of making people who agree with you cringe

Posted Oct 21, 2010 2:54 UTC (Thu) by vapier (subscriber, #15768)
Parent article: How not to recognize free hardware

i started off the article with that feeling "oh the FSF, what level of crazy have they gotten to next". then i hit the badge requirements and i thought it couldn't get better. then i hit the terminology section and realized i lack any sort of imagination.

Jon Stewart put it pretty nicely:
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-june-24-2008/local-...


(Log in to post comments)

25 years of making people who agree with you cringe

Posted Oct 21, 2010 6:09 UTC (Thu) by madhatter (subscriber, #4665) [Link]

But if the application installer lists a popular proprietary Flash plugin or network telephony application, it may be deemed to be "steering users" toward non-free code.

I found it slightly amusing that in criticising this as "what level of crazy", you point to a reference that I can only access with Adobe flash installed.

For me, that makes the FSF's point. All those end-users who "just want things to work", and click through unacceptable end-user licences they don't even read in order to make them work, are causing those of us who want to be free significant problems. Most of the pressure on producers to do things properly goes away, as only the two or three weirdoes at the back (which includes me) are left objecting.

That's my problem, for wanting to be free, I guess. But while I don't expect Adobe to fight my corner, I do expect the FSF to fight it. I'm glad they continue to do that, whether or not it makes the "marque" less useful to all those other users who are happy to install not-really-free software just to make things work.

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 7:39 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

I found it slightly amusing that in criticising this as "what level of crazy", you point to a reference that I can only access with Adobe flash installed.

Why it's amusing? It's sad - but it shows the point beautifully. People want to see Flash-sites. That's just fact of life. Small percent of them (odd million or so) want to have free hardware too (I do). Yes, there are few guys who refuse to use Flash and want only free hardware (like RMS and you, I guess) - but there are too few of them to actually sway the manufacturers in any direction. If the choice is to attach "Supports Adobe Flash" label xor "Respects Your Freedom" label the first one will win nine times out of ten and perhaps even ten times out of ten.

All those end-users who "just want things to work", and click through unacceptable end-user licences they don't even read in order to make them work, are causing those of us who want to be free significant problems.

Yes, but don't forget that they pay for the development of all these gadgets too.

Most of the pressure on producers to do things properly goes away, as only the two or three weirdoes at the back (which includes me) are left objecting.

Sure, but the way to change the situation is not to blindly press ahead. If you want to be heard you need a coalition with some of your opponents who support at least part of your agenda - otherwise manufacturers will just ignore you and your campaign... and will be right.

The goal of manufacturers is to produce profit and "three weirdoes at the back" are not big enough market to think about it.

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 8:24 UTC (Thu) by madhatter (subscriber, #4665) [Link]

>> All those end-users who "just want things to work", and click through
>> unacceptable end-user licences they don't even read in order to make
>> them work, are causing those of us who want to be free significant
>> problems.
>
> Yes, but don't forget that they pay for the development of all these
> gadgets too.

And what use is that to me, if I want to be free rather than cool? I'm not saying the gadgets aren't nice, nor that they don't do useful things for those happy to use them; but since I won't use them, their existence is unlikely to persuade me that something useful is coming out of that community and their purchasing habits.

> If you want to be heard you need a coalition with some of your opponent
> who support at least part of your agenda

I don't want this to become political, but - if you know anything about UK politics - consider the coalition government we currently have here. The Liberal Democrats did exactly what you suggest - joined a coalition with a larger opponent in order to be heard on their common ground - and many commentators[1] are now suggesting that they'll take a lot of damage at the next general election for it. If this happens, I'd argue that it's because the price they paid to join the coalition involved the sacrifice of some fundamental principles, which their supporters will not quickly forgive. You're right about fringe minorities being difficult to hear, but if they get in bed with larger groups who are antithetical to some of their core values just to share the platform, it can go badly wrong for the smaller partner.

[1] eg http://chinamieville.net/post/1361955242/letter-to-a-prog..., but there are many other examples.

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 11:35 UTC (Thu) by rsidd (subscriber, #2582) [Link]

And what use is that to me, if I want to be free rather than cool?

You'll get your free gadget eventually. These things usually work by evolution. Remember the web video scene a few years ago? Different sites used RealMedia, Quicktime, Windows Media -- each of which had its own plugin, none of which worked on linux. Now they all use flash, which works on linux, and a lot of them even work with free implementations like gnash. It is definitely progress.

Further progress will come through HTML5, and again that is already available on many sites. The problem is patent-encumbered codecs. We are far from being completely free but we are closer than we would have been if we had simply dug in our heels and said "we're not watching any content that requires a non-free player."

The idea of open standards has taken root and hardware devices are already much "freer" than they were just a few years ago. USB devices (storage, cameras, video, and much else) that conform to standards can just be plugged into a linux computer and work. It's getting better, and it's not thanks to the FSF: it's thanks to the fact that there is now a significant number of OS's out there (several versions of Windows and Mac, non-negligible numbers of Linux) and manufacturers have realised the value of not having to bundle drivers separately for all these systems. We gain by popularising free systems and we don't popularise them by insisting on an "all-or-nothing" approach to ideological purity.

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 22, 2010 8:29 UTC (Fri) by pauly (subscriber, #8132) [Link]

> It's getting better, and it's not thanks to the FSF:
Well, in part it is. Not particularly to the FSF, but rather thanks
to GPL. The ultimate non-free device for me is now the iPhone:
A beautiful device on top of any usability score list, with a
powerful unix-like OS at its heart. But the BSD licence allows
Apple to get every profit from the (originally open) code, at the
same time putting users into a (albeit golden) cage.
The fact that the GPL is very clear about derived work has hugely
helped to push evolution into the right direction.
My impression is: Most manufacturers simply don't care mouch about
openness or closedness, as long as they can use code to speed up
development significantly. If they have to release source code then
-- what the heck. This part of how the Linux explosion has worked.

GPL is hack - that's why it works...

Posted Oct 22, 2010 15:01 UTC (Fri) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Most manufacturers simply don't care mouch about openness or closedness, as long as they can use code to speed up development significantly. If they have to release source code then -- what the heck. This part of how the Linux explosion has worked.

Yup. People are irrational. They behave like monkeys.

When you present carrot (high-quality code, free advertisement, etc) first and then show the stick (demand payment in form of freedom) later - they will often accept the bargain because, let's be frank, most manufacturers are not evil and lock-down the devices to simplify their own life, not to rob user of the freedom.

When you present stick first and then your demands look truly onerous (why do you want to decide if I will offer support for Windows or not?) then you'll need much bigger carrot to overcome the first impression.

In a sense FSF campaigns are designed to fail because they assume that people are rational - and in the end most of them end up a failure. Some few of them succeed because someone else presents the same idea in a sane way - but is it really a good way forward? I think "The perfect is the enemy of the good" dogma applies to FSF 9 times out of 10 (if not 10 times out of 10).

The infamous example of this problem is the Nopedia vs the Wikipedia. It took three years to create 24 high-quality articles using experts and thorough per-review process (and some 74 articles were in the works when Nupedia was closed down). Wikipedia got more articles in few days after launch! And in one year it had more very high-quality articles then Nupedia got in three years! Sure, most articles on Wikipedia were (and are) complete rubbish, but... the topics covered by other encyclopedias are great in Wikipedia - and "rubbish" topics cover things which will never be even mentioned in Britannica!

Does it mean experts and per-review are irrelevant? Sure as hell no - but by themselves they are not numerous enough to move "free world encyclopedia" idea forward. And the same is true for the people who care enough about freedom to accept onerous FSF's requirements related to this mark...

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 19:20 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

the thing is that the hardware in question _is_ open, you can put whatever you want on it.

however, the FSF doesn't want to say that the hardware is open if the vendor offers closed software on it.

I would love it if all the hardware that has closed software pre-installed on it was also open and I could put my software on it instead.

saying that hardware isn't open enough if it is offered with the option of closed software means that you drive manufacturers into an either-or situation. they can either support the closed software that most of their customers want, or they can have 'open hardware' (even though the hardware doesn't change). there is no company out there that will willingly eliminate all sales for people who want to use closed software to support the people who want nothing but free software.

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 9:02 UTC (Thu) by lbt (subscriber, #29672) [Link]

> People want to see Flash-sites. That's just fact of life.

No, they really don't.

What they really, really want is to see the cute kittens and puppies ^H^H^H^H^^H content on the flash sites.

Flash [being closed] simply makes/made it an order of magnitude harder for free solutions to be built up to allow ordinary users to create (and see) that content.

Imagine how the explosion of geocites or any of the simple "html page" sites would have fared if HTML _needed_ an $x00 package from Adobe to create them?

OTOH the FSF have again lead the way... now we just need a less extreme organisation (like the LF?) to introduce a similar but realistic and viable mark - because whilst the FSF may be leading the way they are failing woefully at delivering.

Well, it's only natural...

Posted Oct 21, 2010 21:28 UTC (Thu) by felixfix (subscriber, #242) [Link]

One of the rules of leading is to look back once in a while to make sure you still have followers. The few who follow this eye-rolling exercise will not be enough to induce ANY manufacturers to also follow.

25 years of making people who agree with you cringe

Posted Oct 21, 2010 18:43 UTC (Thu) by Fats (subscriber, #14882) [Link]

All those end-users who "just want things to work", and click through unacceptable end-user licences they don't even read in order to make them work, are causing those of us who want to be free significant problems.

I'm happily running Flash, I've no problem with the EULA. I feel myself more free than you. You seem to have some conviction that forbids you to use some things which are provided to you for free.

greets,
Staf.

25 years of making people who agree with you cringe

Posted Oct 21, 2010 21:09 UTC (Thu) by madhatter (subscriber, #4665) [Link]

> I've no problem with the EULA.

2.4 Backup Copy. You may make one backup copy of the Software, provided your backup copy is not installed or used. You may not transfer the rights to a backup copy unless you transfer all rights in the Software as provided under Section 4.

You ever make backups of your system, including the directory where flash is installed? I hope you don't ever keep more than one backup. That would be wrong.

3.1 Adobe Runtime Restrictions. You will not use any Adobe Runtime on any non-PC device or with any embedded or device version of any operating system. For the avoidance of doubt, and by example only, you may not use an Adobe Runtime on any [...] tablet and Tablet PC (other than with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and its successors)

You weren't planning on running flash on Linux on a tablet, were you? That would be wrong.

You agree that the Software will not be shipped, transferred or exported into any country or used in any manner prohibited by the United States Export Administration Act or any other export laws, restrictions or regulations (collectively the “Export Laws”).

Planning on taking your netbook on holiday? That might be wrong, and it's your responsibility to check whether or not your holiday destination is permitted to you.

16.1.3 You are required to take all reasonable measures to avoid and reduce damages, in particular to make back-up copies of the Software and your computer data subject to the provisions of this agreement.

I particularly enjoyed this one, inasmuch as it requires you to make backup copies of the software in accordance with the agreement, when the agreement earlier forbids you from making copies (a copy is OK; copies are not). That might be wrong; it's definitely impossible.

There are other fairly objectionable terms in there, too. I can understand that people don't read it - it's 210 pages long, and in a whole selection of languages - but I'm vaguely surprised that people rush to defend it.

25 years of making people who agree with you cringe

Posted Oct 21, 2010 21:35 UTC (Thu) by felixfix (subscriber, #242) [Link]

Silly rules are there for ego stroking.

I have rented apartments with illegal clauses in the rental agreements. One silly landlord tried to enforce one (cleaning deposit in California), I took her to court, and won.

The point isn't that the clause was illegal so much as it was unenforceable, and the same applies to silly clauses in EULAs. The only real enforcement the manufacturer has is to not honor a warranty if they can find a reason to show you have abused their product. In practice, the clauses you cite are as unenforceable in every practical aspect as the truly illegal rental clause the landlord tried to enforce on me.

I don't like flash, but I use it without having read the EULA, and I don't care what nonsense they have put in there. There is nothing they can put in the EULA that has any affect on me.

25 years of making people who agree with you cringe

Posted Oct 23, 2010 18:19 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Silly rules are there for ego stroking.

I don't see how any ego gets stroked by Adobe including a silly rule in its EULA.

But I can see how Adobe would include a restriction even knowing that it would be silly to enforce it 99.9% of the time, because in some scenario (which you haven't thought of, but lawyers are paid to imagine) it could mean a lot of money for Adobe.

I have rented apartments with illegal clauses in the rental agreements. One silly landlord tried to enforce one (cleaning deposit in California), I took her to court, and won.

(for those of you following along, felixfelix is talking about a "nonrefundable cleaning deposit," which is the oxymoronic term some rental agreements use to refer to money you put up in advance to pay for cleaning when you move out, whether the apartment is dirty or not. In California, a renter does not have the power to commit to that).

But silly rules matter to some people on a moral basis, even if the law doesn't stand behind them. Some people believe it is wrong to renege on a deal, even when the government allows and encourages you to do it. If you gave your landlord money knowing that she expected to keep it and wouldn't give you the apartment without it, some would say you have a moral obligation to let her keep it.

The law lets you renege on that deal as an efficient device to eliminate competition (with other renters who might pay that cleaning fee) and create a different distribution of wealth than the free market would.

I know a case where a woman in New York City begged a landlord to rent her an apartment with broken plumbing, because she couldn't afford any normal apartment, lived there for 18 months, then took her entire rent for the whole time back. You can do that in New York, because it's the City's way of preventing apartments with broken plumbing from existing. But I can tell you lots of people would not have the chutzpah.

I also know of several cases of people borrowing money and not paying it back, possibly intending that all along, and the law supported it because the parties agreed to interest higher than 10%. Some would call that theft, and I also know of cases where people repaid everything in spite of the legal privilege not to.

Adobe EULA stupidities

Posted Oct 22, 2010 10:27 UTC (Fri) by james (subscriber, #1325) [Link]

It gets worse.

In order to use Adobe Reader, you have to click-through a box saying "I have read and agree to the EULA".

The EULA is provided as a PDF.

The only way out of that circular dependency is with another PDF reader.

25 years of making people who agree with you cringe

Posted Oct 23, 2010 8:31 UTC (Sat) by Fats (subscriber, #14882) [Link]

I have to admit I sometimes don't follow laws and EULAs to the letter. I sometimes cross the street in a diagonal way. I sometimes use the bike lane on the wrong side of the road for short distances. I sometimes install software without reading the EULA.
Some people will call me a criminal for it.

I still don't have a problem with the EULA. I may be silly in certain places but it is just a showing of the mad world we live in. A world where people sue their microwave manufacturer because they fried their cat and it was not mentioned in the manual that you should not put a pet in the oven.

The EULA only applies to the software itself so if there would ever be a problem with it, like Adobe suing people for their use of the Flash plugin, I can just uninstall the software and be done with it.

That said, I don't defend Adobe's business practices. There is probably one thing worse then getting a bunch of IBM lawyers knocking on your door and that is having a bunch of Adobe lawyers knocking on your door ...
But this fact does not stop me from enjoying movies on youtube etc.

greets,
Staf.

Oppressive Adobe Flash EULA

Posted Oct 23, 2010 17:49 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

16.1.3 You are required to take all reasonable measures to avoid and reduce damages, in particular to make back-up copies of the Software and your computer data subject to the provisions of this agreement.
I particularly enjoyed this one, inasmuch as it requires you to make backup copies of the software in accordance with the agreement, when the agreement earlier forbids you from making copies (a copy is OK; copies are not). That might be wrong; it's definitely impossible.

You just aren't parsing it correctly. A backup copy of the Software and a backup copy of your Windows registry constitute two backup copies, i.e. copies of the Software and your computer data. And incidentally, there is a rule of contract construction that says if a clause can be interpreted two ways and one of them is impossible, the other one is the one that applies.

Oppressive Adobe Flash EULA

Posted Oct 23, 2010 21:27 UTC (Sat) by madhatter (subscriber, #4665) [Link]

I can't agree with your reading. One of each would be "you are required to make a back-up copy of the software and your computer data"; the singular has no other use. "Back-up copies of both" implies multiple copies of each.

Your point about contract construction seems much more convincing to me, and very sensible to boot - but it will doubtless vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. An EULA which requires me to do the impossible seems unwise to me, even though local contract law might save me from its insanities.

Oppressive Adobe Flash EULA

Posted Oct 24, 2010 0:51 UTC (Sun) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

If I were writing that contract, with the meaning that we both know Adobe intended, I would write "copies," because "you are required to make a back-up copy of the software and your computer data" means you're required to make a single combined copy of the two, which is not normally how people back those things up. It's "you must send bills to all your customers," not "you must send a bill to all your customers." But I know people often say the latter.

Also, the plural includes the singular in the same way the masculine includes the feminine in formal English. For example, "you must send bills to your customers" validly covers a merchant with one customer, if the text doesn't otherwise assert there is only one.

I could add a bunch of words to prevent any interpretation like you're proposing, but it wouldn't be worth complicating the the text since I know no judge will choose an interpretation that makes it impossible to perform.

Contract law varies very little throughout the US and even the whole English common-law world. Local variations are in specific subject matter areas; it's hard to find variation in basic things like construction (what did the parties mean when they said X?). You don't find law school contract textbooks specific to a state, for example.

Oppressive Adobe Flash EULA

Posted Oct 25, 2010 9:48 UTC (Mon) by madhatter (subscriber, #4665) [Link]

You may well be right. I suppose I'm, oddly, minded to prefer software with a license that I don't have to examine with Strunk and White, and the 2010 White Book, to hand, in order to decipher my obligations. I'll stick with the GPL, and other free licences, and enjoy their protection, thanks.


Copyright © 2017, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds