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December 25th, 2006:

ESR -“unethical to use closed source software”

What would be unethical is to unlawfully take and use s/w not licensed to be so obtained/used/shared.

There’s nothing remotely counter survival in making and selling closed source s/w. There’s a choice to use it or not, and that’s about it.

ESR (Eric S. Raymond) would like everyone to think it’s unethical, but he’s simply over promoting a way of life. His way of life.

Closed source s/w has and does help a ton of people to live better lives. Just like open source does.

Society lives and breathes through exchange. You contribute and receive exchange for it. Closed or open source will hardly fit the bill as unethical.

Arguing that society would look much better with only open source s/w is like saying society would look a lot better with only free food, or free plumbing. Saying that non-free food or plumbing is unethical does not work either, as long as these people produce and charge a fair price.

It all comes down to this idea that ESR would seemingly want to see money disappear. Which would bring us waaay back to when you had to swap products & services to exchange with others.

Money was a great evolutionary step, unless you are incompetent and unwilling to produce and like to live by being a freeloader. (It used to be easy to get a night of free food and lodging in earlier days.) A society functions so much better through this idea that money will give you value for your products and services. I never liked the idea of dragging livestock and what nots around.

For example. You cannot travel very well without money. Let’s say you produce a lot of value in one community. It could be said that you have credit with people as you and your products/services are well known. But then as soon as you leave how do you retain that value?

Today’s society could certainly work in theory on open source only. Without any money being charged for software. The problem is that some people make a living coding, and it would be very unethical to stop them from their choice of earning an honest living. Just like it would be to stop a farmer from doing the same. A better way would be to allow for other types of exchanges to freely exist, for those who so choose. The important parts are production and exchange.

For those of us using open source, we should probably be more interested in contributing back, than harassing people about closed source. You offer it and to the degree it is contributed back to that degree it will be successful. Certainly a lot of good is and will continue to come out of open source.