Stallman, Licences and Splashback

In case you missed it (I’m pretty sure Kyle didn’t) the Free Software Foundation and the community has been convulsed, again, on the issue of Richard Stallman.

What’s been illuminating to me with the continued fallout: during the various conversations I’ve been having with a wide number of people in the community the issues of licences and the necessity to go above and beyond the limitations of the “Free Software Definition” keeps coming up.

There are many, many different points of view sometimes held simultaneously by the same person (I guess Free Software Folks are like Rabbis that way) but its been amazing to see the pent-up frustrations with the status quo come raging out in the kerfuffle.

I’m afraid I don’t have links to share these discussions, but i assure you, they are there.


Yeah I didn’t want to post a link to any one thing either. Thanks for planting a seed for discussion.

I think this causing a look at and examination of both license details and personal feelings and politics.

It’s kicking people back into “I need to actually think about this stuff”.

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I’m afraid I don’t have any great insights here. My friend and colleague Luis Villa signed the open letter, and I’m glad he felt free to express his view.

On the one hand, Stallman has been a disaster for quite a while. For everyone working at FSF—many of whom unionized or fled to Software Freedom Conservancy partly due to RMS misbehavior—as well as folks outside the fold.

On the other hand, this is a golden opportunity for the corporate side of the “movement” to put a stake through the FSF’s heart. The FSF side maneuvered blithely, to put themselves in that exposed position. But so it goes.

Personally, I’d prefer to see an end to all the major “policy” foundations, as well as a widespread recognition that everybody else should be 501(c)(4)—a business league—and not a 501(c)(3) charity. Put the politics and the advocacy work back out into the many decentralized mailing lists, repositories, forums, and social media, where it belongs. Flatten out the “movement” again, if it’s still a movement…


Should I spend a few minutes studying the difference between types three and four? I’m inclined to suppose that it would be a waste, right now, thanks to the rest of the paragraph enclosing the above quote.

I encourage anybody with an interest to look into what “nonprofit” and “tax-exempt” actually mean, as well as a little bit about the different kinds of 501© organizations. There’s a lot of abuse of those words and designations out in the wild, not just in open source, but in “public sector” services and politics more generally.

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