The Free Source Concept Dilemma

open-source-logo-2-300x259So, around 2:00 AM I was buzzed by a friend of mine, David Ingram. He said to me that some of my post were seen by him copy-pasted in other website and he asked me how I felt about it. My answer was a delightful feeling and thank for those who acknowledge my work and use it for their own. Then, this conversation went on to my feelings of the free source community since all my postings in my blog are all free sources (Yes, true free. You don’t have to spend your money for anything. Grab and go).

This reminds me of one of my friend’s post, El Zafir’s Gua Benci Linux (Sorry, it’s in Bahasa Indonesia). He was despised by the fact that linux zealots intimidates other closed source OS user and claim that linux is the superior OS system in compare to other OS. So, David’s question was whether I agree with the free source concept or not (Damn you, David for waking me up for this nonsense).

My answer was a big “NO”. Let me elaborate for you, here. The reason of my objection of the free source concept is the ability for every person to distribute and make derivation of someone’s work without any restriction from its original author. This is a big loophole since this concept really disregard the author or developer of the software’s interest. As a software developer I can’t restrict you from selling or distribute my work that you already acquired to someone else. What if I don’t want this software to be distributed to hackers that I’m worried that they will exploit it and make harmful uses out of it? Also, let’s not say that by doing so, you already reduce your income profit by creating new business rivals that has the same power as you but they don’t have to do a single thing other than copy-pasting your work.

Second loophole is the inability of the author to assess his derivation of work from someone else. Like it or not, the software that is modified from our original work will also determine the eligibility of the original author’s software. In this case, a person can modify the software as they please disregard the quality of the software itself and masquerade their name as the author of the modified version’ s software (in other words, they can say that the modified version is done by me). This, of course, will hurt my credibility as a software developer and I will face many problems in distributing or selling my work to the enterprise.

This answer brought David cynically commented me as a hypocrite since I value free speech as one of my base principle in my democratic politic view. Well, I’m not, David. Free speech is far different from free source. You can’t copy-paste someone’s opinion or theory and claim it that it’s yours. You are bound to copyright-infringement if you use all the author’s idea to make a stand point in either science forum or merely a simple digital media such as the internet. Also, being a democrat doesn’t mean that you also value liberalism. Democracy is a politic perspective that upholds citizen as the supreme power of rules. All regulations have to be inclined to all people’s interest and can’t be interrupted by anyone else. This doesn’t give the idea that you can do as you please because your a citizen living in a democratic country. There are rules that restrict you from interrupting others’ interest.

This conversation then derailed of having me to chat about my politic views to David. Anyway, I’m not saying that free source concept is a bad idea. Heck, I got a lot of knowledge in learning from free source program. What I’m concern about is the software author’s interest in this free source concept. I mean, don’t I have a say in how my works will be distributed and modified to withold the purpose and vision of my works that is originally created? The question remains until further enhancement in this concept will be done.

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4 responses to “The Free Source Concept Dilemma

  1. As a software developer I can’t restrict you from selling or distribute my work that you already acquired to someone else.

    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#WhyUseGPL

    Using the GNU GPL will require that all the released improved versions be free software. This means you can avoid the risk of having to compete with a proprietary modified version of your own work. However, in some special situations it can be better to use a more permissive license.

    please check your facts first before giving your big “NO”. :)

    • Hey sevenco, thanks for replying. In this comment I assume you are referring to copyleft right? I agree that copyleft restrict the use of free source library for proprietry closed-source software, but it doesn’t change the fact that I can’t restrict my software distribution.
      Let’s say that I have a free source software and I only want my software to be widely distributed in a particular region only, I can’t do that under GNU GPL since this license only restrict modified version of my work to be always free, not the distribution area of my work.
      However, this license clause is a quite good alternatif to ensure the market rivalry balance. Nice point made out, sevenco! But we need a better restrictions.

      • now why would you want your software to be distributed in particular region only? i think this would be a very rare case since usually a source code is task specific, not region specific unless it’s a customized order. regardless, there are other open source license models which imposes more restriction (eg. apache license). or, you could add your own clause, which may or may not make it compatible with free software/open source criteria. or you could always go with proprietary/closed source license for such rare situations.

  2. Read the post, Sir. The reason that one might restrict his software from distributed to other people is that he doesn’t want the software to be exploited by the hands of hackers. He only wants to share it to the people who uphold the same vision and purpose that the software was originally created for. (Many movie-DVD and books employs region license which restrict the selling of the particular items in some regions)
    Whether this is a rare case or not, it’s your biased opinion, Sir.

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