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Meet the Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy (Video)

Roblimo posted about 7 months ago | from the keeping-it-real-and-keeping-it-free dept.

GNU is Not Unix 29

Twelve years ago, Slashdot interviewed Brad Kuhn in his then-role as VP of the Free Software Foundation. Kuhn is still involved with the FSF, but has gone on, after a stint as CTO for the Software Freedom Law Center, to concentrate his efforts as President, Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy. The Conservancy offers organization and support to copylefted and permissively licensed software, and Brad explains in the video below what that entails, as well as where the Conservancy fits in the expanding landscape of organizations that help protect the rights of software developers. Brad makes no bones about wishing for a world where all software is Free software, but that's a big-picture goal. In the meantime, there's a lot of work to go around, just making sure that developers' chosen licenses are intelligently selected, and properly respected.

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29 comments

Ironic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44896017)

It's ironic that an interview about freedom is locked up in Flash, an insecure and unfree technology.

Re:Ironic (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 7 months ago | (#44896183)

"It's ironic"

Nothing ironic about it, the world works on inertia, energy, habit and gravity. Think of steam and all the other digital download services, steam is still the big one. So big that Brad wardell gave up his Impulse game store/service to gamestop because he knew it was pointless because people form habits and communities around software. People don't want to have to change once they find something that serves their needs/interests.

Re:Ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44898011)

so why bother with this whole free software thing at all then?

Re:Ironic (1)

Meneth (872868) | about 7 months ago | (#44896191)

Yeah! Where's my OGV file?

Re:Ironic (2)

bkuhn (41121) | about 7 months ago | (#44896611)

I asked the Slashdot folks to make the video available in a format viewable with Free Software. I've sent an email to ask to make sure that happens. Unlike RMS, I don't necessarily object to videos of me being available in proprietary formats, as long as they are *also* available in a format viewable with Free Software.

I suspect this was just a communication problem between me and the interviewer. It should get resolved.

No transcript either (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#44896861)

All I'm looking for is a transcript. Usually these videos embedded in Slashdot stories have a link below the video to expand or collapse the transcript, but not this time for some reason.

If I were them.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44896135)

... they need to acknowledge the reality, that complex software costs money, man hours and loads of stress and tedious work on anything non-trivial. That requires someone getting paid to maintain the boring unfun bits of large projects.

What I've learned from my time in videogame land is that - everyone who subscribes to ethical principles regarding software needs to put them on hold until they actually have a functioning organization. If I were part of the FSF I'd raise money to fund third party developers with a track record. AKA fund something like this via a kickstarter /w proven developers:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mightyno9/

If you want to get to where you want to go, you have to play ball with how the real world actually functions. Don't go against the grain of stupidity and irrationality of mankind. That's something we can't fix.

What you can do is plant seeds and protect honest hard working game developers and help them develop tools/bring down costs and make deals with them so cultural works like videogames get their source-code opened 5-10 years after their sales window/period. So we can save cultural works that will be permanently lost with DRM/MMO/F2P corporate control over games and other software in general. Now that people like Gabe at valve and Blizzard at activison have shown developers 'the light' of locking down software and charging constant fee's for access/use... these ideas are totally infecting every aspect of the corporate world to remove our rights to be able to own, repair, and use stuff we buy without big brother corporation/government breathing down or necks for more money.

I'd start in videogaming first and use it as a test-bed for other software industries once you've perfected the model. Without money you're dead in the water. At this point I have no problem if say the FSF funded real private sector developers with temporary DRM to protect sales window (imagine diablo 3 online, getting it patched out 2 months later after major sales window), then have game source released later to whatever they got developers to agree to. You get the money, get to be good guys (release source, patch out DRM, allow game to be modded, etc). You get to be the one making the big decisions effecting society at large. You need to have lots of money to do that and protect honest developers who don't like shitting on the little people but do so because of shitty laws and fear for their finances/jobs/families.

Right now we live in software hell, there is no good reason to not be able to fix, study and repair old software so the same mistakes aren't constantly made again and again Right now we live in dictatorship because of old copyright/patent/IP laws that are just so one-sided towards wallstreet/corporate assholes that they are leaking their anti-freedom and civil rights tendencies everywhere. When you can no longer own your own stuff and get permission from the new kings (and thats what they are, kings of capital, no way this is a market), that is the end of anything resembling society.

Re:If I were them.. (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 7 months ago | (#44896265)

Actually, I don't think it would be all that difficult to have a FOSS model for gaming. There is plenty of engine reuse already, and if major studios dropped half as much into funding FOSS development of these engines as they do for licensing, they could probably get much better engines out of it.

However, you seem to be implying that the FOSS model doesn't work in the real world. However, in many of the markets where there is more or less equal footing, such as most anything web based), FOSS projects dominate. The areas where it is weaker are those with firmly entrenched proprietary incumbents. It's hard to displace Windows or Photoshop with their big head start and aggressive use of possibly illegal tactics and lock-in, but Apache, Wordpress, Drupal, etc. are largely considered the standard.

Re:If I were them.. (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 7 months ago | (#44896333)

dropped half as much into funding FOSS development of these engines as they do for licensing,

How does this make the software free? Someone is still paying for it. All you're suggesting is they shift the burden from licensing to funding something else.

Re:If I were them.. (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 7 months ago | (#44896399)

Companies pay their devs to scratch their own itch or pay outside devs to scratch it for them. They put less in and get more out. Indie devs can make use of it even if they can't afford to pay anything up front, but if successful, might fund development in the same way. It's the same model for many FOSS projects, including the Linux kernel and web browsers.

Free platforms (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#44896969)

Free software licensing works great for software on which other software is built. For example, applications run on free Linux. The server side of web applications runs on free Apache, Perl, Python, PHP, etc., and the client side runs on free Firefox or Chromium. People install these platform-type free software packages in order to run things that build on them. Likewise, game engines might be free, such as any five-year-old Id engine. But with games, people don't expect to buy a (commodity) engine and premium mission packs separately the way one might install a web browser and subscribe to NYTimes.com and Netflix and Something Awful. A video game is expected to be a complete package of engine and mission pack. Moreover, a lot of people prefer to game on consoles, which have long-standing policies against copyleft licensing (see for example the case of Pajama Sam on Wii).

Re:Free platforms (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 7 months ago | (#44897093)

I will acknowledge the concern over consoles, although FOSS doesn't have to be copyleft, if that's a big enough concern. However, I see no reason why needing a complete package would be prohibited by a FOSS model. Unreal is a commodity engine, and it's part of countless complete packages. There were a number of id engine based games that were complete packages, included the beloved Chex Quest. FOSS visual novel engines have been used in popular VNs, sold as part of complete packages (Fate/Stay Night using KiriKiri, for example). However, on the flip side, a number of dojin have been sold separate from the underlying engine, such as RPG Maker games.

Re:Free platforms (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#44897221)

However, I see no reason why needing a complete package would be prohibited by a FOSS model.

The developer of an engine that has only non-free mission packs, or which promotes the use of non-free mission packs, will likely find the engine quarantined into the distribution's ghetto of packages depending on a non-free package. Popular free software distributions' package managers tend to hide such packages by default: F-Droid has "NonFreeAdd", Debian has "contrib", Ubuntu has "multiverse", and Fedora just doesn't carry it at all. So how should a developer fund creating a high-quality first Free mission pack for a given engine? Kickstarter may work for some but not for others who haven't yet had a chance to build name recognition.

Re:Free platforms (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 7 months ago | (#44897421)

Stallman himself probably wouldn't have a problem with such a thing, as I don't believe he treats the 'mission pack' as software. Likewise, I can't think of any packages put into that kind of status merely because they are not useful without non-free non-software elements. Media players, image and comic viewers are going to be used overwhelmingly with non-free video and images. Gnash is actually in debian-main and is a GNU project.

The JavaScript trap (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#44897585)

Stallman himself probably wouldn't have a problem with such a thing, as I don't believe he treats the 'mission pack' as software.

That depends on whether NPC scripts and set piece scripts are "software". Consider what Mr. Stallman wrote about the JavaScript trap [gnu.org] where web sites get to run non-free scripts on your machine. In this analogy, a web site is a mission pack for a web browser.

Media players, image and comic viewers are going to be used overwhelmingly with non-free video and images.

Overwhelmingly, but not exclusively. Media players can be used with the short films Big Buck Bunny and Sintel or with homemade videos. My Archos 43 Internet Tablet, for example, came preloaded with Big Buck Bunny in its "Demo videos" folder. Most video game engines, on the other hand, won't necessarily have a compelling free or homemade mission pack to run. It took six and a half years from the source release of Q3A to when the last known non-free element was purged from OpenArena [wikipedia.org] as of version 0.8.8.

Re:Free platforms (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 7 months ago | (#44898587)

Stallman himself probably wouldn't have a problem with such a thing, as I don't believe he treats the 'mission pack' as software.

Wouldn't that depend on what the 'mission pack' actually is? I would think it would contain a great deal of scripting at the very least but in the real world probably quite a lot of code extending the basic engine, which would then likely be incompatible with the GPL.

Zero to proven (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#44896561)

AKA fund something like this via a kickstarter /w proven developers

So how should a developer become proven in the first place? Does becoming proven require years of experience in the mainstream proprietary software industry?

Re:Zero to proven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44896683)

So how should a developer become proven in the first place?

There are a few ways. You could get into a project with a few known and favored names, get your name in the credits, and get a resume that way. You could take a different path of making small games, posting them for free, and slowly moving up to a fancy resume (unless someone takes one of your games, redraws it, and then builds a company off of making sequels). Or you could get a basic job at a game development company, get your name put in the end of the manual where no one pays attention, and cite those on your resume.

The point is that like everywhere else in life, you have to prove yourself to get noticed. On Slashdot, you can try making informed and educated comments, you can try making funny comments, or you can just join in the slander of the OS wars. There are always options to reach your goal, but that does not mean you are certain of success the first time you try one.

Re:Zero to proven (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#44897679)

You could get into a project with a few known and favored names

How should I go about getting noticed by these "known and favored names" and invited to such a project? How should I go from zero to contacts?

You could take a different path of making small games, posting them for free

That's what I've been doing. But some of my critics have been criticizing my projects to the effect "You're not only living in your mom's basement but also living in the past. Freeware 2D games inspired by 1980s arcade games won't get you anywhere. In fact, many established dev houses are likely to consider the particular choices you made for your portfolio to be a strike against getting hired." Besides, this leaves the question of how to eat while "posting them for free".

unless someone takes one of your games, redraws it, and then builds a company off of making sequels

Someone with marketing skill might still be able to spin that positively. "Infiniminer: The game that inspired Minecraft".

Or you could get a basic job at a game development company

How much does it typically cost to relocate to Austin, Boston, or Seattle and find a job?

Re:Zero to proven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44898851)

How should I go about getting noticed by these "known and favored names" and invited to such a project? How should I go from zero to contacts?

standard tepples, no initiative and needs to be hand-held through every little step. for fuck sake either develop your own game (no i am not going to tell you step-by-step how go about developing your own game) or contact some known people in the industry (no i am not going to list who such people might be or how to go about finding that out).

That's what I've been doing. But some of my critics have been criticizing my projects to the effect "You're not only living in your mom's basement but also living in the past.

sounds like youre developing the wrong thing or pitching yourself to the wrong people then doesnt it.

Besides, this leaves the question of how to eat while "posting them for free".

like any student does while developing skills for a full time job: work part time in something that can pay the bills.

How much does it typically cost to relocate to Austin, Boston, or Seattle and find a job?

seriously you post that every time somebody suggests methods of entry into the game development industry, give up, its not for you and you keep creating artificial barriers for yourself. sometimes you have to suck it up and do the hard yards to get what you want, that means working your ass off in some dead end craptacular job whilst building an impressive portfolio and saving up for relocation. now if you arent willing to do the hard shit then obviously youre far too lazy and arent really that interested in achieving what you claim you want to.

Re:Zero to proven (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#44899113)

seriously you post that every time somebody suggests methods of entry into the game development industry

I ask that because I want to get into the industry, and I want to know what resources I'll need before I get started.

and saving up for relocation

I'm aware of that. I wanted to know how much I would first need to save up.

Re:Zero to proven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44899505)

I ask that because I want to get into the industry, and I want to know what resources I'll need before I get started.

i remember seeing you asked that same question months and months ago and you really still have not taken the initiative to figure it out yourself? if one cant be bothered to calculate their own relocation costs then i doubt one is particularly serious about or capable of such a move. not to mention how plainly obvious it is to anyone with half a brain that you do not supply anywhere near enough information to calculate such a cost value. i can see it is not a serious question.

OK, I'll bite. What's the difference between... (0)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 7 months ago | (#44896529)

OK, I'll bite. What's the difference between the Free Software Foundation, the Software Freedom Law Center and the Software Freedom Conservancy?

I'm guessing all of them offer their services for free, of course...

So bkuhn , Is it FOSS or FLOSS ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44896859)

serious question , my LUG co-ordinator wants to know .. (?)

Re:So bkuhn , Is it FOSS or FLOSS ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44899395)

If you feel that it is important to promote the ideals of software freedom, using the term FLOSS will give equal importance to the free software movement and the open source movement - the logic being the Open Source in OS is taken by two letters and the "free libre" in FL are also taken by two letters. If your community doesn't strongly care for the ethics of free software, FOSS is fine to show significance to both movements. I personally use the term FOSS because I think it's nonsense to say that the free software movement is less significant than the open source movement simply because there are fewer letters used in this initialism.

Ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44900145)

There were two one minute long ads before the actual video.
Is this supposed to be normal?

Stuff like this is making me reconsider whitelisting Slashdot on my ad blocker...

SFC alternatives (2)

Lord Crc (151920) | about 7 months ago | (#44900945)

A GPL-based project I contribute to wanted to become a member of the SFC, however it seems they have a large backlog of applications and are understaffed. It's been over 2.5 years since we've applied and we've yet to hear anything.

So, does anyone have any suggestions for alternatives?

We're not large, but could grow if we could get some framework for donations going. As such the financial side is our primary interest. We've decided against personal paypal accounts etc as we've had bad experience with this in the past, hence wanting something tied to the project.

Re:SFC alternatives (1)

bkuhn (41121) | about 7 months ago | (#44965023)

Lord Crc,

We've just about completed our backlog and have started taking new projects. You should expect an invitation by the end of the year. Conservancy has been very careful not to accept new projects until we're absolutely sure we have the resources to take care of them.

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