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2006 - The Year the FSF Reached Out

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the hugs-from-a-penguin dept.

GNU is Not Unix 114

nanday writes "Linux.com is running a story about how the Free Software Foundation has transformed itself into an activist organization in the past year. From the story: 'At the start of 2006, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) was largely inward-looking, focused on the GNU Project and high-level strategic concerns such as licensing. Now, without abandoning these issues, the FSF had transformed into an openly activist organization, reaching out to its supporters and encouraging their participation in civic campaigns often designed to enlist non-hackers in their causes. Yet what happened seems to bemuse even FSF employees.'" Linux.com and Slashdot are both owned by OSTG.

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114 comments

Transformation (3, Interesting)

jesboat (64736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412890)

It is an interesting transformation, and one that took people by storm. I can't help but wonder if this doesn't introduce a conflict of interest between the anti-DRM stuff and supporting GNU in the future.

Re:Transformation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413132)

I can't help but wonder if this doesn't introduce a conflict of interest between the anti-DRM stuff and supporting GNU in the future.

Interesting question .. and point. Too bad it runs afoul of /. groupthink. Hence the "Troll" mod.

My advice, don't say or post anything - those that can; do, those who can't; post on /.

--Anonymous Coward.

Re:Transformation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413320)

Conflict of interest? It appears the opposite to me. Anti-DRM and the free software movement represent two facets of the same interest. DRM is inimical to everything the free software movement stands for.

DRM imposes, with the full force of law, arbitrary restrictions upon your use of your own computer -- arbitrary in the sense that the restrictions need have nothing to do with anything wrong, nor with the violation of any law (besides the DMCA, but that is the main problem here: a law that imposes criminal sentences for any customer who doesn't behave as the vendor decrees).

To support both DMCA-backed DRM and the free software movement implies ignorance of one or both.

Re:Transformation (1)

jesboat (64736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414714)

I didn't say Anti-DRM and the free software movement, I said Anti-DRM and GNU. There's a big difference.

Re:Transformation (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413336)

It is an interesting transformation, and one that took people by storm.

Are you on drugs? The FSF took people by storm? What people would these be? The choir?

Really (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413430)

Unfortunate that reality is taken as Flamebait. This, like Slashdot group think, is one of Open Sources' greatest weaknesses.

like me (0, Redundant)

Swimport (1034164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412894)

For those like me who have heard of the Free Software Foundation, but are not sure who or what they are: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Software_Foundat ion [wikipedia.org]

Re:like me (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413092)

For those like me who have heard of the Free Software Foundation, but are not sure who or what they are:


God, has Slashdot really fallen this far?

Re:like me (1)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413100)

You should be sure to read up on their parent organization [wikipedia.org] . Many of the Slashdot editors, especially Zonk, are fervent and passionate members.

Re:like me (-1, Troll)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413140)

The FSF doesn't have a parent organization. You're confusing them with your anti-slash, whose parent organization is NAMBLA.

Re:like me (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413766)

You're confusing them with your anti-slash, whose parent organization is NAMBLA.


You mean the National Association of Marlin Brando Look-Alikes?

Re:like me (1, Insightful)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413104)

The modpoint inflation rate is nothing short of astounding. Someone posts a link to the wikipedia page on the FSF... and get's modded informative!

This is Slashdot. As in "News for Nerds who Know What the Free Software Foundation Is." Next you'll be revealing to the world the identity of those perenially mysterious acronyms, GNU, RMS and GPL.

Re:like me (4, Funny)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413122)

For those like me who have heard of the Wikipedia, but are not sure who or what they are: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

Re:like me (0)

Jack Action (761544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413384)

For those who are not sure who or what Wikipedia is, please consult: http://www.wikitruth.info/ [wikitruth.info]

Re:like me (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413600)

For those who are not sure who or what Wikitruth is, please consult: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikitruth [wikipedia.org]

Me too! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17414772)

For those who are not sure who or what a tedious, bandwidth-wasting, sub-memetic wankfest is, please consult parent posts.

Re:like me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413168)

The modpoint inflation rate is nothing short of astounding. Someone posts a link to the wikipedia page on the FSF... and get's modded informative!
You must be new here...

Re:like me (2, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413226)

Next you'll be revealing to the world the identity of those perenially mysterious acronyms, GNU, RMS and GPL.

For those who didn't know: GNU [wikipedia.org] , RMS [wikipedia.org] , and GPL [wikipedia.org] .

      Take care, guy ;)

MOD PARENT UP!!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17414556)

+1 Informative.

Re:like me (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413882)

I'm just waiting for someone to post instructions on how to use a web browser and a search engine. (Now guidelines for the proper use of its and it's, their, there, and they're, and lose and loose would be useful.)

Re:like me (1)

GhaleonStrife (916215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414022)

Hear, hear! It irritates me to no end to read someone's post saying they're gonna "loose" something. What's that supposed to mean, they're gonna turn it to the left?

Re:like me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17414632)

Hear, hear!

"Here, here!".

It irritates me

"irritate's".

saying they're gonna

"their".

mean, they're gonna

"there".

Re:like me (3, Informative)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414144)

This is Slashdot. As in "News for Nerds who Know What the Free Software Foundation Is." Next you'll be revealing to the world the identity of those perenially mysterious acronyms, GNU, RMS and GPL.

It's not people are born knowing these things. The guy has a seven digit id. He's new to the site, and took the time to educate himself, and figured he might not be the only one who didn't know. And you give him shit for that.

Re:like me (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414154)

Next you'll be revealing to the world the identity of those perenially mysterious acronyms, GNU, RMS and GPL.


GNU: Large African antelopes. Also called wildebeest.

RMS: Root Mean Square.

GPL: Game Programming Library

Thank you and goodnight!

It's about time... (5, Insightful)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412928)

I've often wondered why the FSF hasn't reached out to the mainstream community before. The ideas and restrictions behind Treacherous Computing, DRM, and the Copyright Raiders should be enough to raise the hackles of any conservatives and libertarians out there. Until mainstream activists realized the dangers pointed out by RMS this will remain an uphill battle.

As an aside, if the common public are pirates, maybe we should refer to the **AAs as Vikings or Raiders or something. Successively stealing our rights and enforcing their business models..

Re:It's about time... (2, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412968)

I've often wondered why the FSF hasn't reached out to the mainstream community before
Because most people do not care about what the FSF cares about.

Re:It's about time... (1)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413016)

"Because most people do not care about what the FSF cares about."

Because most people do not care about what the FSF cares about, to their own detriment; sacrificing fair usage rights through ignorance/complacency for the bottom line of large companies.

There. Fixed that for you :)

Re:It's about time... (2, Insightful)

Erwos (553607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413048)

What you don't get, apparently, is that this concern doesn't rank very high on the average person's radar compared to other stuff, like _crime_, _taxes_, and other such issues. It's like the "Save the *small rare bird* Foundation" - there's a bunch of folks who care, but they're absolutely dwarfed by those who don't. Why should your cause be at the top of the list, or anywhere in the vicinity?

Re:It's about time... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413184)

"Save the *small rare bird* Foundation"

      Exactly. After all, it's the penguin we're talking about here, right? :)

Re:It's about time... (3, Informative)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413348)

What you don't get, apparently, is that this concern doesn't rank very high on the average person's radar compared to other stuff, like _crime_, _taxes_, and other such issues. It's like the "Save the *small rare bird* Foundation" - there's a bunch of folks who care, but they're absolutely dwarfed by those who don't.

That is quite a jump you just made there. I realize fully that there are more pressing matters in the eyes of most people (myself included). However, unlike the "Save the *small rare bird* Foundation" you mention, these are rights that people will miss once they have been stripped away. Other than a select few, almost no one will miss the birds (yes it is a tragedy, but really, how does it affect the average persons life?).

The problem, as I see it, is that the large media companies have intentionally convoluted and obfuscated the issues so that the average person no longer understands what is really at stake - hence my use of the term "complacency". It is far easier to pretend that nothing is happening than to educate oneself on the issues at hand. Are these issues as important as many other issues, such as taxes or crime as you mentioned? Probably not in most peoples eyes. However that does not mean that we should simply ignore these issues simply because there are other more pressing matters to deal with first. This is where I applaud the FSF. They are raising awareness of these issues.

"Why should your cause be at the top of the list, or anywhere in the vicinity?"

I don't believe I suggested that this take precedence over all other issues or that it is "my cause"; I merely implied that it is an issue worthy of consideration.

Re:It's about time... (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413584)

> However, unlike the "Save the *small rare bird* Foundation" you mention, these are rights that people will miss once they have been stripped away.

Nonetheless, they still don't care what operating systems are available for their computer, let alone whether they can read ebooks or play videos on some OS they don't run. Or whether they can hack the OS on their TiVo.

Isn't that just shocking? Tell me, do you know what the labor practices are at the farms where you get your food from? And why is it you're not out on the streets about that?

It's trite by now to point this out, but it's endemic in cultures, and it seems especially so in intellectualy-oriented ones like nerd culture, to believe that theirs is The One That Matters, that anyone not versed in technology issues is simply not "with it", and anyone who doesn't know how to use their computer is just some Epsilon-minus not deserving of further consideration. You can blame Big Media all you want, but until you get away from the "wake up you sheeple" attitude, you'll get nowhere talking to them. Sheeple or not.

 

Re:It's about time... (1)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413718)

"Nonetheless, they still don't care what operating systems are available for their computer, let alone whether they can read ebooks or play videos on some OS they don't run. Or whether they can hack the OS on their TiVo.

"...you'll get nowhere talking to them. Sheeple or not."

My anecdotal evidence points in exactly the opposite direction. People that I talk to tend to talk to their friends about what is going on. "Sheeple" are far more receptive to ideas than you give them credit for. Research, however, requires a bit of an effort. An effort compounded by the obfuscation by our dear politicians and the spin the media companies apply with regard to these issues.

Do I care what OS people use? Absolutely not. *I* prefer Linux. Most of the aforementioned people I have spoken with run Windows. DRM in its many shapes and colors affects many OS's regardless of your OS of choice.

"Isn't that just shocking? Tell me, do you know what the labor practices are at the farms where you get your food from? And why is it you're not out on the streets about that?"

Nice Strawman. :)

Re:It's about time... (4, Insightful)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413120)

... because most people don't understand what the FSF cares about, and it's likely they never will.

For most people, you shove a DVD into a DVD player and if it works, that's all they need.

Most of the people who do care are on Slashdot, and so it's easy to think of it as a huge bunch of folks, but I'd say about 1% of the population uses file sharing networks and maybe 2% of the population actually sees the problems with DRM. Now, that's a huge number of people, and a large percentage of the number of people interested in owning music or movies, so it's important to both producers and consumers of entertainment. But it's never going to be the dominant issue for more than a tiny handful of people.

It's not enough to swing an election, so with politicla issues the RIAA has a huge advantage, and from what I can see, they use it ruthlessly.

I think the FSF did a very nice job with BadVista.org . The site's very well done. But I think they will mainly be preaching to the choir.

D

Re:It's about time... (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413386)

Most of the people who do care are on Slashdot, and so it's easy to think of it as a huge bunch of folks, but I'd say about 1% of the population uses file sharing networks
I think you'd be way off here. Take a look at the people the RIAA is suing; how many of them post on Slashdot, do you think? In my experience, it tends to be my non-geek friends who are more aware of which filesharing network is the place to get which kind of content. Using most of them doesn't require any technical knowledge, just a broadband connection. Mostly, it spreads because someone says 'hey, I found this way to get free songs' and installs it on all of their friends computers. They may have no understanding of the technology, or the legality, but they are still using the systems.

Re:It's about time... (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413428)

I'd say about 1% of the population uses file sharing networks and maybe 2% of the population actually sees the problems with DRM. Now, that's a huge number of people, and a large percentage of the number of people interested in owning music or movies

I must be misreading that, or else you didn't write quite what you meant to - are you seriously suggesting that 2% of the population is a large percentage of the music/movie buying section of the population?

I don't know a single person who doesn't buy the odd CD or DVD now and again, yet I can count the number of people that I know who even care about DRM on the fingers of one hand. I have no idea of what sort of percentages we're talking about, but it wouldn't surprise me if "percentage of population interested in owning music or movies" was somewhere near 80% or even 90%; in any case, I simply can't believe that 2% isn't almost insignificant in comparison.

Re:It's about time... (2, Informative)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414076)

You are right. I did not express myself clearly, and I apologise for that.

Here's what I meant to say, broken down a little better.

* Sure, almost everyone buys/rents a movie or two every year.
* But the fanatics, who buy/rent/go to a movie or two every month, or even every week, are maybe 10% of the population, and they amount to 80% or more of the profits.
* If you take the top 1-2% of the total population, then, who used to buy half the movies and now just download them, you're at about 20% of their core customers, and that can really hurt.

So although 1-2% of the population is not a big percentage by number of people, it turns out to be a very high percentage of actual sales.

Did that make help?

D

Re:It's about time... (1)

Curtman (556920) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414424)

Sure, almost everyone buys/rents a movie or two every year.

What population are we talking about here? The vast majority of the world's population doesn't have the luxury of indoor plumbing let alone television.

Re:It's about time... (1)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415588)

We are, of course, talking about people in the first world.

Although third worlders are more advanced than you think. There are plenty of TVs and DVD players even in very poor households. I remember going to a tin shack in the Philippines and seeing a TV and DVD player in a prominent position in the living room. There are plenty of places, even retail stores, where you can buy pirated DVDs cheap. I talked to a cable TV magnate - a very nice man - who told me that the content providers were blowing it because they didn't scale the prices of content to where it was being sold. That is, you can sell a DVD for $20 or cable service for $99 a month in the USA but in the Philippines people will pay $ 2, or $ 8, and it's a strain for him to get people to pay even that much.

There's also indoor plumbing. It may not be as clean as we see in the US, but it exists, and works.

Don't sell the third world short. It may surprise you.

D

Re:It's about time... (1)

mjeffers (61490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415594)

I don't know if you can assume that your 1-2% of downloaders will come from the 10% of the population that are movie fanatics. It's just as likely that those 1-2% could have been infrequent movie purchasers who took advantage of the free cost of downloading to sample more movies than they would have if they had to pay money.

(I'm assuming you were talking about how you perceived the current situation and not proposing a plan to go after the movie fanatics as a method of activism. It wasn't clear.)

Re:It's about time... (3, Informative)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414012)

I think the FSF did a very nice job with BadVista.org

I'm not so sure. The first thing that happens is that you get redirected - so right away a curious but casual visitor thinks that either he's done something wrong or the site's not yet ready. Then, when (and if) he figures out that this weird .fsf.org is the right place, he's swamped with too much text that all looks the same. There's no single part that catches his eye and says "read me first, this is the idea. Then maybe if you like that then look at the rest of this stuff." Instead he says "I'm not reading all this crap. I'll come back when they're organized." and closes the window.

It needs to be much, much simpler. Then once the basic ideas are conveyed the more complex parts can be explored. The casual reader will not be motivated until he's drawn in. You can't just throw a big pile of stuff at him and say "Here's all the info you need. Just wade through it all and figure it out."

Re:It's about time... (3, Interesting)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414046)

It's only "likely they never will" if those educated about software freedom believe they cannot talk to everyday computer users and therefore never try. I've done this work in person, on the radio, and online and I've learned that people are receptive to learning about social solidarity, ethics, and preserving freedom. In fact, it takes an inordinate amount of effort on the part of proprietors to convince people not to pay attention to issues of social solidarity in software including DRM, proprietary software, and patents. People don't take kindly to being restricted them doing something they want their computer to do. What proprietors do is constant education as well; people won't naturally separate themselves from one another and keep each other from working together. Proprietors know that people have to be taught to behave this way and endorse this mode of behavior in their everyday lives. You won't get where you want to go, politically, by giving up.

I encourage everyone to help teach others about software freedom and reject notions that others won't understand you. It's incredibly rewarding to connect with people on a level where you share and work together.

Re:It's about time... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414272)

I think the FSF did a very nice job with BadVista.org .

Yeah, they did a great job in promoting Vista awareness. So now, more people will know that there's a new version of Windows coming out, and maybe they should set aside some Christmas money for the upgrade.

Re:It's about time... (1)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415548)

I have to say that the universe of people who visit the FSF's site and don't know Vista exists has to be pretty small, if not non-existant.

I will give the Microsoft marketing machine sufficient credit to say that most people know Vista exists, even if they are not sure what it is or what it does.

I was talking to someone who wants to buy a new computer soon and when I started explaining that she should get a computer that was "Windows Vista Premium ready" and not just "Windows Vista capable", her eyes glazed over and you could tell she was having a hard time following me. Those names seem to sow more confusion than anything else. Surely "capable" means it should run all features? And premium ready, that sounds like it's ready for a subscription service or something.

I think she's going to stick with Windows XP.

That's a clear failure of Microsoft marketing in my book.

D

Re:It's about time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17415856)

"For most people, you shove a DVD into a DVD player and if it works, that's all they need."

They might still wonder why the DVD player app pops up a message asking them what region they're in, and warning them that if they change it more than 5 times it will stop working.

They might still be annoyed at having to listen to a lecture from the copyright-cartel before being allowed to watch the DVD

They might still wonder why the DVD can't be copied, or why its output looks weird on certain monitors, or why they can't take screenshots of it.

Give people credit, they probably know a whole lot about things that the EFF are interested in.

Re:It's about time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413160)

...because they haven't yet heard what the FSF has to say.

Re:It's about time... (1)

Eideewt (603267) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413486)

Um, that would be *the reason* to reach out. Preaching to the choir is great for warm fuzzies, but bad for results.

Re:It's about time... (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413308)

maybe we should refer to the **AAs as Vikings or Raiders or something. Successively stealing our rights and enforcing their business models..

Vikings and Raiders both sound too cool and are also names of sports teams. However, especially with the help of a few popular movies, "Pirates" are pretty cool in the public mind. Call 'em by the stodgy acronyms they are. or the already-popular MAFIAA.

Re:It's about time... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413542)

Treacherous Computing, DRM, and the Copyright Raiders

Does the Geek ever stop to think his language brings back memories of the wearisome, sophomoric, political rants and slogans that most of us leave behind when we are out of college?

The mainstream politician ignores these issues because these issues will never become mainstream as the Geek defines them. If the FSF wants to be politically effective, it needs to listen more and shout less.

To the home user, rental and subscription services offer added value. That the content is protected against re-distribution through the P2P nets is not the end of the world.

Re:It's about time... (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413868)

To the home user, rental and subscription services offer added value.

You sound like you must be one of the half dozen people who ran down to Circuit City and bought a DIVX box.

Re:It's about time... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414054)

You sound like you must be one of the half dozen people who ran down to Circuit City and bought a DIVX box

I am one of the tens of millions who subscribe to cable TV and other services.

Re:It's about time... (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414340)

Neither cable TV nor any other service with tens of millions of customers is currently "protected against re-distribution through the P2P nets". So your assertion that the annoying restrictions that would be introduced if such protection were effectively implemented won't be a problem for consumers is based on pure speculation.

Re:It's about time... (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415434)

Does the Geek ever stop to think his language brings back memories of the wearisome, sophomoric, political rants and slogans that most of us leave behind when we are out of college?
What about taking a large, diverse group of people, lumping them all together under a capitalised adjective, and then ascribing certain character flaws to this entity in order that you may criticise it? That seems quite wearisome and sophomoric in itself.

That said, if we can detach your critique from geekdom in general, and ascribe to some of the more overtly political FSF elements, then I'd say you had a point. The trouble is that FSF terminology takes its lead from Stallman, and Richard's rhetorical style seems to have crystallised sometime around 1973 or so. I don't suppose there's much fixing it, sadly.

The mainstream politician ignores these issues because these issues will never become mainstream as the Geek defines them. If the FSF wants to be politically effective, it needs to listen more and shout less.
I think the shouting is essential. They could do with a lighter touch on the terminology, perhaps, but it's had to see how people will listen to them if they shut up.

Perhaps there's a sort of goal distraction effect there: if you take the FSF as going mainstream as being more important than Freedom and Software, then I suppose it would make sense for them to shut up and tune their message to fit in better with mainstream politics. It's just that going mainstream isn't the most important aim of the FSF, and nor should it be.

To the home user, rental and subscription services offer added value. That the content is protected against re-distribution through the P2P nets is not the end of the world.
mmm... the trouble is that media giants made their money as distributors. Now that P2P is available as a distribution medium, the only way to maintain the old pricing model is by means of an artificial scarcity. Or to put it another way, the prices charged for DVDs and CDs is a massive rip-off, and that's something joe public will care about. It just needs explaining in the right terms.

Re:It's about time... (1)

mgiuca (1040724) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414188)

Can we stop being childish and calling it "Treacherous Computing".

I much prefer the name "Trusted Computing" - it's got that chilling doublespeak, and obvious twist that it doesn't trust YOU. "Treacherous Computing" is just meaningless, and lame too.

Re:It's about time... (2, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414246)

I've often wondered why the FSF hasn't reached out to the mainstream community before.

The grammatical construction of your statement implies that you believe that the FSF is reaching out to the mainstream community now. Problem is, they aren't. They are just pulling retarded publicity stunts that do not resonate with the mainstream. It would be nice if they decided to "reach out," but their actions this year indicate the opposite - they just want to further wall themselves off into an enclave.

Re:It's about time... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415244)

As an aside, if the common public are pirates, maybe we should refer to the **AAs as Vikings or Raiders or something.

Hey! I like being a pirate. Look at what the MPAA members have done to villify the concept. The Dread Pirate Roberts and Captain Jack Sparrow. Even when they're bad guys, the pirates are usually pretty cool villians, leaders of men and highly worthy of respect.

It's a start (0, Troll)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412964)

DefectiveByDesign and other pressure groups are quite good, but I don't think the FSF has quite got into the swing of things. They seem to toot their horns about the latest organised action, and it seems to gain support, and yet people actually returning to the causes seems a little low... Maybe they just need to work on their PR, perhaps take a tip from M$? ^.^

Thank you FSF (2, Insightful)

JayTech (935793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412966)

Thank you Free Software Foundation,

You guys have helped spread the dream of free access, open source and non-proprietary software to the everyday consumer. You've dared to speak out against the media & industry giants in your quest to unmask the truth of rights-stripping DRM. Keep fighting the good fight, we are behind you 100%.

Re:Thank you FSF (1, Insightful)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413170)

You guys have helped spread the dream of free access, open source and non-proprietary software to the everyday consumer.
No, they haven't. Very few people have moved to open source systems, and very few have any desire to, or even knowledge of what they are.

You've dared to speak out against the media & industry giants in your quest to unmask the truth of rights-stripping DRM.
Ugh, dared to? They're not the mafia, anyone and everyone can say whatever they want whenever they want. And unmasking the truth? It's rather obvious. DRM restricts what you can do with media. That's it. It isn't good, but it isn't really very important.

Re:Thank you FSF (4, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413590)

You guys have helped spread the dream of free access, open source and non-proprietary software to the everyday consumer.
No, they haven't. Very few people have moved to open source systems...

You've got a typo there. Let me fix it for you:

"Very few people are aware that they have moved to open source systems, such as the Internet and its services, all of which are, philosophically if not literally, part of the Free world that Richard Stallman envisioned lo, these many years ago."

...and very few have any desire to, or even knowledge of what they are.

The first won't happen without the second. The FSF has done a bang-up job educating developers and other geeks, to the extent that the de facto choice these days for developers is between Microsoft and GNU GPL systems and applications. There are other options, but these two dominate.

Now the FSF seem to believe that, the first battle being won, they've got to reach out to the general public - or should that be GNU/General Public - and continue the fight there. Given your points about general awareness, I think the decision is a wise one. Way to go, FSF!

Re:Thank you FSF (0)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414210)

Very few people are aware that they have moved to open source systems, such as the Internet and its services, all of which are, philosophically if not literally, part of the Free world that Richard Stallman envisioned lo, these many years ago.
That is utter nonsense. Yes, their may be some vague philosophical similarity between "Free" software and the internet, but that doesn't mean they are the same thing. Most people are not using "Free" software, certainly not personally.

the de facto choice these days for developers is between Microsoft and GNU GPL systems and applications.
Rarely is such a choice put forth. If said developer wants to, you know, eat, have a residence, make a living, etc, he is likely stuck using proprietary Microsoft or Sun systems. With Java being GPLed, that might change somewhat, but as far as I am aware one will need to release GPL compliant software to use Java under the GPL. Richard Stallman might be able to living in an office that MIT gives him as part of a sort of honorary professor job, where he does no work, but most people cannot and probably do not want to live like that. Yes, GPL development software is used a lot for open source development, but that can only be expected.

The RIAA is a lot worse than the mafia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413756)

You've dared to speak out against the media & industry giants in your quest to unmask the truth of rights-stripping DRM.

Ugh, dared to? They're not the mafia
The mafia is a criminal organization, and therefore it is possible for us to get some protection against it.

The RIAA in contrast carries out its predations within the law, and therefore its mafia-style extortion, intimidation, and protection racketeering has the backing of men with guns wearing police uniforms. And thus we have no means of protecting ourselves again their actions, which have exactly the same purpose as the mafia's: to relieve people of their money for totally fictitious reasons.

The mafia kills a few people, but both organizations destroy people's lives and livelihoods. The more dangerous to the public is undoubtedly the RIAA because it has the backing of the corrupt laws that they helped to craft, and it feeds upon a far larger section of the community.

Re:The RIAA is a lot worse than the mafia (2, Insightful)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414120)

You're being ridiculous. The mafia kills people. The RIAA sues you for some money. If you don't want to be sued don't pirate music. If you don't want to deal with the RIAA at all, buy indie music, or none at all.

Re:The RIAA is a lot worse than the mafia (1)

Nanpa (971527) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414354)

Well, I thought both would exhort money from victims with a threat of harm (albeit the harm differs from a long and costly court case to being shot).

Re:Thank you FSF (1)

wrook (134116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414174)

> DRM restricts what you can do with media. That's it. It isn't good, but it isn't really very important.

I would say this is a short-sighted version of not very important.

DRM doesn't stop what you can do with media, it controls *what* you can watch, and *who* you can get it from. Yes, most people don't notice because they are used to having little choice. In the US, how many people watch news from a news station that *isn't* associated with a few big companies? That's because it has historically been too expensive to broadcast to a large number of people unless you *were* a big company.

Now, let's say all video equipment starts to play only content that is encoded with special keys. Even though I can easily distribute my video for a small cost, I can't find any way to get people to watch it unless I get one of those keys. And those keys are expensive (priced in a range so that only certain players can get one), or not available at all unless you are approved.

Just look at video game systems to see what I'm talking about. How likely is it that I can write a game for the XBox that parodies Microsoft? Even if I have enough money to get the keys and make disks, they *don't have to sell them to me if they don't want*!

Once we start putting this kind of DRM on all our media products, we will no longer have any means to communicate to large numbers of people in a free (as in freedom) way. Perhaps we never really have in the past, but it was at least something that we pretended to care about in this part of the world.

Many people have died to protect this idea of freedom, and now that we are so close to actually being able to realize it, people like you are willing to throw it away to a group of mega corporations because "it really isn't very important".

I'm sorry that you can't see the forest for the trees. Maybe what I've said doesn't make it any clearer. But I hope for at least somebody they realize where this is going. We don't *have* to live unconsciously enslaved by the status quo. Even though inequities have existed in the past, today we have the choice to accept freedom if we want it.

Re:Thank you FSF (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414312)

Now, let's say all video equipment starts to play only content that is encoded with special keys.
But, it doesn't. You can "let's say" anything, but that doesn't make it a valid point if it isn't true.

Re:Thank you FSF (2, Insightful)

wrook (134116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415346)

Sigh... That's my point. It doesn't. Yet. The point behind fighting DRM is to make sure that doesn't happen. I could care less whether or not *any particular device* has DRM. What I care about is making sure the public doesn't accept DRM as "the cost of doing business". Because once all the popular media falls under DRM, it will be a short technological tweak to ensuring that only certain groups get a voice in the media.

Again, look at the gaming industry. Try to release anything to the general public on one of the current generation machines without somebody else's permission. In the US, and very rapidly many other countries, it is not possible without breaking the law (and actually extremely difficult even if you don't care about the law). This is the case because people don't care. I hope they don't care because they don't understand the possible implications to their lives.

Why is this important? Because the cost of freedom is continuous vigilance. However, if the popular media controls our access to information, then we can not longer be vigilant. A relatively small number of people will control the way we are able to see the world. And they can shape it into anything they want.

Re:Thank you FSF (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414374)

There's always the dead-tree approach to communication, or, *gasp* face to face contact.

Some people simply do not care about the trash being produced and labeled as entertainment, and as a result don't care if it ever finds its way into the public domain, or if they'll only be allowed to watch it if it has been approved. I'm one of those. There's very, very little music created in the last 100 years or so that I listen to. There's even fewer television shows and movies that I care about (which translates to exactly zero).

"They" can lock down your ability to listen to modern crap, and I'll continue to enjoy spending time at the symphony hearing wonderful music from the 1700s and 1800s -- "They" do not affect me or my enjoyment in the least, and I'm not going to get upset because your "right" to listen to the latest manufactured noise is being limited.

I'm still fairly young (late 20s) but I don't give a damn about limitations on being able to take your tv shows with you. Get out, live life, and do something for yourselves instead of sitting on your ass sucking down the mindless drivel and turning your brains to mush.

They're the MAFIAA (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414378)

You've dared to speak out against the media & industry giants in your quest to unmask the truth of rights-stripping DRM.
Ugh, dared to? They're not the mafia
O RLY? [mafiaa.org]

anyone and everyone can say whatever they want whenever they want.
Even where to get fair use tools for DVD-Video?

Re:Thank you FSF (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415892)

"Ugh, dared to? They're not the mafia, anyone and everyone can say whatever they want whenever they want."

I'm glad you are so sure about it... But you should go see what happens to people that dare think like FSF people. Oh, wait, you won't find them, only FSF people supported those decades of public embarassement.

"And unmasking the truth? It's rather obvious. DRM restricts what you can do with media."

Yet most people do no understand it.

FSF works for freedom (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413948)

Actually, as the article points out, the FSF isn't about encouraging anyone to use "open source systems" they want to teach all computer users to value certain freedoms for their own sake—the freedoms to run, share, inspect, and modify software. By contrast, the open source movement speaks chiefly to software developers and managers encouraging them to value a development methodology where programmers can more efficiently improve software. The two movements approve of some of the same licenses for software and sometimes draw considerably different conclusions based on their respective philosophical perspectives.

Change the logo from a... (1)

agent (7471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412970)

Penis with red balls sucking its thumb and holding its blankie to something else.

Re:Change the logo from a... (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412988)

Penis with red balls sucking its thumb and holding its blankie to something else.

Damn that's funny.

Re:Change the logo from a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413174)

Have you tried that test where you look at ink blobs recently?

Re:Change the logo from a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17414034)

Yeah, I wonder if his penis has large horns, like a gnu.

Activist Companies (0, Offtopic)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413064)

Activist companies and organizations are a pain. U2U announced this year that it would not do business with any company in Israel [ynetnews.com] . Pain in the ass.

How about a company or org that does what its business is, and leave the activism behind.

Oh, and boycott U2U.

Re:Activist Companies (2, Insightful)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413112)

Dude, the FSF is a (duh) non-profit organization that was founded by Richard Stallman [wikipedia.org] . Its only purpose, per fsf.org [fsf.org] :

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Boston, MA, USA. We rely on support from individuals like you to carry out our worldwide mission to preserve, protect and promote the freedom to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer software, and to defend the rights of all free software users.

So, were you just trolling, or were you genuinely confused about what the FSF does?

I wonder (3, Interesting)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413158)

If they weren't an activist organization until this year, what the heck were they the previous twenty four years?

Re:I wonder (5, Insightful)

bfields (66644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414110)

If they weren't an activist organization until this year, what the heck were they the previous twenty four years?

I think they were concentrated much more on supporting free software development directly.

That's less of a priority now, I suppose (for the happy reason that lots of other people are spending money on development), so they're concentrating more on politics--something the various companies funding developers may not be able to do.

Run away! Run away! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413192)

"Activist" is a dirty word among slashdot's largely libertarian audience. As if being branded "commies" and "hippies" wasn't bad enough, the FSF is now going to have to suffer being called "activists". Oh, the humanity!

Thank you Free Software Foundation (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413198)

Thank you Free Software Foundation,

You guys have helped spread the dream of communism, open sores and homosexual software to the everyday dirty hippy. You've dared to speak out against the democracy & free trade in your quest to unmask the rigtheousness of rampant faggotry. Keep fighting the good fight, we are behind you 100%.

The GPL thing isn't over yet (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413282)

The whole GPL 3 thing seemed pretty abstract to me until the Novell-Microsoft deal. That's when I appreciated the FSF's stand a whole lot more. So, yes, they did get some adverse reaction initially but I suspect a lot of that has turned around.

Funny, I agree'd with their tactics till this year (2, Insightful)

BigBuckHunter (722855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413316)

I agreed with most of the tactics of the FSF over the past few years. Then, I started seeing more an more propeganda (like their anti-vista site). I am still terribly troubled by the direction of the FSF and feel that my they no longer are working in my best interest. Just so we are on the same page, here are my opinions on the subjects they are dealing with.

Vista: I do not wish to port my apps to, purchase, or deploy a leacy operating system.
DRM: I do not wish to port my applications to legacy hardware platforms.
Propritary Licenses: I do no wish to relicense my applications using legacy licenses.

Notice the uber-troll passive aggresive use of the word "legacy". I hope other slashdotters here will pick up the word and add it to their everyday vocabulary when dealing with MS sales drones.

BBH

Re:Funny, I agree'd with their tactics till this y (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413684)

Notice the uber-troll passive aggresive use of the word "legacy". I hope other slashdotters here will pick up the word and add it to their everyday vocabulary

Good lord.

As if Geek-speak wasn't stupidly off-putting enough as it stands. Passive-aggressive indeed.

Vista on the boss's quad core 64 bit system isn't going to look or perform like a legacy OS and it is the boss the sales drone gets to see.

Re:Funny, I agree'd with their tactics till this y (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413730)

This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. Right up there with stupid sayings like Treacherous Computing.

When will you get it through your heads that nobody outside of Slashdot and the tech community really cares about these issues? You just make yourself look like some moron with an axe to grind.

You're a geek. You understand these issues. Average people don't, and won't until it actually hits them. There is nothing you can do to accelerate this. They will always listen to their sales drones before they listen to one of their Bobs.

Weren't the FSF and the rest pissy about Microsoft co-opting the word "genuine"? How is this any better?

Re:Funny, I agree'd with their tactics till this y (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17415670)

"Free" as in "Freedom", means freedom to say what you want outside the corporate diplomacy etiquette. Revolutionaries always use a language that offends the conservatives. Because the corporate system has build defence mechanisms which do not allow you the freedom to speak the truth because you are colored an immature troll. But artists do not restrict their words because they may offend some of their conservative supporters. The majority is most of the time sleeping.

Bye bye. It was good knowing you.

Perhaps an unintended consequence... (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413340)

I am all for the idea of informing people about the dangers of Vista, trusted(sic) computing, and others. But, they all seem to have an amateurish feel to them. I signed up to recieve the DefectiveByDesign emails, and they just have this childish feel to them. One was to tag products on Amazon with defectivebydesign if they contained/used DRM. I mean, WTF?

This may backfire on them. You know, those hippies with the bad argument, or pretty shiny Vista that I got for free...

They need a backer, somebody like Google, for people to pay any attention to them.

Plus, their icon/logo thing is just plain stupid.

Its obvious - limited resources and need to focus (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413820)

Try sending them an email relating to gnu software - even volunteering to take over a dead project and see if you can get better than the three months it took for the reply I got.

With a limited number of people they have to focus on what they see as important - and for now that is IP laws in the United States.

Yes - Gnu and FSF are mostly different (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413870)

Missed putting the obvious in here - the resources of gnu really all shifted to the FSF, but they are seperate projects. The email was to gnu attempting to get some code they had on some of the old CDs the used to sell - sadly now lost for some reason.

Re:Its obvious - limited resources and need to foc (1)

Chief Camel Breeder (1015017) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415322)

GNU was started as a project when there was relatively little OSS and very little free (as-in-speech) software. It expanded into a kind of moral vacuum, and got adopted by default by many who care about free software. Now, there is FOSS, at some level of development, for just about everything and bringing up new or under-developed parts of the GNU collection is harder; they'd have to fight for mindshare.

If the GNU developers reason like RMS and FSF, then they will choose the course that maximizes use of free software over the course that maximizes GNU and use of free software. They won't add or revive projects that compete with established FOSS as that confuses new users. They might work less on GNU products and more on other FOSS projects. In an extreme case, they might wind up GNU altogether and putr their effort elsewhere. They can't go that far, of course, as the pervasive GNU products (e.g. compilers, GNU bits of GNU/Linux) have to be maintained.

Alternatively, if GNU carry on with "unnecessary" projects like HURD, or if they under-resource their critical, legacy products, then one can conclude that they're splitting away from FSF.

Previous reacher outers (1)

NuGeo (824600) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413858)

While 2006 was the year the FSF reached out, 2005 was certainly the year that the FSM [wikipedia.org] did some reaching out (with his noodly appendage).

DRM now Vista (2, Insightful)

OurNewOverloard (984041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414232)

GO FSF!

I have watched over the years as /. readers have bitched and moaned about DRM and M$, and for years nothing, nothing happens.

FSF suddenly go for it, launch Defective by Design (they even do "protests" outside Apple stores!) and BOOM they get huge press coverage, and DRM now seems doomed, and everyone agrees.

Now they have launched BadVista, huge press coverage, and suddenly everyone seems to "get it" that Vista is a DRM platform, and it will be a nightmare.

More crappy activism like this please!

FSF is alway an activist organization (1)

Kiba Ruby (1037440) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414268)

This smell of bullshits. RMS is a political activist. His issue are political. Free softwares are generally political statement. The Free software movement is alway a social movement, which mean it is a political movement. BS. FSF is alway an activist organization. And an organization I would gladly support.

Most users don't care (2, Insightful)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415202)

Protesting about Vista and DRM won't do shit.

Telling people they shouldn't buy HD-DVD and Blu-Ray and "you should prohibit them from your home and your life.". Do the FSF people get out from their myopic community at any time and meet some normal people? Most of them couldn't care less about free software rights. They buy a PC from Dell, they pop their DVD/HD-DVD in and it plays the movie. It does what they want.

I have a lot of respect for Mark Shuttleworth because he actually has some understanding of the problem. That people want to do this stuff, and right now, Linux can't (or at least not without some rather grey legal areas). And his drive is to solve it, not pretend that you can make it go away or persuade people to restrict their lives for it.

The FSF are insignificant, blind zealots working in their own little world, unable to see that sensible compromise in the short term may be necessary in the long term.

The likes of Canonical are doing far more for free software than the FSF are.

Thanks - that's exactly my point too.. (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415876)

I've had this discussion so often. I see the whole Open Source movement as a tactical (i.e. 'now') path to the Free Software strategy.

I can see some merit in sticking to your guns, but if you're not realistic you will never achieve anything and just end up alienating people and become isolated - and ignored.

Mark Shuttleworth has both feet firmly planted on the ground (except when he was collecting airmiles in a spectacular way :-), and knows exactly where he's heading. It irritates me that many don't seem to realise just how good the guy is - he really doesn't need to do what he's doing, he could jut pick up his pile of cash, invest it somewhere nice and drink martinis in the sunset for the rest of his life.

Instead, he does this. And yes, he's human so he sometimes says something in a way that can be mis-interpreted - well, tough. At least he's doing something positive and ethical with his money and his life so hats off to him - he's doing it right, including working together with the guys in Extremadura in Spain.

I'm not into hero worship and idolising people, I just think people that do things right instead of taking the easy route should be recognised - we've got enough Enrons and Andersens to show what happens if personal integrity comes last.

Re:Most users don't care (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17416012)

"The likes of Canonical are doing far more for free software than the FSF are."

Ubuntu isn't free software - it includes binary files without source, that violate at least 2 of what FSF considers fundamental freedoms, and encourages (though the restricted repositaries) the use of more proprietary software.

Go back to Bruce's open-source camp, where you can discuss your "I don't care what the license is so long as my music plays" arguments...
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