GNU discussion

David Schlesinger David.Schlesinger at
Sat Jan 27 18:29:37 CET 2007

>> How are you "less free" as a result?
>Apple's iPhone, for instance, contains open source software, but  
>because it's totally reliant on un-free software I can't add VoIP via  
>WiFi to it for instance, effectively nullifying the freedom aspect of  
>the free software component for its users. All the effort that went  
>into that free software to make it free is nullified for me as a user  
>and Apple (a large purveyor  or largely un-free software) gets a leg  
>up (boosting it's ability to compete against free software) that it  
>wouldn't have had if that software had been licenced under the GPL,  
>effectively making the society I live in less free.

This is nonsense, I'm afraid. "All the effort that went into that free software to make it free" (which doesn't seem quite sensible, but I think I get what you're attempting to communicate) is entirely unaltered: it's there in precisely the state it was when both you and Apple found it.

Apple, by dint of hard work and creative effort (not to mention significant expenditure of time and resources) made it do other things which it could not before. You, however, want to have your cake and eat it, too. You seem to feel that because someone gave both you and Apple what amounts to a gift, that Apple, by virtue of having done something with that gift throught their own initiative, now owes _you_ a gift.

If you insist on being able to add VoIP to your phone, don't get an iPhone, it's as simple as that.

Apple invested in being able to compete. They should be able to realize a return on that investment; if they can't, they won't make the investment in the first place. If you want to make a similar investment in the same source code that Apple began with, there's nothing stopping you except your own energy and abilities.

(Note that Apple invested well beyond the level of simply writing software: they developed hardware on which to run the software as well, and you have zero rights in that hardware in any case.)

Apple's use of free software to create a closed device doesn't make "society in general" a bit less free. It doesn't restrict anyone's options beyond what they were previously, it doesn't take previously free software out of circulation. There's no basis to your argument here.
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