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Persuasion

I would have loved to deliver this speech I am posting, but unfortunately I wasn't able to deliver it as properly I could have (if I had a set of index cards to guide me). However, I hope this speech finds its way into other people's speech for Free/Open Source Software advocacy. I'd definitely love to hear about your comments and suggestions regarding this speech.


Dean Michael C. Berris
2000-49526

"Free as in Free Speech"


Who among you has ever used a computer? Who among you has ever used GREAT software before? Who among you has ever played computer games before? Who among you have heard of or used FOSS? Free/Open Source Software? (count the people) Just X people? Where have you been?!

I would like to start off my speech by defining two key things I will be talking about. These are Proprietary Software, and Free/Open Source Software -- or FOSS.

Proprietary software is software that you buy, or is sold to you. It usually comes with a restrictive "evil" end user license agreement or EULA. The EULA contains the terms of use of the software by you, the end user, and the rights you have to the software. In a nutshell, the eula says "this software you just bought is not yours, is the property of the makers, and that only you may use this, and you may not give this copy or copies made from it to others EVER -- and that there is no warranty whatsoever being made explicitly nor implicitly". And everytime you install the software, you must agree to it before being able to use it.

On the other hand, FOSS is software that you obtain through different channels (the internet, CD's, diskettes) which comes with the General Public License or GPL. The General Public license ensures you that "this software you just obtained is copyrighted to the owner, but you may use the software as you see fit, and you may modify it to your hearts content so long as you make your changes available in the same way, and that you may make copies of the software just as long as this license is included -- and that there is no warranty being made explicitly nor implicitly. PLUS, if you want the source code of this software, you must be able to get it."

And everytime you agree to this, you realize the freedom. And everytime you use the software, you enjoy the freedom. And everytime you give the software away, you give others the same freedom that you enjoy.

When I say FREE, I mean Free as in Free Speech -- not Free as in Free Beer or Free Lunch. That is a very important difference that I would like to shed light on by doing a comparison between proprietary software, and Free/Open Source Software.

The substantial difference between FOSS and Proprietary Software is the license. The EULA is restrictive, while the GPL is empowering. Let me discuss the restrictiveness of the EULA.

First off, the EULA does not allow you to use the software unless otherwise stated in the EULA. Meaning, if you choose to use a debugger to look at how that debugger works and make your own debugger (in the process, reverse engineering) then you are violating the EULA. Because according to the EULA, you can't reverse engineer it.

Second, you cannot modify the software you are using because you don't have access to the source code -- or the stuff written used to create the software you are using. That forces you to deal with the quirks of the software, and consider those a feature of the software. And you can't do anything about it legally.

Third, you cannot make copies of the software and give them away. YES, you cannot share this copy you have with your seatmate, neighbor, mother, father, brother, sister. That forces everyone to either buy their own copy of the software, or worse, result to breaking the agreement and copyright law.

But wait, there's more! You can get away from these restrictions! HOW? Well, you use Free/Open Source Software. FOSS, allows you many things the EULA does not. FOSS lets you do the following:

First, be able to use the software for whatever purpose. This means, ANY purpose. If you can find a creative use for a text editor or calculator, then you are free to use it HOWEVER YOU LIKE. Yes, that means however you like.

Second, because you have access to the source code -- the stuff used to make the software -- you can modify it to your hearts content. Or, if you don't know how to program, you can ask someone who knows how to do it, to change the software for you. You can literally change the software for your liking. And the license allows you to, provided that you make the changes available too.

Third, and probably the best part is, that you may make copies of the software -- however many you like -- and give those away free, or even for the priice of the media you use. Yes folks, you can make copies of the software and give them away too. That means you're not breaking any laws if you make copies of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software).

So now that you know that there is Free / Open Source Software out there, why are you still breaking the law and using a pirated version of Microsoft Windows? YES, there are alternatives to Microsoft Windows -- FREE and Open Source alternatives at that. One of these alternatives is GNU/Linux. Not only alternatives to Windows, but you have alternatives to Office, Pagemaker, Photoshop which are FREE and Open Source.

I urge you to stop doing the bad thing. You can use the computer "guilt free" by doing three simple things.

First thing is to stop using pirated software. Using pirated software encourages the sale of these and only feeds the vicious cycle. If people continue using and buying pirated softare, then people will continue making pirated copies of these software.

Second, to avoid the use of pirated software, stop using non-free proprietary software. If your organization cannot afford these, look for free alternatives -- chances are, there is more than one alternative out there which will allow you to do the same work without breaking the law.

And third and most important, is to respect the rule of law and act like a civilized member of the society. Complete disregard of the law is inexcusable -- much like how ignorance of the law exempts no one. Not nowing it's illegal doesn't make it less a crime than it is -- and software piracy is a crime. If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem.

Let us stop doing the bad thing, and start doing the right thing. We know that software piracy is a crime, and there is no excuse for committing crime. Now that you know of an alternative, then YOU have a way out. Now that you know that people are enjoying a freedom you currently are not, then listen some more.

So would you like to be able to have the freedom to use, modify, and distribute software? Then it's about time to use Free/Open Source Software. You can help me, and others like me do the right thing, and stop breaking the law by using illegally obtained software. Let us spread the love by doing three things:

One way of helping, is to help distribute Free/Open Source Software. If you have time and effort, join me and countless others gain the freedom to the software they use.

Another way of helping is to help make FOSS better -- if you find a bug, or if you want a feature, let us know. If you don't see something that should be there, help us improve what's currently there.

And last but not least, tell others about Free / Open Source Software. If others don't learn of the great news that there's an alternative, then they'll be stuck with what they currently have. Worse, they won't get to enjoy the same freedom we FOSS users enjoy.

If you're thinking that this is just for techies, I urge you to think again -- Free software is made for Everyone, for the benefit of Everyone, excluding No One.

Now that we know that there's a freedom we can enjoy, and that we have a choice, we have two important things with us. That is knowledge -- and knowledge is power. Aside from the knowledge, we have the freedom to that knowledge -- freedom to knowledge is empowerment.

Now that you are empowered to make a choice between using illegally obtained proprietary software and legally obtained Free and Open Source Software, I urge you to make a choice. You've already given me the chance to let you know that there's a choice, and that you have choices. Now, I can help you make that choice, if you give me a chance.

For my final words, I would like to say only this: "If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem. Spread the news of an alternative to proprietary software, and stop living in fear, uncertainty, and doubt."

If you want a sample of fine Free/Open Source Software, contact me at
+63 928 7291459 or email me at mikhailberis@gmail.com


CHill...

Comments

  1. Only did a cursory scan, but here are my comments:

    1) Proprietary software does not actually have to be bought or sold. It could be given for zero pesos but still be proprietary because you don't have the freedoms associated with open source.

    2) Open source is not limited to GPL.

    3) Neither are proprietary licenses limited to EULA.

    If it is a speech meant for a general public, I think it's a bit too technical. It also might be a bit long to deliver in a 5-minute span. I'd rather count on one or two simple ideas and reinforce with repetition. Of course, I should talk: I'm a pernicious offender of those same precepts.

    I like the cookie analogy for describing open source to a general public. (I first heard it from JJ Disini at LinuxWorld). Under the proprietary system, you bake and sell the cookies (and even give free samples) but you keep the recipe a secret in the hopes of selling more of your cookies. Under the open source system, you bake and sell or give away the cookies AND you give the recipe for baking the cookies. People can make cookies on their own or improve on your recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Most of the text refers to the text "Free/Open Source Software" or "Free and Open Source Software". It nicer to emphasize right in the beginning the words "Free Software" (which is equivalent to F/OSS) and use this term throughout the rest of the text.

    I am a F/OSS supporter too. But I am placing myself from a non-GNUtechie point of view. IMHO, the text is a bit too technical and does not site examples such as the GIMP, OpenOffice or places where we can obtain Free Software. The bottomline is, site examples and try to connect them to a non-GNUtechie daily computing life and needs.

    BTW, is the bad thing you're referring is the use of non-free software or piracy? I am blurred in deciphering this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, Dean.

    The speech was a bit too technical and long-winded (too many "three things you can do..." :)) for my taste.

    Portraying proprietary software as "evil" right at the onset sure sets the tone, but would you like that tone? It sounds proselytizing to me, and it might turn off people. You might get branded as a zealot. Instead of focusing on the "evil" part, why not emphasize free and open source "goodness" derived from having freedoms at the start?

    You have to clarify the distinction between proprietary and free software, at the core of which is that you get to enjoy freedoms that you may otherwise be missing when you use proprietary software. Aligning GPL vs EULAs is narrow, because FOSS is not limited to GPL nor proprietary software to EULAs.

    "So now that you know that there is Free / Open Source Software out there, why are you still breaking the law and using a pirated version of Microsoft Windows?" The tone is accusatory, and it doesn't really connect to the freedoms you mention in the previous paragraphs.

    Dom's cookie analogy is a good takeoff point. You may want to expand on that, and reiterate the freedoms and how it relates to ordinary life. Kinda hard but stick to the ideas of freedom, what it entails, and who it benefits.

    ReplyDelete
  4. how about rephrasing proprietary software as evil. from what i read, it seems like a war against proprietary software. should it be like a competition?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, in a matter of one day I gather 4 comments. :) Thanks everyone for the input, they are very much appreciated.

    Now that I've read the inputs, I think I have failed to do two things:

    1) Clearly define the difference between FOSS and Proprietary Software without using the EULA and GPL explicitly. I have failed to note the different licenses for FOSS and the other licenses for Proprietary Software. This is something I should approach before I had to take the speech anywhere else. (Which makes me think, I should have my speeches critiqued by someone else before delivering them)

    2) Show that I really wanted to drive at the breaking of the law and proliferation of pirated Proprietary Software. The whole reason why I chose to portray Proprietary Software as evil is because it lets you break the law in more ways than one, unlike FOSS which allows you a lot of liberties Proprietary Software doesn't.

    As for being a zealot, that was the point of the speech -- to take a side and defend it. It was supposed to be persuasive, and the shock factor was needed to catch someone's attention and incite certain emotions. This was by design, but don't worry I haven't used this tone (in real life) since my FOSS zealot days. ;)

    As for it being a competition, I just had to make it sound like one, because my point was for FOSS to become a viable alternative. Of course, I had to make it sound like FOSS was the only way out since I was trying to convince someone to use FOSS instead of pirated Proprietary Software.

    In the next speech I'll deliver, I would most likely solicit comments from the blog too. This seems like an effective means for soliciting comments and suggestions.

    Thank you for taking the time, and hope you guys come by more often to the blog too. :)

    CHill...

    ReplyDelete

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