We don't need free software. We need free competition

We don't need free software

Many people in the world of free software think we're still in the 90's. That the discussion goes through whether the applications use free or proprietary licenses. The reality is that today that is irrelevant. Large corporations demonstrated that they do not need to restrict access to code to override the competition and earn money.

Suppose I discover the formula for Coca Cola. I change some components to make it healthier, tastier and cheaper and I start to market the result. I also post the recipe on the net under an open license so that other people can do the same. Would it cause a problem for the company?

No, because the formula, the taste and the price are the least of it. Coca Cola's great strength is its internationally recognized brand and its huge distribution network. They could threaten businesses that agree to distribute my product by not letting them sell theirs. With their economic power they would force the media not to accept my advertising. And, they could also do nothing. After all, they have a marketing edge for over 100 years.

We don't need free software. We need free competition

The community tends to speak with religious respect about the 4 freedoms of free software

  • The freedom to use the program, for any purpose.
  • The freedom to study how the program works and modify it, adapting it to your own needs (study).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of the program, thereby helping other users (distribution).
  • The freedom to improve the program and make those improvements public to others, so that the entire community benefits.

These freedoms They were very useful in the days when software was distributed on a physical medium, but they are completely irrelevant in a world where software companies are transforming into service companies.

That is why Today the large technology corporations not only do not fight free software. In some cases they openly contributeand. Their source of income is not in the sale of licenses or in restricting access to the code. But, unfortunately it is still in having captive users and developers.

Someone described with a great metaphor what it means to compete with these big tech corporations.

You may be the best soccer team, but you are playing against a team that owns the stadium, the ball, and the league, and can change the rules whenever they want.

Instead of limiting access to the code, today we have other practices as much or more dangerous as

  1. The commercialization of private data of the users.
  2. Limiting access or overcharging potential competitors to access popular platforms
  3. The allocation of advantages in forms not declared in the platforms of use.
  4. The change in the conditions of use without consultation.

In January of this year, a hearing was held by the Judicial Subcommittee of the House of Representatives on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. In it, representatives of small technology-based companies clearly explained what the problem we are facing today was.

When the official app stores appeared, I was one of their most enthusiastic advocates. After all, it was nothing more than an evolution of concepts that Linuxers have known for a long time; repositories and package managers.

In theory, app stores were going to protect us from malicious programs, ensure compatibility, allow independent developers to compete as equals and not have to worry about updates.

In practice se turned into a privacy nightmare and an excuse for anti-competitive practices by the duopoly Google and Apple.

These companies, together with the online marketing giant Amazon, and the social network Facebook are being investigated by the authorities of the European Union and the United States.

We already talked in Linux Addicts of the accusation from a former CollegeHumor employee on how the manipulation of Facebook statistics contributed to the downfall of one of the most popular humor portals on the web. We also cover allegations of selling user data.

As an executive at wireless speaker maker Sonos put it

These companies have so much power that when Google or Apple ask for something, you have no choice but to give it to them.

In the next article we will see in more detail the accusations against Google, Apple and Amazon investigating in the US and the EU


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  1.   Hari seldon said

    That is, we do not need freedom but liberalism.
    What a dangerous speech!

  2.   John said

    We don't need oranges, we need tires… it doesn't make sense, right?

    1.    Diego German Gonzalez said

      I don't know, I never tried tire juice

  3.   Felix said

    The problem with free software is that in its current state it does not really defend the freedoms it promulgates, since it is not required to share the code via the web (SaaS), this is nothing more than a shameful move of the same old ones. The only relevant license in this sense is the AGPL, which is curiously rejected by the big tech companies.

    1.    Diego German Gonzalez said

      Good contribution. Thanks

  4.   zoharis said

    »The four freedoms are not necessary today»
    Is seriously?
    How much impudence!
    What a shame of an article!
    People like the perpetrator of this atrocity are the true Taliban, who denigrate free software for the little money they earn by monetizing the channel and undercovering the proprietary.

    1.    Carlo C. said

      They came to the price at which this poor libel writes.

  5.   Miguel said

    Freedom of Competition will never be obtained through the same body that generates monopolies, the State.

  6.   Patrick said

    Is there a way to block the articles of this author? Because the next thing is to stop visiting the blog.

  7.   Camilo Bernal said

    The author of this article reduces it all to competition and profit, and concludes, in the most hasty and sloppy way, that we no longer need the four basic freedoms of Free Software. The hackers who created the movement have always sought freedom of information and knowledge, not competition or money. Richard Stallman knew perfectly well that there is a lot of money to be made with proprietary software and closed knowledge, but he chose another path, he chose an ethical position.

  8.   Pauet said

    Bad approach, the freedoms of free software are still as necessary or more today than they ever were. On the other hand, the information society presents new problems that must be addressed with new solutions (AGPL for example).

    They are just different issues.

  9.   alex borrell said

    The article has many inconsistencies. Is it just about getting attention?