Legally open, socially closed

Much has been said lately about the revenue sharing decision made by Canonical in regards to the Banshee music store sales, starting with the announcement on Jono Bacon’s blog.  This was soon followed by posts questioning how the decision and announcements were handled. Sense Hofstede followed up with an excellent post discussing the value of Ubuntu as a distribution channel complimenting the value of Banshee as a product.

What I haven’t seen discussed, and what I would like to bring up, is this often cited but never quite defined notion of the moral or ethical restrictions on the use of FLOSS.

The legal question

By releasing Banshee under the terms of the GPL MIT license (as was pointed out to me in the comments), it’s developers have given Canonical and anybody else the legal ability to change it however they want.  Canonical would have been legally within their rights to keep 100% of all Amazon sales commission.  I haven’t seen anybody arguing otherwise, even the detractors of the decision make it clear that the problem is not a legal one, but a moral and ethical one.  Discussions about the legal (copyright/trademark/etc) options and implications I’m going to leave for other posts.  I mention this only to get it out of the way so we can focus entirely on the moral question.

The moral question

The main thrust of the moral argument seems to be this: “The Banshee authors did the work of writing the extension, so they have a right to decide where the proceeds go”.  Here the “right” is not a legal one like copyright, but a moral one: The right to benefit from your labor.  This is arguably a universal moral, it is the basis of capitalism itself, and codified even in the fables we tell our children. I don’t think anybody can argue against this basic truth.  Indeed, neither Canonical nor anybody else is arguing against it, but rather arguing that the work they put into the integration of Banshee as the default in Ubuntu has morally entitled them to a share of the proceeds equal to the value they contribute.

Is FLOSS morally open?

One of the most important tenants of FLOSS is having the ability to modify something to your own desire, and the freedom to make that available to others.   However, this sometimes means making modifications that the original author doesn’t like, doesn’t want, or even finds contrary to their own intentions.  Such is the current case with Banshee, but it’s not the first time the issue has been faced by Canonical.  They have been criticized for making changes to Gnome that the Gnome developers didn’t want, following Ayatana’s design choices rather than Gnome’s, and now evolving into the development of Unity as an alternative to Gnome Shell.

They have also faced the reverse of this argument by keeping the Ubuntu One server code closed, rather than making it available to others to use and profit from.  Launchpad faced the same criticism before its source was opened.  Interestingly, Debian faced the opposite of this with the Firefox/Iceweasel situation, where Mozilla felt they had the moral right, but not the legal right, to make the changes they did and still use the trademark Firefox.

This is a problem faced by all free societies, not just with regards to software.  Here in the United States our constitution protects most forms of speech, but we still have a tendency to want to prevent the exercise of that freedom when we find the speech disagreeable or contrary to our own feelings or benefits.  But to be a truly free society, we have to learn to not only accept the rights of others to make such speeches, but to still be happy with the fact that they are able to do so.

The question that the open source community faces, then, is whether we should be accepting of down-stream changes to our code, even when they are not changes we like. Should we make our code open to changes, but keep our social acceptance of those changes closed, or should we always take delight in the use of our code to the benefit of someone else?  The concept of free and open source software has already changed the way we think about copyright and intellectual property, our legal ownership, but it seems we haven’t yet changed the way we think about the moral ownership of our code.

The challenge

I believe that in order to be true to our belief in the principles of FLOSS, we must not only accept changes to our code that run counter to our intentions, but that we must welcome them.  If we are to hold that freedom benefits everybody, then we should celebrate everybody’s exercise of it, even when we disagree with their application of it. It’s no easy thing to say to the Banshee developers that they should be happy that Canonical is taking 75% off the top what could have gone to them.  I certainly don’t expect them to agree with the decision.  But if they value the freedom of their code then I do expect them, and the rest of the FLOSS community, to be happy that their work is being used to meet someone’s desires, even if that way doesn’t meet their own.

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46 Responses to Legally open, socially closed

  1. Juanjo says:

    AFAIK Banshee license is MIT: http://banshee.fm/about/license/

    I guess that doesn’t affect your argument, that I think is a very respectable one. The fact they choose a very permissive license (MIT instead of GPL), makes me think that they want the software to be used, no matter how.

  2. Roger says:

    What has been missed is that there are two downstream parties – Canonical and then the actual end users. In this case Canonical has made a unilateral decision on behalf of all Ubuntu users. As an end user I can’t realistically decide to change the split (maybe I want Canonical to get everything or maybe nothing). There is all this talk of community but at the end of the day there was no community in this.

    What should have been done is a preference panel somewhere that lets an end user decide what happens, ideally across all products on their system. The Humble Bundles are a good example of how to do it. Canonical could decide on what the initial default is (a good thing) but they would not be taking away the decision from end users who want different values. As more and more of our systems and services are going to be “free” to use but actually paid for behind the scenes with affiliate codes, attention (advertising, surveys etc), kickbacks etc this becomes an increasingly bigger issue.

    Letting end users change the splits also keeps Canonical honest. They have to earn what they get and users can provide feedback by increasing or decreasing splits as they feel necessary.

  3. Michael Hall says:

    Roger, as far as I know you can still change he reference code to whatever you want. Canonical didn’t take away your ability to choose anymore than the Banshee developers did, right?

    • Jef Spaleta says:

      Several points.

      Throughout history corporations have been successfully pressured by the public to change their behaviour when the public have found such behaviour to be undesirable and or damaging for the social good. As a corporation Canonical cannot expect their actions to just meet the minimal standard of legality. As a corporation Canonical must adhere to an ethical standard set by their consumers, their business partners and the community the rely on.

      This is no different than the historic example of people protesting Nike for using foreign “sweatshops” to produce their products. That protest spanned a decade, with Nike continuingly being defensive about their policy and saying it was perfectly legal. But eventually Nike wized up and changed their corporate culture and addressed the “unethical” business activity.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike_sweatshops
      “Nike was heavily criticized for selling goods produced in sweatshops throughout the 1990s. They originally responded by lashing out and denying all claims brought against them. However, Nike’s director of compliance, Tom McKean, spoke of Nike’s irresponsibility in 2001. McKean stated in an interview that, “Our initial attitude was, ‘Hey, we don’t own the factories. We don’t control what goes on there.’ Quite frankly, that was a sort of irresponsible way to approach this. We had people there every day looking at quality. Clearly, we had leverage and responsibility with certain parts of the business, so why not others?”[12] Recently Nike has developed an intense program to deal with these claims. Nike has employed a staff of 97 people to randomly inspect several hundred of their factories each year. Nike also gave the Fair Labor Association, an association founded to monitor labor conditions, the privilege to randomly inspect any factory they wish.”

      Does the Nike example illustrate the point? Canonical built its image..builds its products..based on a standard of ethical community engagement it set for itself. It is unreasonable for Canonical expect that it won’t have the Banshee interaction held to the same standard of community engagement that is used elsewhere inside their corporate culture.

      If Canonical from day one had said we are a cut-throat business entity instead of contructioning the image of itself as a community focused business…things would be different. A lot different. The Ubuntu project would not exist as it does today… Canonical would be just another vender trying to make a buck. But because Canonical very meticulously constructed an image of itself as a constructive, highly respectful, highly engaged management of the Ubuntu project then its current actions must be held accountable to _that_ standard. Canonical cannot have it both ways. They cannot be an unscrupulous business entity and also be in partnership with the community as an ethical partner.

      The banshee situation..both the initial offer and the new situation show a _deep_ corporate culture problem inside Canonical which is at odds with projected image. This culture clash is only going to get worse unless Ubuntu as a community finds a way to make Canonical accountable for its actions. At the moment I don’t have any suggestions on how to make that happen. It will involve some public discussion, which Canonical tends to shun with regard to any of its business decisions.

      -jef

  4. Michael, that basically disenfranchises people who aren’t coders. I personally don’t want even more preferences settings to have to tweak, but I do think it’s annoying that so many decisions are being made unilaterally. If Canonical can do such things when push comes to shove, then why bother going through the motions of having a council to begin with? Unless the only reason for having one is to make people feel that they’re being listened to, when they’re not.

    I think you’re technically right in the arguments you made in your post, but I also think it’d be absurd to expect the Banshee devs to be happy about the situation. Or the GNOME devs, or pretty much anyone else. Canonical’s breaking implicit social contracts, in exactly the way that a large faceless corporation would be expected to, while still preaching the value of community. And while they could argue that those contracts are stupid, they’re instead pretending to be Nice People and calling for respect while burning bridges left and right.

    Canonical can get away with it because Mark has the money, and Ubuntu users can afford to be ignorant of it because the upstream “issues” are dealt with for them. But if any part of Canonical’s long-term strategy relies on upstream goodwill, then their behavior isn’t just “being jerks,” it’s also “being stupid.” Mark’s not stupid, so I can only assume that his strategy doesn’t.

    • Michael Hall says:

      I’ll put to you the same question I put to Roger, did Banshee provide you the ability to change referral codes easily, or are you asking Canonical to build new functionality in order to give you a choice the original Banshee developers didn’t give you?

      • Juanjo says:

        I guess the difference is Banshee developers *are the developers of the product*, but Canonical is a distributor.

        From the point of view of the user, the interesting part is the ability to buy songs at Amazon store, not changing the affiliate code.

        I think Tachyon Feathertail made a very good comment.

  5. This is frankly the best damned article on this mess. Bout time someone came up with something reasonable.

    The only thing I will say is that I don’t have to “gladly” accept changes. Heck I can disagree with a change and even dislike it. But my disagreeing with a change does NOT make the issue a moral issue. Nor does it make the person making the change immoral. Haven’t we had enough of moral superiority?

  6. Roger says:

    I deliberately used the word “realistically”. As a developer I could indeed get the source, find and change the relevant code, invoke the tools to build and test the program, then invoke other tools to build an Ubuntu package, put it all in a repository accessible by the various machines I use, and then keep on top of any updates that happen over time. “Realistically” about zero percent of people can/will do that – ie they are pretty much stuck with the decision Canonical made on their behalf.

    I have no issue as an end user with Canonical making decisions on my behalf. To a large extent that is what a distro does. Some of those decisions are artistic (eg colours and fonts), some of them are technical (eg which libraries and versions to include/use) and some of them are moral (eg acceptable licenses). I actually want them to make those decisions since they know more than me and I don’t want to be constantly inundated with choices.

    If Canonical didn’t keep going on about community all the time then that would be the end of it. But they do. And in this case their choice takes money away from someone else (another member of the community).

    What I would like see is a preference pane somewhere with wording like this:

    “As you use your Ubuntu system various parties may pay affiliate fees, referrals and other forms of revenue sharing. Canonical collects this money and redistributes it according to your wishes. Examples are:

    - Search engines
    - Purchasing music and other products
    - Advertising

    How would you like the money split?

    0 — 100% Canonical: We do the work to collect the packages, bundle them together, track updates and provide you with your system free of charge
    0 — 100% EFF: Protects your digital freedoms
    0 — 100% Gnome Foundation: Provides the infrastructure for most of the desktop environment
    0 — 100% Original developers: According to how the original developers of a package intended
    0 — 100% FSF: ….”

    The numbers would have to be sliders that add up to 100% or some sort of similar UI. Note that this one place is not banshee specific but encompasses all programs on the system plus whatever Canonical does in the future. Most people would probably go with the defaults, but it is not a choice forced on you. I also think it is far more positive as it shows how you as an Ubuntu user can benefit others financially.

  7. Dylan McCall says:

    It will be interesting to see what happens as stuff like Software Centre (and AppStream) matures. It’s all pushing towards a distinct split between applications and system packages, where applications depend on system packages and both can be managed under the same packaging system but they don’t need to be. The logical expansion of that, to me, is a world where free desktop operating systems maintain platform / system packages and application authors directly control their own distribution to end users. I see a big shift incoming, and it’s a rather important one.

    The problem with today’s scenario is this isn’t just Banshee in Ubuntu’s default setup; it’s Banshee for Ubuntu users. Even Ubuntu users upgrading from Maverick who previously used the Banshee ppa, since APT will obliviously upgrade a package to whatever has the biggest version number unless you enjoy tweaking config files.
    I think there’s an important distinction here. It touches on brand image for our upstreams, which is what Mozilla was concerned about with Debian. The social problem you discuss is effectively fed by a very old technical problem that has made it unmanageable to offer the user two versions of the same application.

    My above prattle isn’t specific to the Banshee thing, though, so I’m pretty indifferent to this particular issue. I think it points to something we do wrong in general (as well as every other big distribution), and it pops up very often.

    Having said that, I think the best solution for this would be to copy what the Humble Bundle does: the user chooses who their money benefits. Upstream would probably like that, and it means we’re being direct with our users.

  8. Noone says:

    I think another key aspect of this, perhaps the biggest, is that Canonical asked the banshee developers to pick one of two options. After getting a response, they went off and did whatever they want anyway.

    That’s just poor citizenship. It’s not illegal by any means, but it’s certainly not playing nice. It is, in fact, worse than if they had just made the decision and went with it, without asking the banshee project.

  9. Dmitrijs Ledkovs says:

    http://jaap.haitsma.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/december-gnome.png

    The amount of man hours spent discussing this topic and reading about it surely has accounted for more than the affiliations fees themselves when you convert man hours to money using minimum wage per hour rate in your country.

    Go HACK =)

  10. João Pinto says:

    Michael,
    from a FLOSS perspective I agree with you. One of the fundamental values is “free from restriction”, an attack based on moral arguments related to profit management is an attack against such freedom.

    On the other side, as Ubuntu community members I don’t think this is a time for celebration. With all respect and recognition for the good work that the Canonical people is doing, Ubuntu is not just a Canonical product.
    There is a much larger community which provides business value to that product. The Banshee meeting was not a business deal, it was a communication from the the key Ubuntu community representative to an FOSS group, an involuntary provide for the Ubuntu product.
    In my personal opinion Canonical failed not only in the communication with the Banshee developers (as acknowledge) but also to the broader Ubuntu community.

    • sadig says:

      Joao,

      why do you think “Ubuntu” is not a Canonical Product?
      Just because Ubuntu is housed under a “Foundation” flag?

      Honestly, Ubuntu is a product of Canonical like Fedora is a product of RedHat and OpenSuSE is a product of SuSE/Novell.

      It’s a free product, indeed, because you need something to market your commercial products and/or services.

      I wonder why people think, that Ubuntu is free? Free as in “free beer” yes, free as in “free speech”, eventually, free as in “not depending on someones company”? No.

      But you know what, Canonical made a step into the right direction. C. uses a lot of free menpower to market their product in a way, that many people don’t want to see how it works.

      So, Canonical didn’t fail in communicating with the Banshee devs and/or with the broader Ubuntu community.
      The Banshee devs never ever thought that this will ever happen and (I think this is the most important part) the broader Ubuntu community never ever learned something about money making, revenue and business decisions and what Ubuntu is, in the first place.

      And this is what I’m missing from the Community.

      And as I said on other locations, I don’t agree with Canonical 100%, but what Mark and Jane are doing is the right way of doing Business, they lack a good PR manager though (and Jono is just not enough here), as RedHat or Novell have, to not be seen as evil masters.

      • Anonymous says:

        Business and FLOSS really don’t mix at a fundamental level, so just because it is good business doesn’t mean its a good idea to actually do it, if you don’t want to alienate everyone, your customers and providers alike. I don’t think Jono has really done anything wrong, its a pretty hard mess to clean up after what Canonical has done.

        • sadig says:

          @Anon,

          I didn’t say Jono has done something wrong, what I said is, that their PR team screwed up and pushing Jono to the frontline is not enough. They underestimated the voices of Banshee Devs and the opensource community.

          Jono just can try to fix at least the local Ubuntu Community.

          But this doesn’t help. Money is involved, and Money makes friends very bitter enemies.

          You are right that FLOSS and Business don’t mix at a fundamental level, but you know, from praying to doesn’t give me bred on my plate. Praying is a good fundamental thing, everybody should pray. But they should pray at home, not on the street.
          OpenSource and Linux is a hard business, and there are dead bodies left and right the streets.

          Canonical made a decision, sadly in a bad public way, hopefully they are standing to it and don’t step back from it.

      • João Pinto says:

        Hello,
        please note that I have used “not just”, it is more than a Canonical product.

        I am sorry but I must disagree, while I don’t know Fedora’s or OpenSUSE’s governance models I have some understanding of RHs and Novell/SUSE’s business, they are not comparable to Canonical.
        Both RH and Novell/SUSE have a clear distinction between community and business products and services. They deliver business on their commercial product not in the community product.

        Canonical business is driven around a single product, the community product, in a way that is not always transparent, that is where the problem lies.

        • sadig says:

          Joao,

          that’s a myth to think that actually :)

          A company who invests hundreds of thousands of euros every month to support/sponsor a “community project” doesn’t want to see any “revenue” coming from it?
          In whatsoever form?

  11. Stuart says:

    Ubuntu users can choose to download an unmodified Banshee package from http://banshee.fm/download/ and remove the modified affiliate code from their Ubuntu distribution.

  12. Alex Launi says:

    I’m not going to take the meat of this post to task, it’s a very well written post except that you are completely incorrect that “the right to benefit from your labor” is the basis of capitalism itself. Capitalism causes a separation of labor. Capitalism often alienates the worker from his labor, and that’s what we’re seeing here. This is very much in keeping with the precepts of capitalism.

    Consider the analogy of Canonical as the factory owners, and the Banshee developers as the workers.

  13. James says:

    Just a thought, is the extension released under MIT or GPL? Does this have consequences itself?
    And presumably if I installed the ubuntu banshee, could I then use the banshee extension instead of the ubuntu extension?
    Its about choice isn’t it?

  14. Paul McGarry says:

    Here the “right” is not a legal one like copyright, but a moral one: The right to benefit from your labor.

    I think it’s worth noting that copyright is a legal provision aimed at supporting a moral right (indeed the very same moral right you mention).

    Free (and open) licences exist because of the perceived need to legally provide for other moral rights, in particular the moral right for the recipient of code to change whatever they like for whatever reasons they see fit.

    People making a legal/moral distinction are, in my opinion, missing the point that the necessarily legal nature of of a licence does not make the rights granted therein mere legal rights. They are moral rights that are merely being accorded legal protection.

    There are two moral rights competing here. The moral right for the recipient of the code to do whatever they like with it. The moral right for the original author to get some benefit (even if it’s just feeling good by donating to GNOME).

    In my assessment the first of those two moral rights must win out because it is a right specifically and clearly accommodated for by the authors in their choice of licence.

    • Paul McGarry says:

      ‘Here the “right” is not a legal one like copyright, but a moral one: The right to benefit from your labor.’

      That bit should have been quoted in my earlier post, not sure what happened.

    • I think everyone here agrees with you. They’re just pointing out that the people at Canonical are burning bridges and being jerks. And some of them are, in a roundabout way, suggesting that the existence of situations like this constitutes a bug.

      • Paul McGarry says:

        I think Canonical’s main mistake is that their approach hasn’t been coherent. They appear to have been making stuff up on the fly.

        If they had a coherent, considered position to start with then some people may have disagreed and even been disappointed by it but they could perhaps understand that in a varied community differing opinions are to be expected.

        The excessive dialogue and flapping around has probably only exacerbated disappointment rather than addressed it.

        • Paul McGarry says:

          After reading this I would have to agree that a coherent process for discussion is just as important as a coherent, thought out starting position from Canonical.

  15. Michael Hall says:

    Roger, did Canonical actually make it harder to change the referrer code in Banshee? If not, then your argument holds just as true to the original developers as it does to Canonical, in which case you’re back to the moral question of whether the original developers had more “right” to make the choice for you than Canonical.

    • Roger says:

      As you clearly state and what I 100% agree with is that they could do anything they wanted that complied with the license, and that they did do so.

      What I was addressing is what they should have done in a way that is appropriate morally, retains the community, fair and can be applied to the whole of Ubuntu rather than just one product within.

      The issue is going to keep coming up more and more. For example it came up in the past over the choice of default web browser search provider. Canonical can provide a way to express their wishes (via the defaults) while letting individuals apply their own choice.

      • Michael Hall says:

        But did Banshee provide a way for individuals to apply their own choice, or are you asking Canonical to build additional functionality into Banshee in order to give the user a choice that the original Banshee developers did not give them?

        • Roger says:

          I am asking that Canonical build functionality into Ubuntu as a whole that lets me direct what happens to revenue from my activities as outlined above. ie a single global preference, not a program specific one.

          They could then do exactly what they already did – direct banshee revenue to their own code, but then pay out as according to user wishes.

        • Michael says:

          On the other hand, before this whole story and Canonical move, no one asked for this feature. So blaming banshee upstream developpers for not coding a feature to fullfill a need that was not expressed at all is kinda unfair.

          If Canonical had consulted the community before, I am sure that someone would have pointed out that users would have this possibility. That’s the first thing that was proposed on Jono blog ( http://www.jonobacon.org/2011/02/24/banshee-in-natty-to-ship-multiple-stores-and-contribute-to-gnome-foundation/ ).

          However, since Canonical decided to not consult community, they just pay the price of being slightly too fast to decide.

  16. DavidW says:

    I think that the questions that this change to Banshee has brought up are good ones. However, is this any different from changing the referral code in Firefox? Canonical makes a significant portion of money from Google from this code right? Except that in this case, Canonical isn’t even giving back any money to Mozilla nevermind 25%.

    Please correct me if I am mistaken.

  17. JensM says:

    Talking about morality in relation to the referral code issue is not only nonsense but dangerous. The reason for that is not that morality doesn’t matter, but rather that, as pointed out by Michael, pretending an issue is a moral one is a classical method used for preventing people from exercising their freedoms, which should never be tolerated.

    Canonical had the (legal) right to do what they did, as set forth by a license the Banshee developers themselves chose to use. Claiming now that their actions were immoral is an attack on that very license (with a connotation that “they are allowed to do what they did, but the somehow shouldn’t be”) and therefore an attack on open source and software freedom itself.

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  20. Andrew Barilla says:

    Just because someone is accepting of something doesn’t mean they can’t publicly disagree with it. In the case of your free speech references, I accept that people like the KKK or Focus on the Family have the right to say what they do but just because I disagree with them doesn’t mean I think that right should be taken away.

    So is the case with Banshee, if we believe that this decision is morally wrong they best thing we can do is to publicly denounce it and point out that we believe it’s the wrong one hoping to change Canonical’s mind. This is not the same as not accepting that they are allowed to do it.

    • Michael Hall says:

      Andrew, I agree that you should speak out against things that you think are morally wrong. However, I disagree that Canonical changing the affiliate code in Banshee to something that benefits them should be considered morally wrong, any more than someone taking Ubuntu and making Linux Mint should be considered morally wrong.

  21. ScaredOfZealots says:

    Banshee will make more money out of being featured in Ubuntu than they’ve ever made in that distro before, and remains free to pursue any and all revenue opportunities they’ve ever had everywhere else.

    How is this a bad thing for Banshee?

    • Michael Hall says:

      I don’t think the amount of money that can be made or by whom (the Gnome Foundation was the recipient of Banshee’s sales, not Banshee itself), makes a difference in whether this should be considered morally right or wrong.

      • ScaredOfZealots says:

        The inherent subjectivity of “morality” makes it a challenging topic; I prefer ethics, which may arguably have more rational/less religious implications.

        But regardless how we split those hairs, Banshee freely chose the MIT license, and having done so no one has any obligation to include them at all in revenues from supplemental services associated with forked projects on any platform.

        That Canonical is including them in a way that gives them more money than they’ve ever had before seems the opposite of a problem.

        So far it seems that the Banshee folks themselves are fine with making more money than they used to, that the strongest arguments against their agreement with Canonical are coming from those not directly involved.

        If Banshee wants to make even more money, all they have to do is spend a few million dollars evangelizing a distro to become the world’s third most popular OS.

        Because, of course, without the number of eyeballs made possible by that multi-million-dollar investment, this topic would hardly warrant anyone’s attention.

        Perhaps the real takeaway from this moment is that this will encourage developers to give more consideration to long-term financial goals with their projects, choosing from a wider range of licenses as may fit their goals.

        Like democracy, it’s all fun and games until folks realize they can vote themselves money.

        Both making and marketing software are expensive undertakings. Choosing licenses for such things should not be taken lightly.

  22. I think that framing this as a free speech issue is right on point. When we say that free software is free as in speech, then Canonical doing what they are planning on doing is exactly them exercise their freedom of speech.
    However, the right to do something doesn’t mean that all things you do under those freedoms are right. The US Constitution grants us all sorts of rights, but we still as a country are quick to denounce certain executions of those rights. Just like how most of America came out strongly against the Florida pastor who sought to have a Koran burning party. Yes, he had the right, and his right to do such a thing is very important to what makes the USA strong. At the same time, our countries objection at his stated plan to execute his rights in that manner is another part of what makes our country strong. It was a bad faith idea that went against the values of America.
    Likewise, Canonical is acting within their rights, but their intentions are a bad faith move against the open source community. As such, they should expect nothing less than being called out by the same community who so passionately works hard to ensure such rights are made possible. Canonical is choosing to act in a way that is obtuse to the culture of free software.
    The worst part about this is that for a for-profit enterprise, Canonical stands out as one of the best companies to act out the ideals of the free software movement. To watch them act this way is confusing and frustrating for those of us who have seen them really do the right thing over and over again.

    • Michael Hall says:

      I think the analogy with the koran burning pastor isn’t accurate though, because it presumes that what Canonical did was morally wrong (or that burning the koran was morally acceptable). I am questioning whether or not we should view the actions of Canonical as something morally objectionable, or something morally welcome.

  23. Jon Nials says:

    This is not a question of morality. What morality is involved? The banshee team made a choice of license. They put NO OTHER RESTRICTIONS ON THE LICENSE.

    The “moral argument” is nothing other than the logical fallacy of special pleading.

    And while I don’t like everything canonical does, without canonical, there is no ubuntu.

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