I think this is one of the big reasons you’re going to hit a lot of resistance here.
A significant number of regular users here are employed in the software industry,
be it as programmers, UI specicialists or hardware specialists.
This is true, and it’s why I added the EDIT to my post. Please let me repeat that I do not say people making proprietary software are bad people. I’m rather talking about the system so please bear with me. Although I see that it is very difficult for anyone to admit that what they’re participating in might be wrong, even though they don’t have bad intentions. I do not blame the individual people.
You’re effectively saying that they shouldn’t be doing a job that they’re skilled at and that they probably enjoy doing (to some extent) and should instead be doing something else.
As I mentioned, I am one of these and you are right you need to be careful when suggesting that my efforts should be given away for free.
Not necesarilly, I indeed realize people can’t just drop out of their works like that. Even if they wanted to do that, I wouldn’t recommend it in many cases as it may cause much harm, depending on situation. What I’d like to see is more support from people who make proprietary SW, admitting the points that free software supporters make and aiming to replace proprietary with free in years to come. We won’t be able to transition to full free software in one step, this is a very long process during which using and maintaining proprietary software is inevitable. We just need to aim to eliminate proprietary SW eventually.
Please do not take offense, it’s not my intention to offend you and I think you don’t want to offend me by close sourcing your software either. So far I am glad we’ve been able to keep this very civil and friendly. Let’s keep it this way
One example: Facebook.
I used to use facebook for years even though I hated it with my life. Why? Because it was the only was for me to keep my social contacts. I wanted to come over to Diaspora and redirect my personal feed there so that I could see what my family and friends are talking about, but this is not possible, because obviously Facebook will prevent this as much as they can. It is a prison that keeps you in unless you’re willing in to sacrifice your online social life, which I eventually had to do.
there is software that can literally save lives, help medical research, help eliminating poverty
Okay, OpenStreetMap has a program where volunteers map unmapped areas to help rescuers find victims of disasters.
Another examples include medical software, communication software, navigation software, education software, crime prediction software. You get the idea.
B) Lack of air does harm, lack of software does not.
In nowadays society, lack of software does harm too. You see, it’s just not immediate like with air so people think there is no harm – this is exactly what I am talking about.
The monopoly doesn’t come from the software, it comes from people refusing to vote with their feet.
Of course monopoly is something for economists to care about, but as far as I as a programmer can have my say, I will hold the opinion that proprietary SW is a tool that helps enormously in creating monopoly. Here’s a nice quote from the GNU manifesto:
“The paradigm of competition is a race: by rewarding the winner, we encourage everyone to run faster. When capitalism really works this way, it does a good job; but its defenders are wrong in assuming it always works this way. If the runners forget why the reward is offered and become intent on winning, no matter how, they may find other strategies—such as, attacking other runners. If the runners get into a fist fight, they will all finish late.”
The restrictions are usually in the interests of keeping the companies making the software afloat. If a company gives its software away for free then the workers don’t get paid and the business collapses.
Open source companies are not doing as great as the proprietary companies, but that is caused by the current system, the framework that is set up to favor the companies that focus on winning “the fist fights” (from the quote above) rather than contributing to society. However the fact alone that there are open source companies that are doing just fine even in the current system is proving this can work very well. With the right laws all companies could be (free and) open source and would be doing very well.
That’s fair, but equally those skilled, determined individuals could just write their own version by examining the behaviour of the original.
I totally messed up my answer there, let me try to reword my thought to better capture what I really wanted to say:
The right to freely access (study, modify, …) the source code is there not so much to let you yourself excercise it, but it is a guarantee someone without commercial interests will always be able to provide their version of the software.
That is you shouldn’t look at it as: it brings me nothing because I don’t ever modify the code. It bring you the guarantee that if the owner of the software makes changes that are bad for you as a user, someone will be able to revert the changes, keeping the software a tool that truly serves the users, not the companies.
Which was originally closed source.
Sure, I just wanted to show the fundamental property of information (as opposed to tangible property): a small team of people can create it and then infinte amount of users can profit from it. (I don’t doubt you know this, just making this clear for the readers of the thread.)
The fact it was proprietary is again just a way to throw money at these people, it could just as well have been e.g. crowd funded and open source from the start.