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Re: [O] [ANN] [OT] New Android app (Orgzly)

From: Marcin Borkowski
Subject: Re: [O] [ANN] [OT] New Android app (Orgzly)
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:02:14 +0100

On 2015-01-22, at 17:41, Jose E. Marchesi <address@hidden> wrote:

>     *NOTE* It's about an app which is *not* open source (some parts of code
>     will opened, see below).  If you have a problem with that, you can stop
>     reading right about now...
> Please stop using the GNU mailing lists to promote proprietary software.

It might be the case that I do not understand something.

AFAIR, there was a recent discussion on another GNU mailing list about
usability of Emacs under Windows.  (Maybe it was somewhere else, I'm not
sure, then my question is theoretical.)  A few people claimed that Emacs
under Windows is fully functional and works well.  Would this also be
considered "promoting proprietary software"?

Also, I see the situation this way.  The guy decided that he liked
Org-mode, and spent his time and effort to build something that makes it
even more useful.  He might (or might not) want to make money on it.  He
might (or might not) release the code for everyone to inspect.  Both are
his decisions and his rights.  What he needs (e.g., for testing) is some
userbase.  OTOH, I presume that there are people who would be willing to
try this app and maybe use it on a regular basis.

He began very apologetically (even too much, imho), saying:

> Sorry if considered spammish, but since it has been mentioned
> yesterday and it might interest some Android users out there...
> *NOTE* It's about an app which is *not* open source (some parts of
> code will opened, see below).  If you have a problem with that, you
> can stop reading right about now...

I admit that I'm not a native speaker of English, but I can't fathom how
this might be considered "promoting".  Informing, yes.  Promoting?  Come
on.  He explicitly warned about the situation at the very beginning.  (I
assume that the posts to this mailing lists are only received by people
who had voluntarily opted for it, and that FSF does not send unsolicited
email - then I could understand using a word like "promotion".)

Now the question is: what is the most appropriate place to *inform*
about his project.  If not the Org-mode discussion list, I really don't
know.  (I assume that nobody denies his *right* to license his work
according to his wishes, of course, for if not, another explanation
would be that this project doesn't have any right to *exist* in the
first place.)

Now Rasmus comes and says:

> I must admit that I feel uncomfortable because you use the name
> org-mode to promote a product that does not respect the "4 freedoms"
> as put forth by the FSF.  E.g. if you make mistakes, it may reflect
> poorly on us, and we won't even be able to fix it or distribute
> a version that is not broken if we so desired.  That's just /my/
> personal opinion, though.

which is a very well-thought, delicate way of saying that he doesn't
like the situation.  (Personally, I do not 100% agree with Rasmus'
opinion, but I can see the rationale behind it.)

Then others come and say some, ekhm, not-extremely-nice things to
someone who was definitely not trolling or anything like this.

And all that not taking into consideration that the project might gain
some publicity for Org-mode and Emacs, which seems a good thing.

I.  Don't.  Understand.  This.

Another (a bit theoretical) example.  Mickey Petersen the Great (of
Mastering Emacs fame) has recently announced a book on Emacs.  Assume
that he writes it in LaTeX, so his book is basically a product of
a *computer program* (even if in a weird programming language).  Let us
further assume that he will sell his book in bookstores (it might be in
ebook form, with or without DRM, or in paper form - never mind, I do not
know the exact details).  Would he be prohibited from mentioning his
project (which clearly involves a non-free piece of *software*, i.e.,
the LaTeX source file, and promotes the *result* of executing this piece
of code) on Emacs mailing list?  I am very interested in a serious
answer, and (if it happens to be "no") in explanation how and why the
situation would be different.

Disclaimer: while I consider Emacs a brilliant piece of software and an
(almost) indispensable tool, I do not buy (and oppose) things like the
GNU Manifesto, RMS's philosophy and some FSF actions (like being
secretive about things that should be public imo).  I also use
proprietary software (although not an a daily basis, and if I have
choice, I usually prefer free/open-source software).  OTOH, I also
happen to use software with licenses much less restrictive than GPL.
I also licenced some of my (very humble) contributions to the world's
pool of code with GPL, although seeing some FSF actions and discussions
like this I will definitely seriously reconsider this.


Marcin Borkowski
Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science
Adam Mickiewicz University

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