Charity and open source

Charity and open source

Summary: If we did not allow people like Bill Gates to make this choice, his example would not be nearly as powerful as it is. That is why I think we should wait until our other leeches are fat with the blood of their victims (uh, customers) before we try to put the bite on them.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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leech humorA friend who considers Bill Gates' Foundation work to be a great example to us all writes to complain. (The cartoon is from an ANZAC military history site. The text reads "Leeches? Don't worry mate. The little bit of blood they take won't hurt you.")

He writes, many newcomers to open source are "leeches" who are "looking to suck blood for suckers." How about something in the GPL requiring that profits go to charity?

Well, uh, no.

There are many types of open source. The GPL already imposes an obligation, to donate code improvements back to their source. Other open source contracts do not impose this restriction.

But let's return to my friend's main point. Look at all that money Gigadollar Bill is giving away. Shouldn't we be under the same obligation?

My answer again is no. The difference between Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and open source the business model is that the latter allows for blood-sucking leeches. In fact it welcomes them, encourages them, and (to an extent) empowers them.

Charity on the other hand is voluntary, and occurs after the money is made. Most open source leeches are still trying to turn a profit. After the profit is made conscience will dictate whether it goes into mega-yachts and mega-homes, gets passed down to the great-grandchildren or (in the case of Gates) goes back in the form of good works.

If we did not allow people like Bill Gates to make this choice, his example would not be nearly as powerful as it is. That is why I think we should wait until our other leeches are fat with the blood of their victims (uh, customers) before we try to put the bite on them.

We did with Bill, and he piled profit to the sky before letting it rain down.

So, patience. Give what you can, and don't feel an obligation to give more. Not until the ghost of Christmas Future looks you in the eye. Then we'll see what kind of leech you really are.

 

Topic: Open Source

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  • Maximum corporate profits for maximum personal charity

    Namaste!

    Companies should *not* be in the charity business--they should be maximizing profit within the legal framework. Companies should then pass on profits to their shareholders, who can decide individually where to donate money. I have my own charitable priorities, and I do not trust anyone else to do right with my money.

    Steve Cobb
    Free State Project
    Liberty in Our Lifetime
    http://www.freestateproject.org
    simplulo
    • I Understand Your Point, But...

      Many companies have charitable programs in place to give back to their communities. For example, my company will match charitable contributions to a certain amount that employees make. That doesn't help shareholders or the bottom line. My company will also give money (through a foundation) to charities in the communities where there are a large number of employees (I work for a fairly large multi-national tech company).

      Why can't a company give a certain amount of money/time to a different community of which it is a member - the open source community?
      Swashbuckler2
      • Two Benefits

        I also work for a largish, international tech company (maybe the same one?) that matches gifts to colleges. I consider this to be a "benefit" in the sense of "component of my compensation".

        However, there is another "benefit" to be considered, what Buddhists call "return of benefit". If the company (shareholders) has benefitted from something like an open-source project, then they have a duty (moral, not legal) to return this benefit. This is *not* the same as charity, which should come from the individual.
        simplulo
    • RE: Charity and open source

      Charity on the other hand is voluntary, <a href="http://www.selftestexams.com/70-513.html ">70-513 exam</a> and occurs after the money is made. Most open source leeches are still <a href="http://www.selftestexams.com/70-448.html">70-448 exam</a> trying to turn a profit. After the profit is made conscience will dictate whether it goes into mega-yachts and mega-homes, gets passed down to the great-grandchildren or (in the case of Gates) <a href="http://www.selftestexams.com/1Y0-A24.html">1Y0-A24 exam</a> goes back in the form of good works.
      foter
  • Right on every point.

    Charity must be voluntary, or it is not charity, it's a tax.

    As you say, the GPL already imposes its restrictions. And mighty charitable they are, as well! By making the software free, contributors have collectively made what amounts to several billion dollars worth of potential charitable contributions. Every dollar saved through the use of F/OSS is a dollar that schools, churches, and other charitable organizations can put to better use providing their actual services.

    Perhaps your friend simply hasn't thought through the scope of the contributions made by free software contributors, or the extent to which corporate use and financial contributions make that possible.
    dave.leigh@...
  • how about being a good citizen first

    Sure, absolutely by all means open source encourages users to make make use and many of them are trying to make a profit. Its only fair to say lets wait for them to make a sizeable profit before seeing what kind of leech they are.

    No one will have a problem with that, however how about being a good citizen first. How about obeying the eco-system, others intellectual property rights, not being fanatical.

    Currently open source fails miserably on these fronts. They are fanatical without merit, violate laws and pay no heed to others IP and violate them at will. How about being a good citizen first before even thinking about charity.
    zzz1234567890
    • Fails miserably? NOT!

      [i][b]Currently open source fails miserably on these fronts. They are fanatical without merit, violate laws and pay no heed to others IP and violate them at will. How about being a good citizen first before even thinking about charity.[/b][/i]

      Sure, they are so insensitive to others' IP that they spend huge chunks of time and effort to implement completely new systems rather than violate the copyrights of the proprietary vendors.

      Get a clue. You seem confuse those that contribute with those that purely leech. The leeches were there all along... prior to F/OSS they were pirating commercial "warez" (and some still do). These folks will use whatever they can get gratis, and don't much care whether it's open source or not. The only community they belong to is their own.

      F/OSS contributors, OTOH, have done the proprietary world a huge favor by providing a means for these people to obtain and use free software legally, without copyright infringment. That is, it's a favor IF you believe the BS Alliance's position about piracy having been detrimental in the first place. That's quite evidently not always the case. In fact we've already had it on record that Microsoft prefers third-world piracy to F/OSS anyway. (Their view is, let them pirate it now, and we'll figure out how to monetize it later. It's the same principle under which drug dealers operate).

      Software piracy is theft. Open Source is a gift. So the only thing here without merit is your argument. F/OSS is the cure, not the disease.
      dave.leigh@...
  • GPL does require changes back to source!

    [i]The GPL already imposes an obligation, to donate code improvements back to their source.[/i]

    If I read this piece of misinformation one more time I think I'm going to scream! The GPL DOES NOT HAVE SUCH A REQUIREMENT!

    Please stop propagating this myth!
    Swashbuckler2
    • He is basically correct, thouth you only have to make the public, and only

      if you choose to distribute your changes. If you keep you changes internal and do not distribute them, you can keep them private.
      DonnieBoy
      • No He's Not

        You have to make changes available to people you distribute to and you must make them available to anyone that asks for them - for a period of at least three years.

        That ain't the same thing as contributing them back.
        Swashbuckler2
        • The point is that changes must be made public, the details are not that

          important. The changes CAN be incorporated back into the original code.
          DonnieBoy
          • DUH!

            I understand the point. The point is now what was originally written.
            Swashbuckler2
  • Lets not forget that most of the savings from open source are given back to

    the world in the form of lower prices for all. If all can use open source and save money, then we get cheaper prices.

    To me, anybody that has made a lot of money, with or without open source should give back.
    DonnieBoy
    • Why?

      [b][i]To me, anybody that has made a lot of money, with or without open source should give back.[/i][/b]

      Why? That's not rhetorical. I'd like a well-thought-out, coherent argument as to why someone who has made money legally by providing services or goods in a free market economy, charging no more than the market will bear and receiving just compensation for actual value given, should have to "give back".

      There are religious reasons for tithing or otherwise giving to charity, but I'm not looking for religious reasons here. I want to know, specifically, what you feel someone owes you for the privilege of being successful. What exactly is due you that you didn't already receive for your money?
      dave.leigh@...
      • You do not have to be religious to think rich people should give back to

        society. But, it should of course be voluntary.
        DonnieBoy
        • You didn't address the question.

          I asked you specific question, and I already acknowledged that I was looking for non-religious reasons.

          So go back and respond.
          dave.leigh@...
          • And you are not listening. The concept that the rich should give back to

            society is well understood, but it is not a law, as it should not be. If you want more inspiration, watch "A Christmas Carol". Not everybody thinks that all poor are poor because they are stupid and lazy.

            You maybe.
            DonnieBoy
          • And you are not thinking.

            The concept of [i]charity[/i] is certainly well understood, and I don't need Dickens to explain it. But I don't believe that a thinking person could characterize that as "giving back" under any circumstances. Why? Because the recipients of charity did not give in the first place. At best they traded for value received. They already got back value for value, [i]verstehen?[/i] This is no comment on why the poor are poor.

            The moral value of charity (which I fully endorse, BTW) is that it is not given out of obligation, but freely. And frankly, with all due respect to Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge's attempt to buy his way out of an afterlife of torment is a poor example of true charity.

            To [i]give back[/i] is a concept often quoted and as yet unjustified by rational argument. I'm asking for that rational argument. If in fact you meant charity and just chose your words poorly, that will do, too.
            dave.leigh@...
          • Stupid Line of reasoning

            you are asking WHY someone who had lots of money would give to charity, then you go on to say something about the people you are giving too. with some odd kind of justification.

            Elitist, you ARE saying your BETTER than them, for some reason, and therefore "they have not given", blah blah.

            Charity, is NOT something, you do because of your personal wealth, i give to charity, i DO NOT have lots of money, I STRUGLE sometimes too.

            But my situation is ALOT better than MILLIONS of others, that does NOT make me better than them, smarter, OR anything.

            you give charity to help others, not because YOU are rich, or NOT because your community feels its right to do.

            Open Source, could do HUGE things to help the less fortunate in the world. but Stallman's model does not allow it.

            in fact the OPEN SOURCE MODEL by stallman, INCREASES povity, and does not allow any mechanism for someone to get out of povity..

            Pay programmers, SELL LINUX, the world will pay for it, they pay for windows.

            Pay programmers, get better quality code, and better quality programmers, better quality applications.

            and YOU WILL then be able to compete with Microsoft, MAKE LOTS OF MONEY for programmers.

            so a programmer in the third world can learn to write good code, develop a skill that can make him money, he works hard, write lots of great code, makes good money.

            and makes good software, that we buy. Yes its Open Source, great, i will still PAY FOR IT. its it good..

            just like i pay for Microsoft..

            BTW, i much prefer to pay Microsoft for software, than pay RED HAT for support.

            at least MS DOES pay programmers, and give to charity.

            ********

            Alot of people resent Linux/OSS stealing Microsoft's idea's to use them against MS, when MS are not doing MUCH more for the computing world than Open Source is.

            Open Source is the REASON why MS is doing so well.

            Because OSS is doing so badly, letting MS take market share.

            PLease Fix it, or let someone else do a better job.

            13 freaking years you've been at it, and still Open Souce is crap.
            Aussie_Troll
          • Pay attention.

            [i]Wow. I just saw this. Yeah, it's as stale as year-old bread, but I'm going to respond anyway, just because he's clueless and I'm bored.[/i]

            [b][i]you are asking WHY someone who had lots of money would give to charity, then you go on to say something about the people you are giving too. with some odd kind of justification.[/i][/b]

            No I'm not. As a matter of fact, I was EXCEPTIONALLY clear that I'm not questioning charity at all. Here's the quote: [i]"The concept of charity is certainly well understood, and I don't need Dickens to explain it. But I don't believe that a thinking person could characterize that as "giving back" under any circumstances.[/i]

            [i][b]Elitist, you ARE saying your BETTER than them, for some reason, and therefore "they have not given", blah blah.[/b][/i]

            Now that (and most of the post) is an emotionally driven statement with no connection to reality. I am not being elitist. IF I somehow believed myself to be "better than" less fortunate people, would I not be LESS inclined to give because I thought they earned their misfortune? I've been down-and-out and been the recipient of charity. I was born below the poverty line and lived there for quite some time. I don't recommend it. But my poverty never instilled in me the blatant fiction that I somehow earned or deserved charity in any way. I do for others because I think it's morally correct and I've been there. Yet, many people who give have never been the recipients of charity and carry no obligation. Charity is obligatory only in the sense that it is an internal obligation born of morality.

            That's a far cry from what's generally meant by saying that a successful company or individual has some obligation to "give back" their fairly earned profits. To warp the concept of charity to and use external pressure to impress upon others an obligation that does not rightly exist is nothing more than extortion. That is, of course, unless someone can articulate a well-thought-out, coherent argument as to why someone who has made money legally by providing services or goods in a free market economy, charging no more than the market will bear and receiving just compensation for actual value given, should have to "give back". So far, you're not the one to do it, Troll.

            [b][i]Open Source, could do HUGE things to help the less fortunate in the world. but Stallman's model does not allow it. [/i][/b]

            You go on to pretend that programmers are not allowed to get paid. That's a huge steaming pile of bovine scat. IN FACT, from the very beginning it's been made clear to everyone that Free and Open Source software does not preclude paying for it. Look:
            http://www.gnu.org/gnu/manifesto.html
            http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/free-sw.html

            Red Hat and others pay their programmers well. Even the FSF pays their employees. Oh, look! You're a little late for this one. It's a union position and it includes healthcare and four weeks of paid vacation per year: http://www.fsf.org/news/fsf-program-assistant-news.html

            Others, like me, choose to donate our code to the open source community. I can assure you personally that we're not being oppressed. That's infinitely more assurance than we could get from someone like yourself who not only does not donate code at all, but denounces those that do.

            [b][i]in fact the OPEN SOURCE MODEL by stallman, INCREASES povity, and does not allow any mechanism for someone to get out of povity..[/i][/b]

            The word you're looking for is "poverty". This barely literate statement shows an extraordinary lack of understanding of economic issues. It's a plain fact that every dollar saved on software licensing is a dollar that can be applied to other productive ends. For instance, a single local school district can save upwards of $200,000 by [i]not[/i] licensing Windows and Microsoft Office. This is money that can be applied to textbooks, facilities, new educational programs, extracurricular activities. An education is the [i]best[/i] means to prevent poverty. Charitable organizations can reduce their operating costs by reducing their licensing burden, thus enabling more charitable dollars to go to the purposes for which they were donated. Small companies, upon which most of the employment depends, can mitigate their start-up and operational costs by using open source software, thus improving employment opportunities in their communities. Young programmers who grow up impoverished can afford the compilers and example code they need to learn the skills necessary to earn a decent wage. It is a fact that most software development is not commercial, but is internal to organizations. As someone who has had a say in hiring, I wouldn't hesitate to hire someone with programming skills that he learned on his own over and have been proven in an open source environment over someone with credentials and no proven ability. There are people making a good living as accomplished programmers today because of that.

            In short, your entire argument is devoid of reason; short-sighted; emotionally driven; and just plain wrong

            [i][b]13 freaking years you've been at it, and still Open Souce is crap.[/b][/i]

            Not nearly so much as your broken reasoning, I'm afraid.
            dave.leigh@...