[PD] expr alternative

Andy Farnell padawan12 at obiwannabe.co.uk
Mon Oct 24 16:26:52 CEST 2011

On Mon, 24 Oct 2011 19:33:25 +0900
i go bananas <hard.off at gmail.com> wrote:

> hi andy - of course i'd be very willing to know your point of view here,
> particularly from your firsthand experience.

I got an email like that, it kept me awake for some nights. I
experienced annoyance, anger, conflict, frustration. Finally made a
utilitarian choice, a greater good served by me giving up on a couple
of strong principles, on that occasion. (Maybe the person involved is
reading, please know that it's still okay, I did not change my mind,
thanks for making me think hard about a whole lot of important

The thing about a "nice email", no matter how politely and tactfully
you pen it, is that such a request can feel quite uncomfortable.
First it makes the assumption that the programmers choice of licence
was somehow shallow, maybe even arbitrary. Let's give all programmers
the benefit of the doubt and assume their intelligence extends to
proper reflection. The alternative is that they inherited a licence
which they have no power or choice to amend.

Secondly, when someone from your own community appeals to you to help
them with a "cool project", maybe even to help them make a buck or
two, I expect you are like me and rarely hesitate if its no great
cost or time commitment. And if your needs and values clearly
conflict, then its easy to say no and properly communicate why. But
now familiar tensions between business and morality have come to the
fore in the last few years, and make demands of bad faith on you.
You're basically saying, I want to do this, but I am being bullied by
corporation X to do it this way, and since you are the weaker of two
conflicting moral opponents I choose to question your values and ask
you if you will move in order to suit me (and by proxy the

To put it in plain talk, its like getting a message from an old
friend who got himself mixed up with with some bad drug dealers and
needs you to bail him out or something nasty is going to happen. It's
a dilemma where helping or not helping feels equally wrong. Where was
that friend last week, before he needed the money so bad? Giving them
money will just get them more enmeshed with a bad scene.

I don't mean that to reflect on you personally, it's just something
that needs to be put out there in the context "change the licence"
being an option. It should be a last resort after many other options
have been considered. Perfectly good choices consistent with proper
moral and free market principles are; if you are a businessmen or
lawyer for whom it might be an option why not start your own app
store. Or if you're a coder able to pull off writing a non GPL
version of the object from scratch, do that. For the rest of the
artists, choosing another platform for your application would be the
logical, rational choice. So would not using [expr], which is easily
replaced by discrete objects and a little thought.

Andy Farnell <padawan12 at obiwannabe.co.uk>

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