Brian Holmes on Thu, 1 Nov 2018 07:06:14 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Interview with Richard Stallman in New Left Review (September-October 2018)

On Tue, Oct 30, 2018 at 5:17 PM Frederick Noronha <> wrote:
The 'freedom to afford software' should be actually included as the Fifth Freedom of the Free Software Campaign worldwide. As things stand, the outrageous pricing of software (notwithstanding the FOSS challenge) has made it unaffordable to maybe 80% of the world's population. Talking from an Indian context, it has been sometimes roughly calculated how much a license fee would cost in terms of the income of an average person, or even a middle-class person.

People are excluded by the pricing (apart from the Freedom aspect). Many millions more.
 This is a great thread, and to my mind the above statement is the most important one in it.

To take the most banal example: I began the switch to "free as in beer" fifteen years ago, when I walked into a store in France and discovered I was supposed to pay 300 euro for the latest MacEntrap OS. What a good move it was to get out of that racket, because without the ten years of experience I could never have started learning QGIS and OpenLayers five years ago, and therefore I would have never become a cartographer in a world where the cost of an ESRI subscription rises into the thousands.

A less banal and more serious is example is the defense that was recently mounted of the SciHub project, which sets really courageous hacking against the economic stranglehold that Elsevier and related companies have placed on academic knowledge. A stranglehold which has figuratively and probably also literally killed hundreds of thousands of people trying to become intellectuals in the South, without the inherent privilege that acrrues to those in colonial/imperial countries.

The question of how to make knowledge free, both as in freedom and, well, let's just say health care, was supposed to be resolved by the spontaneous labors of people who might or might not make a dime in the process. The real problem is that no major nation-state has put in enough monetary and institutional support to make Microsoft history.

Freedom that leaves no one out has to be organized collectively. That's not easy, there were major flaws in most efforts so far, but in an era when capitalism is showing its own fatal flaws, it's time to try again.

After all, free healthcare is probably better than dying young for the everlasting pride of saying that you made your own copyleft beer.

Thanks for the words, Frederick.

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