Bradley M. Kuhn

To Serve Users

Bradley M. Kuhn at

If you haven't believed me before that we're about enter a Dark Ages of software freedom, take a look at what the Mozilla Corporation has in store for you.

Baker calls this serving her users. I'm reminded of the science fiction story, To Serve Man. Spoiler alert for that BTW:

Mozilla wants to serve up their users on a silver platter to the MPAA, the RIAA, and the television studios.

I hope this finally proves that Mozilla's structure (placing a large for-profit company inside a 501(c)(3) charity) shows that principles will be sold out to stay competitive with what Baker calls "the other browser vendors".

For the Mozilla Corporation, software freedom was never a principle, it was as Baker calls it "merely an approach". I suspect that's why they call it Open Source: it has no principles behind it.

AFAICT, Mozilla's primary goal is popularity above all else.

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@Benjamin Cook, this is a classic popularity is more important than software freedom argument, mixed with the have to use proprietary software argument.

The same arguments work to argue against all copyleft licenses: after all, some companies won't adopt GPLv3'd software because they fear giving users the freedoms it upholds.

Perhaps you believe that the freedom to proprietarize software is a fundamental right, just as I believe it's a fundamental wrong. If you do, then your arguments would make sense. But, I don't think that's what you believe, because it seems you bleieve that Firefox is somehow a "force for good" even while it incorporates proprietary software and DRM.

I don't know what good you're putting first there, except maybe popularity. I don't think popularity is that important.

As I said elsewhere in this thread, Mozilla could make a huge impact by setting up Firefox so that every time a DRM'd video was encountered, it could explain to the users why it doesn't work and explain the manipulation that the media companies have done.

This would make a real difference. Sure, many users would switch to a browser from some other for-profit company. But, may people switched from GNU/Linux to Macs, which was based on BSD. Should we have taken that as a sign that we should relicense Linux and GNU under non-copyleft in hopes that more people would use it?

Bradley M. Kuhn at 2014-05-15T11:42:28Z

To quote Kurt Vonnegut: "The Dark Ages--they haven't ended yet".

David Thompson at 2014-05-15T12:36:32Z

Gerv wrote a blog post in response to mine, and I commented on his.

Bradley M. Kuhn at 2014-05-15T13:31:17Z

@pete: you make a very good point about past drm schemes falling out of use. however, once drm systems are in place in most browsers, many media distributors will not want to use newer video playing software without drm features built in. these companies/people will likely not move to another platform until another widespread drm system is available. this creates a market for other future widespread drm platforms, if the present one is seen as being flawed. if it's convenient for distributors and users don't react, then the distributors may feel they have little to complain about, and will likely rely on it on into the future.

thinking of this reminds me of nuclear proliferation, and how no one wants to get rid of their nukes, even though they pose a serious threat to the world. rather, many countries want more. it's not quite the same dynamic, but in a similar way, it's hard to undo the arms race.

of course, it's a bit illusory, since people will find ways of circumventing the drm schemes (libdvdcss anyone?), private keys will be leaked, and isolated groups will leak the most popular videos over the internet in one way or another. (too bad i generally don't like what's 'popular'.) the major difference is to hurt the user, in classic drm fashion. unfortunately, there are some pretty nasty laws in the us against what it calls 'digital circumvention'.

Andrew E at 2014-05-15T19:32:28Z