More and more I realize that there is a misconception about free software. Many people tend to believe that free software actually means software that should not cost any money. They somehow find natural and fair the fact that some people may work voluntarily in order to produce software, which the rest can use to make money without having any legal obligation to contribute either money or effort back upstream.
As I see it, free software should be free from cost for all to use and build upon, BUT using or building upon free software to make a profit should not be cost-free. That’s a straightforward and very fair model. Also, it seems to be the only realistic concept that could drive money back to those who invested their time and effort producing free software. I know that currently there is no free software license that makes a distinction between commercial and non-commercial use and thus be the solid ground for such a software production ecosystem. But, who knows… maybe we see one in the near future. Such a software license would make a difference in the way we perceive the “doing business with free software” concept that people talk about these days.
For content and media, there are the Creative Commons licenses, some of which make it possible for creators to provide their work for free, while at the same time they still reserve the right to selectively make their work available for commercial purposes under different terms. That’s the beauty of those licenses. They are made to solve real problems and that’s why I highly respect them.
Why free should not always mean cost-free by George Notaras is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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