Not Free Enough Anymore

May 15th, 2004

We’ve always known Moveable Type wasn’t free software, but it was free enough, and it was an excellent tool, and the community converged around it: supported it, evangelized it, and improved it. And there had been an exchange in the early days where people asked “why isn’t it free software?” (a legitimate question considering the giant shoulder MT stands on), and the response was “we wish it was but we need to eat”. Fair enough. But I had always held out a quiet hope that when MT Pro came out, when TypePad came out, when the revenue stream was no longer dependent on MT that we would see a new and better license. To say the least the new licensing announcements weren’t the license I was hoping for, and more then that they killed the dream.

Quinn does an excellent job (as always) of addressing the “stop whining and pay for it” argument:

so apparently it’s ok to charge $60 for blogging software because a cab ride in geneva is $60, and a good dinner is $100. you know what? i am tired to my bones of hearing from the people for whom $60 cab rides and $100 dinners are assumptions. i get to hear from those people everyday, and i can guess what their opinion is on many subjects, because modern media rams their opinions- expert or not- down my little throat every day of my life. it’s not like the voices of the rich and influential are finally being heard through the medium of blogs after a history of silent frustration.

Mark Pilgrim, the first high profile WordPress defection, uses the new licenses as a perfect case study for why free software is so important.

In the long run, the utility of all non-Free software approaches zero.

In fact it’s such a textbook example you can see a generation of free software programmers using it as a bed time allegory for their kids.

I also I can’t say I’m crazy about the people rushing to MT’s defense describing critics as “those ‘everything should be free’ loonies.” Without said loonies MT wouldn’t exist, every piece of it is built on top of free software.

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