6 reasons to reject the FSF propaganda campaign on the iPhone

OK you might have seen the  propaganda campaign   from the Free Software Foundation? –  here’s a  copy  from Leigh Blackhall’s Blog : –  learnonline.wordpress.com

  1. iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can’t be on everyone’s phones.
  2. iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.
  3. iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.
  4. iPhone won’t play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora.
  5. iPhone is not the only option. There are better alternatives on the horizon that respect your freedom, don’t spy on you, play free media formats, and let you use free software — like the FreeRunner.
  6. Its way over priced for something that WILL break in your pocket (OK, I added the last one )

FSF July 2008

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

I don’t agree with some of the assertions being made so lets look at them  1 at a time.

iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can’t be on everyone’s phones.

Not true.

If you can write software  you can download the software development kit for free ( $0).  if you choose to  publish  the application you create and  give it away for free ($0)  apple will host it on i Tunes for free (  if it meets software quality and  meets apples  broad criteria  (ie no Porn).

If you choose to charge for your software apple will take a cut – but why should that worry  the free software  foundation ????

One thing I will agree on, is at the moment  there is no way for a developer to share source code and techniques with other developers  – and  they are grumbling a bit about that. I expect apple will  relax this rule soon.)

iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.

no surprise there. if apple was going to get the   record labels and the movie companies  to  provide content at an affordable price  for quick and easy download  then yes  the iPhone would have to support  DRM.

So what! –  the iPhone  also  supports  un-DRM’ed content so  you are not locked out of  using your music and videos the way you please.   and although  its not quite legal there are utilities  readily available to remove DRM if you so desire.

iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.

Oh Come on! –  the FSF are really clutching at straws here.

when an application on the iPhone wants to use GPS location data, it gives you – the user, the option to allow or deny access to location data.  and that permission routine is built into the operating system.  it cant be bypassed.

iPhone won’t play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora.

no. and it wont play Betamax video tapes either.

The iPhone supports MP3 (the most popular format) and AAC ( and open standard).  converting files from one format to the other is usually a trivial task on a computer. People like mp3 – and the iPhone does it.

If the FSF are so cut-up about this, why don’t they commission someone to write an iPhone app that plays OGG and Theora files??? instead of just whinging about it?

iPhone is not the only option. There are better alternatives on the horizon that respect your freedom, don’t spy on you, play free media formats, and let you use free software — like the FreeRunner.

err no.  other  initiatives like Google’s Android  phone OS are nothing but “vapourware” at this point  while the iPhone is here and now.  The iPhone  breaks new ground  as a sophisticated Internet device, multimedia player, and mobile phone. and  they are selling MILLIONS of them .  So  why complain ?  As consumers we will all benefit from  the  competition that the iPhone brings to the market.


Its way over priced for something that WILL break in your pocket (OK, I added the last one )

Leigh added this one – and  i don’t think its too dear.  2years ago I bought a Motorola SLVR – an almost smart phone on contract.  Through Optus  I got a  16gig iPhone  and the contract was only 7 dollars a month dearer than my previous phone, and I get  250mb of data a month thrown in. ( I will be using wifi mostly). So in comparison I don’t think its overpriced – (its not cheap either!)

Lastly  jailbreaking an iPhone isnt legal, but its not too difficult either.  so if you really want to  get your own content onto an iPhone, its possible through this avenue.

You also don’t have to deploy applications to the iPhone  through the iTunes store.  the software development kit also allows you to deploy an application to up to 100 iPhones  through a wifi enabled network.  this can be used by  enterprises that want to deploy an in-house application  to their workforce.

Frankly I am tiring of the  FOSS movement’s shrill condemnation of anything that doesn’t meet their narrow  outlook when it comes to computing technology.  Their techno-bigotry is not winning the hearts and minds of consumers –  they need to rethink their strategies.   as the saying goes   – you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

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2 thoughts on “6 reasons to reject the FSF propaganda campaign on the iPhone”

  1. You must be a real piece of work to want to cut down on a group whose goal is to protect your freedom. Bet you go around kicking dogs and beating up orphans, too.

    Your arguments are very weak, too. For #1, you say untrue, then talk about how Apple does indeed decide what should or should not be published. For #2, you are in agreement. For #3, you assume the software is doing what it says and there is no way for programmers to get around that security. For #4, not implementing open video codecs on popular platforms is a real limitation to getting an open web and advancing internet technology. For #5, you create a strawman out of Android, but there are actually many internet devices – many from Nokia – that have been on the market for years.

    You conclude with a recommendation to catch flies with honey, not vinegar, but your very angry essay tastes very bitter, indeed.

  2. Love the Betamax reference!!

    To Zardor,
    The FSF foundation is not about anyone’s freedom, it’s not about making high quality or even reliable software (as RMS states – reliable, useful software can be an ADDED incentive to Free Software) and it’s not even about Open Source (wich is compromised in their eyes) – it’s one man’s attempt to have it all his way. To even insinuate that FSF is about freedom (this is directed at the FSF, not Zardor) is an insult. The Free Software Foundation’s mission is to make ALL software commercially and intellectually free, to stop software developers, from Microsoft all the way down to hobbyists, from selling the fruits of their labour or protecting their software from being copied or distributed by unknown third parties. It removes ALL rights that traditional licenses grant to the copyright holder. Worse than that, the new LGPL or Limited GPL allows for the inclusion of free software in proprietary solutions, but frowns on the use of prorietary systems (e.g. drivers) in GPL software – this is typically of the double standards promoted by the foundation.

    There are other Open Source licenses available (offering certain rights to both the users and developers of software) and many groups are using these alternative licenses due to the insane, self righteous actions and beliefs of RMS and his followers. Linus Torvalds has even spoken out at length at the new GPL V3 – long after having the FSF insist that Linux should be renamed to GNU/Linux. How can an organisation seek to protect peoples freedom when they themselves are one of the most dictatorial and uncomprimising groups in the industry. They have caused more harm to OSS by protraying Open Source advocates (of which I am one) as single minded, fundamentalist bullies (of which I am certainly not).

    A major part of freedom (by any defination) is the freedom to express one’s opinions – yet there is no forum, no blog comments or even an email address listed on the FSF site.

    Sorry for the rant, but the FSF really get to me.

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