JA: What about the programmers…
Richard Stallman: What about them? The programmers writing non-free software? They are doing something antisocial. They should get some other job.
JA: Such as?
Richard Stallman: There are thousands of different jobs people can have in society without developing non-free software. You can even be a programmer. Most paid programmers are developing custom software–only a small fraction are developing non-free software. The small fraction of proprietary software jobs are not hard to avoid.”
RMS can fuck off now. ‘k, thx. Fucking hippie.
Actually RMS makes a lot of good points in that interview, including ones about problems of globalism. But his comment made me think about my own (very small and limited) participation in the IT industry, and what he said rang true: I’ve been a programmer for one year, and worked directly with programmers in one capacity or another for about six or seven years, and only in the first couple years of that time was I working with anyone who sold software to customers with a proprietary license. The rest of the time it was all companies writing software for their own use. Sometimes it was companies who released software open source, sometimes they just kept it under wraps and used it themselves, but they weren’t selling proprietary software with a shrink-wrap license or whatever.
And to be honest, those companies had their shiznit together much more than the ones I worked for the first couple years who sold their software as their product. They were pretty sleazebaggish. All inflicting copy protection nightmares on people, all filling their customers’ ears full of lies about when the the next version would be released and how many bugs it would fix, all trying to leverage their control over a set of tools to force another company into bankruptcy so they could buy it and dominate the market (I kid you not, that’s apparently what one of my employers did shortly after I left — the plan failed, btw). On the whole, companies who sell proprietary software seem to have a much greater than average tendency to fall into completely sleazebag practices. (Read that sentence carefully before you think I’m trying to generalize about *all* proprietary software companies.)
I think it’s just the nature of the game, relying entirely on artificial, legally-mandated scarcity for your business model (and that’s what proprietary licenses do: legally mandate artificial scarcity). It’s a tough game to play, the deck is stacked against you, and you’re always tempted to get an advantage in some dubious way.