Last time I criticized the Free Software Foundation, it was unwarranted – I hadn’t found the back-link to the page that explained what they were saying. This time, it looks like I can blame their ambiguity.
This month, FSF downplayed the video game company Valve who is trying to bring games to the Linux platform. Why? Valve uses DRM.
First, let me establish the point that I don’t particularly like DRM (for reasons I may get to in another post). However, I do like the business model of Steam, through with Valve lends their games. What’s so nice about Steam? If you’re a developer, you don’t have to worry about people jacking your games and playing for no cost. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing your game code and putting it under their own label, effectively dividing your profit if they decide to sell the game in the same medium. From a gamer’s perspective, it’s nice to be able to play your game just about anywhere without worrying about breaking a CD or risking breaking copyright agreements just to make backups.
I used the word “lend”. Why? That’s important because technically speaking, companies these days never sell you something. To buy a game would cost you thousands of dollars, but you would effectively own all of the rights to it. This brings me to the FSF article. I quote them:
Nonfree games (like other nonfree programs) are unethical because they deny freedom to their users.
Seriously? This reason is pathetic because there’s nothing to establish the ethics of this. i.e. This statement has no ethical or moral basis whatsoever, which is, in my opinion, pathetic. Alas, so the world thinks that ethics are relative to whim, but that’s a discussion for another post.
Then we get to an ironic paragraph:
However, if you’re going to use these games, you’re better off using them on GNU/Linux rather than on Microsoft Windows. At least you avoid the harm to your freedom that Windows would do.
Considering how Windows is the OS of choice for gamers, I don’t see a flood of people shifting to Linux distros. If Valve came over, then hey, it might actually keep more gamers using Linux!
What FSF really needs to do is convince Valve why DRM isn’t the answer to their proprietary problems, but that isn’t going to happen with pathetic articles like the one they just published.