fsf-funding - Funding Free Software


Funding Free Software

If you want to have more free software a few years from
now, it makes sense for you to help encourage people to con
tribute funds for its development. The most effective approach
known is to encourage commercial redistributors to donate.
Users of free software systems can boost the pace of de
velopment by encouraging for-a-fee distributors to donate part of
their selling price to free software developers---the Free Soft
ware Foundation, and others.
The way to convince distributors to do this is to demand
it and expect it from them. So when you compare distributors,
judge them partly by how much they give to free software develop
ment. Show distributors they must compete to be the one who
gives the most.
To make this approach work, you must insist on numbers
that you can compare, such as, "We will donate ten dollars to the
Frobnitz project for each disk sold." Don't be satisfied with a
vague promise, such as "A portion of the profits are donated,"
since it doesn't give a basis for comparison.
Even a precise fraction "of the profits from this disk" is
not very meaningful, since creative accounting and unrelated
business decisions can greatly alter what fraction of the sales
price counts as profit. If the price you pay is $50, ten percent
of the profit is probably less than a dollar; it might be a few
cents, or nothing at all.
Some redistributors do development work themselves. This
is useful too; but to keep everyone honest, you need to inquire
how much they do, and what kind. Some kinds of development make
much more long-term difference than others. For example, main
taining a separate version of a program contributes very little;
maintaining the standard version of a program for the whole com
munity contributes much. Easy new ports contribute little, since
someone else would surely do them; difficult ports such as adding
a new CPU to the GNU Compiler Collection contribute more; major
new features or packages contribute the most.
By establishing the idea that supporting further develop
ment is "the proper thing to do" when distributing free software
for a fee, we can assure a steady flow of resources into making
more free software.


gpl(7), gfdl(7).


Copyright (c) 1994 Free Software Foundation, Inc. Verba
tim copying and redistribution of this section is permitted with
out royalty; alteration is not permitted.
gcc-4.1.1 2006-05-24
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