25 februari 2011

Canonical and Banshee: making money with others’ open source

The recent fuss about the division of revenue from Banshee’s Amazon MP3 store made me think about the moral right of making money with help of the open source code written (partially) by others. In this post I would like to explore this issue, by the example of the Banshee Amazon MP3 plugin, and Canonical’s rights to change the affiliate code.

The case

Banshee’s Amazon MP3 store plugin was developed by Banshee star-developer Aaron Bockover, who announced on his blog last August that all revenue of the plugin would go to the GNOME Foundation. The plugin consists of two separate extensions, one for integrating music importing from Amazon’s MP3 store into Banshee, the other for embedding the store’s website. Both are open source, and available from Banshee’s GIT branch.

After discussions between Canonical and the Banshee developers, Jono Bacon announced on his blog that the final settlement was that Canonical would receive 75% of the revenue of both music stores, and direct 25% to the GNOME Foundation. Some people were outraged by Canonical taking such a large share of the revenue, arguing that the company was simply profiting from the work of others.

When are you allowed to sell?

I want to investigate this issue by going from the bottom up. Let us first establish why we pay money. We can’t do everything ourselves, because we don’t have infinite time and skills. Therefore we use the services of others, and pay them in exchange for what they produce. That money allows them to buy the products of others, so they can focus fully on their job. Money is thus awarded for a service.

In open source, most of the time you will not have to pay for the software. However, the GPL license does not prohibit selling your software. The Free Software Foundation defines free software not as ‘gratis’ software, but says software is free when a user is free to run the program, change the program, and redistribute the program with or without changes. (Read its piece on selling (free) software if you want to know more.)

When are you entitled to sell?

You pay money in exchange for a service. In the case of the Banshee Amazon MP3 plugin, Amazon gives a share of the revenue to Banshee, as a reward for bringing users to its store. Banshee subsequently chooses to give the revenue to the GNOME Foundation. Note that it is not the end-user who is the customer here, but Amazon!

Under the current plans, the Banshee Amazon MP3 plugin on Ubuntu will give Canonical 75% of the money paid by Amazon and the revenue of the Ubuntu One Music Store. The GNOME Foundation, via Banshee, will get 25% of both. I shall focus on the Amazon MP3 plugin. There are two ways to look at this. The first way is to consider Banshee an involuntary customer of Canonical, buying the service ‘broader access to customers’. The win for them is more income. The second way is to consider Amazon a customer of both Banshee and Canonical, who jointly provide the service Amazon pays for.

How does this happen? The Banshee Amazon MP3 plugin, developed by the Banshee project, is the direct means used to make the Amazon MP3 Store available. Other important factors are the attractiveness of Banshee—courtesy of its developers—and distribution via Ubuntu, the most popular Linux distribution on the desktop.

We have seen that both Canonical and the Banshee project deliver a part of the service that Amazon pays for. Canonical is the final distributor, bringing the product to the customers’ doorsteps, Banshee can be compared to a more specialised producer, providing a specific product to the distributor. If we look at the real world, we can see that it is often the distributor at the end of the chain that determines the prices. Farmers, for example, earn often very little for their crops. Most of the revenue on produce goes to the supermarkets that distribute the goods to the customers. Supermarkets may not be the sole method of reaching customers, but they are by far the most important channel; the farmer depends on the supermarkets. This simple fact allows the stores to dictate the prices. It is an economic law that says that when a good—in this case access to the customer—is scarce, the costs will go up. Here it means the costs for the farmer will go up in the way of lower revenues.

Canonical can be compared to the ‘Superunie’, the joint procurement organisation of the major Dutch supermarkets. Like supermarkets, it doesn’t actually make everything it offers itself. Instead, it is responsible for the selection, integration and fine-tuning of the components, and maybe for baking the fresh baguettes. Its large market share in the Linux desktop world gives it a lot of power. Some people are principally opposed to it and say it abuses its power.

Access to many potential customers makes Canonical’s contribution to the ‘service’ provided to Amazon much, much more important. It is very likely that 25% of the Banshee Amazon MP3 plugin’s revenue when enabled by default will be higher, than 100% of the same plugin disabled by default. The service of enabling the plugin by default is therefore a valuable ‘product’, which is sold to the Banshee project at a not unsubstantial price.

This high price can be justified by the fact that Canonical is selling a scarce good to the Banshee project. However, Banshee has little choice than to accept whatever benevolent offer Canonical deigns to make. Because they’ve chosen for a free license, there is no real transaction to be made. If Canonical doesn’t like what Banshee demands, then it can just replace the affiliate code and keep everything for itself. Banshee is powerless. That is the difference with the farmer-supermarket analogy, in which the farmer can decide to reject and offer and not give his or her produce.

So, what  amount can you ask for this substantial additional value? It is impossible to determine the true economic price of it when only one side can make demands. The 75:25 ratio is therefore not a representation of the true values of what both sides have to offer, but instead the representation of what the only party with any power over the matter considers the values to be. It is a subjective determination.

Whether or not you agree with the chosen ratio depends what value you attribute to the services provided by Canonical and by the Banshee project to Amazon. It is not possible to do this fully objective, and in any case you need extra data to say something definitive.

To me the demands from Canonical don’t seem very unreasonable at all. The value of the huge user share Ubuntu has to offer seems to be worth the 75% slice at first glance. However, we’ll first have to see the statistics from the Amazon MP3 plugin in action on Ubuntu to verify this assumption. If it turns out that Ubuntu brings in a lot of revenue, then the 75% fee is justified. If it turns out that the revenue is relatively low, or average, then Canonical’s share should be lowered to compensate for the proven lower value of the ‘service’ offered by the company. I would propose to do this check not too long after the launch of Ubuntu 11.04, make the results public and swiftly announce change when change is justified.

What do you think? Do you agree with my conclusion? Did you spot any mistake? Please leave a comment!

54 thoughts on “Canonical and Banshee: making money with others’ open source

  1. Oli

    You miss two points of value:

    – Banshee is arguably the best media playing application for desktop Linux at the moment. Using Banshee as the default improves Ubuntu. Add's value to Canonical's product.
    – The Amazon plugin is just plain better than the U1MS. Music is cheaper, daily updates, faster downloads and purchasing through the best known online retailer.

    So Ubuntu benefits directly through a better user experience.

    I don't see how Banshee benefits from this arrangement. More users means a slightly stronger community but it also adds a lot of noise. If Canonical wants to really justify their 75% cut, they need to put in 75% of the resources that go into making and maintaining Banshee. Until that point they're just another unscrupulous company [essentially] reselling open source software without giving anything back.

    If you see somebody selling OpenOffice on Ebay (yeah, this happens a lot) do you feel like they earn the money they get? Or do you think they're just ripping people off? Yeah.

    Reply
    1. @aigarius

      If people are willing to pay for OOO on eBay, then it is worth it to them. Basically that means that they do not already know about OOO and its price and by this purchace they have a good chance of learning that and getting this valuable information for a low fee.

      While it would make sence for Ubuntu to include Banshee and the Amazon plug-in as a benefit for its users and customers, the deal actually is about not replacing the affiliate code. If you find a good CC-licensed writeup about an Amazon product, then you take the text, fix some spelling errors, add some screenshots, publish it on your high-traffic blog and promote it trough your channels would it be so outrageous to replace the Amazon affiliate links with your own and offer the original author 25% of the revenue as a thanks for their work?

      This is a win-win for both Banshee/Gnome and Canonical. It is also a win for Ubuntu, because it provides an additional revenue stream that Cannonical can use to fund more developers.

      Reply
    2. Sense Hofstede Post author

      I agree that Banshee is the best music player available for Linux at the moment. However, that is not important here. Banshee is not the product, the revenue from the Amazon MP3 plugin is not a reward for the product Banshee, but for the product 'more consumers for Amazon'. You could say that awesome projects that are included with Ubuntu deserves charity from Canonical in return for its their work, but that is a separate issue.

      As far as I'm aware the Amazon MP3 plugin embeds the Amazon MP3 store website. That website was not developed by the Banshee project, the music on sale wasn't recorded by the Banshee project. They simply redistribute the service originally provided by Amazon. That doesn't matter, because Amazon pays for the extra exposure. The same applies here.

      Again, the fee is not a reward for Banshee the media player. It is a reward for directing customers to the Amazon MP3 store. That is something different.

      Reply
      1. Gabriel Burt

        You make it sound like the extension was trivial to write. Yet we wanted it for years before Aaron managed to bring it to reality. And no other player has yet managed to do so. The key thing the extension does beyond presenting the website is downloading the tracks seamlessly.

        Customers won't buy from Amazon if the experience you provide them doesn't work well; we (Banshee) provide that.

        Reply
        1. Sense Hofstede Post author

          I wasn't aware that it took so much trouble to write the plugin, but it makes sense. Seamless integration is always a very hard thing to do when there is a lot of communication over the internet involved. It probably must be frustrating, as a developer of Banshee, to see that this hard work is taken and used by a third party as a source of income for themselves.

          However, building a distribution that is good enough to attract a large audience is a very hard thing too. I'd dare to say that it is even harder. People might say that it is the quality of the different applications that makes a good distribution, but then they forget that someone has to go through all the file managers, wallpaper swappers, internet browsers, media players, patience apps and what not more, and decide if they're suitable. Then you need to take care of the glue and the wrapping. Is this related at all to the development of the plugin? No, but it is part of the service I talked about in the post.

          If we go back to the supermarket analogy, we'll see that the supermarket can make a lot of money from a product that is very labour-intensive, and that was not at all produced by the supermarket at all. The quality of the product in question will influence its sale. However, the quality of the service of the supermarket is separate from that, but still an important factor. The supermarket can change its product range and replace the product, if it is not to its liking. The products are competing for attention from the supermarkets, the supermarkets are not competing for attention from the products.

          Customers will indeed not buy (often) from Amazon if the experience you provide them doesn't work well, customers will not buy at all from Amazon when there is no store to experience available.

          Reply
          1. Aoirthoir

            "I'd dare to say that it is even harder."

            Do you?

            "People might say that it is the quality of the different applications that makes a good distribution, but then they forget that someone has to go through all the file managers, wallpaper swappers, internet browsers, media players, patience apps and what not more, and decide if they're suitable. "

            My response to this is giving me a %@#&!%%~$@ break. I doubt I am alone. It IS work putting a distribution together. It is ALSO work designing, creating and writing software. As someone who actually does this shit for a living I can tell you BOTH are f'n time consuming, and technically draining. But no, putting together a distro is NOT harder than WRITING the software that GOES INTO that distro. Your comment here is incredibly insulting.

            I gave reasons below WHY Canonical is just fine charging. You don't need to make up nonsense that has nothing to do with your point.

            "If we go back to the supermarket analogy,"

            No, I won't. The supermarket analogy is bad logic. Using it is breaking one of the major rules of critical thinking. You know it and I know it.

        2. Witch Lady

          @ Gabriel, I won't buy from Amazon cause there is no possibility to buy the music from Amazon in my country. So Banshee can offer whatever it is connected to Amazon and I don't give a damn about it.

          @Sense, I disagree with Banshee being the best. I prefer Rhytmbox. Except for one or two minor adds (which I can live without) Rhytmbox has everything I need.

          Reply
      2. Aoirthoir

        "I agree that Banshee is the best music player available for Linux at the moment. However, that is not important here."

        Why? Because you say it is not important? The entire discussion would not be happening if Banshee did not exist and if the plugin to Amazon had not been written. So like others I say it is important. (I agree with you on some things which I will address in another post).

        Reply
    3. neuromancer

      *Products and services are different.*
      And in this case the difference is huge!
      If you are not in accord with this, try to make money selling OpenOffice on Ebay as you provocatively say.
      You can't.
      And is not ethic (or license). It's economy.

      It's your opinion that Banshee is the best media player for Linux. In my opinion is Rhythmbox.
      Probably others people have different one more.

      Banshee has no contractual power as said by Sense.
      So it's all a decision by Canonical. And I think it's a very generous and transparent proposal.

      Reply
  2. Steven

    @Oli,
    You are missing the whole point of the post, and greatly underestimates the value of distribution.
    In my home country, there is a giant retailer, called Carrefour.
    Do you know that for for a product to make it to the shelves of Carrefour, they have to pay??!!

    Yes, Ubuntu also benefits. Banshee also benefits.
    Ubuntu could have taken 100% and have broken no law.
    I believe by adding Banshee and giving 25%, GNOME will get more revenue than when Banshee was not default.

    This is when the freedom of FOSS is tested. Are you for freedom, or only when it suits you.
    This is when we ask ourselves, can the GPL survive in a business world?

    Reply
    1. Oli

      You're missing the whole point of my reply.

      I'm familiar with Carrefour. Your logic would apply for an average product in a competitive market but that's not really the case here. Banshee is considered by many to be the best quality media-playing application. To borrow from your analogy: would you shop with Carrefour if they didn't stock your favourite brand of cola? Good quality products make the supermarket better, just as a good supermarket helps distribution. Following that, let's be clear: Ubuntu chose Banshee, not the other way around. Your distribution model just doesn't fit.

      I'm certainly not talking about laws here. We're talking about morality. Canonical isn't adding anywhere near the value they're planning to extract from the product.

      And yes, I'd probably think slightly differently if the money was siphoned into the Ubuntu project rather than into Canonical.

      Reply
      1. @Sephiroth_VII

        Yes, most people would still shop at Carrefour, since it has pretty much everything, is cheap, and stocks high quality goods. Very few people would go out of their way and go to an inferior store to get their cola.

        Reply
      2. @Sephiroth_VII

        Also, if money goes to Canonical at this stage in Ubuntu's existence, when it is a pretty lousy moneymaker, it's safe to assume that money will be used for development. So, at this point in time, money for Canonical = money for Ubuntu.

        Reply
        1. Kudret

          Hey Tom great site. I have been a Linux user on and off since 2000. I used to wipe out my installation on my older coteumpr every other month tying to find one that worked well with my hardware. Then came Ubuntu and I tried it out in 2005 (I think it was the third release 5.10) and since then have been avid user. I had Ubuntu loaded fully and used it as a server (web, MySQL database) and also as a programming machine. Then I got my laptop 2 years ago where I whipped out Win XP Home and but Ubuntu on it fully and now I can say I am Windows free as my new and old desktop and my laptop all run Ubuntu. Thanks and keep up the excellent work.

          Reply
      3. Steven

        Ubuntu chose Banshee….Banshee did not choose Ubuntu..
        Because Banshee does not have the power of choice in this case…
        This should tell you something about the respective position of the two entity..
        Let's be clear: Banshee were glad to be chosen by Ubuntu

        Also, Banshee is not in a position of monopoly at this time to force many users to choose it despite what Ubuntu does.

        Reply
      4. sadig

        Oli,

        I think you didn't get the point of Sense.
        Ubuntu is a Carrefour product, and Ubuntu decided to use Banshee and not Canonical.
        Canonical itself is Carrefour, who ships Ubuntu in digital and analog ways, so to provide this infrastructure, it's their right to try to get some revenue out of it (at least IMHO), or to stay with the analogy, Ubuntu has to pay a price to be Canonicals number one free Product in the store.
        If RedHat would do the same for Fedora, nobody would object, but RedHat did drop the whole mono stack from default installs, so no Banshee for Fedora or RedHat.
        Novell, as the main distributor of Mono, doesn't need to gain revenue from anything then their commercial services and patents, and with Novell pushing Mono to everyones throat, they don't even want to "harm" a very known Mono project.

        But honestly, I know all distros, and I used them in my past very intensively (the so called community editions, whereas such distros were not available when I started to use SuSE Slackware in 1993, and of course the enterprise editions like RHEL or SLES), no well known company, RedHat or Novell, ever managed to push Linux to the Desktop, changed the user experience and , last but not least, but IMHO the most important fact, neither RedHat nor Novell/SuSE brought so many people to Linux as Ubuntu and Canonical did.
        There is a reason why Ubuntu is the top 1 on distrowatch for several years now, there is a reason why Ubuntu in general is more known to people switching from windows to linux.

        And now, this company as the sponsors tries to get some bucks out of their sponsoring project, hell. When RedHat or Novell were in the same position, they would do the same thing.

        But when someone very popular does something like Canonical did, everyone comes and pick on it.

        Really, Canonical can be proud, to be in more mouths then the other competitors.

        Even this little story, which actually is really a question of "When Banshee is not ok with the decision Canonical/Ubuntu took now, why don't they sell their very good software commercially?", gives Canonical more PR then having nothing in the news or not OSS concerning news like Novell had in the early past.

        It's time that even opensource fanboys are starting to think in a business way. There is nothing which is free, everything costs money, even producing OpenSource software.

        Reply
        1. bochecha

          <off-topic>

          > "If RedHat would do the same for Fedora, nobody would object, but RedHat did drop the whole mono stack from default installs"

          No they didn't.

          The only Mono application on the default desktop install was Tomboy. That means the whole Mono stack was dragged as a dependency by **one** application.

          We needed space on the live CD, there two solutions:
          - either replace most of the applications in the default desktop by an application written in Mono, hopefully removing the dependencies of those former applications
          - or replace this one mono application with an equivalent whose dependencies are already on the live CD (Gnote in this case)

          Guess which one was the easiest to implement? :)

          My point is that it was not something mandated by the legal department in Red Hat to eradicate Mono from the desktop default install. It was a technical decision by the developers.

          Sorry for hijacking the conversation, I just couldn't let this one slip.

          </off-topic>

          Reply
          1. sadig

            @bochecha:

            Hmm…reading the different articles, Fedora (and also RedHat) replaced Tomboy with the C counterpart of Tomboy, aka Gnote from Hub F., or am I mistaken? (http://rahulsundaram.livejournal.com/20725.html , https://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-desktop-li

            That means, when you install a fresh fedora, you won't get any Mono stack with it. Which means, no Banshee, no Tomboy by default, right?
            F-Spot was replaced, too with shotwell (but this is a bad example, because Ubuntu did the same, with a rational behind it).

            Furthermore, I do think that there is more behind the replacement of mono based apps, then the public does know.

            Regarding, http://blog.internetnews.com/skerner/2009/06/fedo… (and I do believe that quotes from a RH guy) there is a legal concern regarding RH and Mono. And I do think that when RH wants to be free of something which doesn't really fit in their business product, it will be elemintated in the testversions of the RHEL product, namely Fedora.
            But that could just be me :)

            Regards,
            sh

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I think giving 25% to gnome from both music stores is more than generous. Especially, given the divergent paths gnome and canonical are currently on.

    Reply
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  5. Aoirthoir

    The GNU GPL makes it very clear that profiting from free software is acceptable, even encouraged. Frankly so do other free licenses, even non-copy-lefted ones. So legally they are in the clear. I make my living by creating free software. I also make it by installing free software. Am I a bad boy because of it? Immoral because I only donate to this cause or that, or this project or that, and not others?

    Now many are claiming they are not being ethical or moral. Why? Because someone who wrote the software doesn't like how it is being used? *That* makes it immoral? Please. People do things all of the time I dislike, that doesn't make them immoral.

    Some people don't like that Canonical dares to take a bit of the proceeds for themselves. This attitude is common among techs who think businesses are just evil no matter what and profit is bad. This ignores the fact that all of their toys come from said profit.

    Finally might Canonical have been more tactful? Perhaps. But let's face it Canonical is full of Ubunteros, who are not noted for being considerate of other people. So this is just par for the course.

    Let them make their money because that's what's going to inform the existence of your software for years to come. (Of course banshee could make the plugin changeable so that anyone could put ANY affiliate code in that they wanted. Maybe I want my grand mother's store to benefit from my purchases….)

    Reply
    1. Martin Owens

      If people are finding the extraction of fees objectionable; then they need only change the package in their shipment. Many of us install and upgrade Ubuntu for our friends, this is a perfect opportunity to remove the Ubuntu One music store and reset the referral code if one wishes.

      For all my friends, family and valued customers I remove mono completely. That is my prerogative as a distributor of Free Software.

      Reply
    2. Sense Hofstede Post author

      I wouldn't be surprised if the Banshee project is going to work on an easy way for Ubuntu users to do something like that. But like Martin Owens said, you can also just change the referral code. Or you could replace the Amazon MP3 plugins with something built from a PPA.

      Reply
      1. Aoirthoir

        Can you change the referral code easily? If so, it might be good for Banshee (and other Free Software) to create a register option. Then at the register option inform people of situations like this or other things regarding their software. Like I said It'd be great to have granny have my referral code. (Course granny neither has an Amazon affiliate nor is around anymore..but still..)

        Reply
  6. Conzar

    This discussion isn't about free software, its about buying/selling licensing to music. The software that enables this is free as in doesn't cost a dime, so please stop confusing the issues here. I'm very tired of hearing FSF people talk about selling software when in reality all GPL'd software that I have ever come across has always been free at no cost (if anyone tries to sell it, there is always a free alternative provided by someone so its only the ignorances of the consumer that enables someone to sell GPL'd code).

    In terms of licensing music, who cares? Bittorrent and other p2p makes paying for music licences obsolete. Of course, if you are a consumer and are also a sucker, then you will most likely want to pay for music. For the rest of the sane world, we will continue to share our music free of charge.

    Reply
    1. Aoirthoir

      "This discussion isn't about free software, its about buying/selling licensing to music."

      Yes it is about free software and yes it is about buying and selling licensing to music. Since Banshee is software, the terms of their license are important to how their software is used. Since their license is a free software license, that makes the conversation about free software.

      "The software that enables this is free as in doesn't cost a dime, so please stop confusing the issues here…"

      No one is confusing the issue here except you. The terms of the license are VERY IMPORTANT in determining whether Canonical is even permitted to do what they've done with the software that others have developed. The fact that OTHERS could choose NOT to do what Canonical has done, would not change Canonical's use of the license, which allows them to profit from the software in any imaginable way.

      "I'm very tired of hearing FSF people talk about selling software when in reality all GPL'd software that I have ever come across has always been free at no cost (if anyone tries to sell it, there is always a free alternative provided by someone so its only the ignorances of the consumer that enables someone to sell GPL'd code)."

      Right. And the fact that most, if not all Free and Open Source Software is also avaiable for gratis, prevents no one from making a profit off of it.

      "In terms of licensing music, who cares? Bittorrent and other p2p makes paying for music licences obsolete. Of course, if you are a consumer and are also a sucker, then you will most likely want to pay for music. For the rest of the sane world, we will continue to share our music free of charge."

      I dislike controls over my music, software, books or any other material that can be easily copied. We're in an age where scarcity of copies are entirely fabricated. So yeah I don't like it that others tell me I am not allowed to copy their works. But my not liking it doesn't give me the right to do it. I expect people to respect the terms of the licences I use for my creative works and so I respect the terms of their licenses, even when their license are "ALL rights RESERVED". If I object to a license, I don't use said item. If I use said item, I respect the license.

      Of course I have friends in bands that work many hours creating their music, so I have a tendency to care about them as human beings.

      Reply
      1. Conzar

        "Of course I have friends in bands that work many hours creating their music, so I have a tendency to care about them as human beings."
        If you really cared about people as human beings, then you would see that the current monetary system is totally inhumane. Giving money to some people, and letting others starve is horrific. Restricting access of goods based on imaginary credits is insanity; I only hope that people will wake up and really treat people as humans and that means providing our needs without a price tag.

        Your free to follow any insane laws that you wish; the rest of the sane world will continue to share freely.

        Reply
        1. Ben

          <ot>
          Your credit score is the only thing that's imaginary, and it is based on how you handle your money, so it's not entirely unreliable. Just that some people fall on hard times while relying on credit, when they should be relying on cash. A credit card is simply an on-demand loan service, with a limit and some other restrictions. My philosophy is, if you can't afford to pay at least half of a loan back, you probably shouldn't get it. I also believe money saved is money spent, unless you need (not want) something.
          </ot>

          Anyway, if you want to help the hungry, go out on the streets and give them food or money yourself. Organize a community effort if you have to. Don't steal someone's goods, you're just keeping someone else (who might have helped the poor in their own community) from making money. That said, I don't really approve of how much the record companies are making off of artists' work, especially since "records" aren't that expensive and neither is basic advertising or putting a product on the market, but (at least to some degree) it's the artists' decision as to how they are going to sell their product.

          Reply
          1. Conzar

            Money is completely fantasy and does not represent anything real (especially fiat currency). But in general, all money's value is determined by a belief of the people using it. Money in and of itself is a type of religion. So its very difficult for most people who are indoctrinated into using money from childhood to truly understand the insanity of it just like a child that is indoctrinated into any other types of religion.

            Charity organizations do not have enough resources to provide the necessities of life to all that need it. However, there are enough resources to provide clean water, food, housing, and clothing to all of the world's people. This isn't done today because there is no profit motive to provide for the people that have no money. In fact, there is profit incentive to keeping people poor because poor people can't demand higher pay and are easy targets to recruit into police and militarily.

            So you can continue to play this insane and unfair game of monopoly, or choose a different path. Now is the time to start planning the future especially with all of the protests over the world. Why, because people are fed up with this insane system that produces war, poverty, crime, pollution, etc. We need a system that is humane and provides for all of the people of the world. A free documentary that expresses these ideas is called Zeitgeist: Moving forward. You can find it on youtube.

          2. Aoirthoir

            Money is a fantasy. No doubt. Since it is a fantasy everyone agrees on, it is real. Are you living without getting a paycheck? Without an inheritance? Good on you. Show the rest of us how to do so.

            On the other hand if you, like the rest of us are using money to exist, you don't get to tell the rest of us that we're evil for needing the very same thing to survive that YOU need.

            And I agree we need a system that helps ALL…..and there are systems that do. Unfortunately to make any real difference it needs participation. Until it does, it's not my right to tell someone, sorry I'm just going to TAKE without asking, even if it is an electronic copy. The payment I give them isn't for the COPY, it is for the appreciation for the work they put into creating the thing in the first place.

            Rather than ignoring the hard work of persons whose licenses I disagree with, I can choose to listen to music that is distributed with licenses that I do agree with. And I do one or the other. I don't take the music (or ANY OTHER copyrighted work) and just distribute at my whim.

          3. Ben

            Any system of trade will necessarily involve money. If it's cash backed by some valuable item (gold, for instance), it's money. If it's cash backed by work (what the U.S. has, for the most part), it's still money. If it's coin (value in it's self), it's money. If it's your pig (value in nutrition and work raising it), it's money.

            True, some people believe in money like it's a religion. Those are the people who will be sore when it loses value (which is more likely to happen with cash than other types of money); that doesn't make money any less real. And while we all would be happy if we could live without cash, coin, and credit, it's just not convenient to trade technology and information for livestock. And when you start talking about I.O.U.'s, you get back to money.

            The alternative, of course, is to remove all forms of trade–make everything voluntary. The problem is, some people can only do certain types of work, and aren't good at others. They might be a good business man, but not good at gardening. In a big city, with sky-scrapers, people don't often interact in a way that would facilitate charity to that individual business man. And creating an organization to provide food to such business men is difficult (since it's not always easy to tell whether the individual actually needs the food or he is just being lazy or greedy). Thus, the business man would be left to either beg or starve. Not to mention, you can't make everyone do all that they do voluntarily, because they just aren't used to it.

            We can also argue over how all this technology is unnecessary, and we'd be better without it, etc., but at this point it's useless to argue such things. Totalitarian, dictator, and like governments will likely not back down in those areas, simply because they want to be on top. Nations and States based on Capitalism will likely not back down either, because consumers want their high-tech gadgets, and because their governments don't want to fall behind others in technology. So then, where we stop in between idealism and realism is a difficult decision. Most would swing for ideal (because it would be), but that's often not a realistic choice. That doesn't stop us from trying, of course. ;-)

          4. Aoirthoir

            Ben,

            I doubt what we say will make a difference to Conzar. They have made it clear that OTHER people's livelihood doesn't matter. They talk out of one side of their mouth about how evil money is, but dollars to pennies I bet they are earning and expecting to earn just like the rest of us. The difference is that some of us believe that as we expect to be paid for at least SOME of our time, others hope or expect to be paid for some of THEIR time. I pay for their time when they ask. And I donate at other times.

            So he acts moralistic, while denying others the ability to earn an income..

        2. Aoirthoir

          "If you really cared about people as human beings, then you would see that the current monetary system is totally inhumane."

          Excuse me? I am a CELT of IRISH descent. I am well aware of the wickedness of the monetary system. Money was created by one of the most wicked societies to walk the surface of the ground, a society that was NOT Celtic. Celtic society did not have money until it was FORCED upon us by the Romans and the East. I have LONG taught the very REAL evils of the money system to persons. Evils that even you are likely unaware of. Fiat money only multiplies these evils and the scarcity of them.

          These evils do not change the FACT that the poor DEPEND upon earning money merely to survive. Whether we like it or not resources ARE controlled. The means to acquire those resources is MONEY. That means the poor NEED to earn money. This situation will NOT CHANGE until we convince the SEVEN BILLION inhabitants of this planet that we can ALL work together without the need for money. When you have any success with that give me a call.

          "Giving money to some people, and letting others starve is horrific."

          Agreed.

          "Restricting access of goods based on imaginary credits is insanity;"

          Imaginary credits is fiat money. Gold was actually not imaginary as it has real value, proven unquestionably in modern times.

          "I only hope that people will wake up and really treat people as humans and that means providing our needs without a price tag."

          Right but in the meantime I bet you are still earning money and still except to earn money for the time you spend working. I don't expect that you expect to be RICH, by your own definition, but you need to eat, have a place to stay and so on. Like the rest of us, you need to use money to do so until the entire world wakes up.

          Why are YOU entitled to earn money to just survive but my friends who are in bands, are NOT entitled to earn money just to survive? See, the person acting inhuman here is you. (Note, none of my friends think ANYONE should have to pay court fines, lawyer fees, extortion, or jail time for copying music without a license. They just hope that people who like their music will understand the time, energy, effort, and love that they put into their music and help them out by paying for it.

          Your free to follow any insane laws that you wish; the rest of the sane world will continue to share freely."

          Right. And I suppose you are fine with your boss not following the insane law of paying you for your time. It's funny how people like you talk about the evils of money, but would stomp your little petulant feet if it were taken away from you. And you take it away, not from the wealthy, but from those that are eeking out a living, barely subsisting. We have a word for that.

          Hypocrit.

          Reply
          1. Conzar

            Aoirthoir is a master of assumption. He doesn't know anything about me but goes ahead and projects.

            "So he acts moralistic, while denying others the ability to earn an income.."
            I'm not denying anyone income, the system does a fine job of that on its own. As more and more people get laid off due to technological unemployment, outsourcing, and business failures, you will really begin to see the extent of how people without money are treated in this system. The fact is, the jobs aren't coming back.

            As for me, I am one of the many newly unemployed. When you are faced with your own unemployment which will probably happen in the near future as the way things are going, I wonder if your attitude on the subject will change.

          2. Aoirthoir

            "Aoirthoir is a master of assumption. He doesn't know anything about me but goes ahead and projects."

            Kind of like how you assumed I support the monetary system?

            "I'm not denying anyone income,"

            Yes you are.

            "the system does a fine job of that on its own."

            You ARE the system. Unless you don't particpate. But you are participating. So you are participating in the division of wealth.

            "As more and more people get laid off due to technological unemployment, outsourcing, and business failures, you will really begin to see the extent of how people without money are treated in this system."

            You mean for instance by going without food? I grew up without money and without food. REGULARLY my family went DAYS without eating, often WEEKS and thre separate times my sisters and I had NO FOOD for over a month. And this we were young teens and children. Please get your 101 on. I WELL know the failures of a system designed to keep people like me in povery. MY solution is NOT to deny money to those that need it.

            See, the solution for me when I disagree with someone's license, is not to take it upon myself to copy their works anyhow. Instead I can REFUSE their works and instead listen to music (or other works) distributed with licenses that I AGREE with. You can spin this however you want. But the facts are that OTHER options exist. *I* make use of those options. YOU participate in the disenfranchisement of already broke workers.

            "The fact is, the jobs aren't coming back. "

            Agreed. So the solution is, to withhold money from persons who are working, instead of using resources that persons are FREELY offering for free…..yeah.

            "As for me, I am one of the many newly unemployed. When you are faced with your own unemployment which will probably happen in the near future as the way things are going, I wonder if your attitude on the subject will change."

            I have been working FULL time since I was a child, at the age of 12. I HAD to work or I didnt get to eat at all, as already mentioned. Don't presume to know that I have not lived in poverty (or do not now). Because of my upbringing, and LACK, I haved learned to be HOSPITABLE. So even when it strains my finances, I PAY people for work they do for me. If I CANNOT pay, I don't presume a RIGHT to their work. Instead I use OTHER options.

            And NO even if I had ZERO money, and was homeless (AGAIN) I would NOT change my mind. I am NOT ENTITLED to said artist's music. There are MANY artists creating music that say plainly I CAN copy and receive FREELY.

            The next time you make a triggering post, make sure that the person you are talking to, has NOT lived destitute, homeless, without food or the common succor YOUR society offers.

          3. Conzar

            "Kind of like how you assumed I support the monetary system? "
            What do you mean by "support"? I never wrote that you advocate for the monetary system, so you are again projecting here. If you mean support by using the system, then yes, you are guilty.

            "I'm not denying anyone income,"
            "Yes you are. "
            No I'm not. I never planned on sending money to any person or company for their IP rights. So regardless if view their IP, I am not denying them money any more then denying any other random person in the world money.

            The idea that license/copyright/patent infringement is somehow stealing is such an insane position to take. Stealing is the act of taking away some tangible item from someone else so that it denies them access to it. IP infringement takes nothing away from said person/company. The people that produced the IP still retain their IP, no one took it from them. So you might say, but they can't make money off of it. Well thats where the real world conflicts with the imaginary use of money. When IP is abundant, the price tag is zero. Societies can construct laws that go against this, but humans will always defy laws that do not coincide with the natural world.

            "The next time you make a triggering post, make sure that the person you are talking to, has NOT lived destitute, homeless, without food or the common succor YOUR society offers."
            I would state the same for you when making assumptions about me.

          4. Aoirthoir

            "What do you mean by "support"? I never wrote that you advocate for the monetary system, so you are again projecting here. If you mean support by using the system, then yes, you are guilty."

            Actually it's called INTERPRETING. Big difference between intepreting and projecting. To wit you said:

            "If you really cared about people as human beings, then you would see that the current monetary system is totally inhumane."

            And truthfully perhaps you didnt mean that I support it…..except your statement above means I do.

            "No I'm not. I never planned on sending money to any person or company for their IP rights. So regardless if view their IP, I am not denying them money any more then denying any other random person in the world money."

            Well, you're not giving them your money, so yeah, you are denying them your money. And yes that random person is being denied your money as well.

            "The idea that license/copyright/patent infringement is somehow stealing is such an insane position to take."

            Yes it is. Nowhere did I say copying an electronic work was stealing. NOWHERE have I compared this to theft.

            "Stealing is the act of taking away some tangible item from someone else so that it denies them access to it."

            I agree.

            "IP infringement takes nothing away from said person/company."

            Well if they typically receive something for a copy, then it takes away that something. That thing being taken away though I do not call theft.

            "The people that produced the IP still retain their IP, no one took it from them. So you might say, but they can't make money off of it."

            Precisely.

            "Well thats where the real world conflicts with the imaginary use of money."

            Unfortunately the "use" of money is anything but imaginary. By virtue of the agreement, however tacit or consensual, or not, the fact that we accept money has value, and use it in trade, makes its use VERY VERY real. The person unable to pay their rent, pay for food, will, like myself in times past, find themselves homeless and without food. So we can argue that it OUGHT NOT be this way, which I AGREE with you on. WISHING it so, doesn't MAKE it so. I revise my figure from earlier. If we can convince merely 25% of the world's "monied" population that we just don't need it, that it really is valueless, and that we CAN work together, well we'll find out that in that case, it was imaginary all along. But as long as it's required, it's very real.

            "When IP is abundant, the price tag is zero. Societies can construct laws that go against this, but humans will always defy laws that do not coincide with the natural world. "

            Right. And see, *I* don't have to defy those laws. Instead, I can choose to either pay for the thing I desire, even if the thing is bits, OR even better I can choose to just CHOOSE AN ALTERNATIVE that is FREELY LICENSED.

            "I would state the same for you when making assumptions about me."

            The difference is, I am making no assumption about whether you have, or have not been homeless, been fed or lacked food. My responses to you are based on your claim, selfmade, that you will willingly copy music, while offering nothing in return. You do this even if it means that the person who worked hard to make it, is unable to pay her own bills, her own rent, and her own food.

            I, like you, might not be able to afford the asking price she has for my downloading her music. Rather than disrespecting her art, skill, time, work, and situation, if I cannot afford her asking price, I instead would choose to download music (or other copyrighted material, software, video etc) wherein the asking price was zero. Then I would respect that work's license. Just as I want people to respect the Free Software licenses I choose for my works. So, whether it is a proprietary license, or a free license, I respect the copyright holder's request. If it is proprietary I do so by simply not using, downloading, copying, distributing or in any way touching their work.

          5. Conzar

            "If you really cared about people as human beings, then you would see that the current monetary system is totally inhumane."
            "And truthfully perhaps you didnt mean that I support it…..except your statement above means I do. "
            The statement I wrote doesn't mean that you support it, its a "if/then statement". It seems from your posting that you agree with the if statement. Meaning, you care about humans and you also think the monetary system is inhumane. Lets just take the opposite stance to clear up any misconceptions, meaning suppose you don't care about humans, then we really cannot gather any information from that statement. Either outcome (if the if statement is true or false) no where do I state that you support the monetary system. You are only projecting into the statement if you get "supporting the monetary system" from it.

            From my understanding I never took the assumption that my audience was neither rich nor poor but humans that live on this planet who happen to be "wealthy" enough to have access to a computer that has internet connection. If you can show direct evidence that I assumed otherwise, then please point it out so that I won't make that mistake again.

            As for the copyright/trademarks/patents, you are welcome to follow the laws here. However, I and millions of people in the world disagree with the law and in so we are enacting our right to civil disobedience.

            It really seems like our conversation between each other is pointless because we both agree that the monetary system is flawed and we both agree that we don't need money. Its been painful to go through this with you especially when we are in agreement for the most part (on the subject of money). The real point of disagreement is on following copyright/trademark/patent laws and the conversation should have been focused on this.

          6. Aoirthoir

            " You are only projecting into the statement if you get "supporting the monetary system" from it. "

            Nope. I'm INTERPRETING the statement differently than perhaps you meant it. Projecting has a different meaning entirely.

            "As for the copyright/trademarks/patents, you are welcome to follow the laws here. However, I and millions of people in the world disagree with the law and in so we are enacting our right to civil disobedience."

            If you were enacting your right to civil disobedience and it hurt only those hurting others, large studios for instance, I am more able to empathize, those disagree with you. However, we've gotten the technology to the point that bands are now able to distribute their music without the criminal enterprise that is the music studio. Many smaller bands are distributing their music this way. When I make a purchse from such a band, I help them out directly, which was not true when I bought music from a studio. So your act of civil disobediance will more and more move from helping the little gal, to hurting her.

            " we both agree that we don't need money."

            We disagree. We need money as long as we need it. If we practiced things the olde Keltoi way, then money would be a non existent thing because hospitality was a requirement laid upon all Celts.

            ". Its been painful to go through this with you especially when we are in agreement for the most part (on the subject of money). "

            I'm sorry if it has been painful for you. I believe such things should not be. it is ok to disagree, even with strong conviction, even when we're not. Because as the Biblical persons would say, "Iron sharpens iron." Expressing ourselves in this manner solidifies our conviction. It also helps us to realize the need to really understand anothers viewpoint.

            "The real point of disagreement is on following copyright/trademark/patent laws and the conversation should have been focused on this."

            Let us presume no laws exist. I'm not following the law and it's not the law of which I speak. It is rather the desire of the artist or trademark holder. In the case of the trademark holder I think it is reasonable to not misrepresent someone's symbol. So for jest, sure. But I'd never claim (in reality) for instance that the M of McDonalds, and thus McDonalds, is backing some view that I have, when they are not. Nor would I use a work typically outside of the license provided to me by that work. Just as I want people to abide my license.

            So it's not about law for me. It's about mutual artistic respect and further consideration for the likely financial situation of a fellow artist.

  7. deuxmsaint

    I think amazon is A huge farmer here and it dictates the price and then there is Banshee is the dealer and ubuntu is the point of sale. Amazon gives a piece of the pie to be fought over by this two guys. I just need to wonder why they have to fight ? why not 50%-50% … why not make it fare. both are just as important here … Just because you can do something doesn't make it fair ..
    But i guess a lot of the people that wanted banshee in the first place will want updates and add a PPA and Banshee could just "update" the plugin with their refferal code. Canonical is just plain selfish on this one and they are trying to use their large user base to scrape ass much cash as possible from Banshee and they are trying to deceive them with higher earning even with such a bad deal , but this goes both ways: even 1% for canonical would have the same effect for canonical: more earnings because they don't get anything from the plugin now.

    So please canonical …. be fair. you win anyway … and Gnome is 10X more important then Ubuntu.

    Reply
  8. rinse

    your comparisation with 'Superunie' or 'Carrefour' is nonsense.
    Yo could compare it with those companies if banshee sold (or gave) its software to canonical, and canonical is selling it at a higher price, like the superunie buys the cabage from the farmer and then sells it at a higher price in its super markets.

    What canonical is doing would be like demanding 75% the royalties of items sold from a magazine like 'nieuwe revu' or 'rolling stone' from the magazines sold in their super marktest, or the computerstore 'Mediamarkt" demaning 75% of the revenue that Apple gets from selling music through iTunes that is pre installed on the Mac Computers sold in the stores of Mediamarkt

    Reply
    1. Sense Hofstede Post author

      I really do think that the supermarket analogy applies here much better than the Mediamarkt analogy. Lets look at your cabbage farmer. The farmer has produced great cabbage, and now needs to sell it. He could try to put it on sale by placing a stand next to the road. That way he will probably sell some cabbage, and get something in return. However, it is not optimal, he can't sell large quantities. A lot of that great cabbage won't be sold before it starts to rot, and is wasted.
      A supermarket can help the farmer with selling the cabbage. The farmer saves time, because the sale is done by the supermarket, which also earns money on the cabbage, as reward for advancing the sale. Without the supermarket, the cabbage would never have been in such an attractive display. Presentation matters for consumers, so the supermarket surely deserves a share of the profit, because they worked so hard on getting that presentation right.
      The environment of the cabbage, or that of the Banshee Amazon MP3 plugin, is the environment provided by the distributor. The supermarket doesn't sell a cabbage vending machine, it provides the environment in which the actual cabbages are sold. Mediamarkt sells Apple computers, which indeed have iTunes. However, Mediamarkt only gets an income out of an Apple computer once, but there has been no music sold. The analogy of Mediamarkt doesn't go up here.

      We can look at it even closer, because Apple computers are no longer an analogy of this situation, but an alternative version of the exact same thing. The iTunes store is Banshee, Mac OS X is Ubuntu, Apple is Canonical, and Apple is the Banshee Project. Mediamarkt is not in the picture here.

      Reply
      1. Aoirthoir

        "I really do think that the supermarket analogy applies here "

        Then you NEED to take a critical thinking course. Analogies are terrible ways of arguing a side. Conflating one thing with an entirely different thing creates many false premises that just do not work together.

        Reply
        1. Sense Hofstede Post author

          You can say that I need to learn critical thinking as often as you want to, but that doesn't get this debate any further. It would be helpful if you'd point out why the analogy I used in this case is wrong. Statements are an important part of a debate, but without arguments they have no value.

          Reply
          1. Aoirthoir

            I don't have to point out why a specific analogy is wrong because analogies do not contribute to logical debates and critical thinking discourses.

            There are always significant differences between the two or more things being compared that render the comparison ill suited to the original discussion. Canonical is no where near related to a grocer. The differences between Canonical and a grocer are SIGNIFICANT. So making the comparison muddles the conversation. It also then conflates the issues. Should we not have sympathy for Canonical as we would a grocer? Or should we not view Canonical as badly as we view grocers? Are we comparing them to a large monopoly from whence comes our only source of food? Do we have the option to get Banshee elsewhere and still "shop"???? at Canonical? The entire comparison is false in its very nature.

            Rather, in critical thinking, logical discourse, you stick to the facts. We say sometimes "just the facts ma'am." quoting a detective from an old TV show. The facts of the Canonical and Banshee issue are simple.

            1. Canonical has a legal right to do whatever they want with it. As I understand from another post it's distributed under the MIT License. So yeah, legally they can do what they want.

            2. Are they being moral? Well for those that claim they are not, WHY not? Each person is going to have their own view on morals, so the answer to that would be yes and no because morals are very often (almost always???) SUBJECTIVE.

            So I say, nope they are not being immoral. Even though they made an offer and then withdrew it, I still say they are not immoral as nothing was solidified. Rather I think they are DISORGANIZED. In many respects they have a plan. In many others they have no plan, or no apparent plan to those of us outside their organization. That doesn't make them immoral in my book. But, as morality is very often subjective, we're going to find people that when you say "Good Morning" find you immoral (YES that HAS happened to me….)

            So I don't need talk about grocery stores that have absolutely nothing to do with the Canonical/Banshee circumstances. Instead stick to the facts, explain the situation, deal with that and only that. Everything else is superfluous distraction.

  9. Pingback: Legally open, socially closed | Michael Hall's Blog

      1. Aoirthoir

        Yes it is. You know we're not talking about them controlling my Operating System. We're talking about them controlling the initially installed programs. Does that F'n irritate me sometimes? Sure. Do I wish that they listened to me more (particularly on issues related to disabilities)? Absolutely. But I could learn the skills, do what others do, take the base install, strip what I want, add what I want, and viola! I have my own distribution. So their power is a bit less than say, Apple, Microsoft, or The Fed.

        Either way I agree, the power they have is part of what they are offering. The power to pull a group (of admitted a-hats) skilled persons together to get us a quality operating system with many well thought out core components and applications.

        Reply

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