Shlomi Fish shlomif at shlomifish.org
Wed Mar 19 05:18:25 EDT 2014

Hi Phillip and all,

On Mon, 17 Mar 2014 14:35:54 -0700
Mark Doliner <mark at kingant.net> wrote:

> On Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 1:47 PM, Phillip Akhzar <pakhzar at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Someone I could speak with? I'm curious about the business and permissions
> > it took.
> Pidgin is open source software developed by many volunteers over the
> course of 15 years. Some of us operate a 501(c)(3) non-profit related
> to Instant Messaging, but that's tangental. It's inaccurate to refer
> to Pidgin as a company.
> Can I suggest reading:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_software
> and
> http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/

In addition to these two links, I'd like to recommend this one, which I wrote
mostly on my own (with some contributions by other people):


It explains what open source software is about and assumes very little prior

Here is something else: tangible goods (like food, hammers,
refrigerators, ovens, clothing, etc.) require time and effort (and
most probably money) to manufacture and distribute each item, and so usually
cannot be economically be made available free of charge.

On the other hand, software applications and other types of media that can be
represented using a sequence of bytes (e.g: audio files, video files, text
documents, spreadsheets, presentations) can be reproduced and distributed at
extremely little cost. As a result, it is fully economical, that once they
were developed and finalised (e.g: I took the time to write the code for a
program, or recorded an audio recording or a video), then I can distribute them
over the Internet for everyone who wishes to use them while not requiring

Therefore, there is a lot of software and cultural works out there which are
distributed free-of-charge by companies, organisations or even (and not
uncommonly) unincorporated individuals, and they don't expect or wish to be
paid for experiencing or downloading a copy, and it's 100% legal. Examples for
things like that are:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeware software and a lot of
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_and_open-source_software one, where people
don't charge you to download sources and/or binaries.

* Videos on video-sharing sites such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube ,
which can be viewed free-of-charge.

* Articles on the various wikipedias - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia -
which can be viewed, and read, and usually even modified, free-of-charge (And
are even available under a so-called "free-content" licence).

* There are many other web-sites (e.g: homepages or blogs) whose pages can
be viewed and read at no cost (often without registration).

So there is no commercial necessity to charge people for each copy of
a set of electronic data.


Pidgin is a software application that has some development costs, and is
developed mostly by volunteers and is distributed under an open source
software licence (which gives the user more than just the ability to get the
software at no cost - see the links above). It has some operations cost
(paying for the hosting of the web service, the bandwidth, etc.), and naturally
working on developing and improving Pidgin requires some time from volunteers.
However, there is no need to make a profit or have a business model or
whatever, because the Pidgin developers and contributors do not get too much
penalised by the fact that (say) 50 million people have downloaded and use
Pidgin, rather than only one hundred (100).

I hope it is now better understood.


	Shlomi Fish

Shlomi Fish       http://www.shlomifish.org/
My Public Domain Photos - http://www.flickr.com/photos/shlomif/

On the Road (and on the Internet), don’t be right — be smart!

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