I’ve been seeing more threads on social media asserting the open source software (OSS) movement is a Trojan Horse, designed and backed by commercial interests to deliberately muddy the waters for their own interests. We were all suckers for buying into it, and now we’re paying the price.

These Turns Out! tweets are always popular, but if they sounds familiar, they follow a well-trodden path. The Free Software Foundation have long maintained that OSS is ambiguous, as it conflates the availability of source code with the freedom to adapt and change it. Critics point out that Free Software is equally problematic, as it confuses freedom and cost.

But it’s dawning on people now that while it’s brought tremendous benefit to the world, the social movement aspect of free software has been far more limited in practice. Most businesses just treat free and open source software as a cost-saving free lunch. The GPL is routinely violated, and most of the largest tech companies that benefited from it are now strategically deploying it to debase journalism and democracy, and spy on us at a scale that would make the Stasi blush.

None of this occurred because OSS diverted attention away from the FSF, nor the fact it encompasses a broader range of licences. Even if the former never existed, we’d be dealing with the same fundamental, sinister problems.

Also, use a BSD or other copy centre licence ^_^;