Should there be a free software app store?

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Excerpt

Since free software "is a matter of liberty, not price", developers and distributions are allowed to ask users to pay for free software (though most users can easily choose not to). Musicians like Radiohead have experimented with asking, but not requiring, users to pay for music (by choosing their own price, which could be $0). What would happen if we did this for free software?

Description

Since free software “is a matter of liberty, not price”, developers and distributions are allowed to ask users to pay for free software (though most users can easily choose not to). Musicians like Radiohead have experimented with asking, but not requiring, users to pay for music (by choosing their own price, which could be $0). What would happen if we did this for free software?

I’ll consider what developers like about the extraordinarily restrictive environment of the iPhone app store (it’s not just the money) and whether an app store would be a useful funding model for some free software projects. Since Canonical is exploring app store-like functionality in the Ubuntu Software Centre, this may happen soon anyway. Will such an app store solicit “donations” or “purchases”? Will it confuse users about their rights and obligations, or about the difference between free and proprietary software? How will it change free software developers’ incentives?

Speaking experience

Speaker

  • Seth Schoen

    Electronic Frontier Foundation

    Biography

    Seth Schoen is a Senior Staff Technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He has worked at EFF for eight years, helping other technologists understand the civil liberties implications of their work, EFF staff better understand the underlying technology related to EFF’s legal work, and the public understand what the technology products they use really do. He helped create the LNX-BBC live CD and has researched phenomena including laser printer forensic tracking codes, ISP packet spoofing, and key recovery from computer RAM after a computer has been turned off.

    Sessions