Rosa Parks and software freedom

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Apartheid. Making people second-class citizens by law. Terrible
practice. I’m glad that Rosa Parks stood up (or sat down) for herself
when she did, and I join the world in celebrating her life today.

What a fine and wonderful world we live in now, particularly in the
egalitarian wonder of the Internet, where age, race, gender and creed
are invisible…

… and where countless people are also invisible, also unheard.

The digital divide grows ever wider. As companies raise prices, crack
down on copyright violations, and festoon their code with legal
protections, people are left further and further behind.

That’s why I care so much about software freedom.

Most people see two parties involved in software piracy. There’s them,
and there’s the company. The company doesn’t generally lose much from
piracy, and may have even factored that into their marketing strategy.
The people who pirate software focus on what _they_ gain: powerful
software available _now._

But I see a whole web of relationships. I see potential alternatives
languishing because people don’t bother to try out something else. I
see startups and small businesses struggling with high software costs.
I see schools torn between the reluctance to raise tuition and the
need to prepare their students for the real world.

And I see people being locked out of this world. They are second-class
citizens by law and custom. They don’t have dollars for software or
the inclination or ability to modify it.

They do not sit at the back of the bus. They are outside the glass
windows, looking in.

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