It turns out that the GNU Org has some recommendations for people who are releasing software using the GPL or General Public License, these terms and reasons were taken directly from their website. I find these suggestions humorous so I am going to add some comical commentary to this page on the GNU Project or Free Software Foundation’s website (Confusing words and Phrases that are Worth Avoiding):
The expression “BSD-style license” leads to confusion because it lumps together licenses that have important differences. For instance, the original BSD license with the advertising clause is incompatible with the GNU GPL, but the revised BSD license is compatible with the GPL.
To avoid confusion, it is best to name the specific license in question and avoid the vague term “BSD-style.”
GNU is a brand, please don’t confuse people. Even though we want software to be a free for all love fest, we don’t want people to forget that we run this joint.
Describing non-free software as “closed” clearly refers to the term “open source”. In the free software movement, we want to avoid being confused with the more recent open source movement, so we are careful to avoid usage that would encourage people to lump us in with them. Therefore, we avoid describing non-free software as “closed”. We call it “non-free” or “proprietary”.
Again, don’t forget to say GNU, SELL THE BRAND!
Please don’t use “commercial” as a synonym for “non-free.” That confuses two entirely different issues.
A program is commercial if it is developed as a business activity. A commercial program can be free or non-free, depending on its license. Likewise, a program developed by a school or an individual can be free or non-free, depending on its license. The two questions, what sort of entity developed the program and what freedom its users have, are independent.
In the first decade of the free software movement, free software packages were almost always noncommercial; the components of the GNU/Linux operating system were developed by individuals or by nonprofit organizations such as the FSF and universities. Later, in the 90s, free commercial software started to appear.
Free commercial software is a contribution to our community, so we should encourage it. But people who think that “commercial” means “non-free” will tend to think that the “free commercial” combination is self-contradictory, and dismiss the possibility. Let’s be careful not to use the word “commercial” in that way.
Even though we firmly believe that people shouldn’t make money for the software they make, we have a bad reputation for shitty software and want people to think that organizations that make quality software can be lumped in with 90% of the other garbage that gets the GPL.
To speak of “compensation for authors” in connection with copyright carries the assumptions that (1) copyright exists for the sake of authors and (2) whenever we read something, the author is working for us so we owe him money. The first assumption is simply false, and the second is rather outrageous.
I think we have been clear here, if we allow people to sell their software, then we have to acknowledge that we stole it when we make a direct copy of it and call it our own so we can fight the man.
The term “consumer”, when used to refer to computer users, carries unfortunate assumptions.
Economic theory uses the terms “producer” and “consumer”. In that context these words are appropriate. But describing the users of software as “consumers” presumes a narrow role for them. It treats them like cattle that passively graze on what others make available to them.
This kind of thinking leads to travesties like the CBDTPA “Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act” which would require copying restriction facilities in every digital device. If all the users do is “consume”, then why should they mind?
The narrow economic vision of users as “consumers” tends to go hand in hand with the idea that published works are “content”.
To describe people who are not limited to passive consumption on their computers, we suggest terms such as “individuals” and “citizens”.
Consumer means you paid for something, we all hate money and want to be able to sit on a beach in a 3rd world country trading shells for food. We prefer the entire world pilfer their computers from the garbage dump, so we make software that runs reliably on that hardware.
If you want to describe a feeling of comfort and satisfaction, by all means say you are “content”, but using it as a noun to describe written and other works of authorship is worth avoiding. That usage adopts a specific attitude towards those works: that they are an interchangeable commodity whose purpose is to fill a box and make money. In effect, it treats the works themselves with disrespect.
Those who use this term are often the publishers that push for increased copyright power in the name of the authors (“creators”, as they say) of the works. The term “content” reveals what they really feel. (See Courtney Love’s open letter to Steve Case and search for “content provider” in that page. Alas, Ms. Love is unaware that the term “intellectual property” is also misleading.)
However, as long as other people use the term “content provider”, political dissidents can well call themselves “malcontent providers”.
The term “content management” takes the prize for vacuity. Neither word has any specific meaning; “content” means “some sort of information”, and “management” in this context means “doing something with it”. So a “content management system” is a system for doing something to some sort of information. In most cases, that term really refers to a system for updating a website. For that, we recommend the term “website revision system” (WRS).
We mostly don’t like this word because we steal all of our music and movies and it makes us look bad.
The term “creator” as applied to authors implicitly compares them to a deity (“the creator”). The term is used by publishers to elevate the authors’ moral stature above that of ordinary people, to justify increased copyright power that the publishers can exercise in the name of the authors. We recommend saying “author” instead. However, in many cases “copyright holder” is what you really mean.
We prefer you use “author” until we attack that word because we want to steal books too.
The term “digital goods” as applied to copies of works of authorship forces them into the thought mold of physical goods — which cannot be copied, and which therefore have to be manufactured and sold.
We don’t like words that make the things we steal seem tangible. These are victimless crimes.
“Digital Rights Management”
“Digital Rights Management” refers to technical schemes designed to impose restrictions on computer users. The use of the word “rights” in this term is propaganda, designed to lead you unawares into seeing the issue from the viewpoint of the few that impose the restrictions, and ignoring that of the general public on whom these restrictions are imposed.
Good alternatives include “Digital Restrictions Management”, “Digital Restrictions Malware”, and “digital handcuffs”.
Since our software is free, we can’t afford to license the codecs, so we hate DRM since many of us aren’t smart enough to hack the DRM that protects the 72GB of Anime porn we downloaded on bit-torrent last night.
It is a mistake to describe our community (or any community) as an “ecosystem”, because that word implies the absence of (1) intension and (2) ethics. In an ecosystem, species evolve according to their fitness. If something is weak, it goes extinct, and that’s neither right nor wrong. The term “ecosystem” implicitly suggests a passive attitude: “Don’t ask how things should be, just watch what happens to them”.
By contrast, beings that have ethical responsibility can decide to preserve something that, on its own, would tend to vanish—such as civil society, democracy, human rights, peace, public health, … or computer users’ freedom.
Look, we already sucked at Darwinism in high school and college. Anything that resembles survival of the fittest reminds us of wedgies and swirlies. My therapist says that it’s better to forget that stuff.
If you want to say that a program is free software, please don’t say that it is available “for free.” That term specifically means “for zero price.” Free software is a matter of freedom, not price.
Free software copies are often available for free—for example, by downloading via FTP. But free software copies are also available for a price on CD-ROMs; meanwhile, proprietary software copies are occasionally available for free in promotions, and some proprietary packages are normally available at no charge to certain users.
To avoid confusion, you can say that the program is available “as free software.”
For most common sense folks, free means sucks. Please refrain from calling it anything that clarifies that you didn’t pay anything for it unless they are complaining that it deleted all of their data and they are requesting a refund and damages for loss. Then remind them it was free.
Don’t use “freely available” as a synonym for “free software.” They are not equivalent. “Freely available” means that anyone can easily get a copy. “Free software” is defined in terms of the freedom of users that have a copy. These are answers to different questions.
We want to make sure that they understand that although they don’t have to pay anything for this software, they do have to learn to download isos, burn discs and install it. And most likely use paid software to do it initially.
Please don’t use the term “freeware” as a synonym for “free software.” The term “freeware” was used often in the 1980s for programs released only as executables, with source code not available. Today it has no particular agreed-on definition.
Also, if you use other languages than English, please try to avoid borrowing English terms such as “free software” or “freeware.” It is better to translate the term “free software” into your language.
By using a word in your own language, you show that you are really referring to freedom and not just parroting some mysterious foreign marketing concept. The reference to freedom may at first seem strange or disturbing to your compatriots, but once they see that it means exactly what it says, they will really understand what the issue is.
99% of Freeware sucks, and people know it. Don’t use that word or people will put 2 + 2 together and realize ours probably does too.
“Give away software”
It’s misleading to use the term “give away” to mean “distribute a program as free software.” It has the same problem as “for free”: it implies the issue is price, not freedom. One way to avoid the confusion is to say “release as free software.”
A hacker is someone who enjoys playful cleverness—not necessarily with computers. The programmers in the old MIT free software community of the 60s and 70s referred to themselves as hackers. Around 1980, journalists who discovered the hacker community mistakenly took the term to mean “security breaker”.
Please don’t spread this mistake. People who break security are “crackers”.
We want people to associate hacker with the cool image of Woz in “Pirates of Silicon Valley” and not with the fact that I have never paid for a video game, can’t spell for shit and just finished spreading the serial number to YOUR copy of photoshop on usenet. Serialz rule RAWR!
Publishers and lawyers like to describe copyright as “intellectual property”—a term that also includes patents, trademarks, and other more obscure areas of law. These laws have so little in common, and differ so much, that it is ill-advised to generalize about them. It is best to talk specifically about “copyright,” or about “patents,” or about “trademarks.”
The term “intellectual property” carries a hidden assumption—that the way to think about all these disparate issues is based on an analogy with physical objects, and our ideas of physical property.
When it comes to copying, this analogy disregards the crucial difference between material objects and information: information can be copied and shared almost effortlessly, while material objects can’t be.
To avoid the bias and confusion of this term, it is best to make a firm decision not to speak or even think in terms of “intellectual property”.
The hypocrisy of calling these powers “rights” is starting to make WIPO embarrassed.
Anything that makes it sound like the stuff we copy was not our idea breeds the common thought that we just make low quality copies of software everyone else buys. It’s free, it doesn’t have to be as good, right?
“LAMP” stands for “Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP”—a common combination of software to use on a web server, except that “Linux” really refers to the GNU/Linux system. So instead of “LAMP” it should be “GLAMP”: “GNU, Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP”
Branding, branding, branding. How dare you talk about all these products and not use our Logo (TM, patent pending)
Linux is the name of the kernel that Linus Torvalds developed starting in 1991. The operating system in which Linux is used is basically GNU with Linux added. To call the whole system “Linux” is both unfair and confusing. Please call the complete system GNU/Linux, both to give the GNU Project credit and distinguish the whole system from the kernel alone.
Please don’t forget our GNU/Brand we are good GNU/People and want you to know that our GNU/Software has GNU/Value, please don’t GNU/Think without forgetting we made it GNU/Possible.
It is misleading to describe the users of free software, or the software users in general, as a “market”.
This is not to say we’re against markets. If you have a free software support business, then you have clients, and you trade with them in a market. As long as you respect their freedom, we wish you success in your market.
But the free software movement is a social movement, not a business, and the success it aims for is not a market success. We are trying to serve the public by giving it freedom—not competing to take them away from a rival. To equate this campaign for freedom to a business’ campaign for mere success is to diminish the significance of freedom.
When you call it a market it makes it more obvious that you are supposed to pay for stuff. Matter of fact can we stop calling other things markets too? I am starting to feel bad for all of the Pokemon cards I stole at the Flea Mar…oops, I almost did it again.
In the late 1990′s it became feasible to make portable, solid-state digital audio players. Most support the patented MP3 codec, but not all. Some support the patent-free audio codecs Ogg Vorbis and FLAC, and may not even support MP3-encoded files at all, precisely to avoid the patents. To call such players “MP3 players” is not only confusing, it also puts MP3 in an undeserved position of privilege which helps the patent holders continue to attack our community. We suggest the terms “digital audio player”, or simply “audio player” if context permits.
Although they both have two of the worst names in history, and everyone on earth wants and uses MP3s for their music players, please fight them man and support our formats instead. Besides, the MP3 is patented and we have to steal that too.
Please avoid using the term “open” or “open source” as a substitute for “free software”. They refer to a different position based on different values. Free software is a political movement; open source is a development model. When referring to the open source position, using its name is appropriate; but please don’t label us or our work with its slogan—that leads people to think we share those views.
Open Source has started to get a bad reputation so we are jumping ship, please don’t use Google Time Machine to read our older stuff, it says it all over the fucking place.
It’s ok to use the abbreviation “PC” to refer to a certain kind of computer hardware, but please don’t use it with the implication that the computer is running Microsoft Windows. If you install GNU/Linux on the same computer, it is still a PC.
PC = Windows and you all know how we feel about that.
Please avoid using the term “Photoshop” as a verb, meaning any kind of photo manipulation or image editing in general. Photoshop is just the name of one particular proprietary image editing program, and there are plenty of free alternatives, such as GIMP.
Please don’t sue us Adobe.
Publishers often refer to copying they don’t approve of as “piracy.” In this way, they imply that it is ethically equivalent to attacking ships on the high seas, kidnapping and murdering the people on them. Based on such propaganda, they have procured laws in most of the world to forbid copying in most (or sometimes all) circumstances. (They are still pressuring to make these prohibitions more complete.)
If you don’t believe that copying not approved by the publisher is just like kidnapping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word “piracy” to describe it. Neutral terms such as “unauthorized copying” (or “prohibited copying” for the situation where it is illegal) are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as “sharing information with your neighbor.”
Arrr, victimless crime, remember? When I let you install my mom’s copy of Windows 98 you didn’t say a word, so shut up.
Please avoid using the term “PowerPoint” to mean any kind of slide presentation. PowerPoint is just the name of one particular proprietary program to make presentations, and there are plenty of free alternatives, such as the beamer class available with any (La)TeX distribution.
Please don’t sue is Microsoft.
Publishers’ lawyers love to use the term “protection” to describe copyright. This word carries the implication of preventing destruction or suffering; therefore, it encourages people to identify with the owner and publisher who benefit from copyright, rather than with the users who are restricted by it.
It is easy to avoid “protection” and use neutral terms instead. For example, instead of “Copyright protection lasts a very long time,” you can say, “Copyright lasts a very long time.”
If you want to criticize copyright instead of supporting it, you can use the term “copyright restrictions.” So you can say, “Copyright restrictions last a very long time.”
The term “protection” is also used to describe malicious features, as in “copy protection”, a feature that interferes with copying. From the user’s point of view, this is obstruction. So we call that malicious feature “copy obstruction”.
Don’t you get it? We don’t want anyone to own anything when it comes to computer software or media.
“RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory)”
Standards bodies that promulgate patent-restricted standards that prohibit free software typically have a policy of obtaining patent licenses that require a fixed fee per copy of a conforming program. They often refer to such licenses by the term “RAND,” which stands for “reasonable and non-discriminatory.”
That term white-washes a class of patent licenses that are normally neither reasonable nor non-discriminatory. It is true that these licenses do not discriminate against any specific person, but they do discriminate against the free software community, and that makes them unreasonable. Thus, half of “RAND” is deceptive and the other half is prejudiced.
Standards bodies should recognize that these licenses are discriminatory, and drop the use of the term “reasonable and non-discriminatory” or “RAND” to describe them. Until they do so, other writers who do not wish to join in the white-washing would do well to reject that term. To accept and use it merely because patent-wielding companies have made it widespread is to let those companies dictate the views you express.
We suggest the term “uniform fee only,” or “UFO” for short, as a replacement. It is accurate because the only condition in these licenses is a uniform royalty fee.
UFO just sounds cooler. Besides, it was an excuse to make you look up “premulgate” in the dictionary, I published my SAT scores on my wiki if you want to feel inferior.
The term “sell software” is ambiguous. Strictly speaking, exchanging a copy of a free program for a sum of money is “selling”; but people usually associate the term “sell” with proprietary restrictions on the subsequent use of the software. You can be more precise, and prevent confusion, by saying either “distributing copies of a program for a fee” or “imposing proprietary restrictions on the use of a program,” depending on what you mean.
See Selling Free Software for more discussion of this issue.
I think we have beat this horse to death.
The term “software industry” encourages people to imagine that software is always developed by a sort of factory and then delivered to consumers. The free software community shows this is not the case. Software businesses exist, and various businesses develop free and/or non-free software, but those that develop free software are not like factories.
The term “industry” is being used as propaganda by advocates of software patents. They call software development “industry” and then try to argue that this means it should be subject to patent monopolies. The European Parliament, rejecting software patents in 2003, voted to define “industry” as “automated production of material goods”.
If you imagine these things as products with real value you might get really mad when none of it works. We are all about lower expectations here, let’s use the term “Software Unemployment”
Copyright apologists often use words like “stolen” and “theft” to describe copyright infringement. At the same time, they ask us to treat the legal system as an authority on ethics: if copying is forbidden, it must be wrong.
So it is pertinent to mention that the legal system—at least in the US—rejects the idea that copyright infringement is “theft.” Copyright apologists are making an appeal to authority … and misrepresenting what authority says.
The idea that laws decide what is right or wrong is mistaken in general. Laws are, at their best, an attempt to achieve justice; to say that laws define justice or ethical conduct is turning things upside down.
Yea, that one makes me feel really icky when I watch all my stolen movies, listen to stolen music and play my stolen video games. SHH.
“Trusted computing” is the proponents name for a scheme to redesign computers so that application developers can trust your computer to obey them instead of you. For their point of view, it is “trusted”. From your point of view, it is “treacherous”.
Man, didn’t you watch Terminator? Skynet, hello. If you don’t stop now we are all going to be big batteries like in the Matrix.
Please don’t use the term “vendor” to refer generally to anyone that develops or packages a software package. Many programs are developed in order to sell copies, and their developers are therefore their vendors; this includes some free software packages. However, many programs are developed by volunteers or organizations which do not intend to sell copies. These developers are not vendors. Likewise, only some of the packagers of GNU/Linux distributions are vendors.
We just want to reiterate that nobody is responsible for this, use it at your own risk. Just understand that you are going to be flying in an airplane that runs on code I wrote at 3am, hopped up on Mountain Dew…and nobody tested it.
Note, this is listed as HUMOR, while I completely expect my site to be hacked in the next 24 hours, I hope the Linux fanboys at least GET the jokes