No doubt you’ve seen the news that Microsoft and Novell are to work on a version of Silverlight for GNU/Linux. This puts Silverlight onto all three major platforms now, and puts yourselves and us into a difficult position. As the free software community, we want users of computers to have freedom to do all the jobs they can, including all those nice interactive websites out there that use Flash. We have Gnash now, but it’s not finished yet, but it at least lets us look at YouTube movies in the browser with little or no problem, and Homestar Runner works very well as well. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting somewhere. Now, from your point of view, you give away the Flash player, but only in binary form, which means that while I’m sure it’s better than Gnash, your license prevents us from using it with freedom. So, here’s the rub… if you’ll do a little thing for us, we can do some great things for you. We can help you beat Microsoft and crush Silverlight, but you’re going to have to do something a little unusual, and a lot of people at Adobe aren’t going to like it, but you have to do this and do it quickly.
Here goes… Make Flash free software, specifically, release Flash – the player, the editor, the server, for all platforms, including embedded stuff, under the GNU GPL v3 and do it quickly. As soon as you do this, we can start to win. We can get Flash Player onto the One Laptop Per Child machines, which gets a ton more eyeballs looking at Flash. We can get gNewSense, Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, Fedora, SuSE, Slackware, Mandriva and all the others to distribute Flash Player with their distributions. OpenSolaris can have Flash Player, too. You can still sell copies of the Flash editor, in lovely cardboard boxes on the shelves of computer stores, even as Free Software – you just need to add value. Bundle DVDs of freely licensed shapes, characters, sounds, loops and effects and dead-tree editions of your now freely licensed manuals, and people will still buy it, and of course, you bundle it in with things like Creative Suite, so it gets onto more machines, and you make it a free of charge download, too. You encourage people to torrent it, and the source, and you’ll see more features being added, you’ll see more video formats being supported and you’ll see people doing amazing things with software you created, but only if you act quickly and get this right.
Don’t lose this to Microsoft, for the sake of freedom of computer users everywhere, for the sake of a free web and for the sake of generations of people to come, don’t let Microsoft get away with this.
Sun are doing this with Java, they did it with OpenOffice.org. You can do this as well.
It’s entirely down to you now. If you need help, ask. If you have questions, shout.
Call the Free Software Foundation today, and make this happen.
Do the right thing.
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