The Free Software Foundation Wants to Save Us from that Lying, Cheating iPhone

Graphic: Flying GNU and Penguin
Free as in godawful design.

In case you hadn’t heard (or, in case you actually cared), the Free Software Foundation is releasing version 3 of the GPL today. As you might expect, today’s iPhone release is eclipsing GPL v3’s release, but the FSF are undeterred in their mission. In fact, they’re using this coincidence to remind you that the iPhone is a proprietary device with proprietary software created by a proprietary company:

Peter Brown, the executive director of the Boston-based FSF, is also anticipating that the iPhone will include some free software licensed under the GPL. “On June 29, Steve Jobs and Apple will release a product crippled with proprietary software and digital restrictions: crippled, because a device that isn’t under the control of its owner works against the interests of its owner,” he said.

“We know that Apple has built its operating system, OS X, and its Web browser, Safari, using GPL-covered work. It will be interesting to see to what extent the iPhone uses GPL’d software,” he said.

Version 3 of the GPL fights the most recent attempts to take the freedom out of free software, and attacks “Tivoization”—devices that are built with free software but use technical measures to prevent users from making modifications to the software—which could prove to be a problem for Apple and the iPhone, he said.

Of course, if Free Software were the deciding factor for consumers, the GP2X would be the hot ticket in handheld games, not the Nintendo DS. And the hot console would be the…well, the Free Software console that someone will work on, as soon as they’re done with the HURD.

As much as I love and use Free Software, I’ve become quite cynical about its major proponents and figureheads. Whenever I hear someone say “As a card-carrying member of the FSF”, I automatically equate it in my mind with Grampa Simpson’s declartion, “I am not a crackpot!” [MP3 link]

Graphic: Grampa Simpson yelling at someone
Click the image to hear an MP3 of Grampa Simpson saying “I am not a crackpot!”