Free software extremist cosplayer and failed Free Software journalist Bryan Lunduke has posted his latest screed ( link) to his newsletter explaining that not charging for software is really bad, you guys, and you should feel bad about that.

He makes a lot of bad arguments here, and I don't have the space here to refute them all (my database has limits and my hosting provider would get grumpy at me if I exceed them), but I will hit a few highlights.

Bryan tries to make me feel bad by assuming that I didn't pay for that copy of Linux I'm running. Which didn't work since I did pay for the operating systems that I use, via direct donations or merchandise purchases. Some of the operating systems and software that I use don't have any way for me to pay them. Either because the developer has chosen to not accept any money for whatever reason, or they make money other ways, usually via selling support. I guess if I don't need professional support, then I'm depriving the developer of a revenue stream and I should feel bad about myself. I don't, though. I refuse to feel bad about using software in the manner it was licensed, and paying for it if I find it useful.

One of the things Bryan glosses over in his big pile of words is that there are people out there with limited financial resources who simply can't afford to pay for all or even some of the software they're using. Someone who can barely scrape up enough money to buy a second-hand Thinkpad from eBay isn't going to have hundreds of dollars to pay for things like their OS and their web browser and their mail reader and their X server and their RSS reader and their audio player and their shell and their image viewer and their init system and their login manager and their terminal emulator and the rest of the glue that holds their entire OS together. Get real. How would that even work?

Should you pay for the things that are useful to you? Of course, if you have the means. If you don't have the means, does that mean you should be shut out? Should someone be able to make a living making software? Of course. But there are other ways to make money with Free Software. It's not 'sell licenses or starve'.

Bryan tries to make a big argument that not paying for something means that we internally devalue it. I can think of lots of things I got for free that I value: my life, my 13 years of public education, the air I breathe, and, of course, lots of Free Software. If an artist creates some great art and then gives it away, does that make the art worthless? Does it make the artist a failure because the art could have been sold? Of course not. This is a silly argument.

Bryan proposes that most (and maybe all!) software should cost money. I guess he hedges here because he says that the source code also should be fully available. What he doesn't seem to connect is that if the source code is available, then someone could buy a copy, download the source code, compile it, and then sell it cheaper or even give it away. If you can't recompile it or give away the unmodified copies, then Bryan has re-invented proprietary software. Congratulations!

Bryan ends by trying to tell everyone that they're horrible people for not paying for the software that they use, and then bugging you to pay for a subscription to his latest grift, his Substack 'news'letter.

Sorry, Bryan, but I'd rather pay for the software I use instead.