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Re: Fedora struggles with harm reduction via Codec Buddy

On Thu, 1 Nov 2007, Mike McGrath wrote:

Rahul Sundaram wrote:

Very interesting take on a thorny issue. Some questions about the nature of the agreement is also answered here..


"In public health, harm reduction is a practice that, rather than trying to eradicate potentially dangerous choices like prostitution, tries to minimize their effects. Often, the practice involves a limited condoning of the practice, such as safe injection sites for addicts. Harm reduction is the path that Fedora 8 has chosen on the issue of MP3 and other non-free codecs in the form of Codec Buddy, a Codeina-based program that tries to educate users about free software while giving them easy legal access to codecs by linking to the commercial Fluendo site. It's a decision about which the Fedora Board and community leaders feel considerable ambivalence."

The thing about this that bugs me is if Fluendo had done the work themselves and gotten rpms and code together and put it in Fedora, no one would have a problem with it. And, FWIW, we're not stoping any other companies from doing that but the perception for some reason seems worse when its us that did the work.

Mike, Bruce was just accurately reflecting the ambivalence that the board itself has expressed on the topic.

For Fluendo, the business goal of getting Codec Buddy into Fedora is to legally upsell proprietary codecs to Fedora users. I think it's a fair goal, but it's not without uncomfortable ambiguities. What if another company offers what Fluendo offers? Would our inclusion of Fluendo as a default link constitute discrimination against other vendors?

Let's take the scenario a step further. What happens when someone puts a piece of free crippleware into Fedora, the sole purpose of which is to upsell to something that isn't crippleware? How will we feel about that?

This is just the first time we've had to face these kinds of issues. As more business concerns coalesce around Fedora, it won't be the last.


Greg DeKoenigsberg
Community Development Manager
Red Hat, Inc. :: 1-919-754-4255
"To whomsoever much hath been given...
...from him much shall be asked"

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