How to make companies act ethically

→ comment on Slashdot concerning Unexpected methods to promote freedom?

Was it really Apple who ended DRM? Would they have done so without the protests and evangelizing against DRM? Without protesters in front of Apple Stores? And without the many people telling their friends to just not accept DRM?

That “preaching” created a situation where Apple could reap monetary gain from doing the right thing. You see how they act when the stakes are different.

What you can do to make companies act ethically is to create a situation where they can make more money by working ethically than by ripping you off. The ways to do that are

  1. (1) Laws (breaking them costs money when you get caught),
  2. (2) Taxes on doing the wrong thing (i.e. pollution),
  3. (3) Offering your work in ways, which make it easier for people to make money ethically than unethically (that’s what copyleft licensing does),
  4. (4) Trying to convince people to do 3,
  5. (5) Trying to convince people to shun products which are created unethically (that’s what you call preaching),
  6. (6) Only paying for products which were produced ethically.

RMS does 3,4, 5 and 6, so he’s pretty much into gaming the market - and “preaching” is only one of the tools in his box. Though what he does is more convincing than preaching: He gives us reasons why unfree software is bad - and the mental tools to resist the preaching from the other side (for example via analyses of speech-tricks, like calling state-granted monopolies “property”).

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