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Beware of Contradictory “Support”

by Richard Stallman

There are organizations that proclaim support for free software or the GNU Project, and teach classes in use of nonfree software.

It's possible that they do some other things that really support free software, but those classes certainly don't. On the contrary, they work directly against the free software movement by promoting the use of the nonfree software. That increases the magnitude of the practical problem it is our mission to correct.

Even worse, that grants nonfree software legitimacy. The basic point of the free software movement is that nonfree software is unjust and should not exist. That's why we need a movement to replace and eliminate it. Teaching how to use it asserts that it isn't a problem; that opposes the free software movement at the deepest level.

Of course, people have the right to state that view, but they shouldn't pretend that it constitutes support for our cause.

Even more outrageously, some of those organizations claim that their courses in using nonfree software are connected with or even certified by the GNU Project or the Free Software Foundation. Needless to say, we would never certify such a course, nor recommend it, nor have anything to do with it, nor even talk about it except with condemnation.

Teaching use of nonfree programs works against free software; teaching it in association with the name GNU or the term “free software” causes confusion about what we stand for.

If you encounter such an organization, please explain these points to the people who work on it: that such courses go directly against the principles of the free software movement. Explain to them why, if they want to help the free software cause, they need to teach people to choose free software, not legitimize nonfree software.

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