25 Jul 2007 slef   » (Master)

Reply of FSF Radio Interviewee about Skype

Peter Brown replied:

"Thanks for the message. Here are some comments on the issues you raise:

"> - On the Radio New Internationalist show "Up in Smoke", during an interview with Peter Brown of FSF (about 43 minutes in), I was surprised to hear the following revelation that FSF uses Skype and the failure to challenge the claim that Skype is free software:"

The FSF doesn't use Skype. I would appreciate if you would clarify that on your blog post. The interviewer used Skype to telephone me on an FSF telephone. I agree that from what I said, it would be easy to infer that FSF uses Skype, but it doesn't. The interview lasted about an hour and we covered a lot of ground. Also, in this exchange I didn't clarify for the listener that when the interviewer remarked that "Skype was free", they meant as in price, but not as in freedom.

"> - I was disappointed not to find much on the FSF web site about the need for free VoIP software, building on GNU oSIP and other free software, instead of Skype's proprietary software, which has contained spyware and worms already. Will you be adding such information soon? What is the official FSF view of Skype and similar proprietary VoIP systems?"

Skype is proprietary and we don't use it. In that section of the interview we were discussing telecoms monopoly and net neutrality, and I lost the focus on the free software issue - my bad. As far as adding an article about VOIP on fsf.org I think that's a great idea. Unfortunately, I don't think we can cover that immediately, as we have some campaigns we have other campaign activities to focus on. We would be glad to take a contribution though, if you would like to write such an article - we might also want to think about using such an article as a basis for a campaign.

"> - Nevertheless, well done for covering DRM, net neutrality and the privacy problems of Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft in a relatively short interview."

Thanks. I actually used to work at the New Internationalist in Oxford, and they are a great coop. I have been working with them now for a couple of years, tying to encourage them to cover free software related issues for their audience. Have you seen the article Bruce Byfield (Newsforge) wrote that I got placed in the November issue of the magazine?

all the best


Thanks for the reply! To my shame, I'd completely forgotten that Skype can also call ordinary telephones and the interview didn't remind me. I guess that might be because my main awareness of Skype is when it's a problem, when someone gives a skype: address instead of a sip: one or a real phone number.

However, I'm not sure a called person would usually say that they were being called over Skype, rather than being telephoned. FSF people are smarties, though, so can hear the artefacts, or maybe the interviewer had mentioned it beforehand.

Anyone else want to summarise the benefits of free software VoIP compared to Skype systems? I won't get time before next month.

kris commented:

"There's openwengo, it has more features than skype (i.e. video), is encrypted, open and free. Enjoy."

I keep meaning to try openwengo, but each time I look at it, I fail to find the source tarball for the latest release. It also seems to be Qt-only, which I also try to avoid installing (as it'd be a fourth set of desktop widgets).

At the moment, I'm using linphone from the command-line. I sometimes consider replacing it with a stand-alone telephone adapter. I wonder: are any running free software?

Syndicated 2007-07-25 20:51:00 from MJR slef-reflection Recent Changes

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