Recently there has been much talk about exactly how, and to what, Community Networks should provide access. One thing that most people agree on is that getting money involved makes things more complicated, but there's no real agreement as to at what point this becomes bad. This has been discussed on the MailingLists and at ForFreeVsForProfit. Here are some thoughts on what we could accomplish and some of the problems there may be.
Our AcceptableUse agreement should be a translation of the GNU General Public License. We can't directly use the [http://www.fsf.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html GPL] because the issues involved are different but an agreement which takes the spirit of the GPL and translates it into a pertinant document would be ideal. In effect we are creating the beginnings of a FreeNetworkFoundation.
- We say we want it to be free, but what exactly does free mean? Free as in no money? Free as in freedom?
- If we want it to be free (as in freedom) what does that mean? Any one can use it? There's no sign up barrier? No one is monitoring or restricting your traffic?
In the minds of many people free equals worthless, and a perception of worthless means that it's not valued and thus not looked after (see TheTragedyOfTheCommons).
- What if membership costs something but doesn't cost money, is this still free enough? Maybe you have to put up a node? Maybe you have to come to a meeting? What else?
Just for the record I know that there are many OpenSource fans that loath the GPL because of it's viral licensing. I like the viral licensing and I think that the arguments that the GPL is "less free" is basically FUD, it's like arguing that the USA is "less free" because of the first amendment. Freedom comes from the enforcement of a few carefully selected laws, not from the removal of all laws. -- AdamShand