I recently learned of someone selling their ebook reader that ran proprietary software. Who it is and what brand doesn't really matter since the story is about proprietary software and it appears that a number of people have bought (and sold) these devices.
How proprietary software mistreats people is well known in the free software world. Taking the first step and not using it anymore is a good change but it made me think about whether there was any ethical way to get rid of the device.
If they were to give it away to someone else they've taken a step to protect their freedom but what about the new owner? Their freedom has now been lost. That's not a good choice.
What ethical options are there? The best one was to have never bought it in the first place but that's already happened so it's too late for that. If the device could be made to run 100% free software one ethical choice would be to replace it with such software first but, from what I can tell, that's not currently possible with this device. To be sure it's possible to "root" these devices and run free software on them -- to some extent -- but the original proprietary software's still there, still used to boot and run the device so it's not currently possible to use it and still keep your freedom.
The only ethical options I can think of are to bury it away in storage somewhere, never to be used again, or to give it to someone that will work on replacing the proprietary software in it with free software.
While I think that both of these choices would be ethical the second one is better. It would be a contribution to society where everyone would be able to run free software on their device.
Perhaps the OpenInkpot developers would be willing to accept the donation of such a device?
If you or someone you know finds a similiar situation please consider the ramifications of the decision to get rid of a device that's dependent upon proprietary software: You're only protecting your freedom by getting someone else to be subjugated in your place.
Copyright © 2012 Jason Self. See license.shtml for license conditions. Please copy and share.