Nokia spreading FUD?

2011.03.14 by Matthias Kirschner in #fsfe #licences #mobile

Nokia is spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about Free Software in the statement where they announce selling the proprietary Qt business to Digia:

"Many organizations which want to use Qt for their business applications choose commercial licenses, for a variety of reasons. These include restrictions in using open source licensed software in industries such as defense & aerospace, or the need to provide product warranties & indemnities such as in the medical device industry. Others choose a commercial relationship for access to Qt professional support and services to ensure successful development of their projects."

First, warranties, indemnities, support and services can be done with any GNU license. Qt is licensed under the GNU LGPL, so in this sense it is a commercial license. There is commercial Free Software, as well as non-commercial non-free software, or to put it in David Wheeler words:

"It’s time to end the nonsense. OSS is practically always commercial, which means that there are two major types of commercial software: proprietary software and OSS. Terms like 'proprietary software' or 'closed source' are plausible antonyms of OSS, but 'commercial' is absurd as an antonym, and phrases like 'commercial or OSS' make no sense."

Second, what does Nokia mean by "restrictions in using open source licensed software in industries such as defense & aerospace". I am not aware of such restrictions. On the contrary, David Wheeler in 2008 wrote in his Questions and Answers on Free Software for the Department of Defense:

"The DoD has different rules for different kinds of systems and different uses, but in practically every case the rules have nothing to do with whether or not the program is OSS. So the question is really, 'to use some program, does it need to be on approved list X?' The answer is 'it depends on the circumstance'.[...] 'Many OSS programs are already on these lists. In some cases you may need to add the program to the approved list for your circumstance,'

At the moment this very much looks like FUD to sell the proprietary Qt licenses. But perhaps Nokia knows about specific problems for Free Software, so I have sent this question to Knut Yrvin, Open Source Community Manager at Nokia, and will wait for his reply.