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Games with DRM on Linux are unethical, advocate says

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"Nonfree game programs (like other nonfree programs) are unethical because they deny freedom to their users." Richard Stallman

Left 4 Dead 2 linux (Phoronix)
Left 4 Dead 2 linux (Phoronix)

Valve's plan to release "nonfree" games via Steam on Linux is "unethical," according to Richard Stallman.

Valve's plan to release "nonfree" games that include DRM in Steam on Linux is "unethical," according to Richard Stallman, a longtime advocate for free software and founder of the Free Software Foundation.

Stallman believes that software owners should have the freedom to modify and distribute the software as they please, and he takes umbrage with Valve's use of DRM. The Free Software Foundation offers Windows 7 and OS X as examples of "nonfree" software that limits the rights of users. Free software — like the Linux platform on which Steam will be available — is not simply free of charge, but also allows users "freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve" it.

"Nonfree game programs (like other nonfree programs) are unethical because they deny freedom to their users," Stallman wrote. "(Game art is a different issue, because it isn't software.) If you want freedom, one requisite for it is not having nonfree programs on your computer. That much is clear."

He writes that, although there's a possibility that Steam will entice some customers from Windows to Linux, he advises likeminded individuals not to publicize Valve's plans to sell games on Linux.

"If you want to promote freedom, please take care not to talk about the availability of these games on GNU/Linux as support for our cause," he wrote.

Valve recently announced its first foray into to the Linux ecosystem, which will begin with a port of Left 4 Dead.

Last year, Stallman's eccentric rider for his speaking engagements were released online. They include, among other esoteric requirements, a warning for his hosts not to buy him a parrot.