Money is to society what blood is to your body. Blood delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. Money is the means to buy food and clothing, and it's what you pay if you parked in the wrong parking spot. Once we die, we no longer need money, nor blood for that matter. Except if you're a vampire, in which case you need blood in order to live eternally.
Vampires are a product of an author's imagination, but we often see people act as vampires when it comes to money: they just can't get enough of it.
When I first started writing open source software, I used to believe in the "no money, no worries" concept: If I don't ask any money, I won't have any worries. I was so naive back then! I soon discovered that my "free work" caused me much more worries than my dayjob. I had countless sleepless nights because some crappy developer mailed me: "Hi Lowagie! I have problem.. Need solution.. is URGENT.." Or worse: when a major company demanded me to sign some obscure legal document saying that I would indemnify them if their free use of my software caused any problems. (Seriously? Seriously!)
That's how I came to think of diehard proprietary software vendors as vampires. They were after my blood. Their goal was to make as much money as possible by using my open source software without ever giving anything back to the community. My answer to this problem was to put in place a business model that allowed me to make a living and to further invest in the development of open source software. I started with a dual licensing model. This model has evolved over the years, and currently, we're working on two alternative models. Business has changed: more and more proprietary software vendors started realizing that open source software was here to stay, and they became more human, less vampire.
When I visited FOSDEM last weekend, I met many human beings: individual developers, as well as people from companies such as Oracle and HP. That was fun. I had many interesting conversations. Unfortunately, I was also confronted with a couple of free software zombies. Zombies are creatures that crave for your brains. They want you to give up whatever Intellectual Property you produce, and they don't care if you bleed to death in the process. They don't accept any opinion that is different than theirs, and cut you off denying you the freedom of speech at an event that is all about... freedom. How sad.
I hope this blog post explains the tweet I wrote this morning:
I didn't mean to insult the structures that allow many human beings to make a living and to do a fun job. I was merely venting my frustration about the extremists that spoil the fun. We mustn't forget that, just like the vampires, some of the most dangerous zombies are paid by companies that make billions of dollars.
Let me quote what the priest said to the baron: "You keep them poor, I'll keep them ignorant!"
My advise? Always ask yourself: "What is the hidden agenda of those extremists, be they vampires or zombies? Are they after your blood, or are they after your brains?" Choose your superheroes wisely!