Yes yes, this is another open letter to the Sigma corporation. Why on earth you ask? Well after I wrote the other one I have been looking into the concept of supporting Linux and from there I started reading a bunch about the Free Software Foundation and from there I have changed my mind.
I would like to start by apologizing to Richard Stallman and the http://www.FSF.org for my comment on the Sigma Photo Raw converter to be a free program (not that anybody complained). It is gratis but it isn’t free software. After reading more about the Free Software Foundation and what Richard Stallman is all about I have since changed my mind about my previous open letter to Sigma. Do I mean I don’t want Sigma to support Linux? Well yes I do want them to support GNU/linux but there is more to it. Then what the heck do I want?
I would like Sigma the make the Sigma Photo Pro Raw converter a Free software under the GNU General Public License v3.0 (* If anybody believes that it should be under different license then please comment since I may not be the best expert on these free Licenses).
Why should they do that? Well lets look at that step by step.
1. Are you making money from the Sigma Photo Pro raw converter?
I would think that the main product is the camera they sell and the SPP Converter is a program that comes gratis with the camera to get the best out of it. So if they want to sell more cameras there wouldn’t be any purpose to sell the camera alone and then people would have to buy the SPP software to get there photos converted to the high standard I expect from the Sigma raw files (this might however be a long term goal of Sigma if the Foveon camera becomes popular, I just don’t know). Canon sells there cameras with a simple raw converters which I think nobody uses since they are so primitive and Canon probably knows that people will most likely buy the Adobe Lightroom or (preferably) use the many open source free raw Converters out there like RawTherapee. So the Sigma SPP is provide with no cost at this time and the camera is the product they sell and intend to make a profit. But the Raw converter is not perfect. It may produce good pictures but it’s function could be improved.
2. Use the power of volunteers and create an outstanding SPP converter.
By making the SPP Free under the GNU license will open up the possibility to use other raw programs or codes that are open source and free, that might make the SPP even better, They could use for example the code for RawTherapee to improve the SPP (which also means RawTherapee could use the code from SPP to improve the x3f file conversion and I can’t see that it would be a bad idea. Since you are going to try and sell the Sigma Foveon camera and get world domination (of course) then why not do it under the GNU General Public License. Also you would have access to volunteers offering codes to improve the function on the SPP program for free. You could even enlist volunteers to help with the code and in a much faster time get an ever better functioning converter. One thing I would really like to get is copying settings between photos without opening a photo.
3. I don’t think you will lose profits doing it this way
How do I know? Well Sigma I am sure you are selling lenses and cameras. The better the SPP is the more attractive the camera might bee and just the fact you went GNU is going to be noticed and talked about. Can any one spell Free publicity? Since you are giving the SPP converter away why not benefit from the many people willing to lend a hand in making it better under the GNU license. Just reading my older post on dpreview with the first Open Sigma Letter and the response should show that there were people willing to help. Heck I would learn coding to help. You could even continue the current cost you put in to the development of the converter and then get the added bonus of the community helping and adding to the code. I truly believe this is a win win thing.
So how about it Sigma? Why not make it truly Free?