This article was first published by Julie Marchant under the license CC BY-SA 4.0.
It's obvious that we need to solve this problem. However, in focusing on whether or not scripts are "trivial" or libre, Mr. Stallman misses a crucial point: this behavior of automatic, silent software installation is, itself, the main problem. That most of the software in question is proprietary is merely a side-effect.
Right now, LibreJS is failing because it requires a format that isn't recognized anywhere, but theoretically, this could be solved in the future, so let's suppose that it does. Let's suppose even further that LibreJS succeeds so much that it causes a large portion of the Web to release scripts under libre licenses and document the licenses in a format LibreJS can understand.
It seems great on the surface, but what follows from this is that software is still being silently installed into our browsers every day. The only difference is that LibreJS thinks the programs are libre.
So what can we do? I know of two possible solutions.
- The browser must give the user the ability to install any arbitrary script, not just the script requested by the Web page.
I suppose this approach would take a considerable amount of effort, and this is probably why the developer of LibreJS hasn't attempted it. It doesn't help that getting this to work reliably would involve constant work keeping up with changing Web pages.
Each of these approaches has strengths and weaknesses.