We can't actually tell if these businesses keep their promises until these businesses go out of business. If another New York Times reader had a lifetime subscription and saw their subscription cancelled next week as Joyent recently cancelled lifetime subscriptions, we would not conclude that the New York Times kept their promise.
In this way, it's like losing weight and keeping the weight off—the implication is that the dieter kept the weight off for the rest of their life. Hence, a dieter can never make this claim about themself because this claim can't be made until after the dieter dies.
But some responsibility should go to the would-be customer too: it's not reasonable to expect that any business can last by devaluing their goods/services for a one-time payment.
Magnatune.com offers a "lifetime" membership for a one-time payment of at least $240 (you're free to pay more if you wish). Given that "50% of membership fees go directly to the artists who are listened and downloaded", I still don't quite understand how lifetime membership payments are doled out to artists since Magnatune can't really compute how much to give an artist until the lifetime membership ends (only then would Magnatune know the complete download list for lifetime member). But I bought into this account figuring that when it ends I think I'll have downloaded at least $240 worth of music, and I enjoy supporting art that is licensed to share. I can only guess that Magnatune pays the bills based on licensing music, and ongoing-payment customers (like $15/month members). If they ever discontinue a lifetime membership like Joyent did, I'll consider them to be a disreputable organization with which to do business; as others have noted here the business chose to offer this deal with these terms. But for now I have no evidence things will go that way.
Richard Stallman is not a member of a "different open source movement". Stallman is a member of the free software movement he began over 20 years ago. He makes the distinction between free software and open source clear at every talk I've heard him give and in essays (1, 2, to name a couple). Open source is not an enemy of free software; open source enthusiasts and free software advocates do work together on the same projects and have for a long time—but free software philosophy and open source's development model don't stand for the same thing, they don't share the same history, nor do they arrive at the same views on some software issues—most notably how to think about proprietary software. It's simply a mistake to lump Stallman in with a movement he's not a member of and whose values he does not share.
The FSF have pointed out how one cannot have all possible freedoms because some freedoms conflict. My freedom to walk down the street safely conflicts with your freedom to drive your car in any direction and speed at any time.
I'm curious to hear what artists make of Magnatune.comâ€”a non-exclusive label that says artists get half of the sale price. Copyright holders license Magnatune.com to carry their music; musicians don't sign over any copyright (not music, not performance) to Magnatune.com. Listeners can preview the entire catalog online at no charge, buy tracks/albums, or subscriptions. All the tracks are also licensed to share under a Creative Commons non-commercial license.
I bought an unlimited subscription there, so I'm interested in more musicians submitting material to be carried by Magnatune.com. I am interested to learn more about what musicians have to say about Magnatune's deal.
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