You should know that ‘free’ has nothing to do with ‘gratis’, in fact, the GNU website strongly encourages you to sell free software. And due to this confusion of terms, the word free software has changed to open source software in 1998.
Contrary to some beliefs, Elive is not a commercial distro and has not an enterprise behind it, it is managed by a single person, which sometimes receives extra help and sometimes pays for extra services like programming.
Since more than 12 years, Elive has been supported and continued as an alive project thanks to the payment required to install (or to download, which has been in the past), unfortunately this is a need on this capitalist system and limits a lot Elive to be expanded to new horizons.
Elive is always searching ways to not force the users to pay like giving free installations in exchange to articles, an automated detection of 20 poorest country’s to not include the payment, invitation codes, etc…
So in the end, there was always a more deep desire to give it for free than make it paying, so nothing restricts you to use Elive without need to pay, and in the same time nobody forces you to use Elive, you have the choice.
Extra: If you want to live in a non-capitalist world where is not needed to pay taxes or to pay for software, make a look to the venus project, it proposes a concept similar to the open source applied to the society, a civilization without monetary system.