Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
GNU is Not Unix

Stallman Responds to LinuxWorld GPL Article 295

A reader wrote to point out that RMS has responded to a recent LinuxWorld article by Stig Hackvan concerning the GPL. Interesting debate over what free means, amongst other topics.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Stallman Responds to LinuxWorld GPL Article

Comments Filter:

  • i am glad everyone puts a (tm) by Good Thing because that way i can tell when you're being sarcastic.

    but on a more serious note, this RMS's definition of freedom, even if you competely forget about 'gratis' freedom, is a very presumptuous one. it depends on whose freedom you are trying to maximize--RMS decides one of the following things, each less defensible than the last:

    1. it is only the author's freedom that is to be maximized. in this case, distribution is unnecessary.

    2. it is only the GPL community whose rights are protected. people who do not wish to join this community are not to have the same rights as those who do.

    3. distributing proprietary software is not a valid decision in the first place, so restricting this is not really destroying any valid kind of freedom.

    cheers,

    sh_
  • "Can anyone give an example of proprietary software that can be used `non-infectiously'?"

    MFC.

    Seriously.

    If I have the license, I can link in the MFC and distribute however I want. Under a GPL library (not LGPL) I cannot do this.

    However, the MFC license has other problems much, much larger than infectiousness :-)

    Okay, another example:

    I can create a program that links to both the MFC and Tools++ at the same time. Neither of these tools has a problem existing along the other. However, as Corel learned last week, it's against the rules for an app to link to both a GPL and a non-GPL library at the same time.

    Okay, okay. Here's another one.

    The old Qt library under the old license. It was classified non-free. But I could statically link to it and release my app under any Free license without danger of infection.
  • Stig makes some powerful and interesting arguments, beginning with an undeniable truth: GPL is more limiting on individual choice as to what can be done with a work than, say, dedication of a work to the public domain.

    While it is undoubtedly true that there may be good reasons for the GPL limitations (and there are), it is undeniable that there are limits, and in this sense, GPL software is less "free" than public domain or BSD licensing.

    You are talking about a different freedom than RMS. RMS is talking about the freedom of users, whereas you are talking about the freedom of developers. The GPL maximises the freedom of users. The BSD license, on the other hand, maximises the freedom of developers. The BSD license allows developers to restrict the freedom of users, the GPL doesn't. So from the users point of view (and that's RMS' view), the GPL is better at protecting freedom.

    Chilli

    PS: Realising that all of us use more software than they develop, I agree with RMS that maximising the freedom of users is more important than maximising the freedom of developers.

    PPS: This is exactly like a good politician should maximise the freedom of the people and not the freedom of politicians.

  • "Using your "enemies" law against them...is a common tactic of the underdog."

    But what if the *law* itself is your enemy? In the case of the FSF, they are fighting copyrights and software ownership. If it's evil for Microsoft to do it, it's still evil for the FSF to do the same.
  • Let's try again without your deceptive omissions, shall we?

    #1: Here is the rest of the quote... "Publishers often refer to prohibited copying as ``piracy.'' In this way, they imply that illegal copying is ethically equivalent to attacking ships on the high seas, kidnaping [sic] and murdering the people on them. If you don't believe that illegal copying is just like kidnaping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word ``piracy'' to describe it. Neutral terms such as ``prohibited copying'' or ``unauthorized copying'' are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as ``sharing information with your neighbor.''" -- I agree, illegally copying work is not the same as stealing gold, sinking ships, taking hostages and killing.

    #2: You did not include or link to the text of "The Manifesto: Piracy is Your Friend" [musicisum.com] , but you imply that it's a document promoting software piracy. The document does not even mention software and talks about music publishers, radio, mp3s, etc. Music piracy is a much different issue than software freedom.

    #3: "Note that the GNU Project recommends avoiding the term piracy since it implies sharing copies [of software] is somehow illegitimate." -- I think you got a big lost on this one. You claim that "it" is "*still* illegal". But, since when is sharing copies illegal? It may or may not be, depending on the terms of the particular program's license. And what the FSF is saying with this statement, is that they don't want the word "piracy" to be used as a synonym for "sharing copies" because they want to share copies (but legally).

    So. Where does RMS or the FSF advocate breaking the law?
  • That's where the BSD License differs with the GPL.
    I doesn't try to force a morality on you. If you want to use the code, you decide if you release your changes back. RedHat is a company with a heart and gives back to the community, they didn't need the GPL to force them to. The same is true for Walnut Creek's support of FreeBSD.

    In addition, Redhat is not going to make money for long simply selling Linux. Mandrake is good example of how easy it is to get undercut. Redhat's only chance at profitability is to use its brandname get support contracts and the like.

    CheapBytes is perhaps the only example of a business method that has a chance at long-term profitability simply selling Linux CDs.
  • So, therein is my justification of an Open Source licence, but why the GPL? Because it represents my belief in this paradigm. If I
    were to release under BSD, I would be saying:

    "This program is provided, open source, to solve a problem. If you are developing a proprietry app, and you have this problem, I believe I have done a good job of solving it, and you would do well to use my code"


    I see the BSD license as such:

    "I wrote this program, and I wish all to enjoy it. I do not want to choose who can enjoy; I just want to share."

    I see the GPL license as such:

    "I wrote this program, and I wish all to enjoy it. I will share with you as long as you share back to the GNU community."

    In all actuality, I consider the BSD license to be more about sharing while the GPL license to be more about bartering.

    When I write programs, I do it for fun, learning, and/or to help others. I may then wish to share them with others. I realize you can do it with the GPL license, but it still is a form of proprietary software; the software (and its decendants) remain under the GPL flag.
  • If a "parasite" takes your freely given code, adds some modifications to it, then refuses to give you those modifications, your original code is still yours. He has stolen nothing. His modifications are his, and his along.

    This is simple freedom of speech! If I am free to speak, then I am also free NOT to speak. Thus, I don't have to release my source code. Unless, of course, you think that the free software is more important than free speech...

    The only thing that keeps me from doing this to GPL'd code (besides my respect for authors' wishes) is the fact that said code is *owned* by you. But the FSF does not believe that code should be owned...
  • You mean not everything can be reduced to money. That's true. But it's all economics. You just have to define economics broadly enough so as to be useless, a skill at which economists are quite proficient.
    --
  • exception? Alright. In one of the dozen books I've got I remember it saying something about BSD network stack in Linux. Now I'm going to have to spend the whole week trying to find that section. :-)

  • fine. you are right. while we're at it, premitted is not a word.

    hehe, but seriously, i realize code has no freedom. however this usage reflects an ambiguity that we incur anyway when we are talking about free code and don't specify precisely what we are talking about.

    one sort of freedom that may be applied to code is the public's freedom to use it for any purpose. this sort of freedom is associated with, say, things in the public domain.

    another sort of freedom is an author's freedom to see things made by people using stuff he wrote, if they distribute it. this is the sort of freedom that the GPL enforces.

    these two are obviously mutually exclusive, so you might want to think about which one of these definitions seems less contrived. if you conclude that the second sense is a more natural and obvious one, by all means, feel free to argue that GPL is actually more free than public domain.

    cheers,

    sh_
  • I don't think he meant that ESR has Marxist tendencies, but rather that ESR, like Marx (and many capitalists), reduces everything to economics. He's not talking politics but philosophy.
  • The BSD license has been revised, removing the advertising clause. I think that makes it no longer necessary to credit the people who you steal (err, borrow) code from when the code in question is under the BSD license.
  • What he's really saying is that no one's forcing you to derive your code from GPLed code in the first place. If you look at the rules of copyright (Which is what the GPL is based in) ONLY the original author has the right to make a derivative work. What the GPL does is cedes you the right to make a derivative work as long as you give everyone else the right to do the same with your work.

    While this does restrict you (the person making the derivative work) quite a bit, it's not at all restrictive to the original author, who can still decide later to use a different license in later versions of the product. Of course, he can't change the license on the current version and people could take that code and develop it further, as long as they also release the code. Interestingly enough, I don't know what the legal status would be if the original author decided to roll their changes into his proprietary code. I'd be willing to be he'd have to GPL it and no one could change that even if they wanted to (Which would be rather amusing.)

    That doesn't mean a company doesn't have recourse if they want to release a propetary version of the code, either. They would just have to hire the original author with the understanding that the license would have to change for future revisions. Again, the author's rights have been protected and he's guaranteed to be in on any project that would want to make proprietary use of his code, unlike the BSD license where any company could just come along, snap up the code, change a few lines to make it proprietary, and make millions on it.

  • GPL and propietary software have a lot in common. Neither restrict us from coding independently, with, perhaps, one exception: software patents. Both put restrictions on what we can and can not do with it. GPL restricts us, in the sense that it is "viral"; this is simply not 100% freedom. In RMS's opinion, less is more; he restricts your freedom to do whatever you want with his code, so that others can enjoy the fruits of your labor in the same way that you enjoy his.

    I respect the FSF's view, just as I respect propietary software's rights. The two camps can operate unimpeded by one another. Both formulas have their strengths and weaknesses. In fact, they can, and do, push each other on -- they're better for it.

    However, while I respect GPL, I take exception with some of the myopic statements of RMS and company. Within his own camp (for lack of a better word) he is well within his rights to crusade against the other "open source" licenses. He finds them threatening, in that, they have the potential to dillute the power of his movement. This, however, does not mean that the other licenses do not have the right to exist -- they are yet another formula. Past a certain point, he must recognize this: That, they too, have the right to exist -- despite the threat to his own movement....
  • There is a big difference between a con-artist and a professional, in any field.

    A professional should be characterized by way they conform to the ethical standards of our skill set, whether or not we are paid. The few bad apples -the unprofessional 'professionals'- will always leave a strong negative impression.

    I'm saddened that the term professional seems to have such a negative connotation here. Where I come from a professional is moral, ethical, and highly skilled, no matter if they get paid big bucks or not. A professional is someone who has earned respect (as I said, at least where I come from).

    Perhaps that particular combination of personal characteristics has become more rare in these days.


  • Well, I wouldn't classify one as "more free" than the other. They're different kinds of freedom.

    If I were an author of a piece of software, I'd choose the GPL. The reason is that, as the author, I've obviously most interested in maximizing the freedom of the author (myself). I care less about the freedom of the users, since I'm the author. Since it's my code, I get to choose the license, so I choose the one best for me, not best for them.
  • There are non-GPL programs that can use GPL libraries. The Python interpreter, and a Haskell interpreter called Hugs, may be built linked to Readline, which is GPL.

    These programs are indisputably separate works from any GPL code, you can build them without any GNU code, so the GPL does not apply to them when they are distributed as separate works. It is only when someone compiles the software linked to the GPL library, AND distribute it herself, that she is bound to distribute the GPL-linked version under the terms of the GPL.

    ---

  • Yes, in that sense it is superior. However, what about in the sense of technological evolution? Generally this is done through the free market, competition of small and large businesses. Perhaps a worse standard wins, but enough competition keeps it evolving, etc. You always have to fight the monopolies, but things keep going.

    The GPL forces open source, which can hamper the rate of productivity. Now you need to re-invent the wheel at times. The only way "free software" can be more productive is when it has become main stream, where there are more people working on the free code than working on competition, as the way to create capital changes.

    BSD allows anyone to use your code (a company cannot 'steal' your code, only use it just like everyone else). Small businesses add propitary value to the code (ie, Sendmail or Apache), and compete. This means the big guys have to work harder (ie. Netscape's, Microsoft's) to compete, so no stand still. Free Market. The threat of monopolies and exploitation has always existed.

    IMHO, the GPL is like socialism and the BSD is like capitalism. The GPL tries to stop exploitation but needs the workers to unite, while BSDL creates the exact same thing as the free market. At least that's my impression afer readings in sociology...
  • okay, then i completely agree with you, about the facts. i would personally choose BSD, and not because i am an unselfish guy, but because i want as many people to use my stuff as possible. i would actually be happy if MS used a piece of code of mine, because (making the dubious assumption that they made a good choice) everyone benefits. also note that i'm not giving a competitive advantage to MS since everyone has access to my code. i just have no good reason to fight against them.

    note, by the way, that my own personal code is probably not good enough now for anyone to really care which licence i use, which makes me a kibitzer not a player. but, someday i plan to play the game, and when i do, i won't GPL.

    sh_
  • Sure, *his* goal. My goal too.

    I'm not sure that I understood the "illegal acts" part. What were you referring to?

    Whatever. Use another license. Go re-write gcc under a bsd license. But don't go around casting aspersions.
  • You only have the freedom to patch or extend that software, if you have the ability to write the code. Having source code is one thing. Actually being able to do something with it is another.
    Dave
  • > It doesn't try to force a morality on you. If
    > you want to use the code, you decide if you
    > release your changes back. RedHat is a company
    > with a heart and gives back to the community,
    > they didn't need the GPL to force them to. The
    > same is true for Walnut Creek's support of
    > FreeBSD.

    Yes, this is true. However, your point assumes that all companies "have a heart" and will give back to the community, even if the code is BSD licensed.

    However, I think this is rather large assumption to make. Purely to illustrate my point, another hypothetical: Linux is where it is today, except completely under a BSD license. Can you think of any companies that would jump on that code? Modify it for their own means? And sell it for a profit, the source never to be seen again? I can, and the name starts with "M".

    This general scenario, not my specific hypothetical, is to me the danger of the BSD license.
  • Actually, Richard and Stig are both right, according to their own definitions of "freedom". But at least one of these definitions is wrong.

    Stig feels that this particular freedom is "freedom from restrictions". Even though free software licenses all have restrictions to some degree or another, they all have this in common: a level of restrictiveness that is several orders of magnitude lower than that of proprietary licenses. The kinds of restrictions on these licenses are analogous to "you can use my swimming pool with the restriction that you must bathe first".

    Richard believes this particular freedom to be "freedom from domination". Freedom from domination, coercion and violence is a very good thing to be for. But who exactly is dominating me when I use proprietary software? No one. I can use Solaris anytime I want of my own choice, and likewise discontinue its use by my own choice at any time. Sun (as an example) does not dominate me when I use Solaris. Would Sun ever attempt to do so I would immediately discontinue its use. Richard Stallman apparently feels that not having full access to someone else's source code it "domination". This is a gross misdefinition. Sure, it may be inconvenient, but keeping control over one's own source code is hardly coercive.
  • Isn't Webster's generally considered to be a somewhat definitive reference on the definitions of english words?
    For most of the english speaking world (ie non North American ) the Oxford English Dictionary is considered the definitive text. American dictionaries are actually quite well known for being tied to archaic definitions, probably due to the isolationist history of the US.

  • If software Entrepeneurs are restricted by the GPL, then how does RedHat exist?

    If I want to package a bunch of GPL software onto a CD and sell that CD, then that's legal, isn't it? (as long as I include the source) And, if I want to write my own proprietary software using GPLd code, then I'm basically stealing. No different from running a warez site. So, I don't see a problem there. Heck, I plan on making some money with an Idea I have involving free code.

    --Me
    wales001@my.bomis.com
  • So, if you use GPL code, the originator cannot make you release the result under the GPL. They can deny permission to release their own code then. Does this mean that when alls said and done, the GPL code must be removed before the program is released, or that that part of the code must be released?

    If your work requires linkage to GPL code to work, then your work is a derivative work from that code, and if your release it, you must do so under GPL.

    If your work does not require any GPL code to work, then it is a work independent from any GPL code. Even then, your program might be able to (optionally) make use of GPL code, if it's licensing terms are such that they are not incompatile with the GPL. That is, your program could then be linked with GPL code. You would have to distribute the combination under the terms of the GPL, but anything that does not require GPL may be distributed on its own without complying with these terms.

    And there actually is some software like this. Case in point: the Python intepreter. Python has a very liberal license, which allows you to make proprietary modifications to it if you wish. Yet you can build Python with GNU Readline support if you so wish. What you can't do is make a proprietary version of Python linked to Readline. Any time you link Python to Readline, and distribute the resulting binary, you are bound by the GPL. Yet you can always distribute Python without Readline.

    This seems to say that when using a large amount(how much?) of code you must either remove the GPL code(probably rendering the program useless) or release it GPL'd. This contradicts his claim that he cannot force you to use the GPL if he uses some GPL code in his own program.

    Not true, since there is a third option: do not release. And a fourth option: do not use GPL code in your programs. You know, when you get a GPL program, you get the license terms along with it. You should read them and agree to abide by them before you use the code. (This is not to mean that you should not USE a GPL program unless you agree with the terms; the GPL explicitly states that there are no restrictions on merely running the program or its output, unless the output is a derivative work from the program. It means that you only are allowed to distribute GPL code if you abide by the terms of the GPL.)

    Basing your work on GPL code is a voluntary act, so there is zero coercion involved here.

    ---

  • RMS is rigt on when he talks about the purpose of the Constitution's provision for the enrichment of authors and inventors. The point is to enrich the public by enriching the inventors -- using money as an inducement to create. The public's good s the important thing. If Disney doesn't have the right to make bucks off Mickey anymore, tough luck.
  • I never really understood how the BSD style license minus the advertising clause is really any different from public domain, is the disclaimer of responsibility really necessary (in other words can you be sued for software you release into the public domain?)
    Bradley
  • I chose the GPL because it says: "This program is provided, open source, as a gift to the community, I wish you to be able to contribute to this source, to improve it, and I wish that others who choose to make use of the collaborative efforts of myself and the contributers would give the same gift in return"
    When you are talking about the GPL, a license, the devil is in the details. You say and I wish (the second instance, not the first) but your license says and I insist. Remove would at the end there too.
  • Yes, I agree, developers using the GNU GPL are exercising power over users of their software.

    Technically, you are right in this. However, there is a fundamental RMS point you are overlooking. He has explicitly said in the past that he does not believe anyone should have that power over software users, and that the GNU project uses it only to protect the rights he believes software users should have. That is, to protect those rights from the institutionalized power to deny them.

    In a world where no one has power to make software proprietary, no need would exist for a copyleft.

    ---

  • Umm, would it be so horrible if MS did use Linux code? Maybe it would improve their products. If a company is dead set on closed source, the GPL isn't going to change its mind. They will simply implement a (probably inferior) copy of the open source product. One of the BSD advocates main arugments is that good code should be shared and used, even in proprietary products, as it improves software for everyone. The BSD people are not nearly so open vs. closed software. They simply see open source as a way to get good software.
  • We are the priests
    of the temples of RMS (pronounces Re-miss)
    our great computers
    run Linux and GNU
    we are the priests
    of the temples of RMS
    so hold the Pengiun proudly high in hand

    As a commentary note, RMS does a good job of again, getting the revolutionary fires going in your sould by making it SOUND good...ah, on the rush theme...i now hear "Bastille Day"...

    See them reboot
    as we would reboot
    when they would code their lies


    (PS lame i know, but i never got any brownie points for be 31337)
  • However, and I think that this is a fear which is always in RMS's mind: BSD's software can be moved from open to closed source by such entrepreneurs, who profit from the freely available work of other people - it's the apex of freeloading.

    Of course it can, that was the origional intent. Bill Joy wanted the code to be available for both closed and open source use. That is not free loading, because to compete the entrepreneur must add value. Adding value means he will make money rather than people getting the free version, so he must do it. Look at Sendmail and Apache, both extremely successful BSD applications. Both have closed source versions that add value.

    This claim of freeloading that will destroy the open source version is pure FUD. FreeBSD was attacked numerously on the basis that they would go closed source and exploit they're users, or whatever. The code is always available under the BSDL, but also under other licenses.

    This "freeloading" means corperations can spend their time on other aspects of the system, they can reuse code. The GPL allows reuse at its terms, BSD does not. Reuse is the greatest reason for open source! That means developement is cut, bugs are reduced, technology evolves faster, better. BSD does this, the GPL kinda does this. The BSD networking code is used by Linux, Microsoft, and others. Would it be better if neither were able to use it, or just one? Microsoft has a system that already is buggy enough.. yet you would rather they didn't use BSD code, create code that's not proven to be stable and efficent, and spend programming time on that.. not fixing other bugs?

    The fear of freeloading is only in the GPL world, because the BSDL embraces it. By code and technological reuse, we evolve. We have for centuries, such as look at all the uses of the steam engine, the tweaks, and the evolution to other engines? If we forced it closed it would have been painful to evolve, and if we force it open it would reduce the incentive of evolution, yet evolution would accure, albiet slower. That is the difference.

    Now, there are other issues in freedom, but when you talk about "freeloading," that is only a term relevent in the GPL.
  • Well I think it's pretty obvious why people continuously get Stallman's meaning of the word "Free" confused. It's a confusing meaning, and he's right, the English language is partially to blame.

    Stallman says that "Your freedom to swing your arms ends at the tip of my nose" -- that's basically what the GPL does. It gives programmers the ability to swing their arms as far as they want, as long as they aren't hitting other people's noses (read: refusing to disclose their source).

    But that's not really freedom in the traditional sense, is it? No, in the traditional sense, the BSD license is really much more "free" than the GPL (I don't want to get into a "which is better" argument though).

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • I think that Stallman essentially agrees with you. Words are defined by their usage, but

    I wonder what other word he thinks I should use. Most languages have a common adjective for free-as-in-freedom which does not also refer to price, but English has none. Various alternatives have been suggested, but they all have problems of their own.

    Sure, the phrase 'open source' has taken off with the mainstream press, but it certainly doesn't embody the purpose of the FSF. So, Stallman has clung to the term 'free software', simply because noone has been able to come up with a good replacement. I supose something like libertatious software would work...but that's pretty nasty : )

  • I've never understood why people come out against the GPL or free software. If you don't like the GPL's terms don't use it. Nobody is forcing you to. If you want to write a commercial software product and sell it and make money, fine, nobody will stop you. If you want to join the free software movement, that's fine too, you're allowed. If you want to take some GPLed software and try to make a million bucks off of it, go ahead. But remember that you didn't write the code, so you have to follow the rules of the person who did, so you'd better stick to the GPL.
  • Actually I meant to type ESR.. It doesn't make much sense to say RMS is a better speaker than RMS now does it.. you still understood what I was trying to say.
    And yes, I am completely aware of what each of them has written and said, as I've read most of their essay's, articles, and manifestos.

    -= Making the world a better place =-
  • No dictionary is a definitive reference on the meaning of any word (well, almost any word). Dictionaries, after all, are quick reference books. They are meant to give you an idea of what some utterance by some source might mean, when you find an unreconizable word.

    A dictionary definition of freedom will never tell you all there is to freedom. Who has used the term? What did they mean to use it? Have different people used it in different, or even uncompatible ways? (When a socialist and a libertarian say freedom, they definitely do no mean the same thing by using the same word.) How has its meaning changed across the years?

    Since for a good deal many words different people use in different ways at different moments, and since no dictionary definition can be inmensely long, compiling a dictionary becomes much a work of choice and compromise.

    ---

  • damn it.. forgot the / on the close bold bracket.
  • I don't think that I claimed that freeloading would destroy an open version (after all, you can always use the older version), however, by implementing an advanced version in closed-source form, you penalize people who wish to retain access to source.

    I should have been more specific during my ramble - you can't remove the original code from circulation, but you can make the original code less relevant (and tending to irrelevance) by releasing closed source versions.

    Citing sendmail as an example of successful BSD licensing producing a value-added product is rather disingenuous, since the value-added closed source version of Sendmail is quite a recent innovation. Sendmail grew in popularity when the main development stayed open, and seems to presently be on the wane.

    Do take it in context, btw. At the moment that RMS created the GPL, the MIT Lab for Computer Science and MIT Media Lab was being quite literally plundered by DEC, by Symbolics, by Thinking Machines and many others, all of whom took many developers and their accumulated knowledge without offering anything to the academic community in return. Freeloading both code and people is a threat in this situation.

    More to the point, allowing freeloading offers no benefit to the available code base, because changes are not returned to it. You can do the same with a GPL'ed work by not releasing or selling it to the public, of course.

    This, as you assert, might have been Bill Joy's intention, to allow freeloading. I believe you when you say it was. However, the concept is just as relevant for BSD'ed applications as for GPL'ed; they're just as dependent, for the most part, on collective development.

    --
  • And don't forget, BSD people are quite proud that Microsoft uses BSD code. Proves the point entirely.
  • In RMS's opinion, less is more; he restricts your freedom to do whatever you want with his code

    Hmmmm ... this is only true if you count imposing a proprietary licence as "doing something". Personally, I have a problem with this; I always thought that ownership was not an activity.

    On the other hand, I'm a long-haired Marxist (as in, I've got long hair, and I'm a Marxist), so feel free to ignore me.

    I tend to agree with you on the "battle of the licences" issue; to my way of thinking, RMS needs to be very careful to avoid the slide into nuthood.

    jsm
  • I noticed that RMS made some pokes back at the accusations that are often leveled against him - an off the cuff comment about Marxism and so on.

    Results are results! RMS wants you to follow his philosophy, but you don't have to agree with the underlying foundations. Consider the fact that in the supreme court when all the justices vote the same way on a case, there could still be more than one opinion written, because sometimes people agree on things *for differnet reasons*.

    I'm guessing that probably the majority of us GNU freaks, (of which I am proud to call myself one although I do not claim to speak for everyone) would say to most "doubters" *Use the software*. If you like it, patronize it in whatever way you think is appropriate. If you don't like it, then feel FREE to go your own way.

    MDA
  • Isn't Webster's generally considered to be a somewhat definitive reference on the definitions of english words?

    just because you dont think the definition is logically consistent doesnt mean its a bad definition. free means what free means, not what you'd like it to mean.
  • /ramble ON/

    Interesting dilemma: we need laws (restrictions) "to protect" our freedoms.

    RMS suggests calls "protection" a propoganda term which views the situation from the point of view of the person or company that owns the monopoly, rather than the millions of others who are restricted by it. Yet he quite effectively protects software freedoms, and wields his GPL as a powerful tool to enforce such protections. Millions of users are affected by his powerful copylefts. Billions will be within a decade. (It's probably a very good thing, but it's a complex thing.. it's a juicy dilemma:)

    He suggests we avoid the words "intellectual property" because they fail to distinguish between copyright and patent law. IMO, patent and copyright law are quite similar in that both legalize an artificial scarcity. Temporary monopolies granted by such laws intend to motivate "advancement of the useful arts" by permitting "owners" of such monopolies restrict uses thereof, as in the case of copyright owners "licensing" use of code.

    "Copyleft" may advance useful arts much faster by requiring the act of sharing, and thus restricts the reinvention of wheels. If you look at Linux growth, you could might even call the GPL a powerful capitalist tool. It frees trade :)

    Oops! Call it "GNU/Linux" growth..

    Trademark Law, OTOH, is a different animal. It doesn't legalize fictional scarcity, rather it identifies a badge or brand or reputation. It helps to give credit where credit is due, supports fair attribution, and grows increasingly valuable as info gluts in growing abundance. Trademarks are a foundation for Trust, the most powerful free trade tool of all.

    A weakness of the GPL may be that it doesn't provide for fair attribution. (See Linux vs GNU/Linux) How to work around it without "obnoxious advertising"? [vague idea: maybe attribution can be cross-licensed or accountably arranged between subdomains under root URLs..]Who knows?

    "Property"? Outdated word. Ideas aren't things, they're actions. Trade is more about relationships than ownership. Partnership more than domination. What's a good replacement name for "Intellectual Property" Laws? Who knows? Idea Law? Trust Law? "Ethics"? "Accountability"?

    In the end, IMO, disclosure, accountability and reputation management will be the most free and powerful means to inhibit parasitic free-riders in the trade of ideas.

    /ramble OFF/
  • Point taken. I insist that people show me the same respect as a potential asset as I showed them. I demand (strong word) that I not be relegated to the position of operating with sub-standard software due to restrictions on the source code. I utterly deride the implication that, by supplying me with the source code to a purchased application, I will automatically prove to be some form of liability instead of an asset.

    I refuse (more strong words) to be insulted (woah) by the statement that because of my position as a customer I am somehow less capable of helping to improve the solution of the problem which the software addresses, and I insist that should you give me the respect implied by utilising my software within your solution that you indicate this by helping me help you and all your customers (who by proxy, due to the use of my software are customers of mine) to create a better product.

    The only licence available that demands all these things is the GPL.
  • Remember, you only have to make the source code avalible if you've already distributed a binary to someone. So, if you just include both the source and the binary, you can charge as much money as you want and not have any problems.

  • If your rights are being messed with by laws, then you ignore the laws. It doesn't matter if this is your right to life, or your right to freedom of action --- if the law is bullshit, it is your *responsibility* to protest it, and ignoring it is a form of protest.

  • Reverse-engineering the GNU Public Virus [linuxworld.com].

    It's odd, really; in other areas of endeavour, people seem to understand perfectly well that fighting for freedom is all about trying to stop people from taking away that freedom.
    --
  • The point is that we want to encourage others to share their code. If we use something like a BSD license, they can make modifications and keep them closed source. If we use the GPL license, and somebody makes modifications, we get to see them. If a GPL'd app is sufficiently innovative and unique, it can pressure others to open up code that they would otherwise not open. This is a Good Thing(tm).
  • I've seen "Geeks" (capital G) do wicked, dishonest, crappy, slipshod work before too. The public also saw "geeks" shooting up Columbine. This doesn't make the term any less valid.

    I believe the point that the original poster was making, is that not everyone who is technically competent, or even excellent, is a "geek". Perhaps the word "professional" has better conotations? Both words carry a certain notional definition with it. That is all they are, notions...
  • I appreciate the remarks of those who have commented, and I feel that they do respond and advance the debate. But they also prove too much, indeed, making my point for me. Consider these objections:

    You are talking about a different freedom than RMS. RMS is talking about the freedom of users, whereas you are talking about the freedom of developers. The GPL maximises the freedom of users.

    and

    The idea of copyleft is to use software copyrights, which RMS believes should no exist, both as a defensive measure against the efforts of free sowftare authors being exploited by non-cooperators, and to build a collaboratory community of people who create free software.

    While it is true that copyleft is a form of copyright, and thus an use of power, this power is used as a means to abolish itself; it is a self-subverting use of power.


    and

    That depends entirely on which individual you are. You can either mandate that licensees A, B, and C shall have the same rights, or give A more rights, including the power to withhold those rights from B and C. In my view, the GPL is a small limit that forbids nothing except bigger limits, and thus offers more freedom on the whole.

    and

    One problem is that you seem to be confusing an individuals freedom
    with societies freedom.


    Each of these comments from our colleagues make a similar point: I'll call it the Spock princple. The good of the many is more important than the good of the few, or the one. Perhaps this is a viable and important social principle. However, this view is antithetical to the notion of freedom, at least in the sense of libre liberty.

    The Spock principle, as enforced by another, is not consistent with liberty, at least not in the Enlightenment or Jeffersonian sense that the term "liberty" is understood. Our United States Bill of Rights focuses PRECISELY on protecting the rights of the individual AGAINST a claim of the greater good by a majority (or an individual). This is because, at least here in the USA, we address freedom of an individual. The good of the many cannot ordinarily subvert the good of the few, or the one.

    I do not suggest that a communitarian evaluation of social policy is wrong-headed, or that legislating constraints on some freedoms is contrary to the American Way. The Bill of Rights if focused on only a few of the most important individual liberties, leaving society a broad range to limit individuals for the benefit of the Spock principle.

    But to abandon that status of liberty on the Spock principle is to abandon the status of Freedom. Stallmans is a "balancing" of freedoms, not a true claim to liberty in itself. This is a different principle. The fact that words such as "pragmatism" or "Machiavellianism" have neutral or negative connotations among we tech-heads, as opposed to "freedom and liberty," is not a reason to refrain from calling a spade a spade. To say that Mr. Stallman's principles described in his response to Stig are focused on an absolute sense of freedom is to apply a logic that defies gravity.

    What I am saying is that it is pabulum to speak in freedom language ("that is a Yang word!") by stating that it is OK to constrain liberties of some person for the benefit of another. To use GPL is to concede that Copyright is not an absolute evil, and further that imposing limitations on the freedoms of one group in favor of broadening the privileges of another, for the reasons set forth in my original posting.

    This is pragmatic, not libertarian, reasoning.

    Stallman's use of Copyright in GPL is absolutely and undeniably (indeed, using his own definitions of power, freedom and GPL) an exercise of a power to limit the freedoms of another. Some suggest that he is a benevolent despot in so doing, and they may well be right.

    I have fought a few first amendment battles in the courts and the legislature. I can assure you that EVERY censor makes almost precisely the same Spockian argument. "I am preserving freedoms for the greater good by making only minor impositions on the freedoms of a few." As recently as the Loudon County library censorship case, the library took the position that filtering software preserves the "freedoms" of individuals to use the library without having pornography surrounding them. This is a very, very slippery slope.

    But to evade Stig's most reasonable arguments that the particular exercise of power of the fredom of another may not be striking the right balance by quibbling over which redefinition of the word "free" is the official redefinition, well that's just newspeak.

    Having conceded that it is OK to "trample" the rights of "the few, or the one" for the benefit of "the many," we have abandoned an absolute sense of right and wrong for a more Machiavellian, totality of the circumstances balancing.

    To that end, Stig has it exactly right as to which questions should be asked. As to who has it right as to what balance should be struck, well, that issue simply has yet to be joined.

    And this is a shame. So long as the "true believers" insist on finessing the very question with mantras, we will never get to the truth.

    The truth-seekers among us should grow impatient with the pabulum. It is time to answer Stig's points on the merits, and not with the raising of nice-sounding principle words, like "freedom," when we ourselves are willing to abandon freedom just as soon as we see a way to rationalize it using a Spock argument.

    We do not support GPL on the principle of an absolute appreciation of freedom, but on the thesis that GPL limit of the freedoms of some provides a greater net balance of the greater good. While the mantra of "free software" sounds great and makes us feel good, it is philosphically unsupportable on libertarian grounds, depending more upon a Machiavellian attitude that the end justifies the means.

    I stand by my thesis: Sophistry, even by RMS, is bad for the movement.

    P.S.: A number of the respondants raised the very objections anticipated in my original reply. I will stand by the answers set forth there.
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Thursday November 04, 1999 @10:31AM (#1562490)
    Freedom is a real pain in the ass, isn't it? Free software shouldn't exist because the licensing is just too... too... free! Heaven forbid should somebody have a problem with software that was designed to be given away.

    I could inject some philosophical stuff here, but I'm going to be alittle more simple - So what? Even if RMS is a communist with an attitude and wants to see all software licensed under the GPL.. does it matter? I'm looking at the whole picture here and I see alot of quality software being made, used, reused, and distributed. I don't know what you call it - but I call those results.



    --
  • Greetings,

    For once, I pretty much wholeheartedly agree with Stallman. I won't always use the GPL, because I don't always want my code restricted like that, or because I want to work with others who don't (like X, BSD, etc.), but I KNOW what it's there for, and I know WHY it's there, and I agree with it's fundamental purpose.

    My only nit would be his referring to ESR's conception of free software being driven by economic good as 'almost Marxian'. He's right, in a particular sense, that the idea that 'the right thing' (as argued by Marx, altough certainly not by me or by ESR or Stallman) will be done because 'it makes economic sense, in the end'. However Stallman also (clearly) knows the power of words and proximity, and he knows ESR will probably be incensed by the implied (but certainly untrue) rest of the comparison. That seemed unnecessary to me, especially as Stallman has been an equal victim of the same word-association games in the past.

    The original article was a piece of trash, though. This once I think RMS hit dead on, otherwise.

    Cyberfox!

  • i completely agree that the licensing is "too free". let's see what RMS has to say...

    --RMS--
    The Free Software movement aims to provide certain freedoms for all computer users, including the right to change a program, the right to redistribute copies, and the right to publish modified versions. The most effective way to protect these rights is to deny anyone else the power to take them away from you.
    --/RMS--

    implying, it would seem, that if code were to accidentally be released to (say) the public domain, said rights would be in jeopardy. the nature of this jeopardy: use of code in *gasp* proprietary software by companies we're pretty sure make nothing but crap anyway.

    the truth is, the choice of GPL over a non-restrictive licence (if i may make such a contrast) is a tradeoff. you might achieve a larger body of free (whatever that means now) software based on your work, but at the price of turning off other developers. it's everyone's choice.

    cheers,

    sh_
  • I have considered the phrase "liberated software", but it has somewhat revolutionary or criminal connotations ("Yeah, I 'liberated' that copy of Tomb Raider from Wal-mart"). I also like the fact that "freed" rhymes with "greed".

    "Freed software" is how I'll think of it from now on...
  • Your disagreement with RMS is an example of a fundamental philosophical disagreement about the nature of freedom. I don't expect this disagreement to be resolved here on Slashdot, but it might help to point out what the implicit assumptions are.

    You are clearly believe only in negative freedom: the notion that freedom consists only of the absence of constraints on the individual. This is an attractive notion and seems to be particularly popular on Slashdot. Most supporters of this principle will supplement w it with the extra condition that "your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose", but that is about as far as they will go.

    There is however, a completely different concept of freedom called, not surpringly, positive freedom, which emphasises the freedom to achieve appropriate goals. Positive freedom requires the establishment of whatever rules or regular behaviours are necessary to achieve those goals. A simple example is the convention that we all drive on the right hand side of the road (or on the left in some countries). This helps us all to get from A to B quickly and in one piece, and therefore increases our freedom.

    In this context, the GPL appears to be founded on the principles of positive freedom. The goal is to spread the use of free software. The rule that you are not allowed to take another person's free software and make it non-free is simply there to defend that goal. To criticize the GPL for restricting the actions of developers is to deny the validity of positive freedom.
  • Hackvan (cool name) does have a point about the meaning of free software; in a lot of respects it's similar to the 'hack vs crack' debate.
    Since I first got my ZX81, 'free software' meant I didn't have to pay for it. Even today, linux-usin' zealot that I am, I'll think of free as meaning 'free beer' unless I'm specifically talking to linux / OSS heads.
    As has been argued (extensively) elsewhere, a word's meaning is defined by how it's used; hence a hacker breaks into systems, and free software is stuff you don't pay for.

    I should point out at this stage that I'm a big fan of OSS and/or free software, and of Stallman's sterling work. But 'free' is as open to misunderstanding and misinterpretation as 'open source'; in fact, even more so because 'free' already enjoys currency in the context of software, and has done for longer than the free software movement.

    So I say Open Source. Stallman says tomayto. If he pushes his case for long enough, I may end up saying tomayto as well. But given the popularity of 'open source' among the mainstream press, I don't think I'll be saying it anytime soon.
  • People who whine that the GPL restricts "their" rights are totally missing the point. The GPL restricts no one's rights. Not the developer, not the user, not the public at large.

    US copyright law says that the creator of a work has TOTAL control over it. To start with, no one can make copies of my work without my permission. By default, users do not even have the right to download my binaries. By default, developers do not even have the right to download my source code. Proprietary software grants you the right to the former. Open source (define this by context, OK?) grants you the right to the latter.

    Another right that is reserved to the creator is the right to create derivative works. The GPL goes one step further, in that it permits derivative works to be created. Anyone can download my software and modify it. However, I place restrictions on that right. I say that if you create something with my software, you must use it as I see fit.

    As far as I can see it, the GPL is much more generous than default copyright laws or typical proprietary licenses.

    But then there's the issue of freedom; after all, that's why RMS created the GPL, right? Why did he not simply release his code into the public domain? Why did he maintain his copyright and license it the way he did? If I hear one more whine or complaint about this, I think I might have to hurt someone (perhaps a cacodemon). RMS and the FSF can their works anything any way they please. You and I can license our works anyway we please. Someone grants you more rights than you had before, and you go complaining "NO! I WANT MORE!" What's up with that?
  • The goal of the patent system is to disseminate knowledge of how things work, in order to promote technological progress. In return for revealing all the essential details of an invention (so that every interested person can study the patent and learn the technology), the Constitution grants the inventor a monopoly on the invention for a period of time.

    The legal monopoly is an incentive to REVEAL, and only indirectly an incentive to create. One might be financially motivated to invent something, and keep its workings a trade secret: in this case the patent laws are irrelevant.

    This bears on the differences between patents and copyrights. A copyrighted creation is obviously what it is. Protection as a trade secret is impossible. There is no internal technology to reveal, only the work itself; and so books and music are copyrighted, not patented. The creation is independent of the particular medium used for its publication. (An intermediate category is the "design patent", which covers particular embodiments of decorative designs, but that doesn't apply to technical software).

    Software doesn't exactly fit within the traditional purview of patents (I mean "utility patents" covering physical inventions, not design patents). Like a literary creation, the source code to a program reveals it completely, so is this respect programs should be protectable by copyright. But a program can't be used directly the way a novel can be read. Like a musical score, a program must direct some other process before there is any useful output. In this respect, since music is copyrighted, programs should also be copyrighted.

    But, alas, copyrights last for 75 years beyond the creator's death (and Disney is lobbying hard to get Congress to let them renew the monopoly for another 75 years after that! Semper Mickey). The goal of the patent act (promotion of technical progress), would certainly not be served if software received a 75 year copyright monopoly.

    Neither the patent system nor the copyright system provides an obviously appropriate legal framework for software.

    In view of this complexity, I agree with Stallman that it is misleading to conflate all these categories into the generic term "intellectual property".

  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Thursday November 04, 1999 @03:33PM (#1562515) Journal
    While comforting to the choir to hear our leaders challenge the heretics among us, we must take care before accepting pleasant-sounding words as truth. I respect that crap out of RMS, and support many (certainly not all) of the things for which he stands, but regrettably, this verse smacks more of marketing than truth-seeking.

    Stig makes some powerful and interesting arguments, beginning with an undeniable truth: GPL is more limiting on individual choice as to what can be done with a work than, say, dedication of a work to the public domain.

    While it is undoubtedly true that there may be good reasons for the GPL limitations (and there are), it is undeniable that there are limits, and in this sense, GPL software is less "free" than public domain or BSD licensing.

    I think the issue has never been whether one form of licensure (or non-licensing dedication to the public domain) is more "free," but rather the very question posed by Stig:


    does it strike the right balance


    If we take freedom as an absolute good, and any infringement of freedom as a wrongful limitation, then we must turn away from all licensure, and simply dedicate our works to the public domain. To the extent we are redefining the meaning of these words to suit our case, we are engaging in tautology, marketing or sophistry.

    I believe RMS has done so here. The gaffeometer pins immediately upon the occurence of phraseology such as "the official definition." Even worse, the suggestion that one should avoid legitimizing copyright by using the nominally salutory phrase "intellectual property," however legally accurate the phrase might be, proves too much, and suggests that RMS statements may have focused too much more on the form than substance.[1]

    But moreover, look what happens when we start adopting the pabulum as truth. RMS' definition of freedom would surprise many of the nation's founders, notwithstanding the quotation of populist cliches:


    I find the distinction between freedom and power useful . . . . Freedom is when you control activities that affect you most closely; to control activities that mainly affect other people is power . . . .


    But just a few paragraphs later, we see the true nature of GPL:


    If someone has used some of my GPL-covered code in a program, and releases the program, I cannot make that person release the program under the GPL. I can, however, deny permission to release my code on any other basis. that is what the GPL does.


    In other words, at the end of the day, "what the GPL does" is to grant an author the right to "control activities that mainly affect other people." In other words, even accepting RMS statements on their face, what GPL does is about power, and not freedom.

    Any exercise of a copyright pursuant to a license is the exercise of a power to exclude others from the exercise of certain enumerated rights, subject to the limitations of the Copyright Act.

    Two anticipated objections to this analysis seem apparent:

    1. the user doesn't have to license under GPL, he may choose not to release the code at all; and \
    2. the use of my code by others affects me.


    But to accept either of these responses is to abandon the strongest arguments against intellectual property generally, namely, that:

    1. It is nonresponsive for another to tell me that I always have the option not to use their copyrighted (GPL'd) code, but that I can rewrite my code from scratch; the enforcement of these copyright rights to exclude is a restriction of my personal liberty; and
    2. my making a copy of a program costs you nothing -- you are deprived of nothing, and the assertion of a taking is illusory. (In short, the "your freedom to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose" cliche is inapplicable because copying does not damage the nose)


    It is one thing to say that Copyleft is a necessary defense in a world of proprietary software. It is another thing to claim that the assertion of a copyleft is consistent with freedom while insisting that an assertion of a copyright is inconsistent with freedom. The very argument RMS makes in one case would defeat the argument advanced by him and others against IP rights in the first place.

    In short, the truth of the matter lies somewhere between the stark "my way or no way" response of RMS and the straw man he imputed to Stig. The truth is rather more interesting. I don't know what the truth is, but I belive, at least, that Stig asked the right question:

    Are the particular choices we are making "striking the right balance?"

    The issue isn't freedom versus power. Neither absolute is contemplated in any of the strategies advocated here -- the question is whether we are making the right choices?

    To pretend otherwise is sophistry. We should not permit ourselves, or each other, to engage in convenient redefinitions of common words to advance a cause. We begin to sound to the unconvinced like rambling, pabulum spouting, true believers. And they would be right to write us off for advancing such nonarguments.

    Let us accept the weaknesses and inconsistencies of our assumptions, and argue why they are better in an imperfect world, or let us abandon the weaknesses entirely, notwithstanding such good derived therefrom.

    Stig raised some very important questions. It would be a mistake to ignore them, simply because they challenge many of our core assumptions. I do not suggest by any of this that Stig is correct in his conclusions; I am inclined instead to listen and learn. There may be a great response to Stig's essay somewhere, but regrettably, that answer will not be found in RMS' statement.

    [1] The suggestion that "intellectual property" (IP) is "too big a generalization" because it lumps together disparate bodies of law such as copyright and trademark is logically indefensible. Certainly the phrase is broad (despite the fact that lawyers who practice it are deemed to practice a narrow specialty), encompassing far more disparate issues, such as right to publicity, moral rights and the right to be free from unfair competition.

    But the law adequately characterizes a body of intengible personal property and related rights to exclude others from the freedom to perform certain acts unrelated to any particular object. Just as the phrase "programming language" reasonably distinguishes LOGO, C and Smalltalk from, say, a European Swallow, so can the phrase intellectual property distinguishes copyright and trademark from the both of those things.

    With all due respect, the "my way or the highway" view that any phrase phrase with a salutory connotation for a thing one deems "bad" is incorrect, and any pejorative phrase for a thing one deems "good" is perfect tends to prove my point that Sophistry is in the air.

    Let us not try to win the "newspeak" word wars, its well past 1984. Let us instead return to the real world, and fight the real fights. There is much to be done, and this pettiness just gets in the way and discredits us all.
  • This is all well and good, and I largely agree with you, but it is not what RMS is saying. Here is one quote: "Using proprietary software makes you less free because it means you are living under domination," letter to license-discuss@opensource.org, October 17th, 1999, from Richard Stallman.
  • Exactly! If people don't want to use the GPL - fine; they can ignore it. But is has proven it's effectiveness.

    Having said that, I will say the same about close-source software. Stallman can whine all he wants, but closed-source software is still a force to be reckoned with. If he doesn't like it - fine; he can ignore it too.

    Can't we all just get along?

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Do take it in context, btw. At the moment that RMS created the GPL, the MIT Lab for Computer Science and MIT Media Lab was being quite literally plundered by DEC, by Symbolics, by Thinking Machines and many others, all of whom took many developers and their accumulated knowledge without offering anything to the academic community in return. Freeloading both code and people is a threat in this situation.

    For the community, that is/was the problem. In most cases colleges/universities make their findings public, either public domain or a very light license (BSD, MIT, CMU). However, it has generally been customary that the students who do the work that the companies take and develop from, are highered at those companies. Thus, the work is meant for the community, but to the student himself, its for both knowledge and a better/secure job.

    Citing sendmail as an example of successful BSD licensing producing a value-added product is rather disingenuous, since the value-added closed source version of Sendmail is quite a recent innovation.

    But the closed source version of Apache is not new, which I also cited. You will also find many companies adding value to a BSD operating system, or other BSD tools. A company I briefly worked for, NetScaler, based their product off of FreeBSD. The general idea here, like with the colleges, is that the public code is then taken by businesses and improved / added value. As this has grown past starting and ending public research in academic study, the origional developers are not trying to entice job hunters. However, they still have a reference, and prove their skill (as well as GPL developers).

    This, as you assert, might have been Bill Joy's intention, to allow freeloading. I believe you when you say it was.

    I began believing it was when he went to Sun and never touted a word towards open source for years. In the recent article where he, ESR, and RMS battle a bit, he says this flat out.

    However, the concept is just as relevant for BSD'ed applications as for GPL'ed; they're just as dependent, for the most part, on collective development.

    Yep, they are. GPL forces the developement to return to the community, while BSD does not. Both recieve lots of development, thugh BSD does recieve support by businesses using their code. Not as much as one would hope, but it exists and is truly a gift (and is extremely appreciated by the developers/community). These do it because the more the BSD product succeeds, the better their product is, but nonetheless the gift was not forced. Often, I've heard people say the GPL's spirit is "here's a gift, now where's mine?' That doesn't make either bad, but the gift does seem to loose meaning.
  • so they take legal action currently available to at least make sure the software they contribute to cannot be owned.

    Not quite. What they do is provide a legal model that software authors (starting with themselves) can use to enforce something like "Rather than abusing my 'ownership' of this code, I am allowing you to have it, too, as long as you are willing to do the same for others."


    Berlin-- http://www.berlin-consortium.org [berlin-consortium.org]
  • by PhiRatE ( 39645 ) on Thursday November 04, 1999 @10:49AM (#1562540)
    At one point I found myself writing a small application, the use of which many people could potentially enjoy, and it occured to me as this small application was nearing completion, that I hadn't the faintest idea what licence would be the best for it.

    I pondered the concept of charging for it. Certainly it was a useful little application, with great potential, however I already had a job, was making a decent amount of money, and had no real desire to go to the lengths necessary to collect money from potential buyers.

    So I looked at the open licences, at the time, there were only really two, GPL and BSD. I'd like to tell you why I chose the GPL.

    The GPL has a special place in my heart, for one particular reason. I love source. I really do, source code makes me feel all gooey. It is like being handed a book by a favorite author, in HTML. You have the chance, the opportunity to to take the story, and more properly the whole concept details by the story, and mould it as you will, it is as if the author has given you a gift, the gift of allowing you to contribute as an equal to their art.

    I appreciate the giving of this gift. Certainly in technical terms it is nice to have the source code, to be able to fix bugs or add little features, but more properly it is a sign that the author believes that you have something worthy of contribution, something worth knowing, and having, something that may be of use to many people.

    To provide a program only in binary form objectifies the relationship between you and the author into "User" and "Developer". You use the features I provide, the author adds more features if you request. To provide a program in source form makes every user a potential developer, and more importantly, every developer a potential user. They get the other end of the stick, you may come up with a feature they hadn't thought of, but find incredibly useful, everyone ends up on the same level.

    So, therein is my justification of an Open Source licence, but why the GPL? Because it represents my belief in this paradigm. If I were to release under BSD, I would be saying:

    "This program is provided, open source, to solve a problem. If you are developing a proprietry app, and you have this problem, I believe I have done a good job of solving it, and you would do well to use my code"

    On a technical level, this gives us all better code, whether open source or not, we end up with that problem solved better. I chose the GPL because it says:

    "This program is provided, open source, as a gift to the community, I wish you to be able to contribute to this source, to improve it, and I wish that others who choose to make use of the collaborative efforts of myself and the contributers would give the same gift in return"

    In simpler terms, you want my source? I want your source. Gooey feelings all around.

  • First and Foremost, let me say that I admire Richard Stallman. His idealism and uncompromising principles make me believe that there might be a better world ahead of us.

    Now, on to the meat of this post.

    Power is defined as the ability of one actor make another actor do something that they would not normally do.

    Freedom is defined as the exemption or liberation frpm the control of some other person or some other power.

    Think about these definitions for a bit.

    The GPL does not represent the good of the individiual, it represents the good of the masses. The human race is powerful because of it's ability to use available tools to the best of it's ability. When those tools are not flexible enough or do not do the job, then they are worthless to us. Is it more productive to use a hammer or a nail to drive a nail?

    The GPL gives the masses the ability to take the tools that are almost right for the job and make them right. It promotes the free exchange of ideas and information. Innovation rarely comes from brand new ideas, it comes from combinations of existing ideas to solve different problems.

    This is the reason why I *like* Linux. I can take a program that does *almost* what I need and be assured that I can modify to do *exactly* what I need. I release my program out to the world and the world benefits from my knowledge and my ideas. I benefit from that also, indirectly. I see different peoples styles of programming, I see different algorithms, I see how my computer works, and I improve my abilities by seeing those things.

    This is Freedom that RMS has dedicated his life to.

    Idealistic? Yes. But then again, I was always an idealist rather then a realist.

  • Often, I've heard people say the GPL's spirit is "here's a gift, now where's mine?' That doesn't make either bad, but the gift does seem to loose meaning.

    That's an excellent way of putting it, but I wouldn't characterize a GPL'ed work as a gift. There's no basis for a exchange as equals, especially between the individual and the corporation.

    The BSD development paradigm, with a centralized core team, either within or without the academy, probably lends itself better to a BSD license, because the core team can represent themselves collectively to a corporation; it becomes an exchange between equals in an environment of mutual expect.

    The BSD license is probably also better suited for think-tanks and academic work for the above reasons, and also because in many cases they are not subject to the freeloader dilemna since the teams are self-contained.

    The Linux development paradigm, with no centralized authority directing and controlling development (other than Linux Torvalds, but he's more a moderator or mediator than an architect), is probably better suited for the GPL because there is no exchange between equals. Given that even Linus cannot represent the entire developer community, there can be no such relationship. In the absence of the relationship, formal or informal, between corporation and development team, it becomes attractive indeed to cut and run.

    The GPL, by posing restrictions on freeloading, formalizes the relationship between entrepreneur and developer where they are not peers. You get mine, and I get yours; one enforces sharing where there is no motivation to share.

    (That isn't to say that there aren't entrepreneurs who would freely share their code, but that entrepreneurs, by definition, do not easily give up their intellectual property).

    I've really enjoyed this back-and-forth in this thread; it may well be the first sane discussion of BSD and GPL ever :).

    --
  • I think for once, a regligious war type discussion actually came to a good agreement. Both work for different purposes, depending the relationship of the developer and entrepreneur. I wish people would just state this from the beginning, because all the other fuss is useless until you decide where you're fitting in. Both are good at their tasks, and neither will die. My single fear is that the GPL model (where the developer and businesses are mostly seperate) will become the de-facto, which unless businesses themselves go GPL, means developers have a rough time making money on their code, or also write closed code for income. Seems if there's a nice mix of GPL, BSD, and closed code (or 'published code' in SCSL's case) would be the best.
  • Well when I think of Free [Speech], I think of something that I can do anything with. That's simply not the case with the GPL. I'm not making any value judgements about the license, but while it gives total freedom to users and GPL-developers, it does place restrictions on other people. I cannot, for example, take that software and charge people license-fees to use it.

    It's a tradeoff, of course. The freedom to stay free versus the freedom to make it non-free. In this sense, the BSD license is more free. There aren't really any restrictions on what one does with BSD source code (esp. now that the advertising clause is gone). GPL, on the other hand, does place restrictions, although they are arguably for the good of all.

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Why don't you read the two pieces of text you cite?

    - RMS is speaking of being in control of yourself.

    - Webster is speaking of not being controled by another.

    This is saying the same thing, when you are in control of yourself, you are not being controled by another, when you are being controled by another, you are not in control of yourself.
  • It is not misleading, is is refuting a common scare tactic from the anti-GPL crowd, namely that the GPL is somehow "forcing" developers to release their own code under the GPL. It doesn't. Like all other code (under any license that allows redistribution), it offers developers a choice they hadn't before: Distribute our code under the conditions in our license. This is a *new choice* developers get, and thus it *increases* their freedom.

    What the anti-GPL crowd could say, and stay honest, is that by releasing the code under the GPL you do not increase other developers freedom as much as if you e.g. released it under the MIT X11 license. Had the anti-GPL crowd been that honest, it would not have been necessary to explain basics like RMS does here.
  • You seemed to have failed to grasp any of the basic points RMS made. Or perhaps you disagree with them, but instead of attacking his points you attack his style.

    1. You have totally misunderstood the point about freedom and power. The freedom to deny other their freedom is not a freedom RMS wants to protect. It is a freedom he uses himself for pragmatic purposes, but it is not a freedom he wants to defend.

    2. Newspeak is a powerful word. Apart from its semantic meaning, it has some strong ties which makes it have a build in conclusion. Namely that it is evil. Interlectual property is another such phrase. It is not quite as powerful, but it still leads to a build in conclusion. Being aware of what words means on multiple levels isn't "newsspeak", it is basic rhetoric (another negative word) necessary to communicate efficiencely (ah, finally a good positive word).

    To a computer geek it would be nice if words in natural languages were like in programming languages, devoid of any meaning than the apparent. If you believe this, you have already lost the argument. Like other who knows how to debate, RMS knows how to select his words. Unlike others, he makes his choices openly.
  • Sure, that's your choice, and perfectly acceptable. You're correct that it doesn't give MS a competitive advantage. What it does do, however, is pass up the opportunity to give a competitive advantage to Free Software, by denying non-free software the right to use your code. You're not required to do this, of course, but many of us feel it's a desirable thing to do.
  • by SoftwareJanitor ( 15983 ) on Thursday November 04, 1999 @10:59AM (#1562558)
    not being cleanly shaven

    How many executives at major corporations have facial hair? Quite a few that I can think of, and I don't watch all that closely. I don't think that having facial hair makes you some kind of wierdo. I also think that there are plenty of clean shaven people who are total wierdos (I've seen plenty of pictures of Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and other certifiable nuts with clean shaven faces).

    Seriously, there is little merit in judging Richard Stallman (or anyone else) strictly on appearances. You could bathe him, shave him and put him in a 3-piece blue suit, but I seriously doubt it is going to change him or his message. Would you suddenly take him seriously if he started conforming to your anal-retentive standards? Do you really believe or trust someone just because they look like they just stepped off the pages of GQ?

  • Well that was my original impression. If that's the case though, then why does Stallman (arguably the foremost expert on the meaning of the GPL) say that he cannot prevent someone from releasing software that uses his code? If that person has to release the code, then it would seem that he absolutely does have a right to prevent them from releasing it (or just suing them after they did).

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • by schon ( 31600 )
    This seems to say that when using a large amount(how much?)

    As I understand copyright law, >=30%.

    This contradicts his claim that he cannot force you to use the GPL if he uses some GPL code in his own program.

    Not really... after all, nobody is forcing you to release the software. If you use GPL'ed code and release it then you have to release the source to any modifications you make to that GPL'ed code.

    As I understand the GPL (and the article) if you use GPL'ed code in your program and wish to release your software, you have to release the source to the GPL'ed parts (subroutines, etc..) plus any modification you've made to the GPL'ed portion. (possibly hooks to your own code.)

    And what about the issues raised in the original article, that of linking to libraries and other software that is not GPL'd? Anyone else notice RMS did not mention or even refer to those issues?

    He may not have mentioned them, but they are covered in general by the article.
  • Don't get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for the guy. I've even talked face to face with him a few times, and I believe that people get his ideas totally screwed. But he is very very opinionated.

    He states in the article about the compromised LGPL. Originally the Library GPL then renamed to the Lesser GPL. This is why I called him a little extreme, is the reason for it. He was upset that people were using the LGPL more than the GPL, so he renamed the LGPL. He wants those that develop GPL code to have an "advantage" from a GPL library. But to me, I don't care if you use GPL with my LGPL library or have a proprietary app.

    All I care about for my code is that one, if you use it, you must always supply the source and freedom with it. And two, if you make changes or add code that makes the library dependant on it, then that code too must be under the LGPL. If your code is dependant on my code, then I say, do what you want with it. If you make my code dependant on your code, then I want that code freely available too.

    Simple, enough said, that's all, case in point!!

    Steven Rostedt
  • Computer Science has nothing to do with proprietary software. CS is the science of computers, nothing more. The fact that a lot of Comp Scientists end up working at proprietary firms is simply a fact of how our market works. People like to make money.

    And as for the rest of scientists - well they're just as bad. How many different technologies, discovered by scientists, are patented or trade-secrets? The number is huge - it's hardly a CS issue.

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • This is true; however, it seems like recently RMS has managed to shed the "raving lunatic" reputation he formerly enjoyed among many members of the community, I think in whole due to the fact that his posts now COME OFF as reasoned, intelligent discourse instead of single-mindedness. Maybe that's because he feels that the war has been swung in favor of free software, and he's relaxing. Who knows. Maybe he's just practicing what he preaches: modify the means, not the end, and he's pursuing the same goal of free software but taking a new tack in doing so.
  • If software Entrepeneurs are restricted by the GPL, then how does RedHat exist?

    Exactly. It's not software entrepreneurs who are restricted by the GPL, it's software parasites - people or organizations who would take and modify without giving back.

  • Stallman's on the nail with his characterization of ESR's work. He is speaking not of Raymond's political views (decidedly libertarian if I am any judge) but of the tone and tenor of his analysis of Open Source, the movement. ESR consistently uses economic terms and arguments to characterize the value of open source development, probably because the thrust of his writing is directed at legitimating this model for the suits. This emphasis on the economic over the social, that social structures are essentially economically determined is, ironically, a hallmark of "Socialist" thought.

    ESR's emphasis on the economics of open source development deflects attention from the really radical inflection point the open source community represents: the model of a directed, yet non-hierarchical social structure. It is the first truly radical social form to have emerged from the new communications matrices. ESR's characterization of the Open Source community as a post-scarcity gift culture, which he presents as a reification of that anthropological notion, misses the crucial point that gift cultures have relatively little to do with wealth, in fact exist within economies of crushing dearth. The fact that wealth changes hands is a result of the assignment wealth==power common to all cultures; precisely the assignment that the open source community so radically redirects.

    The principal rationale of a gift culture is not some function of wealth distribution, but rather the affirmation of social status, q.v. George Bataille The Accursed Share. He is greatest who gives the most and in this crowd, unique, it seems, the source is the coin of the realm.


  • Actually, I think 2112 retold for the open source/free software movement would be more like:

    We've taken care of everything
    Spreadsheets you run, networks you ping
    The software that gives pleasure to your mind
    Oh what a pro-prietary world
    Let the source code be concealed
    Hold the user licence's high in hand!

    We are the priests
    Of the Temples of Windows (maybe "Redmond" scans better?)
    Our bloated software
    Fills up all your RAM...

    Then Linus and/or RMS enter, singing:

    Look into our programs
    See what they can do!
    There's source code here, it's as free as air
    Hackers, this will intrigue you!

    And so on...

  • I don't understand your post. I have yet to see Stallman actually advocate breaking the law as concerns software piracy.

    He wanted to be able to share his software legally, and saw this as a basic right. The then-current paradigm did not allow him to do this. So he decided to come up with new software under a new paradigm which did allow him to do it legally. It meant he couldn't use software developed under the old ways, but that didn't bother him.

    How does that break the law?
  • I agree that licensing terms involve a trade-off between freedoms; that's a very insightful comment. Now, if I might add my 0.02$ worth:

    The GPL is a license by and for developers: you get the priviledge of code reuse, you grant the priviledge of code reuse, you contribute to the body of code available for reuse. It is what would happen in a large corporation or think tank (or, in RMS's case, the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science) where all researchers can borrow code and ideas from each other.

    I can understand why critics call RMS a flaming communist. For what it's worth, he probably is a flaming communist. If you subscribe to RMS-as-Marx, however, you have to admit that he, with the GPL, treats his proletariat (developers) very well. Exploiters of the proletariat (entrepreneurs) do less well.

    The BSD license is an excellent compromise if you feel like compromising; entrepreneurs can use it with only the requirement to give credit for credit due. It's entirely legitimate for a developer to adopt a dual role as entrepreneur, or envision a dual role as entrepreneur, which is an excellent reason to use the BSD.

    However, and I think that this is a fear which is always in RMS's mind: BSD's software can be moved from open to closed source by such entrepreneurs, who profit from the freely available work of other people - it's the apex of freeloading.

    Most companies prevent freeloading by closing their source. The GPL prevents it in another way; the code becomes totally open so long as it stays out of the hands of entrepreneurs who would close it off.

    You will see something like this in wills; some will have a clause which reads something like this: if (so and so) challenges the legitimacy of this will, this bequest to them is withdrawn. It's an entirely valid tactic; after all, as the estate belongs (or belonged) to the deceased, the code belongs to the copyright holder and not the licensee.

    The freeloading problem's an interesting one and it strikes to the heart of copyright and licensing dilemnas (not to mention patent law or any other kind of intellectual property law). I'd willingly listen to someone who had another take on it.

    --
  • The above poster made me think that Stallman is relatively hypocritical.

    And he (IMHO) would think not. Peaceful civil disobedience to achieve a (roughly) political goal, that's all that is being advocated. As far as suing under the GPL goes, this is civil obedience to achieve the same goal.

    He is not hypocritical because he is always moving towards the goal, within and without the current law. Using your "enemies" law against them (the GPL,a.k.a the Anti-License License) is a common tactic of the underdog.
  • What is so difficult about understanding that free software means you have freedoms attached to it?
    Nothing whatsoever; I understand completely the meaning as intended. My point was that a word is defined by its usage, regardless of the intentions of whomever coined it.
    For example: most people on this list know that Windows 95 isn't an operating system; it's a graphic overlay that's integrated (to a certain extent) with its OS. If it were a true OS, it wouldn't (for example) have occasional problems with himem.sys and memory > 640k. However, it's marketed as an OS, and it's so called by pretty much everyone who uses it.
    In the strict sense, it's an application. Just like in the strict sense, OS != free.
    I don't flame people who call windows an OS; nor do I bother correcting people who talk about free-as-in-beer software.
  • He makes a LOT of sense, especially when it comes to the whole freedom issue. I like his analogy of the swinging fist. I'd quibble with him on two issues, though. The GPL is not parasitic -at all- for small extracts, which he failed to note, when he talked about the claim the GPL was parasitic. The GPL states very clearly that it only transfers when using -significant- portions of the code. You could copy routines wholesale out of GCC, to make a new C compiler, provided -in total-, you didn't copy a significant amount. The other issue is the LGPL. There's nothing wrong with a GPLish licence which allows code to be subsumed into larger pieces of work, without impacting the licence of that larger piece. This has nothing to do with freedom, as the library is not the program. This, I think, is a VITAL distinction I make that I think RMS does not. To me, libraries are seperate, distinct units of code, seperate from a program, no matter how compiled. You can ALWAYS splice out a library and insert a new one, which performs the same function. (Though, this is easier with dynamic linking.) As such, the library and the program are two seperate pieces of code. Why, then, should one carry the licence of the other? That's plain silly.
  • The GPL is like the first amendment, it protects free speech, but doesn't give you the right to say anything. It doesn't give you the right to say libel and slandor, for instance. So it protects *some* speech, but not all speech.

    The BSD license gives further. It basically allows anything. Sort of like libel and slandor, it allows greedy, unethically companies to take our free "speech" from us. The BSD license does not protect, it allows anything. Yes, it is truly free, but truly free means free to harm, as well as free to help.

    The GPL restricts your ability to harm, making it truly a free "speech" license. What good is licensing your code under a free license, if it doesn't prohibit someone from stealing it from you and making it closed source? You may as well keep it under a closed source license to begin with. That's why the GPL is superior.

    -Brent
    --
  • On the flipside, I've also never understood why people like Richard Stallman always bitch and moan about proprietary software. If they don't want to use it, no one is forcing them... This is something of a strawman. Of course, RMS does follow his own advice in this regard and uses NO "proprietary" software and he doesn't bitch and moan about the situation. (Don't anyone point out that GPL'd software is actually proprietary. I know that GPL'd software is technically proprietary, the Comment I'm responding to doesn't appear to recognize this point.) I think the ability to charge thousands of dollars for something I created is an inalienable right. If the product isn't worth that much, then it will fail -- The free market is great that way; it let's people vote with their feet (and their wallet). That's an interesting view. It's not the view shared by the framers of the US Constitution. As Stallman points out, the framers of the Constitution instituted Intellectual Property to "promote the progress of science and useful arts". The present situation, where you can hold a copyright on software for 50 years (or more), is an absurd contortion of this Right. I don't see that copyrights held so long encourage anything beneficial. If the GPL'd software succeeds to a huge extent, it might be recognized that, in the area of software, the best way to "promote progress" is to not grant Software copyrights or Patents, or to curtail these rights to a great extent. According to the Constitution, all IP law should be aligned with promoting progress, not enriching authors. As Stallman points out, enriching authors is just recognized as a way to promote progress. Your "inalieanble right" to Intellectual Property has never been recognized. Copyrights being time limited is a recognition of the very alieanability of this right. Furthermore, there are many Fair Use Doctrines that modify this "inalienable right" of yours. An utterance you might make is a creation, but everyone has the free right to quote and copy that utterance in any way. It's only when the language is committed to some medium like paper or audio/video tape do we allow these creations to be copyrighted.
  • No, RMS is entirely correct. The GPL does not force you to make your code GPL. It merely gives you a choice of three things:

    1) Incorporate the GPL'd code into your software, and release your software under GPL.

    2) Don't use this GPL'd code, and do not release your software under GPL.

    3) Incorporate the GPL'd code into your software, and do not release your software.

    Nothing is forcing the person to choose item #1. They can voluntarily choose that item if they believe the benefits given by the GPL'd source outweigh any misgivings they may have about releasing their own code under the GPL. Otherwise, they can choose items 2 or 3.
  • In fact defending everyone's freedom BUT the freedom of developers to charge for the work they have undertaken,
    Nonsense. Nothing about the GPL prevents a software developer from charging money to create new programs, or to perform ports or fixes of existing ones. In fact, there are two organizations, SourceXchange [sourcexchange.com] and CoSource [cosource.com], set up to allow developers to charge for creating free software. I think the CoSource model works better for new software, while the SourceXchange one will do well for ports to new hardware or for integration.
  • "GPL is code freedom; BSD is personal freedom."

    The only way that things can be free is either 'gratis' or 'untied'. People can be free in the sense of 'libre' or 'free choice'. To call these two concepts related is wrong. It would be analogous to calling sonnets unfree because they aren't 'free verse'. Only people can have liberty.
  • why does Stallman (arguably the foremost expert on the meaning of the GPL) say that he cannot prevent someone from releasing software that uses his code?
    He can prevent them from releasing it. He cannot make them release it under the GPL, because they have the options of rewriting the GPL'd portion, or not releasing at all.
  • Technologies (at least patentable technologies) and the like are generally feats of engineering, not pure science per se.

    I, for one, have never heard of a fundamental discovery being packaged into a patent; however, I've heard of lots of fundamental discoveries being used to create patentable technology.

    For example, let's look at the RC4 algorithm, produced by Rivest et al, three bright mathematicians with nothing better to do :). The fundamental advances in mathematical science are there for all to see. Putting them into a useful form (RC4) was what Rivest did - anyone else could have done the same, and a large part of cryptanalysis is, in fact, doing the same.

    The point is that while RC4 was reasonably innovative, and was certainly publishable in the scientific literature, it wasn't an advance in science in and of itself. No new mathematics were harmed in its creation; it's merely their child.

    --
  • You're ignoring my point. Basically, you're saying somebody has already decided on #1 (use GPL code and distrubute their app), and now they're complaining about the baggage taht entails. If they didn't like it, they should've chosen #2 or #3 instead. If they want to use my code, they need to play by my rules. Otherwise, they can go write their own code, or find differently licensed code.
  • The GPL keeps people from using GNU code and tools in the core of commercial products that they want to keep proprietary.

    There are some exceptions - such as the library license. But these have flaws.

    The library license lets you distribute objects that only uses the library routines by linking to them. But fix a bug in one of the library routines and your code catches the GNU Flu.

    And then there's Bison - the GNU replacement for YACC. Bison emits a parser consisting of a table interpreter and a table it generates from the grammar. Last time I looked the table interpreter was under the full copyleft, NOT the library version, and it becomes the core code of your compiler, command language interpreter, or what-have-you.

    Net result is that it's hazardous to use certain GNU tools for some steps of the development of a proprietary software product. This reduces the number of people using the tools.

    Worse, it reduces the number of people who might otherwise be fixing up bugs in the tools, especially the compiler and the library.

    One slogan I heard from a developer of proprietary software, on why he didn't use GNU:

    Copyleft: More expensive than money!

  • "Your freedom to throw your fist ends at the tip of my nose."

    [and hence my preference for GPL]

    ***Beginning*of*Signiture***
    Linux? That's GNU/Linux [gnu.org] to you mister!
  • Woefully, what started out as an excellent rebuttal by Stallman (some of the most coherent writing I've seen by him so far) falls all over itself in the end with these few holes:

    Fortunately, Eric Raymond's doctrinaire, almost Marxian vision of economic determinism is not realistic

    I actually had to do a double-take through the document to see if he'd prefaced this at all. Nope, this is just a random, unexplained cheap-shot at ESR, who is not mentioned anywhere else in the document.

    If you are using Linux, Linus Torvalds' kernel, you are most likely using it in conjunction with the GNU system. This combination, the GNU/Linux operating system

    This is getting very old. I'm tempted to set up a "Linux is not X/BSD/PD/Artistic/GNU/Linux" page and just post the URL in every forum that refers to yet another Stallman article. I'll not go into it more, here, though. I assume people have better things to do.

    I suggest avoiding the term intellectual property [...] It takes for granted that these things should be a kind of property [...] It is too big a generalization, and is likely to tempt all nonlawyers into assuming that patents and copyrights are similar

    1. The term does not imply, state or suggest that there is a "should" involved. In fact I can quite easily say "some forms of intellectual property, such as software patents, are foolish and should not be property in the first place". Look Ma, I used a word!
    2. Patents and copyrights are similar. If they weren't we would not be in the mess that we are now. The only differences are scope, enforcability and duration. The basic idea is that a non-tangible can be property, which in the interest of innovation and creativity is protected by the federal government. Go ahead tell me that I just exclusively defined copyrights or patents.


    In the end, it's classic Stallman. The man can write damn fine code, but I wish he'd stop trying to talk to people. Others such as ESR, Larry Wall and Linus Torvalds really do do a much better job of getting the points across. Overall, though the early points in the article were fair. Stallman does get a lot of flack over the GPL, which is quite a reasonable document when you consider things like the MS EULA (which I will never agree to, even though I use their software as an end-user at work) define the rest of the playing field.

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin

Working...