[linux-audio-user] Re: Free Software vs. Open Source: Where do *you* stand?

Jan Depner eviltwin69 at cableone.net
Tue Feb 21 20:42:26 EST 2006

On Tue, 2006-02-21 at 16:14 -0500, Rob wrote:
> On Tue February 21 2006 15:08, Peter Bessman wrote:
> > The fact that it's illegal to sell your vote does not prove
> > that contracts can be morally wrong.
> Not that the 'shrink-wrap licenses' to which Fons was referring 
> are even accepted as contracts in many venues.  I certainly 
> never had a contract with, say, Syntrillian in the bad old days 
> when I would download a pirated copy of Cool Edit Pro; the text 
> of whatever EULA they used was never even included with the 
> illicit version.  The GPL itself is also not a contract; it's a 
> license without which you can't distribute the program except by 
> violating copyright.
> The respect argument is specious as well; I certainly don't 
> respect Wal-Mart when I'm buying a new toothbrush or whatever.  
> (And since I've paid for it, I'm perfectly within my rights to 
> share that toothbrush with anyone, though I'd probably rather 
> not.)
> So we're back to copyright violation, not breach of contract.  
> And I stand by my original statement.  I kinda like copyright 
> now that there's enough software covered under the GPL to make 
> it inconvenient for the people who fought so hard to extend 
> copyright to cover computer software in the first place. 

    Uh, copyright *always* covered computer software just as it always
covered math textbooks.  I believe what you are thinking of is software

> Nonetheless, those who have attempted to use copyright to turn 
> imaginary property (based on infinite reproducibility) into real 
> property (based on scarcity) are wrong, no matter how much it 
> might benefit them to do so.  One million copies of notepad.exe 
> have the exact same value in the real world as a single copy, 
> regardless of how much sweat some peon in Redmond shed during 
> its initial development.  And that goes for emacs, Finder, Doom 
> 3, Donkey Kong, In A Silent Way, Oliver Twist, Citizen Kane and 
> the Mona Lisa too.

    Again, I must point out that if that is so then one million copies
of your latest song, poem, novel, picture have the same value in the
real world as a single copy.  Unless, of course, you believe that
writing software is not a creative process.

> I don't want to hear the "but no one can make any money unless we 
> treat copies like physical objects" line anymore either.  If I 
> went into business selling a new kind of wrenches, with a 
> shrink-wrap agreement on the outside requiring that they were 
> only to be used by the purchaser, and then went broke because 
> people started sharing their wrenches left and right despite my 
> legal threats, I would deserve to be broke for pursuing such an 
> unrealistic business plan.  See also: CueCat.  

    As you've so correctly pointed out before, wrenches are not
software.  The value of one million wrenches is not equal to the value
of a single wrench.  If you want to compare apples to apples instead of
apples to colostomy bags how about explaining how software is different
from your latest song, novel, poem, picture.

Jan 'Evil Twin' Depner
The Fuzzy Dice

"As we enjoy great advantages from the invention of others, we should be 
glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and 
this we should do freely and generously."

Benjamin Franklin, on declining patents offered by the governor of 
Pennsylvania for his "Pennsylvania Fireplace", c. 1744

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