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What type of software licensing is the most compatible with your philosophy?

Closed source
- 7 (17.9%)
Open source - copyleft
- 11 (28.2%)
Open source - permissive
- 21 (53.8%)

Total Members Voted: 24


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Author Topic: Software Philosophy  (Read 63173 times)

Alex Libman

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Software Philosophy
« on: December 27, 2009, 03:43:56 pm »

Hi.  I wrote this rant to post on several libertarian / Anarcho-Capitalist forums to help me get more feedback for a moral dilemma I am presently contemplating - reorienting my career as a programmer / database administrator / general small business "computer guy" around a software philosophy that is the most compatible with my ideology.


Does proprietary software always violate the Non-Aggression Principle?

The obvious answer to that seems to be yes - companies like Microsoft rely on government force to punish people for copying 1's and 0's that originate from them, even though copying does not really constitute an initiation of aggression against Microsoft, and those users have no clear contractual obligation not to copy.  (A good summary of the Anarcho-Capitalist position on the so-called "intellectual property" was recently presented in a series of episodes of the Complete Liberty podcast.)

It is very easy for me to imagine, however, how companies like Microsoft could still make a profit (though possibly a more modest one) in a government-free society by selling business contracts, student certification contracts, bundling software with other products and services, and so on.  They might even do better in absence of taxation, tariffs, antitrust regulation, restrictions on hiring of labor, and so forth.  There seems to be no limit to how far Microsoft's enemies will go to suppress the free market environment in which Microsoft is currently so dominant (without, of course, blaming Microsoft's use of government force, on which they also depend).

As a developer, I must also compliment Microsoft on the recent improvement in the quality of their desktop products - which lured me back out of the Linux-land earlier this year.  And I certainly never had any problems pirating their software (I've pirated every MS OS since DOS 5.00), which has actually profited Microsoft in the long run because it enabled me to bring value to many companies that were shelling out obscene sums of money for legitimate licenses, and in most cases it actually did make objective business sense for them to do so.  But my relationship with Microsoft has never been an easy one, knowing that they are in bed with the government and can betray their users' trust at any time.



(I'm going to have to split this into 2-3 posts because of the 10,000 character limit.)
« Last Edit: January 09, 2010, 10:51:09 am by Alex Libman »
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Alex Libman

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2009, 03:44:14 pm »

Is restrictively-licensed "free" software really any better?

Over the past decade I've been using the GNU/Linux software stack at every opportunity, although work commitments and hardware / software compatibility limitations have made that pretty difficult much of the time.  Linux is the undisputed leader on Web servers, where most of my recent development work has taken place, and it is gradually catching up to Windows and Mac OS on the desktop, having recently surpassed the 1% market share in that category, though it still has a long way to go in terms of simplicity and noob appeal.

Unfortunately (at least from the point of view that ignorance was bliss), I've recently become aware of the fact that in reality the "copyleft" software movement relies on government force even more so than proprietary software does, and would be completely impossible without it.  Consider, for example, Richard Stalinman (typo intentional - see his personal site) speaking out AGAINST the so-called Pirate Parties that were trying to limit the extent of government force in the name of the false construct called "intellectual property"!

It would have been natural to expect that free market competition would have quickly lead to over-saturation of some segments of the software market, resulting in prices stabilizing at the cost of distribution (essentially zero) and the competition of licensing terms resulting in software becoming open source and free of restrictive licenses, essentially public domain.  The "copyleft" socialists succeeded in jumping ahead of that bandwagon (as successful socialists tend to do) and convinced everybody that the only way software can ever be free is through the use of restrictive software licenses, most notably GPL.

Consider, for example, the case of the BusyBox software - most of that program's functionality was freely borrowed from permissively-licensed UNIX code, and then released as restrictive GPL.  When a number of companies tried to leverage that program for their benefit, however, the copyleft lobby used government force to initiate legal proceedings against them (in spite of the fact that the BusyBox author wasn't entirely supportive of their actions)!

A license like GPL has even less contractual validity than a proprietary EULA, which could be argued comes about at the point of the sale.  In a free society, a contract can be defined as a "meeting of minds", described in unambiguous written language, which is then insured by an arbitration authority (not necessarily a government monopoly) that is then responsible for its enforcement.  A "copyright" text-file inside a tar file you come across clearly isn't a legitimate contract that would hold up in a government-free society!

Due to its "viral" nature, GPL has spread throughout the open source noösphere like a hurricane!  Gullible developers (most of whom spend all their time thinking about code and little time contemplating philosophy) who had doubts about the commercial value of their work were convinced that simply giving away their source code wasn't enough, they had to license it to keep the "evil corporations" from "taking advantage of it".  In reality that's nothing but FUD, because a corporation that created a proprietary fork of your downstream work is only closed-sourcing their own contributions to it, which they should be free to do, while copies of your original code remain open source for anyone else to use as they see fit.

GPL forcefully demands that all derived works be released under the same restrictive license, and even static-linking to a GPL-licensed library usually requires that your work be GPL'ed also.  The ambiguity of this issue has worked in GPL's favor, and I personally know many developers who were confused into thinking that the GPL license (which is pretty long and written in legalese) was more restrictive than it actually was, and thought they were obligated to release their code as GPL if they developed in on a GPL'ed system (ex. Linux) or with a GNU compiler (ex. gcc).  While for now that usually isn't the case, there's always a chance that the GPL license will expands its powers in its future versions.  Successful socialists know how to phase in their agenda gradually, to keep the frog mellow in its ever-warming water instead of jumping out from shock.  The recently released GPL version 3 was more restrictive than its predecessor, and who knows what a future GPL v4, v5, or v6 would bring?

The copyleft-enforcement industry is still in its larval stages, but it can grow very quickly some time in the future, and they already claim to come across one GPL violation (a potential lawsuit) every single day.  Of course most slaves don't need to be whipped every single day, and the mere fear of falling victim to a GPL lawsuit will be enough to force most people into compliance.  Unfortunately, when it comes to software, proving that your code is original and didn't come from one of countless thousands of GPL projects can be very difficult, and two independently-written pieces of code that do the same thing can end up looking quite similar.  Just like becoming a proficient writer in the English language requires one to do a lot of reading, serious programmers spend a lot of time reading other people's source code to pick up the best algorithms, and there usually is one way to do something that is more efficient than all others.  Even if you're lucky enough to get a competent judge / jury and are found innocent, the legal proceeding are likely to have cost you weeks of your time and tends of thousands of dollars in legal fees!

That possibility can have a powerful chilling effect on the software industry.  Even under reasonable legal standards for burden of proof - if you've worked on a GPL'ed database program when you were in college, can you ever go on to work on a proprietary database program when you graduate without fear that some of your code will end up looking "too similar"?

All this leads to ever-more people being forced to GPL their code, thus almost entirely destroying the free market in the software industry (support services being an exception).  Much of the current open-source software was paid for with tax-victim dollars through military research and public universities (open source writers in some European countries enjoy free university education and even a government stipend), and some came about as the result of a short-term game theory phenomenon where companies like IBM and Oracle found it in their interest to hurt Microsoft as much as they can (which wouldn't be the case w/o Microsoft's intellectual property dominance, which is backed by government force).  In the long term, this leads to an ever-greater fraction of the software industry being subsidized by the government, which some copyleft proponents actively lobby for, and with government subsidies greater government control is pretty much inevitable.

I am not against people using copyleft software any more than I am against people using proprietary software, but I do have a problem with them calling the former "free" and the latter "evil".  True freedom comes from avoiding institutionalized aggression, not from trying to use the government force in the name of doing good, which historically has always backfired!
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Alex Libman

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2009, 03:44:40 pm »

What other alternatives are there?

Several months ago I've started ranting about a "Software Freedom Scale" that ranks different software licenses according to the amount of government force they are based on, public domain being the ideal.  It is important to  note, however, that aggression-free software isn't always 100% guaranteed to be zero-cost and open source - a programmer has no more obligation to release his source code than a book writer his research notes, or a sculptor a video of every stroke of his chisel.  Having the software you use be open sourced is a very important benefit, but that benefit must come from qualitative competition between various alternatives, not from mandatory transparency through government force!

There is hardly any good software out there that exists in the public domain, but the next best thing seems to be permissively-licensed software whose licenses were actually intended to prevent someone else from suing the authors in case that software does something naughty (though such disclaimers would not be necessary in a society with rational jurisprudence).  Some of those licenses also forcefully require proper attribution, which shouldn't be necessary in a free society because there are many other ways to prove who did what first, but I don't think there's any history or potential for that clause to be used as a trigger for substantial legal aggression.

It is also important to note that this "Freedom Scale" was simplified to ignore things like whether that software originated through government aggression (as is the case for much of it), and the ideology of the programmers involved (I was particularly upset by a recent example of a programmer I idolize being a total commie).  History is filled with evil things, and we are all standing on the shoulders of slave-traders, warmongers, and other savages - what matters is that we do the right thing going forward.  (I have briefly considered the possibility of a license that specifically denies all rights to any government employees and other NAP violators, but that would obviously be unenforceable and comically hypocritical.)

So this leaves us with permissively-licensed open source software, which isn't as popular as copyleft or proprietary software, but still gives us a solid foundation to leverage.  The so-called "Anarcho-Capitalist software stack" begins with any of multiple competing BSD-licensed UNIX operating systems: FreeBSD (and its derivatives like PC-BSD, which are great for new users), OpenBSD, NetBSD, DragonFly BSD (my emerging favorite), and someday maybe even a derivative of MINIX 3.  Although the BSD family of operating systems use competing implementation ideas, they voluntarily adhere to a common UNIX philosophy and industry standards (much more so than Linux), and it can be as easy to switch between different BSD's as it is between Linux distributions, especially when you're using a common package management system like pkgsrc.  I must admit that Linux has just recently surpassed all BSD's in performance and portability, but that only happened due to a massive inflow of funds from companies like IBM, and the BSD projects could easily catch up and surpass Linux if more people started contributing, which is fairly likely to happen as more people come to see the down-side of copyleft aggression.

A lot of people use BSD and similarly licensed code, but they're more likely to release their own open source work as GPL for reasons stated above. It even could be argued that BSD-licensed operating systems have a 100% market share, because I can think of no noteworthy operating system that didn't borrow some code from them - most famously Mac OS X, but Windows and Linux as well!   ;)

The X server (the core GUI foundations that most UNIX-based operating systems use) is permissively licensed, but most noob-friendly desktop environments (ex. KDE, Gnome, Xfce, ROX, etc) are not.  There are a few less popular window managers that are permissively licensed (ex. Enlightenment, Fluxbox, JWM, and the Compiz 3D effects engine), but that is becoming ever less relevant as more and more software is starting to function though the Web browser.  This is good news, because there's finally a real possibility of a permissively-licensed open sourced Web browser coming about some time in the future, all thanks to Google's Chromium!  The current version of that browser still isn't entirely stable, still married to Google's motives, and still uses some GPL code, but its BSD components will inevitably be used to create a new browser some time in the future, which I see becoming a backbone of a complete permissively licensed desktop environment with AJAX-powered widgets.

Fortunately my favorite database tools (PostgreSQL and SQLite) are already permissively licensed, as are many other great server-side components (ex. apache, ssh, pureftpd, bind, cyrus, qmail, etc), and a sufficient selection of shell tools and scripting languages.  I never found any serious need for a complete IDE, so I've always used free non-copyleft editors like vi and SciTE.  The biggest GPL'ed villain in an average developer's software stack is the GCC compiler and the rest of the GNU toolchain, but it may soon be possible to replace it with Clang, and perhaps even new programming languages like Google's Go, or Apache Foundation's noble efforts to rebuild all Java components (and a complete application server) under their permissive business-friendly license.

Unfortunately there are still some gaps in the permissive software stack that current software just cannot fill.  For example, we have a great BSD-licensed BitTorrent library, but all of the GUI clients that use it are GPL'ed.  We also have a similar situation with BSD-licensed multimedia codecs from Xiph.org (ex. ogg, vorbis / theora), but there doesn't seem to be any permissive media player program out there (except playing them in Chromium via HTML5 audio / video tags), and since most video you come across online is in other formats non-permissive software like FFmpeg or GStreamer is most often needed for conversion.  Of course I have no moral qualms about just using a Windows box in addition to my primary BSD boxes, with the Windows box doing all my shady P2P and codec crunching for me and spitting out a nice standards-compliant HTML5 interface for playing any multimedia files that I need.  ;)





Does anyone else here share my philosophical preference for permissively-licensed free software, and a growing disdain for the self-righteous hypocrisy of the "copyleft" movement?  I would most appreciate learning what everyone here (and any fellow software developers in particular) thinks on this subject.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2010, 09:15:24 pm by Alex Libman »
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"Hagrid"

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2009, 06:57:00 pm »

Sorry, you're incorrect.  The GPL is a _voluntary_ license: if you don't agree with it, don't use the software/tools associated with it.
But RMS's own politics aside, the GPL is about _keeping_ intellectual ideas open, so yes, at some point, legal battles may ensue, because like other _licenses_, it's got an agenda.  If you only want to use BSD 100% 'do whatever you want' licensing, go for it... but from a legal stance, you might as well public domain it, and know that some folks will take it, modify it a bit, and not share the changes back with you (the quid pro quo of GPL at the core - I share with you, you share with me... we both benefit.)

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2009, 07:27:28 pm »

Does anyone else here share my philosophical preference for permissively-licensed free software, and a growing disdain for the self-righteous hypocrisy of the "copyleft" movement?  I would most appreciate learning what everyone here (and any fellow software developers in particular) thinks on this subject.

I think software should be treated as a good like anything else. The licensing paradigm is antiquated. If a business's profits rely entirely on continually threatening legal action for copyrights (rather than providing a good product), I personally dislike that.
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Bondurant

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2009, 09:05:15 pm »

How is Microsoft making money off of your piracy?

Is any wonder why Obama his having success selling his big government/high taxing policies in a country that is losing it's respect for the property of others?   
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Alex Libman

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2009, 11:40:53 pm »

Sorry, you're incorrect.  The GPL is a _voluntary_ license:

So you believe in the government-based construct called "intellectual property", through which you somehow have a "divine right" to initiate aggression against me just because I did something that copies or imitates information downstream from its previous modifiers?  How about my mind, do I have the right to remember the faces I've seen in my lifetime, or do I need those people's permissions too?


if you don't agree with it, don't use the software/tools associated with it.

I've been trying to avoid restrictive open source licenses lately, and let me tell you - it's 10x more difficult than avoiding all proprietary software!  I most often find licensing information on Wikipedia or via Gentoo Portage (I didn't quit Linux 100% just yet), but I still sometimes have to download a piece of software to see what it's license is.  There's no way every new developer will think about licensing issues, he'll just download the piece of software that works best, and maybe write a plug-in for it, or copy some ideas from the source code, etc.  Only later will he discover that he supposedly agreed to the contents of a license file inside that .tar.gz, and his work is now married to the GPL.  That's not what a contract is supposed to be!  There must be a reasonable standard for how a contract is to be accepted and enforced, or else you are playing right into a caricature of an "evil capitalist" who prints evil disclaimers on the side of the contract in microscopic print!


But RMS's own politics aside,

Sometimes a person's personal opinions need to be separated from his professional ones, but RMS is not such a case.  He opposes capitalism in everything that he does, and he's on a mission to destroy the free market in software, which he considers to be evil, which (as I pointed out above) can exist even without government force - copyleft cannot!


the GPL is about _keeping_ intellectual ideas open  [...]

People saw value in giving away ideas at the cost of their distribution for a very long time, and there was plenty of open source / public domain / permissively-licensed software before Stallman started his GNU project.  His only innovation is the popularization of government force - to use intellectual property laws to hurt future innovators if they ever try to release their innovations on different terms than his!


If you only want to use BSD 100% 'do whatever you want' licensing, go for it... but from a legal stance, you might as well public domain it, and know that some folks will take it, modify it a bit, and not share the changes back with you (the quid pro quo of GPL at the core - I share with you, you share with me... we both benefit.)

As mentioned in my original rant, public domain is of course ideal, but very little 100% free software is out there today.  BSD-like licenses might be called 95% free, but as far as Anarcho-Capitalist ethics are concerned - GPL is hardly any better (and from some points of view even worse) than proprietary!

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Alex Libman

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2009, 12:09:47 am »

How is Microsoft making money off of your piracy?

As a kid I first learned how to program QBASIC / Visual BASIC 1.0 for DOS by pirating it (along with DOS itself), but I moved on to being obligated to buy those licenses by my clients / employers (or in many cases my employers paid for them).  I've been pretty loyal to Microsoft's BASIC, C, and ASM for the next decade (except a brief phase of Borland Pascal, but I even ignored the Java craze), before my career finally shifted towards things like perl.  If it wasn't for piracy, I would have learned something else instead, and would have never been a part of Microsoft's economic sphere of influence.  My story isn't that unusual, especially outside the United States where piracy is far more commonplace, and if piracy was somehow impossible then Microsoft's market share would be like 1/4th of what it is!  Microsoft knows this, which is why their consumer and developer products have very weak copy protection - business products being the exception.

That business obligation to pay Microsoft could have existed even without government force, because in a free market my clients could have been contractually obligated to buy licenses by belonging to certain business organizations, or through their hardware vendors, training and certification services, and so on.  (The economics of that are covered more extensively in various Anarcho-Capitalist literature.)


Is any wonder why Obama his having success selling his big government/high taxing policies in a country that is losing it's respect for the property of others?

This would be a much more interesting thread if it was limited to people who understand the difference between actual property -- a Natural Right that exists as a consequence of materialistic scarcity -- and between government regulations over what you can do with your computer and your Internet connection.  There are plenty of other "don't copy that floppy" debate threads elsewhere - this thread is mainly about open source licensing.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2009, 12:14:54 am by Alex Libman »
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"Hagrid"

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2009, 11:31:04 am »

So you believe in the government-based construct called "intellectual property",

Actually, no, I don't.

Quote
through which you somehow have a "divine right" to initiate aggression against me just because I did something that copies or imitates information downstream from its previous modifiers?

Sorry, but that is NOT what the GPL infers.  The legal issues are caused when someone violates the spirit of the _voluntary_ agreement (ie contract), to take what I have shared with them, use it anyway they wish, and if they make changes _and_ distribute those changes, share those changes back with others.  In a nutshell, that is the GPL - it is a voluntary sharing agreement.  If you don't wish to contribute to the sharing, you need not, but you cannot distribute to others without agreeing to share back with the community that gave you the item for free in the first place.  Quid pro Quo, as I said.

Quote
I've been trying to avoid restrictive open source licenses lately, and let me tell you - it's 10x more difficult than avoiding all proprietary software!  I most often find licensing information on Wikipedia or via Gentoo Portage (I didn't quit Linux 100% just yet), but I still sometimes have to download a piece of software to see what it's license is.  There's no way every new developer will think about licensing issues, he'll just download the piece of software that works best, and maybe write a plug-in for it, or copy some ideas from the source code, etc.  Only later will he discover that he supposedly agreed to the contents of a license file inside that .tar.gz, and his work is now married to the GPL.  That's not what a contract is supposed to be! 

1) You don't seem to understand how the GPL works: if you want to 'copy some ideas', feel free.  if you really mean 'copy some of this great code, so I don't have to start from scratch', then yes, you were given the code with an voluntary agreement attached: if you wish to use it, you agree to 'pay it forward', and share your work with others.  If you don't wish to agree to that, don't copy the code.  You can always 100% rewrite the code your own way, if you wish.

2) Plugins are a sticky area... from the FAQ:
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLAndPlugins

Quote
If a program released under the GPL uses plug-ins, what are the requirements for the licenses of a plug-in?

It depends on how the program invokes its plug-ins. If the program uses fork and exec to invoke plug-ins, then the plug-ins are separate programs, so the license for the main program makes no requirements for them.

    If the program dynamically links plug-ins, and they make function calls to each other and share data structures, we believe they form a single program, which must be treated as an extension of both the main program and the plug-ins. This means the plug-ins must be released under the GPL or a GPL-compatible free software license, and that the terms of the GPL must be followed when those plug-ins are distributed.

    If the program dynamically links plug-ins, but the communication between them is limited to invoking the ‘main’ function of the plug-in with some options and waiting for it to return, that is a borderline case.

As for RMS's politics, I see his efforts are about using copyright law to fight copyright law... in other words, GPL exists, in part, because the copyright structure forces the GPL specifics in order to keep the code open for good, in ways that public domain and BSD/etc don't.  You have already agreed that GPL is extremely successful in the marketplace of ideas, far more so than public domain or BSD...  The marketplace has spoken.

Quote
but as far as Anarcho-Capitalist ethics are concerned - GPL is hardly any better (and from some points of view even worse) than proprietary!

And I disagree with you.  I think GPL is a voluntaryist approach to software, and actually fits the Anarcho-Capitalist model quite well.
You can take my program that I gave away for free, and sell a exact copy for $1 million dollars, if you wish.  But if you make custom changes, you have to share that change (and all of the code) to whomever you sell to, and they have the right (ie freely, voluntarily) to share that $1 million change back to me, for $1 (or free, or whatever).  The only time you run 'afoul' of the law is when you violate the contract, which you freely agree to, to share changes with those you distribute to... no hidden gotchas.

Alex Libman

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2009, 11:44:10 am »

So you believe in the government-based construct called "intellectual property",
Actually, no, I don't.

You can't have it both ways - only recognizing "intellectual property" laws when they suit you.  Either Microsoft / RIAA / etc have the same "rights" as the GPL lobby, or the GPL lobby doesn't have the right to initiate aggression against people for imitating 1's and 0's either.


Sorry, but that is NOT what the GPL infers.  The legal issues are caused when someone violates the spirit of the _voluntary_ agreement (ie contract), to take what I have shared with them, use it anyway they wish, and if they make changes _and_ distribute those changes, share those changes back with others.  In a nutshell, that is the GPL - it is a voluntary sharing agreement.  [...]

You are repeating the fallacies I've addressed above on this thread without taking what I've said into account.

What constitutes a "voluntary agreement"?  If I stick a post-it note on my forehead that says "license: everyone who sees my face is now contractually obligated to think of me on my own terms", does that constitute an enforceable contract in your point of view?  You cannot own your reflection in the eyes and minds of other people, just as you cannot own your ideas once they become accessible to other people to copy and imitate on their own property.


2) Plugins are a sticky area... from the FAQ:
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLAndPlugins

Yeah, the GPL doesn't embed every single plank of the Communist Manifesto just yet.  They need to destroy their non-copyleft competition first.  Wait for v4, v5, and so on.   >:D


As for RMS's politics, I see his efforts are about using copyright law to fight copyright law... in other words, GPL exists, in part, because the copyright structure forces the GPL specifics in order to keep the code open for good, in ways that public domain and BSD/etc don't.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

And it's not just RMS's politics, it's the prevailing communist culture within the GNU/Linux communities, of which I've been a part for many years.  The communities around BSD, Apache, PostgreSQL, Haiku OS, and other permissively-licensed projects seem to be somewhat more libertarian, and, far more importantly, they don't rely on government force.  I've actually found BSD people agreeing with me on issues like "net neutrality" (i.e. government control of the Internet), while the GPL fiends wound have me tarred and feathered.  Their communist perception of "freedom" is very dangerous, and real libertarians would be well advised to stay away.


You have already agreed that GPL is extremely successful in the marketplace of ideas, far more so than public domain or BSD...  The marketplace has spoken.

No, I've said GPL used government funding, government force, threats of antitrust lawsuits, and a lot of FUD to bully programmers into GPL'ing their code, and their movement is still relatively unsuccessful.  The desktop market share of Linux is around 1%!  It does well on the server, but BSD technologies can replace it on the server very easily - remember that most server software (except MySQL) and most scripting languages (except Ruby) are not copyleft!  The market share of BSD software is actually very close to 100% - I challenge you to name one mainstream operating system that doesn't contain major chunks of BSD code!


And I disagree with you.  I think GPL is a voluntaryist approach to software, and actually fits the Anarcho-Capitalist model quite well.

No, copyleft doesn't fit the voluntaryist / Anarcho-Capitalist model in any way, shape, or form!  As I've said above, even Microsoft could thrive in absence of intellectual property laws, but functionally GPL cannot!


You can take my program that I gave away for free, and sell a exact copy for $1 million dollars, if you wish.  But if you make custom changes, you have to share that change (and all of the code) to whomever you sell to, and they have the right (ie freely, voluntarily) to share that $1 million change back to me, for $1 (or free, or whatever).  The only time you run 'afoul' of the law is when you violate the contract, which you freely agree to, to share changes with those you distribute to... no hidden gotchas.

Once again - there is no contract!

The change I make to a GPL program does not belong to its downstream contributors, that change belong to me, as does my body, my mind, my fingertips, my keyboard, and my computer!  I'm not "stealing" the downstream GPL code - it still remains remains open source.  I am only exercising my Natural Right to distribute my own work under my own terms, without initiating aggression against anyone!
« Last Edit: December 29, 2009, 12:18:07 pm by Alex Libman »
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"Hagrid"

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2009, 12:01:21 pm »

So you believe in the government-based construct called "intellectual property",
Actually, no, I don't.

You can't have it both ways - only recognizing "intellectual property" laws when they suit you. 

No, _my_ belief in intellectual property laws has NOTHING to do with the existence of Intellectual Property Laws.

Given their existence, the GPL is a method of fighting them by using them against themselves.

You might not like GPL but it's certainly better than the alternatives.  Like it or not, BSD/PD stuff was tried, and failed to capture the marketplace.  Microsoft used BSD code in Windows... standing on the shoulders of others, who went unrewarded and for the most part unrecognized.  GPL is written to prevent that sort of thing... and again, NOTHING stops you choosing BSD or PD licensiing if you wish... or GPL.  BSD and PD don't help to end anything, they merely sit there.  GPL (especially wrt Digital Rights management, the true problem of the age, wrt IP tyranny) is fighting a good fight for the right side.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2009, 01:05:48 pm by Seth "Hagrid" Cohn »
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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2009, 12:12:59 pm »

Intellectual property laws aren't made up of matter and dont posses energy so they only exist inside of peoples minds. 
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yeah, an actual signature. does that blow your mind?!

rossby

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2009, 12:56:58 pm »

Intellectual property laws aren't made up of matter and dont posses energy so they only exist inside of peoples minds. 

*knock, knocks on the hard cover of a textbook*
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"Hagrid"

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2009, 01:04:28 pm »

Last exchange on my part, I don't have the time or inclination to continue.... I no longer find these sort of forum arguments very interesting or worthwhile.

What constitutes a "voluntary agreement"?  If I stick a post-it note on my forehead that says "license: everyone who sees my face is now contractually obligated to think of me on my own terms", does that constitute an enforceable contract in your point of view? 

Except that is NOT the nature of the GPL, you have completely distorted it.   The GPL says _if_ and _only_ if, you wish to _distribute_ software based on this code, you must _also_ distribute_ the source for that code.  That is a perfectly valid voluntary agreement.  If you disagree, you are not granted to the right to _distribute_ said software, since it builds on the works of others.  If you don't want to use the works of others in this way, don't use this code as a base for your own code.  Simple and easy to either agree or not.  Yes, it depends on the IP laws for enforcement, that _why_ it was created... Duh.

If you disagree with IP laws in total, and don't wish to follow the GPL, which is quite simple to comply with, because you do _want_ to make changes and them NOT share them with those you provide that changed software to, and don't wish to be sued in the current system of things, then yes, use only BSD/PD stuff.

We disagree.  Nuff said.  GPL isn't evil, it's a way to subvert current IP law in a manner that forces things to stay _open_ and public.  Perhaps you disagree with open and public... write it yourself, leave the rest of us out of it, we know how to play nice with others and share our toys to make cooler things happen.

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No, I've said GPL used government funding, government force, threats of antitrust lawsuits, and a lot of FUD to bully programmers into GPL'ing their code, and their movement is still relatively unsuccessful. 

Funding: oh really?  Where?  My experience is the opposite - Government has been IP centric, Microsoft driven... only recently is that starting (and just) to change...
Force?  Beyond lawsuit trial/enforcement?  And funny enough, there have been almost no cases that went to trial... because it's obvious contract law.
Threats of antitrust?  To whom, Microsoft?
FUD: GPL doesn't do FUD, in my vast humble experience, it's the opposite, from all sorts of folks who don't understand it, including you, it seems.

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The change I make to a GPL program does not belong to its downstream contributors, that change belong to me, as does my body, my mind, my fingertips, my keyboard, and my computer!  I'm not "stealing" the downstream GPL code - it still remains remains open source.  I am only exercising my Natural Right to distribute my own work under my own terms, without initiating aggression against anyone!

Bzzt.  You can change the code to your hearts content... right up until you _distribute_ it... because you are NOT only distributing YOUR work (which you can license however you wish if you were the only one involved in writing it) but also the code of OTHERS, the shoulders you stood on, who made a choice to share it with you under the GPL, asking if you use their work, you keep it open and not lock it back up.  In other words, THEY EXERCISED THEIR NATURAL RIGHT TO DISTRIBUTE THEIR WORK UNDER THEIR TERMS, which you refuse to honor, but which you insist on having for yourself.  If you don't wish to honor their rights, then don't use their work...  

You clearly don't get it: It's not the use, it's not the additions, it's the base you _choose_ to use (and why? because it was good/right/worked/etc), which was offered to you with a simple contract tied to one (potential) future action: IF you choose to pass it (meaning the base _and_ your changes) on to others, you must pass it in the same spirit of openness given to you.  Don't want to share your changes?, don't... you don't have to.  But if you do want to share those changes, you have to share them as openly as you were given: source not binaries.  

If you can't see that's a voluntary transaction - participate or don't... you can always reinvent the wheel if you wish..., and the true core of a successful voluntaryist society (Simple tit for tat logic, google for it) , I feel sorry for you.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2009, 01:06:41 pm by Seth "Hagrid" Cohn »
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Alex Libman

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Re: Software Philosophy
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2009, 01:11:13 pm »

(I'm sorry, I was interrupted while typing my previous reply, so I posted what I had to make sure it was saved, and came back to finish it a few minutes later.  Please re-read.)


No, _my_ belief in intellectual property laws has NOTHING to do with the existence of Intellectual Property Laws.

Given their existence, the GPL is a method of fighting them by using them against themselves.

Once again, two wrongs don't make a right - you are legitimizing those unjust laws by using them in your favor!  If you can make a "license" text-file that somehow magically becomes enforceable as law, then people acting against your freedom can do that too!  Every program released as GPL is a tiny boost to RIAA, MPAA, CIA (i.e. keeping government secrets), and the rest of the thought-crime lobby; and every program released as public domain (or at least BSD, or even under explicit business contract terms that don't involve copyright law) is a small act of resistance against it!


Microsoft used BSD code in Windows...  [...]

Yes, and there's nothing wrong with that (except of course Microsoft's use of intellectual property laws, which I've already explained it could survive without).  Even a one-man startup can borrow PL/PD (permissively-licensed or public domain) code as easily as the largest corporation, and that is how Microsoft's best competition are operating, most notably Apple and Google but a lot of smaller companies as well.  You name a major software company, and I'll tell you which PL/PD code they've borrowed.

Copyleft actually helps Microsoft, because it keeps any of its would-be competitors from being able to establish a successful business model, while Microsoft itself can invest billions into R&D without the need to borrow ideas from anyone else!  Microsoft would probably have been reduced to 50% desktop market-share by now if it wasn't for GPL!

And note that the aforementioned BSD code borrowers did choose to give back to the PL/PD universe through projects like WebKit, Chromium, NaCl, Go, LLVM / Clang, libdispatch, etc, etc, etc.  Some of them also contribute to the various BSD foundations (F/O/N, cert, etc), Apache foundation, Xiph, PSF, and so on.  Those contributions truly were 100% voluntary, and they disprove the GPL gang's claim that open source software is impossible without the government.  Software freedom must come from free market competition and voluntaryism, not government force!
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