Subject: Re: Unexercisable rights
From: Jean Camp <Jean_Camp@harvard.edu>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 14:22:13 -0400

>>>>>> "Brock" == R Brock Lynn <brock@cyberdude.com> writes:
>
>    Brock> But then, what would be the point of the libre software
>    Brock> license in the first place?  Wouldn't some kind of
>    Brock> creative, "only a select few licensees can exchange code
>    Brock> among themselves" be in order in this instance, instead of
>    Brock> a libre software license?
>
It would have some of the advantages of free software.  Insurance, to
mitigate the risk that the  software supplier goes out of business. And
unforeseen problems, for example if the human practice of storing dates as
MM/DD/YY were to create a problem a year hence -- it would be far easier if
the source were owned by the users. And if it is software that runs only,
for example, on legacy systems, then the users would be harming only
themselves by keeping it under wraps but it might make them feel
irrationally more secure.  Yet businesses constantly do things which are
sub-optimal, esp in the long term.

I think we all agree  that some of the value is lost when the set of those
with the access to the source  is limited. I think the distinction is
"Where?".  How much can source be controlled with there still being some
measure of 'free' in the code?

What is very interesting to me is that I see a resemblence between the idea
that you cannot make money with free software & the MPAA's assertion that
the VCR will drive them out of business. As I think of the comparisons I
believe one thing which RedHat is selling is time, as well as protection
from worst-case risks. Certainly you could search for the software. You
would want to check the validity of the software.   So presumably you would
download it from two places and compare to ensure that what is downloaded
is reliable and trustworthy. Free stuff is not free to download. It takes
time - and if the Grateful Dead MP3's are any representation of a free
bitstream then the ftp servers that are easy to find are swamped.  It takes
multiple visits.  If the packaged software is cheap and the server is
always reliably up if you save an hour you have gotten back more than you
would have spent getting a substitute.  As for the idea that you should
examine the code anyway --you're right.  But I doubt we will as individuals
or a society give up trusting various entitites for irrational reasons.

If you argue that everyone knows where to find trustworthy source  then you
should have more respect for the skills of navigation which you have
earned, and not assume that everyone else has such skills.

-Jean