Subject: Re: The merger: a user's perspective
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 18 Nov 1999 13:32:45 -0500

   From: Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com>
   Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 13:27:11 -0500 (EST)

   Ian Lance Taylor writes:
    >    From: Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com>
    >    Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 13:12:10 -0500 (EST)
    > 
    >    Ian Lance Taylor writes:
    >     > There is a classic case of a lumber company which harvested their
    >     > forest more or less responsibly, and was then bought out on the
    >     > stock market by an organization which simply cut down the entire
    >     > forest and liquidated the company in order to get a fast good
    >     > return on their investment.
    > 
    >    Essentially you're arguing that the price for standing trees is wrong,
    >    without expressing a willingness to buy them at a higher price.
    >    Essentially that's the same as going to Linus and saying "Your kernel
    >    scheduler is all wrong.  You should implement the foobar algorithm
    >    that Chiang No Body wrote up in SPE." without actually being willing
    >    to take the time to implement the algorithm as a patch.
    > 
    >    The proper action upon discovering a bad algorithm, or a bad price, is
    >    to offer a better one.  Anything less deserves a quick hit on the
    >    delete button, nothing more.
    > 
    > This same argument can be used to support slavery.
    > 
    > I say that slavery is wrong, and that people should be free.  You say
    > that I'm arguing that the price for slaves is wrong, without
    > expressing a willingness to buy them at a higher price.  I should just
    > buy the slaves and free them myself.
    > 
    > What's the difference?

   None.  If you don't want code to be proprietary, you buy the rights to 
   it and free it, or else you write your own code.  Or did you expect to 
   be able to steal programs?  Or rewrite the laws so that code is no
   longer property?  That's fine, but our constitution has a law against
   that: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without 
   just compensation."

In the case of code, I agree.

I think there are more fundamental ethical issues in the case of
slavery, and in the case of the environment.  Were slaveowners
compensated at the end of the U.S. Civil War?

   If Microsoft is to be expected to open its code through force of law,
   then the law should be expected to pay for it.

(I'll just comment that in the Microsoft case, the government could
pay Microsoft for the code, and could also assess Microsoft a punitive
fine for their past violation of the law.  Which fee was greater would
be a subject for the courts to determine.  No unconstitutional action
here.)

Ian