Subject: Re: Opportunity lost? Challenge declined!? (LONG. COMPREHENSIVE)
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2001 13:03:58 +0900

>>>>> "Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com> writes:

    Ian> I think most people agree that everybody should have the
    Ian> right to keep their work proprietary.  It's possible that RMS
    Ian> in his wilder moments has argued against this.

Wrong.  :-)  When RMS is at his calmest and most thoughtful, and
expects his conversation partner to be similarly cool and rational --
that's when he comes out and point-blank asserts that there _is no
property right_ in intellectual assets.  Following (IIRC) Proudhon,
IP, including the copyright that makes the GPL possible, is theft.

    Ian> Again, I don't think anybody is seriously arguing for an all
    Ian> free software world that is not the result of the consumer's
    Ian> decision.

But this is precisely what the GPL is for.  To prevent consumers, as
much as possible, from choosing non-free software.  In their own
long-term and non-material interest, of course.  The LGPL sufficiently
protects the developer's rights in his own creation.  The GPL adds an
attempt to persuade other developers to adopt the GPL, regardless of
any choice by consumers.

    Ian> But, that said, I believe the proper way to consider an all
    Ian> free software world is to ask about the benefits to society
    Ian> as a whole.

RMS does too.  But he, like Rawls, is interested in "primary goods,"
in particular, freedom.  He is not interested in whether people live
materially more comfortable lives in freedom or in slavery, and no
amount of material wealth can compensate for slavery.  That's his
analogy, and maybe it's more than an analogy to him.

RMS is not "merely" extreme.  His worldview is radically different.
He does not compute at the margin, as economists do.

As people who have been on this list for a long time are aware, I
strongly disagree with RMS's positions on these matters.  But I
respect them and feel that they should be recognized for what they are
and carefully studied.

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