Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 30 May 1999 22:00:11 -0400

   Date: Sun, 30 May 1999 18:27:56 -0700
   From: "Tim O'Reilly" <tim@oreilly.com>

   Heck, the reason I get somewhat irked by "true religion" about
   licenses is that we have all received so much damn benefit from
   commercial activity under *every* kind of license (including
   proprietary licenses) that I think it's somewhat disingenuous to
   argue exclusively for completely free software!

When I read this, it sounds like the same argument as ``we have all
received so much damn benefit from commercial activity under all
levels of environmental regulations (including no regulations at all)
that I think it's somewhat disingenuous to argue exclusively for
strict environment regulation!''  (Believe me, there are a lot of
people who make just that argument; perhaps even some on this list.
Yet it completely misses the point of most arguments supporting strict
environment regulation.)

I too am dubious of arguments that the GPL, or the BSD license, or the
Microsoft end user licence agreement, is clearly better due to claimed
benefits to society.

However, let's not let that argument lead us into believing that the
benefits are all that matters.  The drawbacks matter too.

For example, the GNU Manifesto weighs the drawbacks in a different
scale from the benefits (note the use of phrases like ``the golden
rule'' and ``dishonor'').  You can't argue against it by simply
pointing to the benefits or lack thereof.  If you expect to convince
its adherents, you have to show why its weighting is wrong.

I expect this is at the root of many of these sorts of religious wars,
and in particular why people talk past each other so often: people
weigh things differently.  There is no globally shared morality, not
even within the relatively small hacker community.

Ian