Subject: Re: Successful FSBs
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 20:34:09 +0900

>>>>> "Lynn" == Lynn Winebarger <owinebar@free-expression.org> writes:

    Lynn> There's nothing in the GPL that irrevocably binds a "user"
    Lynn> to it.

Which argument holds for all of M$'s practices that I know of.  But I
said that already.

    Lynn> Why is it the biggest proponents of free markets always seem
    Lynn> to be the first to cry about having to take responsibility
    Lynn> for the choices they make

Who's crying?  _I_ am not a professional software developer, not even
(yet) a wannabe.  I lose nothing from accepting any free license, be
it viral or permissive.  I don't even own the copyright to my work on
XEmacs; I've assigned it to the FSF, and have never regretted that.

I'm simply pointing out that all restrictive licenses, whether free by
the definitions of RMS or the OSI, or proprietary, appeal to the
coercive power of the government.  And that RMS and the FSF do in fact
behave in _predatory_ ways, taking advantage of the large corpus of
GNU software to advance an agenda that (AFAICT) only a minority of
free software advocates actually support in full.

Why point this out?  Because I for one oppose parts of the radical
agenda, and therefore refuse to concede the moral high ground to the
radicals where they haven't earned it.

    Lynn> (in these licensing arguments, at least)?

It's not about licenses per se.  It's about the market power of the
FSF, which deliberately has reserved that market power through its
licensing policies, and unceasingly seeks to expand it through means
which are in no way limited to persuading other developers of the
correctness of FSF policies.  Those means include the use of IP as a
club[1].

Rich says "[I'm not in one of the markets where they have a lot of
power, so] I can't be `coerced'."  I respond, "I _am_ in a market
where the FSF has Microsoft levels of market power, and my choices are
visibly constrained."  Compared to Microsoft, of course overall it's
much smaller, and as Rich Bodo reminds us the size of the GNU Project
is a large overestimate of FSF market share.  _But_ RMS's goal is to
have power over _all_ software: he wants to require all software to be
free forever.  Every decision he makes is referred to the ultimate
goal of "monopolization" of software in that sense.

We liberals[2] hate monopolization, period.  However, we probably hate
RMS-style "monopolization for our own good" even more than we hate
MS-style monopolization "for MS's profit."  :-)


Footnotes: 
[1]  The Aladdin Ghostscript/GNU readline case.  Peter Deutsch said
that Brian Fox, the _author_ of readline, disagreed with RMS.

[2]  Our host has declared war on the misuse of this word, so I'm
going to use it properly without apology or definition.

-- 
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
 My nostalgia for Icon makes me forget about any of the bad things.  I don't
have much nostalgia for Perl, so its faults I remember.  Scott Gilbert c.l.py