Subject: Re: Successful FSBs
From: Lynn Winebarger <owinebar@free-expression.org>
Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2002 19:38:22 -0500

On Saturday 28 September 2002 06:34, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> >>>>> "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.

      Since I don't know what the contracts are for people whom M$ actually
allows to use their [M$'s] proprietary code in other software products, I can't 
say whether it holds for their practice or not.  Certainly they have attempted
to lock people in by holding their data hostage.  I don't see this improving with
the impending Palladium.
     I see no such attempt at locking-in in the GPL.  If the code you combine
with a GPL'ed work can be reasonably extracted, the extracted part can
be distributed however you like.  It's only the derivative work that is "infected".

> 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.
   This is ridiculous.  I could say the same thing about the use of paper
money, the construction of roads, or the fact that contracts aren't
practically meaningless exchanges of words and/or paper.  What part
of life in the company of other humans doesn't have some dependence
on the existence of social order?

>  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.

    If you're referring here to the enforcing the GPL on libraries, I disagree.
If someone does not want to use the GPL on their work, they should
refrain from deriving it from GPL'ed works.  And, yes, I think the creation
of the interface to readline itself makes the work derivative of readline. [1]
What's predatory is that someone would believe they found a loophole
allowing them to evade their obligations.  If they did not wish to take
on the obligations, they didn't have to use someone else's work in the
first place.

> 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.
      And I refuse to cede the moral high ground to those who think
we should live in a jungle of any form.  

> 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].
      You'll have to explain further how this is "market power" for the FSF
(and no one else has the same, modulo the right of the FSF to use
a non-free license (which I think highly unlikely)), and why these 
developers don't have  a choice (presumably the same choice as the 
people who originally  wrote the GNU software).

> 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." 
        I refuse to accept that characterization (assuming you're talking about
Xemacs).   If you find the GPL onerous, you can and should write your
own version.  Or find something else you'd like to do with your time. 
If it's really just technical decisions (with no legal issues involved), then you
can always fork.

> 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.

   You have a funny notion of "monopolization".  I don't believe RMS
wants power over all software.  Copyright is a completely artificial
construct.  Nobody has any inherent right to play with different 
licensing models.  Quite the opposite.  Any restriction on our fundamental
right to copy what we see should be on the terms of the people as a whole,
not on the terms of those who would restrict our rights merely to serve 
their business model.   If you can't make money within the terms set by
(a properly balanced) copyright, you should take your ball and go home.
I for one don't need your invention/work that badly.  If there are people
who do, you can sit down negotiate a private agreement with them.
Just don't try to take advantage of selling on the public market. 

> 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."  :-)

   The problem is that it isn't for "your own good", it's for the good of human
society as a whole.  Two different things.
    But there is no monopolization of course.

> Footnotes: 
> [1]  The Aladdin Ghostscript/GNU readline case.  Peter Deutsch said
> that Brian Fox, the _author_ of readline, disagreed with RMS.
     As I understand it, the FSF's copyright assignment form gives the
original author complete rights to distribute his/her code under other
licenses.  Unless readline was a work-product while employed by
the FSF,  Brian Fox should then be able to donate a version of readline
with an exception clause to Aladdin.  (I could be wrong about the assignment
form, or the particular form Brian might have signed). 

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

     As long as it's not an attempt to exclude those freedom loving 
individuals who recognize that living in a society comes responsibilities,
and it's not their right to decide what those responsibilities are.  It's
the price of the convenience of not living in a real jungle (or other
place untamed by man).

Lynn
[1]   For that matter, I don't think taking a single work and merely
splitting it into pieces that run in a distributed manner constitutes
the creation of 2 separate works, either.