Subject: Re: open source definition
From: John Gilmore <>
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 15:49:20 -0700

I apologise for posting what you felt as a personal jab.  I'm trying
to break that old, destructive habit.

> My problem is that certain key parties in the free software community
> use the free software idea to bilk a large number of people into
> engaging in efforts whose value they do not comprehend.

Not sure what you're saying here.  That if people like Linus or Larry
Wall or Eric Allman had comprehended what value they were creating,
they would have done something different?  Maybe worked harder at it?

For me, when I'm aware that I have a lever that long, I do take more
care about what directions I shove the Earth in.  Sitting at the top
of the GDB distribution pipeline was a heady experience, but it also
involved taking a lot of responsibility.

Some of my employees haven't understood the value that their work was
creating.  If they had, they might have used that knowledge to start
their own company rather than work for me.  Was I bilking them by
paying them wages and benefits they found acceptable?  In a sense,
that's why good CEOs get paid so much -- their job *is* to understand
the value that the company creates, and if they do it well, the
company gets very good at creating value.  Is a good CEO bilking their
entire company by knowing more about that value than every other
employee?  Reductio ad absurdum.  By analogy, is Richard Stallman
bilking the world by knowing more about the global societal value of
free software than the average hacker?

> Worse, they
> have convinced a large body of people -- including yourself -- to
> proselytize the view that software should not be "property."  You of
> all people know this is the logical conclusion of the free software
> position.

You must be confusing me with Richard.  He and I are fellow travelers
down the free software road, but we part company right about there.
My stance is that if I write software, I own it.  I make my software
freely available because I want to, not because I have to.  I think it
benefits me to do so.  Others who disagree are free to do something

There's a separate issue of how well copyrights can actually work in
the 21st or 22nd century world, and if they won't work, what economic
model to replace them with.  But if you attribute *that* to me, you'd
be confusing me with a couple of other friends, John Perry Barlow
and Esther Dyson.