Subject: Re: "On Virus" -- get real
From: Richard Stallman <>
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 02:26:32 -0600 (MDT)

	sjt>     Hereditary fails the hierarchy test; heredity is
	sjt> hierarchical, software reuse is not.

	rms> Heredity is not hierarchical in species that reproduce
	rms> sexually.

    For a single characteristic, introduced as a specific mutation, the
    graph of individuals containing that mutation is (nearly) a rooted

That is one way of looking at heredity, but not the only one.  (I was
referring to another.)  To justify your conclusion, you would need to
show that this usage is strongly at odds with all the natural ways.

	rms> Nor in object-oriented programming systems with multiple
	rms> parents.

    It's a DAG, although all the interesting issues involve DAGs that
    aren't trees.

The graph of copying between program versions is a DAG too,
unless you do time travel.

	rms> But suppose for the moment that we call it a public good,
	rms> there is nothing wrong with imposing some conditions on its
	rms> use, for the sake of the community.  There are binding
	rms> conditions on the use of other public goods, such as parks
	rms> and roads, and that is a good thing.

    The point is not whether they are good or not, it is whether I
    participated in specifying them or not.

Many public goods have conditions you had no role in specifying.  You
had no role in approving the conditions for using the Cambridge Common
(though you can use it if you visit Cambridge).  And that is just
considering public goods in the strict sense, which are public
property.  Many public places that you could use freely in certain ways
are private property.  The precise definition of "public good"
is crucial to the argument you're making; if that definition does
not exactly fit, there's nothing more to say.