Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 16:26:44 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "rms" == Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> writes:

    rms> By contrast, you are making a model based on certain
    rms> assumptions, one of them being a moral position that I
    rms> disagree with.  I am saying that that this could have bad
    rms> effects.

If the "moral position" to which you refer is the existence of
property rights in intellectual assets, it is going to be a parameter, 
not an assumption, in the model.

Sensitivity analysis with respect to that parameter is one of my
primary objectives.  Although quantification of the value of the loss
of freedom is difficult and controversial, fortunately it is
unnecessary for practical purposes.

What I plan to do, at least for the first approximation, is to present
your argument about domination, concisely but faithfully.  Then allow
my readers to draw their own conclusions about the tradeoff between
the loss of freedom you claim would occur, and the estimated economic
benefits (assuming they are net benefits; I suspect, but do not know,
they are positive) from creating varying degrees of property in
intellectual assets.

Thus, sensitivity analysis with respect to non-nil values of that
parameter is _not_ fundamentally a moral assumption; it is a
verifiable fact that property rights have been created and are
enforced in the advanced economies, and I am "merely" making that
observation.

As you may recall, the Pope considered that Galileo's observations had
moral implications, not least because Galileo had the temerity to
explicitly associate them with the Copernican theory.  The Pope argued 
that whatever the scientific merit of Galileo's studies, it would tend 
to undermine the faith of the general populace, who did not understand 
the limits of applicability of science.  This is precisely your
argument, AFAICT.

Fortunately Galileo's genius (it was generous of you not to mention
that) and the Pope's use of force are facts entirely extraneous to the
use I have for this analogy.

-- 
University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
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What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."