Subject: Re: Fwd: Wall Street article on a new Cooperative
From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 12:13:59 +0200

On Wed, Apr 21, 2004 at 05:06:15PM +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> >>>>> "Bernard" == Bernard Lang <> writes:
>     > "Stephen J. Turnbull" <> wrote:
>     >> > Life's like that, ya know?  Much of the time the "problem"
>     >> > here is just that Individual A succumbed to the temptation to
>     >> > confuse his personal interest with "the public interest" just
>     >> > because everybody he hangs out with is like him.
>     Bernard> I find this offensive to the many people who work or vote
>     Bernard> against their own personal interest.
> Why?  Just because they act against their personal interest doesn't
> mean they are acting in any reasonable notion of the public interest
> ---there are groups smaller than "the public", not to mention
> altruistic motives other than promoting your group.  To take an
> extreme example: the suicide bomber.

That is missing my point.  These people may be mistaken.  But most of
then do make a distinction (right or wrong) between their own interest
and what tey believe to be public interest.
  But maybe I misunderstood your point.

>     Bernard> Public interest is hard to define because it involves
>     Bernard> lots of conflicting issues, which can be valued
>     Bernard> differenlty by different individuals ... etc ...
> Yup.  My point is precisely that "much of the time" the person in
> question *didn't* consider that, merely because he doesn't know
> anybody with a different opinion or who grew up in different
> circumstances from himself.  If I'm offending people who aren't
> thinking, who can't conceive of opinions differing from their own,
> *good*.  I'm *trying* to offend them.  You might not be willing to go
> that far, but you obviously don't approve of that kind of behavior
> either.

That is ok ... it does happen ... but I do not believe it is the
majority case, at least when people are truly concerned with public

> [I really think you should read what others write more carefully.]

You are probably right, and I am aware of it, and I try ... the point
is that it is not always so clear, at least for me. (different
language, culture and no training in economics).

> I also don't think this is off-topic for FSB.  The heart of "the FSB
> problem" is that almost all of us agree that free "as in freedom"
> software is in the public interest, and we want to promote it
> commercially as well as in our personal hobbies, even at the expense
> of ("purely" economic) efficiency, in the name of a more inclusive
> notion of efficiency, that includes empowering individuals and
> Green-ery and all the usual progressive causes.

I consider economic efficiency as a global thing, but it has to be
balanced with other - non-measurable - issues such as preservation of
basic freedom.  Or is that waht you said ?
  But this is a standard problem. Not specific to free software.

> If customers are regularly coming to us and says "I want you to
> develop some software, and I want you to license it under the GPL",
> what need for an FSB mailing list?  If that's the goal we have in mind
> in promoting free software, if we really are interested only in
> selling the economic benefits of free software, as rms has accused our
> host and the OSI, then rms is right: the OSI is just another trade
> association, with better moral standing than the RIAA and the SPA, but
> basically the same kind of purpose---promoting the interests of our
> industry.

I have this discussion all the time in France.  My usual position is
that it does not matter.  For 2 reasons:
  - you can only advance by telling people things they are prepared to
hear and understand.  Industry is not prepared yet to listen to FSF,
in any concrete way other than intellectual interest.  They can listen
to OSI.  And they are key to our goals.  Same goes for government.
(field experience)
  - things are what they are, independantly of the purpose we assign
to them, and of our own purposes.  I tend to believe that in the long
term, the only issue that will matter is the success or failure of
free software, and our thinking and culture will shape around that.

  Of course, I am often vilified for saying that.

> But once we develop a consensus about "what is the _public_ interest we
> aim to promote", then we can ethically lobby the government for direct
> (funding, mandating open source for certain govt purchases, etc) and
> indirect (legal framework) support for FLOSS.  We can attract the
> interest and support of other public interest groups.


> This is one of the fundamental problems in our community.  There is no
> consensus about what we're trying to promote.  That means that we
> often talk at cross-purposes about what a "FSB" should or shouldn't
> do, what government interventions are desirable, etc.  I think some of
> the differences are too fundamental to achieve consensus across the
> entire FLOSS community, but with better understanding of what we agree
> on and disagree on, we can form factions to promote controversial
> agenda, and broader alliances where there are common understanding of
> the public interest.

I have more the feeling that though we do not agree on why, we do
essentially agree on what
  up to the difference between licences ... (Copyleft or not)

And this list is mostly about how ?

An interesting point is that companies seem to prefer some form of
copyleft when they produce free software ... and more berkeley type
licences when others do  :-)



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