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Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Jun 14, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell gmail com> wrote:

> If you respect others you allow them to make their own choices instead
> of taking them away.

Then take it up to the legislators that came up with copyright law.
Once they fix their act (so to speak) then it will be clear that what
you perceive as restrictions from the GPL are actually restrictions
from copyright law.

> Aggressors counter each other through competition.

And the strongest prevails and can then form a monopoly that achieves
the largest possible number of victims.  Good outcome?

I'd rather victims got together and demanded the aggressions to stop,
rather than having the aggressors compete to see who's the most

>> Failure to resist violence does encourage the aggressor to keep on its
>> act, but being overpowered is not the victim's fault.

> You aren't a victim when you make your own choices.

Heh.  It's not that simple, really.

"Your wallet or your life."

"Rape or murder?"

"Poison or bullet?"

> there is no reason to assume that the source is correct or contains
> anything useful.  Perhaps all the comments are misleading or it
> doesn't even work.

If it's intentionally misleading, this would just make it yet another
case of unethical behavior.  If it's just misguided, then it might
still be fixable.

> Do you assume a moral imperative for everyone to always share all
> information that they have?

No.  It's far more limited than that.  It's more along the lines of
keeping information secret to excise control over what was given or
sold to others, to thereby excise control over others who were foolish
enough to trust the offender and accept the gift or make the purchase.

> how does distributing a binary trigger this requirement in your
> mind?

It doesn't, as long as information and permissions necessary to enjoy
the four freedoms is provided.

> From my perspective it seems better to distribute working binaries
> than nothing

It's better to give cigarettes to kids at school than to leave them
without anything to put in their mouths at lunch time? :-)

>> Although slavery deprives
>> people of more fundamental freedoms, dependency on technology nowadays
>> is growing the importance of the not-so-fundamental human rights that
>> amount to the 4 essential freedoms of the Free Software definition.

> Slavery is taking away choices.  So is distributing software that has
> choice-limiting restrictions.

Slavery actually goes beyond that, it's taking away all choices.
That's what makes it far more unacceptable than deprivation of
software freedoms.

However, not being able to adapt the software to one's own needs (just
to cite one part of one of the four freedoms) is always
choice-limiting, no matter how general the software is.  So, per your
definition, it would be slavery.  I don't mind if you want to see it
that way, although I perceive a difference in degree of wrongness.

> Yes, but the freedom I want is the freedom to combine components
> without restrictions.

That's not any of the four essential freedoms.

If the components are indeed separate independent works, copyright law
won't get in your way given the permissions granted by the GPL, at
least as far as the GPLed components are concerned.

If the components are not separate independent works, then the GPL
still won't prohibit you from combining the works.  You have
permission to combine them.  What you can't do is to distribute the
combination in a way that imposes further restrictions on the
recipients' exercise of the four freedoms over the complete work you
distributed.  So, if you can't combine a GPLed work with another work
that disrespects users' freedoms, take it up with the copyright
holders of the other work and tell them to respect your freedoms and
those you'd like to share the combination with.

Unless you want to accept the unethical impositions from the copyright
holders of the other work, and help them impose them on others (along
with or separately from the GPLed work you'd like to combine with it),
that's what you should do anyway.

> The playing field would level itself if there were less restrictions
> on being able to recombine components for any purpose.

I'm no so sure about that.  Power attracts more power, and imposing
restrictions is a matter of power.  Even if copyright law didn't
exist, those willing to dictate terms on how their creative works
could be used would still come up with other artifices to impose and
enforce their wish.

Contracts, for example, could take care of prohibiting a receiving
party from passing on a work, even in the absence of copyright.  Of
course, once someone broke the contract and passed it on, the
Pandora's box would be open, but the distributing party would still be
held liable for the leak.

And then, refraining from distributing source code could work quite
well for the purpose of imposing and enforcing one's wish over what
the software does, and it's mostly irrelevant as far as copyright law
is concerned.  But then, I don't quite see that publishing sourceless
binaries fulfills the copyright bargain with society, for even when
the work goes into the public domain (i.e., when the copyright holders
pay back to society for the monopoly granted over their creation), it
would still be mostly impossible for society to create derivative
works.  So why grant the monopoly in the first place?

Alexandre Oliva         http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
Free Software Evangelist  oliva {lsd ic unicamp br, gnu.org}
FSFLA Board Member       ¡Sé Libre! => http://www.fsfla.org/
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva {redhat com, gcc.gnu.org}

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