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Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

Alexandre Oliva 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.

Copyright law exists to encourage creation of works and competition among them. There is nothing wrong with that concept, although the original short protected life followed by passage to public domain seems much more in the public interest than the current incarnation.

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?

Monopolies can only arise when there is something artificially making competition difficult or impossible. The relevant example would be OSX, now doing a reasonable job of competing with Microsoft even though they only used *bsd components in the base OS. Imagine how much harder it would be for MS to maintain their monopoly position if competitors were allowed to use components from Linux in commercial offerings, greatly lowering the bar to building usable alternatives that could include licensed copies of all other needed components.

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?"

You are confusing the value/moral judgement of the thing itself with a delivery mechanism. The thing being delivered could be food just as easily as poison in your example above, or lifejackets instead of bullets.

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.

Like the way 'free' is redefined to mean restricted by the GPL?

If it's just misguided, then it might
still be fixable.

What's misguided is your conviction that there is a moral value in the delivery channel at all. The value can only be defined by the recipient and the effect of the content.

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.

And yet, you make no requirement that has anything to do with the content. That is, you are apparently perfectly willing to distribute broken or misleading content that will do much more harm than something that just works without requiring any other information. And you are making an uncalled-for value judgment in calling others foolish who may in fact have made the correct choices for their own situations.

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? :-)

The harm from cigarettes is due to the nature of the product, not the distribution. The product in question could as easily be milk.

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.

Agreed - it is a bad analogy. But so is freedom in terms of restrictions on software.

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.

Which is why I think they are entirely misguided. Reusing and recombining prior work is the basis of all knowledge and progress and any restrictions to inhibit that are harmful. And 'free' isn't so much the point as 'affordable'. In a practical sense, there's not much point in separating hardware and software since they must work together for any result. The total cost of the combined hardware and software balanced against the functionality of the combination is what matters.

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.

But it does. You can't add your own work to a GPL'd part to make it link against a commercial library with no GPL'd equivalent, and redistribute that work of your own.

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.

I don't accept that the copyright holders of the other works necessarily make unethical impositions. They might, but whether they do or not is unrelated to their right to make them. On the other hand, the imposition that the GPL makes is clearly unethical even if having copyright provide the legal right to make that imposition.

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.

There's no guarantee, but I'm convinced that the restrictions in the GPL that prevent reuse in competitive works have made more money for Microsoft than anything Steve Balmer ever did.

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?

It isn't that monopolies are inherently a problem - there are many cases where having a single standard instance of something is a benefit - it is that they have the power to become a problem by creating artificial shortages or unreasonable prices. And the way to prevent those problems is not to try to keep them out of distribution channels, since that will just force everyone to avoid your distribution channel and go elsewhere. The way to prevent problems is to lower the bar to building competing alternatives that leave the choices up to the recipients.

   Les Mikesell
   lesmikesell gmail com

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