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Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Jun 16, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell gmail com> wrote:

> Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> (although Red Hat seems to ignore this
> part and attach contract restrictions to what they distribute anyway).

Conclusion: you misunderstand both the GPL (as you already proved
before) and the Red Hat service agreements.

> There are patented components that people need

Nothing in the GPL prevents them from getting them.  If someone can't
distribute software under the GPL that implements patents, that's
because the patent holder didn't permit the software to be distributed
under the GPL, not because the GPL didn't permit the work to be
distributed under the GPL.

> and components where
> the best implementation is under someone else's copyright.

Nothing in the GPL prevents anyone from distributing software under
anyone else's copyrights.  It's copyright law or third-party-imposed
restrictions that do.

> I've explained that the GPL prevents me from sharing original work
> that links to both GPL and non-GPL libraries.

And I've explained that it doesn't, and asked you to cite the passage
of the GPL that prevents you from doing it.  You haven't bothered to
do it, and instead decided to keep insisting in this nonsensical
claim.  Please stop spreading lies.  We're past the point in which you
could claim ignorance as to this point.

> You are deliberately avoiding the point that there is proprietary
> software which is worth what it costs and where the money paid for it
> goes toward improvements.

I don't dispute that it costs money to farm tobacco, manufacture
cigarettes and transport them to points of sale.  This doesn't change
the fact that smoking is bad for the smoker's health, and for those in
the vicinity.  I don't see that the points are even related.  It's
just as irrelevant as whether slavery-based businesses are more or
less profitable.  This is a matter of ethics and morals, not

>> Now, when you accept a license that deprives you from any of the four
>> essential freedoms, this harms you *and* everyone around.  You're
>> shooting your own foot, but the shrapnel hurts others.

> No, you are just making this up.  Show that it is true for every piece
> of software or admit it is an overgeneralization.
    ^ non-Free


>>>> See?  If my conviction you disputed above is wrong, then the person
>>>> who decides to distribute cigarettes to the kids instead of milk would
>>>> be behaving in accordance with moral and ethics.

>>> Your reasoning requires you to know that cigarettes are harmful and
>>> there is a body of evidence for that,

>> Exactly!  So, you now see that your claim that the delivery channel
>> that makes a decision as to what to deliver is amoral didn't resist
>> scrutiny.  Good.

> No, I'm saying you have jumped to unwarranted conclusions.

There are two different points here.

1. whether or not the distribution channel can be morally responsible
for what's being distributed in the channel.  You've admitted that,
when there is a body of evidence that shows that a product is harmful,
then the distribution channel that chooses to distribute that product
is indeed in moral fault

2. whether or not non-Free Software is harmful

I claimed you agreed to 1.  You dispute this claim by disputing 2.
This isn't logically sound.

>> But there is a body of evidence that software that is not Free is
>> harmful.  I wouldn't think this is a place where people would dispute
>> this, even if they fail to resist such software themselves.

> I dispute it, and would go so far as to say most free software has
> copied much of its design from commercial/proprietary work (generally
> a good thing!),

Most definitely a good thing, for it enables people who are emprisoned
by the non-Free work to unchain themselves.

> and quite a lot was actually originally developed to
> be proprietary work and later had the free license applied.

Reasonable people will eventually come to their senses, especially if
they place "doing good" over "making profit".  And that's a much
simpler fix than having to rewrite it all.

> I'd say that without the proprietary works, free software would
> barely exist and would have much less chance of future development.

You may be basing these guesses on recent past history.  But turns out
it's false both for early computing history and for recent computing
history.  A lot of the non-Free Software industry these days is
holding up to their Improper Privileges and using that to stop
advances in Free and non-Free competitors.  And still we're gaining

> Can you play Netflix online content?

No idea.  What's Netflix?  Is it available in Brazil?  Why wouldn't I
be able to play its content, does it use any secret formats that were
not reverse engineered into Free Software implementations?
(regardless of patents, most of the patents that cover file formats
apply only in a few countries, so the software that implements them is
Free Software)

> Do you have the optimal video drivers for all available hardware?

I'm happy enough with what I have, but there are times when I wish I
wasn't denied the information that would have enabled me to use the
video hardware better.

> Will your wireless work with all available hardware?

I don't see any reason why this USB stick wouldn't work on any
USB-capable computer running the corresponding 100% Free Software

> Can you play dvds with what was included?

I installed Free Software programs to do that.  I wish Fedora could
ship them, but unfortunately the US laws are unjust and Fedora decides
not to accept the risk of distributing them.  If I were to switch from
Fedora to say BLAG, I'd have these programs right out of the box.

>> And then, it's not like I'd drive people to the monster.

> Ummm, where do you expect them to go?

Away from the monster, evidently.


>> My personal choice is just a small drop in the ocean.  The
>> moral imperative for me to promote the idea of freedom for all
>> software users goes far beyond whatever individualism you might be
>> trying to imply here.

> Are you sure you only think this about software - or is this a general
> political statement?

It is certainly more general, but I'm working on an area I happened to
become competent on, which might presumably make me more effective in
promoting these ideas.

>> Show me one piece of proprietary software, and you'll have a piece of
>> software that doesn't work perfectly for all its users, and that at
>> least some users would like to be able to improve and/or fix it.

> How is this morally different from hardware?

It isn't, once someone finds a way that enables anyone to copy
hardware (with or without modifications) at nearly-zero cost.  Denying
information that would enable someone to do so is just as unethical in
one case as in the other.

> I have at least as many problems with hardware but I don't demand
> that the hardware vendors give me a factory.

Respecting your freedom doesn't mean driving you around to wherever
you like, it's about not putting chains and roadblocks to stop you
from getting to some places you might want to go.

> I've had an equal amount of trouble with free software and having
> source has not meant that I could fix it.

You could still hire someone to do so.  You had the choice to do that
or live with what you had.  With non-Free Software, someone else makes
that decision for you.  That's the difference.

>>> I don't have any different feelings about trusting a company to build
>>> hardware than to supply software.

>> Me neither, actually.

> But there's not a moral difference, nor a more or less evil intent in
> using the same terms.


>> Who's stopping you from distributing the code?  I take it you think
>> it's the GPL, but it's not.  Look for anything in the GPL that tells
>> you you can't do that. 

> It says I can't do that.


> I can't put it under the GPL if it uses any other components.

And why can't you do that?

> Yes, nothing wrong with that.


And still, that's what prevents you from distributing the work you
wanted to distribute, and you complain about it and decide it's GPL's
fault for not bending over to respect your freedom more than others'.
You seem to forget then one's freedom to move their hands ends as it
approaches someone else's nose.  Freedom is not about being able to do
whatever you like.  When you disrespect others' freedom, you're no
longer operating within your own freedom, you're using power to impose
your choices upon others.

> Because those others don't prohibit combinations.

Still, they aren't enough permission for you to distribute the work
the way you want.  Why do you focus your frustration on the GPL?

> The point of getting a proprietary library is to be able to link
> other code with it.

Why do you limit yourself to libraries that are part of development
packages?  Most of the non-Free libraries out there are not
distributed for purposes of development, they're just DLLs for sharing
of code among multiple programs.

> It is only the GPL restriction that harmfully prohibits combining
> differently licensed code, taking away the freedom of the recipient
> to choose if terms of those other licenses are acceptable or not.

Repeating it won't make it true.  Please quote the portion of the GPL
that establishes this prohibition.

>>> Likewise, I don't consider all commercial/proprietary distributions
>>> to be unethical. Some provide good value for their terms.

>> Slavery was also profitable to the slave owners and advantageous to
>> those who purchased products at lower prices.

> So is normal employment - bad analogy.

Do you consider normal employment unethical?  I don't.  But I hope we
both agree that slavery is.  So, here's agreement that the same end
result may be achievable in both ethical and unethical means.  Thus,
there's moral responsibility in that who makes the decision between
behaving ethically or not.

> Which is why applying the GPL is unethical.

Once you realize that your frustration is misdirected, we'll both
agree that current copyright law is unjust, and those who pushed it
into becoming so unjust behaved unethically and immorally.

>>> So how does that work in the case of something like a blu-ray player?
>> Don't even get me started on DRM :-)

> You can't avoid it.

Actually, I can, because I'm lucky to live in a country in which
copyright laws aren't so messed up.

> I'd even say it has a place given that everyone
> involved knows that it devalues the product when applied.

Again, respecting one's freedom to shoot one's own foot doesn't
involve enabling one to force others to get hurt with the shrapnel.

> Without it, you'd have a hard time making a business model out of
> streaming content or low priced subscription/rental access to
> content with a restricted time to live.

You're again mixing up ethics with economics.  That a viable business
model requires acting unethically doesn't make it any more acceptable
or justifiable.  It just makes it an unethical business, until someone
devises a viable and ethical way to make money with it.

> As a consumer I want those options, although I don't want any usage
> restrictions on anything sold to me in the guise of a product.

Like, "I want farmers to have the option of buying slaves, although I
don't want to buy products manufactured with the participation of

> If by conspiracy you mean legal/licensed terms for intellectual
> property, that is correct whether we like it or not.

Don't get me started with showing that Intellectual Property is BS to
get people to confuse copyrights, trademarks and patents as if they
had anything to do with each other, and as if there was any
resemblance between things you can only share by dividing and things
you can share by multiplying.  That's just part of the same conspiracy
that is trying to impose DRM on us.

> The choice is to participate according to the law and licensing terms
> (which may be acceptable) or not.  If free software divisively
> prevents participation, users will only have the choice of staying
> with the monopoly.

That who prevents participation is that who imposes the restrictions
that keep people divided and helpless, and keep them from sharing and
building upon existing knowledge and contributing to the common good.

Free Software is the exact opposite of this.  Users have the choice of
enslaving themselves to the monopoly, or starting their own, rather
than joining our community, for sure, even if it's a poor choice.  But
they don't always get to use our code for that, because of the very
laws that their selfish anti-social mindframe created.  Cool, eh? :-)

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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