[nSLUG] On topic of favorite distros, and Linux on the Desktop

Jeff Warnica jeffw at chebucto.ns.ca
Mon Mar 8 01:35:24 AST 2004

On Mon, 2004-03-08 at 00:08, bdavidso at supercity.ns.ca wrote:
> Hi:
> On Sun, 7 Mar 2004, Jeff Warnica wrote:
> former.  They had plenty of choice, nothing was forced on them.  That's
> like saying the GPL takes away one's "freedom" to steal code.  But you
> never had that "freedom" to begin with, so it takes away nothing.

If Readline was placed under a BSD style license, or in the public
domain, then you would have the right to "steal" the code.

> Some person or people wrote some very useful code, packaged it up as a
> library, and gave you the freedom to use it under very generous terms.
> Because they didn't give it to you holus-bolus and let you pretend it is
> yours, you want to say they took something from you.  But what you say
> they took away was something you never had, whereas they actually gave you
> something.

It is worth pointing out that various IP rights are, historically
speaking, contrived and artificial. The US declaration of independence,
and constitution (which is both historically relevant as being very
early legal documents that influenced everything since, and as being the
basis for the laws where most of this stuff will be fought) speak of
some rights being "self evident". IP rights are not.

If you believe it to be because of a "social contract" or because of a
burning bush, humans, for example, have the fundamental, and self
evident, right not to be murdered. The right of ownership of ideas is
not such a self evident right. The right of ownership is granted under
law, which has the direct result of making reusing ideas illegal.

The authors of Readline only needed to grant me rights because I, as a
member of society, granted them rights to restrict its use.

If there was no law, I would have the right to use Readline as much as I
wanted. The right to use it is taken away from me in order to grant the
author the right of ownership. The authors of Readline do not get the
right to restrict its use by default. They get that right from law. 

The GPL returns many rights restricted by law. But not all of them.

Public domain basically removes all the law-granted restrictions.

This is not a condemnation of the GPL, or of authors who choose to use
it. Fill your boots. My point is that had RMS wanted to produce free
software then he doesn't need the GPL. Compared to other choices, the
GPL is not as free as it could be.

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