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

Mike mspencer at tallships.ca
Mon Mar 8 03:48:13 AST 2004

Jeff wrote:

> 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.

The Declaration, actually:

   We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
   equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
   Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of

The declaration of Independence was hijacked by the Federalists, the
basis of whose thinking was property and the notion that property was
self-evidently an inalienable right conveyed by the Creator, a right
that trumped nearly all others.

The Constitution provides:

   The Congress shall have Power....

   To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for
   limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their
   respective Writings and Discoveries;

The authors of these documents neither envisioned nor anticipated the
rise of corporate power, wealth and personhood.  While present-day
arguments about IP rights typically take as subjects natural persons
-- the individual programmer, author, inventor, designer, composer or
whatever -- the contemporary legislation and case law are of, by and
for trans-national corporations with little or no interest in "the
Progress of Science and useful Arts" except as an enhancer of
executive and shareholder value.

Free product is a poke in the eye for product for sale.  The vendors
of product for sale will do anything within their power to devalue,
eliminate or co-opt free product.  Given the very considerable power
and financial assets of major software corporations, the chief purpose
of the GPL, IMHO, is to put a stick in the spokes of corporate
co-optation, control and hostility.  Insofar as it does that, I don't
feel the need to quibble over the details.

- Mike

Michael Spencer                  Nova Scotia, Canada       .~. 
mspencer at tallships.ca                                     /( )\
http://home.tallships.ca/mspencer/                        ^^-^^


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