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Stallman/Stanco: A Dialogue on Copyright Law and Free/Open Source Software (Part 9)
"A proprietary program is like a gang: it puts pressure on people andintimidates them."
July 13, 2000
This is the final day of an email dialogue with Richard Stallman on the philosophy of copyright that will be published over nine days on LinuxPlanet. This dialogue arose from comments that RMS was kind enough to give me on a two-part article on software licensing that appeared on LinuxProgramming recently. (Check out the articles at LinuxProgramming: Software Licenses and Traditional Copyright Law and Looking at the General Public License and Open-Source Licenses.)For those who are already getting bored with these emails, you should note that this series on copyright is only the beginning. There are others between Stallman and me on the formation of a company by free developers, of free developers, for a free world that will follow this series. The free company will be the vehicle for free developers world-wide to band together to defeat the closed-code, proprietary scourge that threatens to enslave the world. We should all see by now where closed code will take us with things like Carnivore, if we don't act soon.
Unfortunately, it will take over a month to publish all the emails and unveil the plan. Though some of the emails are boring, they are necessary, because proprietary must be stopped.
Day 9 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Subj: Re: licensing article Date: 6/11/00 From: RMS To: tony stanco [Stanco]: >What I should have said is that the majority of people are trying to do >the right or good thing. A minority (maybe even a very small minority) >are actively seeking to do bad, wrong or hurtful things. The problem, as >Plato pointed out, is that in not knowing what is really good, people >that are trying to do good actually end up doing harm. [Stallman]: The problem is more complicated than that. Sometimes doing the right thing brings a risk of personal harm (or people think it does). In such a situation, they may be scared to do the right thing. If the feeling in their consciences bothers them too much, they may convince themselves that the wrong thing is ok, so that their consciences shut up. This is one way that a social movement can make a difference: seeing other people doing the right thing will encourage people to do the right thing themselves. [Stanco]: >So I think you change society by educating people instead of forcing >them to accept what a "superior" person decrees is right or good for >them, without them understanding it. [Stallman]: No, this is not always true. Besides which, stopping people from dominating others is entirely legitimate. [Stallman]: >>Proprietary software is a scheme to divide and >>maltreat other people. It means doing wrong to others. We should >>not tolerate that. [Stanco]: >I agree, but should we use force/coercion (law or armies) or education? [Stallman]: Proprietary software is normally based on force of law and armies; there is no reason we should not use those against them, if we can. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>. Subj: Re: licensing article Date: 6/11/00 From: tony stanco To: RMS [Stallman]: >This is one way that a social movement can make a difference: seeing >other people doing the right thing will encourage people to do the >right thing themselves. [Stanco]: I agree and I think you have been a great example of the power of example. [Stallman]: >Proprietary software is normally based on force of law and armies; >there is no reason we should not use those against them, if we can. [Stanco]: We have an even stronger force: a moral argument. If we win their hearts, we won't need billy clubs. Also, we have a better economic argument, because we have a better business model than proprietary. I think we should start implementing it. I want to get back on that track. I really don't disagree with you on much. I think you can convince me of anything, even this copyright right. Give me some time to think about it some more. You have generally been years ahead of people on most things, and that may be the case with copyright, too. >>>>>>>>>>>>> Subj: Re: licensing article Date: 6/13/00 From: RMS To: tony stanco [Stallman]: >>Proprietary software is normally based on force of law and armies; >>there is no reason we should not use those against them, if we can. [Stanco]: >We have an even stronger force: a moral argument. If we win there hearts, >we won't need billy clubs. [Stallman]; This principle is not true, not in general. People often do things that they think are wrong, because they feel circumstances "leave them no choice". Of course, they do have other choices, but they find the other choices too horrible to contemplate. (For some people, not having an "office suite" is too horrible to contemplate.) A proprietary program is like a gang: it puts pressure on people and intimidates them. Even if people in their hearts dislike the gang and want to get free, they may not dare to oppose it. We need to be armed to block the gang from intimidating other people. >>>>>>>>>>>
The next email series goes back in time and was discussed before this series. It talks about how free software should to be armed to defeat proprietary.