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Stallman/Stanco: A Dialogue on Copyright Law and Free/Open Source Software (Part 8)

"Proprietary software is a scheme to divide and maltreat other people"

  • July 24, 2000
  • By Tony Stanco

This is the eighth 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 8

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Subj:   Re: licensing article
Date:   6/10/00
From:   RMS
To:     tony stanco

[Stanco]:

>Yes, but a major proposition we both agree on is that the majority of 
>people are good.

[Stallman]:

I think that is too simplistic, and not true. Human nature is complex
and includes many potentials, some good and some bad. Part of the
idea of changing society is to set up situations so that they encourage
and facilitate the better aspects of human nature.

For example, human nature today is no different from what it was 15
years ago, but programmers today are much more likely to make their
work free software than they were then. The changed situation has
made it easier (than before) to behave in the way that is good.

[Stanco]:

>We need to let people decide themselves whether or not they are moral by 
>letting them choose GPL instead of proprietary,

[Stallman]:

I disagree completely. Proprietary software is a scheme to divide and
maltreat other people. It means doing wrong to others. We should
not tolerate that.

[Stanco]:

>There is only one reason that developers work on proprietary (against 
>their better judgment in making a deal with the devil) and that is 
>because it pays them. Period.

This is the principal motive, but I have seen other motives such as
ego-attachment.


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Subj:   Re: licensing article
Date:   6/10/00
From:   tony stanco
To:     RMS

[Stanco]:

 >>Yes, but a major proposition we both agree on is that the majority of 
 >>people are good.

[Stallman]:

>I think that is too simplistic, and not true. Human nature is complex
>and includes many potentials, some good and some bad. Part of the
>idea of changing society is to set up situations so that they encourage
>and facilitate the better aspects of human nature.

[Stanco]:

I was a little careless with the language and you catch me every time.

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. That's why he said it was a 
matter of proper education to get them to understand what is right or good, 
so that people that are trying to be good can actually achieve it in their 
actions.

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.

In a democracy and with equality, we have to let people make what we think 
are "mistakes." This needs to be the case for 2 reasons. 1. With equality, 
we have to have humility, because how do we know we are the right ones? 
People on the other side obviously think just as strongly that they are the 
right ones (i.e., reasonable minds can disagree). Without resorting to force 
or coercion to overcome their will (by legislation or armies), we have to 
accept that they disagree and let them maintain their views. And they must 
allow us to maintain our views. 2. There is value in people thinking for 
themselves. There is a difference in kind between people thinking and coming 
to the wrong conclusion and people not thinking and just listening to others 
to do the right thing. With education, the former can be taught to be right 
and still exercise their free will. The latter has surrendered their will to 
others.

[Stallman]:

>For example, human nature today is no different from what it was 15
>years ago, but programmers today are much more likely to make their
>work free software than they were then. The changed situation has
>made it easier (than before) to behave in the way that is good.

[Stanco]:

They have been educated by you and by experience with the perniciousness of 
proprietary for the last 15 years. You are smarter than the rest. They 
(including me) didn't see until recently what you were talking about. I 
don't think that "bad" people have become "good" people in the last 15 
years. They were good people but uneducated before. With the education they 
will now fight for the freedoms. There are more to educate.

[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?	
	
	
		
	
	
			
		
		
		
	
	


		
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