[aprssig] Igateing a Non Amateur

Steve Dimse steve at dimse.com
Sun Oct 2 13:54:14 CDT 2005

On Oct 2, 2005, at 2:26 PM, Mark White wrote:

>> You are not alone, Richard Stallman feels the
>> same way you do, and is quite eloquent in his promotion of the
>> concept. He believes any information that is useful belongs to
>> civilization as a matter of morality. He thinks it is OK to write a
>> novel and sell it, but if I write a how-to book, it belongs to
>> everyone and it is immoral to make money (even expenses).
> Ummm.....huh??  Please elaborate as I don't think you have a complete
> understanding of the GPL, which I assume you're referencing by  
> bringing
> up Stallman's name.

Actually his views go much beyond the GPL. I spent 6 nights eating  
dinner with him on a Geek Cruise (table for 6, Geek Cruise owner Neil  
Bauman, Richard and his YL, and another couple whose name escapes me  
but the woman was a javascript expert), essentially the week evolved  
as an extended debate between me and Richard, with some welcome help  
from Eric Raymond, who was at the next table over), where Richard  
expounded exactly this example. He says the rights to a novel can  
belong to its author, but the rights to a how-to book cannot morally  
be owned by its author, because as the embodiment of useful knowledge  
it morally belongs to all society. If it costs you $5 to print this  
how-to book, and you charge $3, you are committing an immoral act.  
This is what I refer to as information communism. This is the same  
concept behind the "spirit of amateur radio" argument I'm taking a  
position against. It is my property, I have a right to give it away,  
sell it, lease it, or destroy it.

> The GPL == Communism is a tired old argument proposed by those who  
> quite
> simply don't understand it.  You yourself said that licenses must be
> adhered to.  If I produce some work and don't want corporate  
> interests to
> take over that work without returning that work to me, then I  
> license my
> software via the terms of the GPL.  If I don't care then I'll  
> license it
> via the BSD or some other equivalent license.  Better yet, I'll just
> givem 'em the source.

This has nothing to do with the GPL. First, even if the code in  
question were under the GPL (it isn't), I (and everyone else) have  
every right in the world to make money from it. I never said the GPL  
had anything to do with communism, I never even mentioned the GPL,  
that is entirely your addition.

I have absolutely no problem with the GPL, as long it is simply one  
of the many options available to the creator of intellectual  
property. Read Stallman's writing carefully though, and you will see  
this is not his intent, rather he is working for a world where  
intellectual property owners are forced to release their work for the  
public good. He is totally oblivious to the fact that vast amounts of  
this intellectual property is created expressly for the purpose of  
creating wealth, and without the financial incentive it would not  
exist. A "GPL world" would very quickly stagnate intellectually, just  
as the Soviet Union world stagnated financially. There always will be  
a place for intellectual altruism, just as there is for monetary  
altruism, but it cannot be forced without dire consequences.

Steve K4HG

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