Freedom and Greed

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Tue Jan 22 10:47:10 MST 2008


Stuart Jansen <sjansen at buscaluz.org> writes:

> Whoa, careful there, not all of us do.

No, I guess I should have qualified that with 'many' or something, but
I assumed that it was implicit.  Do I need to bloat everything I write
with safety words like 'I think', 'some of', etc. so that I don't get
misinterpreted?

> There's a big difference between "I wish everyone would release their
> code before discontinuing a product" and "Everyone should be forced to
> release their code to make me happy".

Well, yes.  I'm arguing agaisnt the attitude that there's a moral
imperative to release source code, and that to not do so is rude,
evil, unkind, or otherwise a socially unacceptable act.  I'm not
arguing against the sentiment that it would be nice if everyone
released source code, because it *would* be nice.  It would also be
nice (for me, at least) if everyone gave me a $20 bill.  That doesn't
mean they're rude if they don't.

> Yes, there is a strong under current of greedy entitlement that some
> Free Software advocates get sucked into. But there's just as much greed
> and wrongful sense of entitlement in the proprietary world. One could
> even argue that the unreasonable position of the first is a direct
> result of the unreasonable position of the second. But that's simply all
> the more reason to listen and think things through carefully.

I've never claimed that all commercial software vendors are saints, or
that there aren't some downright rude, anti-social, and evil vendors.
I've simply been saying that the act of not releasing source code does
not make them so.  People arguing with me seem to be misinterpreting
what I'm saying at every turn so they can find something to disagree
with besides the point I'm making!

> Von might have said it is selfish to hoard code in the hope of
> re-releasing products like movies, but he didn't say anything about
> forcing a change.

See, this is a perspective issue.  You're using words like 'hoard' to
make the act of not releasing source code into a greedy, selfish, bad
thing.  I hate to break it to you, but in more favorable light, this
is called 'self-interest' and it is the foundation of capitalism.
Given the strong libertarian sentiment on this list, I find it hard to
see how self-interest in some situations is so good, and in others so
bad.  The only explanation I can find is that (many) Free Software
folks (seem to) feel entitled to the source code of (most) software.

The Free Software Foundation isn't planning to literally force any
issue, they're simply spreading the idea that closed-source software
is morally wrong.  It's just *not* morally wrong, which is the point
I've been trying to make this whole time.

                --Levi



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