Rchard Stallman vs Darl McBride

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Sat Jul 24 15:13:29 MDT 2010


On Sat, Jul 24, 2010 at 1:11 PM, Jon Jensen <jon at endpoint.com> wrote:

> Imagine if we had no copyright on software. Sure, people could release
> only binaries if they wanted. But they'd get copied at will, legally, so
> there'd be little market for selling them. And the scene would probably
> largely revert to the way things were back before it was legally decided
> software (on magnetic media, anyway) could be copyrighted -- and people
> published source code + binaries fairly freely, either because they were
> making money off the hardware or because they were part of a community
> working together to improve software that they all used.

I don't think lack of copyright on software would be a good thing,
though.  I think authors of software should be able, for a limited
time, to have exclusive control over how their works are copied.  I do
think that copyright in general has grown to something beyond what it
was intended to be, and its duration should be scaled back to the
original 14 years with the option of a 14 year renewal.  I think that
software copyrights could and ought to be scaled back to an even
shorter duration.

I also don't think lack of software copyright would have much of an
effect on source distribution.  In fact, lacking copyright protection,
producers of software might be even more reluctant to distribute
source code.  Lacking copyright, the only way to protect it would be
to keep it secret.

> This is all highly speculative, but there is some historical precedent for
> it, so we can expect at least in parts of the software world that would
> happen again, with neither legal nor license requirements compelling it.

People using permissive software licenses have been and still are
doing things that way.  People who didn't want to share would just be
more secretive or more creative about trying to hide things.

        --Levi


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