Subject: Re: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 18:14:05 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Sam Steingold <>
| The usual answer -- that this deprives MS from the money B would have
| payed for MS DOS otherwise -- does not hold water since B might have
| opted for DR DOS if he could not use A's copy of MS DOS.

  How does the fact that someone _might_ have chosen something else affect
  the _actual_ losses when a particular choice was made?  Suppose I steal a
  car, travel somewhere, and return it before the owner needs it (so as to
  eliminate the silly counter-argument that software can be copied at no
  cost and without affecting the original).  Can I now argue that this act
  of theft must be acceptable because if I had had to pay for the car under
  normal rules and circumstances, I might have taken public transportation?

  In my view, the question is not at all what somebody does or does not
  "lose" in some trivial monetary terms.  The question is whether you have
  the _right_ to do what you do.  The owner of something laid down some
  rules and principles for how to obtain (a copy of) that something, in a
  society that has laid down rules and principles for what kinds of rules
  and principles an owner can lay down for those who wish to obtain that
  something.  If you violate the owner's rules and principles for obtaining
  that something, it is _wrong_ no matter what.  If the owner has violated
  the rules and principles of the society in which this takes place, you
  _still_ have no right to violate the owner's conditions.  The only thing
  you should do in case you or your society does not approve of the rules
  and principles of obtaining that something is to stay the hell away from
  that owner and not even _want_ whatever he is trying to push.  Owners of
  something you might want who are too stupid to give you reasonable ways
  to obtain it or who attempt to violate the conditions of your society or
  even of your society as you would _like_ it to be, should be shunned and
  _not_ be given signals that what they have to offer is worth obtaining.

  However, since many people are unprincipled when faced with sufficient
  temptation degree and are usually not aware of any ethical principles at
  all unless they benefit from them, indeed _have_ no ethics if they feel
  they have a reason to be morally outraged, such as if they feel unfairly
  treated, which _would_ happen with a stupid owner who breaks community
  expectations if you want to obtain their stuff, a sufficiently "clever"
  owner with sufficient disrespect for his users, for society, and for the
  rules and principles under which he is expected to operate, might make a
  killing leading ignorant and not too bright youngsters into temptation by
  making it _possible_ to break their rules and get away with it.  Since
  Bill Gates has proven to be one of those _presumedly_ intelligent people
  (but read his "books") who think they are so smarter than everybody else
  thay have no qualms at all flaunting the rules and principles of society,
  he built an empire on the immoral and criminal tendencies of people who
  were too weak to withstand temptation and too dumb to realize what he was
  doing to their respect for the rights of owners of anything they want.
  This is why there have always been so many bad people in the Microsoft
  camp, stealing software, breaking copy protections, spreading viruses,
  breaking standards and community recommendations, using C++, etc, and why
  this lawless company has been found guilty of abusing its monopoly power.

  There are probably few ethical and principled people left in the computer
  industry because of Microsoft's success in being so unethical, but it did
  not take much scrutiny of or thinking about the behavior of Microsoft
  back in the early 1980s to see that the boss and the company were playing
  by the rules of criminals and had no intention of becoming good citizens.
  Indeed, both Bill Gates and the whole senior Microsoft management are and
  have been so fantastically paranoid and competitive that that should give
  _everybody_ an important clue to their plans.  I always wonder why people
  get defrauded when it takes no real effort to figure out that it cannot
  be anything but fraud, but some people have figured it out and more: How
  to _exploit_ those suckers.  Bill Gates is one of those people. and He is
  a damn good con man, but it only works on people who are willing to
  dispense with ethics to get something they want -- immature people who
  have not yet developed an understanding of what values they hold or how
  to protect them, in this case teenage boys with no social clue and
  probably very little to gain respect from others save through their
  technical prowess with some advanced toy.  Getting teenage boys to want
  something and break some rules to get it is not particularly hard.
  Exploiting it to the extent that Bill Gates and Microsoft has done is not
  particularly brilliant, nor a stroke of genius, it only requires an
  _absolute_ lack of respect for other people, and that kind of lack of
  respect is a communicable disease that has infected too many people in
  the computer industry -- even the Free Software proponents who think that
  people inside and especially outside _their_ community can be exploited
  for their ends, too: those who _demand_ that something that others have
  created be available for free, lest they _steal_ it, who do not want to
  use "non-free" software because they have a severely misguided idea of
  what their values are, and who argue in favor of stealing using so bogus
  arguments that they should be ashamed of themselves.  In the end, we have
  _not_ regained that ethical standing that is required to defeat the fraud
  and his billion-dollar company, but infected another part of the software
  industry that was very _principled_ in its objections and its ideas in
  the past.  Now that it has a much wider following, the lack of principled
  followers must be expected, but it is still sad to see it happening.

  Norway is now run by a priest from the fundamentalist Christian People's
  Party, the fifth largest party representing one eighth of the electorate.
  Carrying a Swiss Army pocket knife in Oslo, Norway, is a criminal offense.