Subject: Re: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 18:14:05 GMT Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * Sam Steingold <email@example.com> | 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.