Subject: Re: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001 16:19:44 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Erik Naggum
| You know, I see no principal difference between what the GNU GPL is
| trying to enforce and what the entertainment industry and Microsoft are
| trying to enforce.  

* Ed L Cashin <>
| That's easy to see by asking what would happen if each side was
| carried to its logical conclusion, so that *all* software was released
| with either Microsoft-type licenses or with GNU GPL licenses.

  The same kind of argument is used when some people kill people in the
  name of some religion, and some other people kill people in the name of
  some other religion.  They both kill people.  Some think that is bad
  completely regardless of whatever mumbo-jumbo they sputter in order to
  defend killing people.

| >   It is legally uncertain whether you can require people to give you
| >   their work for free.
| If a programmer X works his ass off on a project and then thinks to
| himself, "I worked my ass off on that.  I want to make my work
| available for everyone to see so that poor people and college students
| can learn from it and use it."  (Sneer if you must, but there are
| people without money trying to learn programming.)

  I am not sure how this relates to my objection.  The original author has
  obviously decided to do whatever he did of his own will and desire, but
  the question is: Does he have the legal right to require that those who
  want to use his work be required to give away _their_ work for free?

| Some people would never want to look at the source code.  They *want* to
| be locked into the role of passive consumer.

  Yes, and with good reason.  They know that they are not competent to
  accept a modified version of the software they want to use from anyone
  but a vendor they trust (or could sue (possibly collectively) if things
  failed).  Trust really is a big issue in our industry, since there are so
  few objective measure of quality and so many vendors who explicitly avoid
  accepting responsibility for their products.

  To make one thing very clear: I am strongly in favor of having access to
  the source code of certain products.  I think it should be a requirement
  of vendors of compilers and operating systems to make them available, but
  _not_ just to any random comer and _not_ for free.  Considering the sheer
  number of incompetent programmers out there who would do serious harm to
  themselves and others if they had access to the source code and modified
  it badly, and who blame their tools and just about anybody but themselves
  for the negative consequences of their incompetence.  I also believe in
  distributed development and all that, but I do not trust people to write
  good code unless they are under guidance from more experienced designers
  and programmers.  It is fairly obvious that people are willing to write
  code and give it away, but it is getting increasingly obvious that all
  the boring work of meticulous quality control and good documentation is
  much less rewarding.  It is for that reason that I want a responsible
  vendor to be able to take the source code and do all the boring work in
  exchange for real money and the same guarantees that they will not only
  recover their costs but be sufficiently profitable to attact investors
  and be able to invest in other endeavors.  I think the Open Source and
  so-called Free Software movement is a financial failure because it does
  not allow, or actively discourages, "release quality products" that could
  help them get rich by selling products to those "passive consumers".

  Incidentally, it is sometimes _great_ to be a passive consumer.  Having
  things just _work_ is sometimes a serious relief from all the stuff that
  _almost_ works.

  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.