Subject: Re: Questions about Symbolics lisp machines
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2002 05:18:27 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Thomas Bushnell, BSG
| It's very interesting that you say this.  Once there was essentially
| nothing like a copyright system in Europe, which had no shortage of
| brilliant works of art being produced.  Indeed, the "true artist", who
| produces the best art, art for the sake of art, is likely to produce
| great art under any system that gives him enough money to live on, which
| the patronage/performance system did quite nicely for musicians, and the
| commission system did for playwrights.

  Where do you think the people who could pay for these artists got their
  money?  I am not a big fan of theft and robbery and feudalism just to be
  able to fund "real artists".  They money has to come from _somehwere_,
  the expression "to make money" to the contrary notwithstandning.

| Indeed, even today, the finest television programming I get comes in from
| PBS.

  Which, to my utter dismay when I found out, is funded with tax money, the
  supreme form of coercion in modern society, not much different from
  "protection money" paid to criminal gangs.

| So it's not so clear what you say.  It seems to me that the copyright
| motive doesn't so much encourage *brilliance*, per se.

  It provides a means to get enough money to pay for the real artists.
  Please note that the proceeds on successful books pays for all the books
  the same poublishing company has published at a sometimes great loss.  I
  am at a loss for how "*brilliance*" is a function of any political
  system.  Some individuals do amazing stuff regardless of which political
  system they live under, so obviously the brilliance of an individual is
  not an argument for the political system.  The question is rather at what
  cost their brilliance comes, and where a brilliant person chooses to
  direct his brilliance.

| So, when I say "free software", I mean libre, not gratis, that is, free
| as in "free speech", not as in "free beer".

  *sigh*   This really has become a "dimwith alert".  People are free, and
  some lunches are free, but that does not mean that some people are
  lunches any more than it means that some lunches have freedom.  Same with
  software.  However, this abuse of the word is well known, albeit counter-
  productive, as some people actually imagine that the two do not overlap,
  that one _cannot_ argue against freedom with costs, but all freedom has
  very significant costs.  Free is not free.  (See how confusing that gets
  and how capitalization does _not_ work to distinguis them? :)

| I'm surprised you're apparently unfamiliar with that usage.

  Will you please stop insulting me with your own stupidity?  This is so
  goddman annoying.  You _know_ I have worked with Richard Stallman both
  personally and on GNU Emacs.  Damnit, countering such moronic nonsense is
  _really_ taxing on my patience with some people.

  What would happen if you just assumed I knew both usages?  MIT has some
  of the most severe licensing agreements I have ever seen, and actually
  taking your _own_ stuff out of MIT is no walk in the park.  People pay
  huge amounts of money for this right in many cases, so MIT can keep doing
  world-class research.  They also get paid enormous amounts of money to do
  research on demand, but still keep rights to the research.  MIT is the
  _one_ place in the world I would choose to point out that organizations
  do make money on past work if I were allowed only one example.

| I meant only narrowly that he was wrong in saying that making bucks is
| impossible or unlikely in a free software (again, libre, not gratis), not
| that I had demonstrated that everything he said was incorrect.

  How do you know this?  I mean, people argued that Pol Pot was not a
  serious threat to anyone, either, because "lookit all them survivors!
  must be millions and millions".  For some people, it has indeed become
  impossible to make money they wanted to make in a line of work they
  appreciated, and they have gone on to green pastures.  I mean, all the
  Linux distribution companies seem to struggle.  I have some inside
  information that will probably become public in about four weeks unless
  they manage to get new investors that yet another Linux distribution
  company is about to fold.  Many software "developers" are simple steel
  workers and just code from 9 to 5 and think not at all, but these work in
  the same kind of industries where the designs have been drawn up by other
  people.  Such software may well be free, because the designs have already
  paid for itself in the sold products.  Where the software is the probuct,
  things look very different.

  I regard Open Source and Free Software as building infrastructure, so
  that people can profit on using it rather than having to fight the lack
  of it.  I consider this operation akin to the development of railroads in
  the United States.  Whatever private successes there were, it was
  eventually nationalized and is now running at a loss, failing to compete
  with the road system, which has been paid for by another public money
  pool, although privately owned roads are still an option in many places,
  and users pay for bridges and roads all over the place with tolls.  This
  is not quite how we can make software work, however, so the problem is
  that people who want software to be "free" fail to grasp that in order to
  build infrastructure, you cannot require that all usage be free, too.
  You cannot give people a road "for free" and demand that cars that use it
  must be given away by the car company, that goods shipped on it must be
  "free" with the notion that "traffic should be free".

  In a fight against something, the fight has value, victory has none.
  In a fight for something, the fight is a loss, victory merely relief.