More on Protecting Source Code
James J. Besemer
jb at cascade-sys.com
Tue Sep 17 04:14:30 EDT 2002
Oren Tirosh wrote:
>Yes, there are narrow-minded people on both sides of the intellectual
>I don't think that software 'ought' to be this or 'ought' to be that. In
>other words, I believe in freedom.
>I don't think anyone would disagree with that.
>The disagreement seems to
>be whether information is property or not.
Wow. I didn't hear anybody say this (though, sadly, perhaps this is the
>By its nature it isn't
Wow. An even more amazing statement.
Information BY IT'S VERY NATURE is not property.
How the hell do you figure?
You saying the thoughts in my head are public domain? I certainly hope not.
Or if I reduce those thoughts to paper or to software or to wood and
metal that somehow everybody else is entitled to share the benefits of
my possibly substantial endeavor?
What a load of bullshit.
An artist who creates an image or the specifications for a musical
performance has every right to own his creation and benefit from its
use. This is no different for a programmer and code of his own creation.
Even if you go back to the early industrial age, key products of
industry was intellectual property. E.g., engineers had to produce
drawings and written specifications before they could build a bridge or
a mousetrap. That "information" was every bit their property as the
more tangible artifacts they later sold commercially. An unscrupulous
competitor could use the IP to recreate the commercial artifacts at a
fraction of the original owner's cost. Or he could reverse engineer the
IP and again enjoy an unfair advantage. That's blatantly unfair and
it's a good thing we have laws to protect against such theft.
Now if somebody elects to give away their IP -- out of charity or in
hope of scoring points in some circles -- that's fine. But if he
instead elects to profit from it, in a free world, that should be
perfectly reasonable and respectable also.
>can be made more property-like by laws that restrict people's freedom to
Copyright laws have precedent dating back to pre colonial England.
Interesting new books and music were intrinsically hard to create but,
(after Gutenberg) once created, they were easy for the unscrupulous to
copy and receive full benefit of their publication. Robbing the
creators the fruits of of their labor is inherently unfair. Not only
does the IP thief unfairly benefit from work he did not perform he also
robs the real owner of income he otherwise would have received.
Thus IP laws naturally evolved to protect rightful property owners.
It's meet and good.
People fought and died (and more importantly prevailed) in defense of
the rights to be free and to own property.
Now I don't necessarily support some of the more recent changes and
extensions to copyright laws. Some maybe go a step too far. However, I
don't think they can or should be rejected altogether. At their core
they're not arbitrary; rather in protecting the works' creators they're
the epitome of fairness.
>The state has given you the 'right' to use the power of its court and
>police to forcibly restrict people that use information you have created
>in violation of copy-restriction laws.
Yeah, sure, in your dreams we could instead have laws that say all
information was free. I submit that such a situation would actually
stifle innovation. Sure a few dreamers would still invent but the
volume and time to market would be greatly diminished.
Lack of ownership is precisely why most socialist countries soon became
and forever remained vast economic wastelands. Denying individuals any
incentive for working harder than others, the economy soon deteriorates
to where it can hardly provide the necessities of life let alone invent
clever and innovative luxuries. Worse, collectivist economics are
unnatural in that they fly in the face of most human instincts. Thus it
requires a large and oppressive government to enforce collectivism and,
in practice, those governments typically become corrupt. In any case,
economies invariably, immediately revert to capitalism soon as the
communist/socialist oppression ceases.
It is precisely the promise of commercial reward that makes America the
incredible fount of invention and creativity that it is. The simple
formula of rewarding people for their own hard work is what made America
the worlds only superpower. Not only do we have the most powerful
military in the world our people also enjoy one of the world's highest
standards of living. Most socialist countries have had to choose one or
the other or don't have the choice of either.
I just don't get you folks who push this Communistic view of economics.
It's childish. Marx sounded good on paper 100 years ago and yeah we
all believed it when we were idealistic teenagers. At the cost of
hundreds of millions of citizens (murdered by their own government) and
a significant fraction of the 20th century's world's human resources, we
gave Communism every chance to succeed. After almost a century of
experimentation with collectivist economics, the results are all in and
the bottom line is that it simply doesn't work. The net cost to The
People in the long run is always greater than the net benefits. If you
don't understand this then you really haven't been paying attention to
recent world history.
The problem with Capitalism is that not everyone shares equally in the
wealth. The problem with Communism is that everybody DOES share equally
in the misery. I prefer Capitalism.
>But that is not enough for you. You also want the 'right' to complain about
>something that was given to you freely and expect that righteous rants
>about your view of intellectual property laws will somehow compel people
>to modify it to your specification without compensation.
You're being unfair.
Mr. LeBlanc was not complaining about anything that I could see. He was
merely describing a tangible shortcoming of Python (one which launched
this entire thread) that restricts its use for some purposes. He
further, humbly suggests how it might be made a little more useful to
James J. Besemer 503-280-0838 voice
2727 NE Skidmore St. 503-280-0375 fax
Portland, Oregon 97211-6557 mailto:jb at cascade-sys.com
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