More on Protecting Source Code

Oren Tirosh oren-py-l at
Tue Sep 17 08:30:28 EDT 2002

On Tue, Sep 17, 2002 at 03:22:20AM -0700, David LeBlanc wrote:
> Oh yeah, and my views of intellectual property seems to be a lot 
> closer to the law of the land then yours.

The Law is not a view, it is a set of rules and enforcement mechanisms.
Our views are personal interpretations of the Law in the context of the 
society in which we live and our moral values.

Here are two alternative interpretations of information restriction

1. Information and knowledge is a scarce resource and should be closely
held and treated as property just like physical goods. Information
belongs to its creator or any entity to which it has been sold.
Transmission, storage or use of information without the consent of its
owner is theft.  Expiration of copyrights and patents? Ummm.... must be
some bug in the system. It will be fixed ASAP.

2. Information and knowledge is abundant. Information belongs to all of
mankind. Sharing information promotes creativity and thus creates even
more information, knowledge and wealth. In order to encourage
individuals to create new valuable information and distribute it the
state offers them an arrangement whereby they can use the power of the
courts and police to restrict the rights of others to use this
information in certain ways.  These include restricting the right to
copy and distribute information for profit (copyright) and restricting
the right to build and sell goods based on the information (patents).
This extraordinary power must be limited: it is only granted for a
limited period and certain types of fair use are protected from it. In
the case of patents the the inventor must fully disclose his invention
in the patent application so when the restriction period expires it
enters the public domain for the benefit of society instead of being
lost as a trade secret. 

The first view may be a lot closer to the way the law of the land is
seen by corporations and the politicians they buy. The second view is
much closer to the intentions and beliefs of the noble people who
originally drafted these laws. It grieves me to see how these laws have
been perverted over time. I hope that my participation in the open
source community makes a tiny contribution to improving the situation.

We both respect the same laws, we just see them differently.  For me,
information restriction laws are a necessary compromise of my freedom
while you appear to treat them as an inalienable right.


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