ONJava.com -- The Independent Source for Enterprise Java
oreilly.comSafari Books Online.Conferences.

advertisement

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Article:
  Tim O'Reilly Responds to "Freedom or Power?"
Subject:   Copyrights are not really rights
Date:   2001-08-16 14:01:27
From:   okay
In his article, Tim O'Reilly states ...


First off, if you accept his definition of freedom as "being able to make decisions that affect mainly you" versus power as "being able to make decisions that affect others more than you", then clearly the GPL is just as much about "power" as any Microsoft license, since it is binding on all who use the software, and has the explicit goal of "world domination."


... but this already inherently makes the assumption that copyrights (on software, at least) are basic rights. If you believe that, then the GPL is just another license where a creator is exercising a right that is basically his, but if you don't, like many of us, then the GPL is merely a defensive mechanism to deal with the problems caused by copyrights to begin with.


So the question is, are copyrights really a basic right, the following point suggests that they are....


I want to return to the idea of freedom zero as my choice as a creator to give, or not to give, the fruits of my work to you, as a "user" of that work, and for you, as a user, to accept or reject the terms I place on that gift. If that is power, so be it. Both Richard Stallman and Bill Gates exercise the very same power every time they release a piece of software. But the burden of power is to use it wisely and well


...however, this misses the real point. Nobody has denied that a creator has a right to give or not to give. And nobody has even denied that he can give what he wishes on his terms, but this is not what happens. When an author gives something today, everybody is automatically bound to his terms whether they accept them or not. Even when the cat's out of the bag - they are bound, even if they receive it 2nd hand or 3rd party, or in alternate form - they are bound.


Can I send you a letter with $100 in it and a note that binds you to pay me back $200 tomorrow? Of course not, and it should not be done with software either. Perhaps a copyright may have been more convenient way for creators to enter into bindings in years past, but the cost to make this happen today will require severe micro-regulation in every aspect of the information age. Our society simply can not afford it anymore, or accept it. It is not a matter if they should find a better way, they half to because they are imposing an inherently flawed collection structure on us - not the other way around. Many people, like programmers (and soon to become everyone), can simply not accept the burden of this method any more.




1 to 1 of 1
1 to 1 of 1