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Weblog:   Dragging the Butter
Subject:   Why we need a range of licensing models
Date:   2001-11-28 18:22:39
From:   timoreilly
Response to: BountyQuest founder, is this opinion inconsistent?

Some people definitely create art, and literature, and programs, without the need for any IP protection whatsoever. We talk all the time about people writing open source software to "scratch their own itch." But it's also clear that many people write programs, and create works of art (books, movies, paintings, music) specifically to make money, and over time, a system of "intellectual property" protection has evolved to enhance the ability of these folks to maximize their return on their effort. Sometimes "maximize" goes too far. But it's also clear that there are some works that just don't get done when anyone can benefit as much (or more) than the creator. If you are creating something of value, and a freeloader can get it for nothing, they actually have a marketplace advantage over the creator, who has to incur the cost of development. Copyright and other forms of IP protection were originally designed to address this imbalance.


In an ideal world this wouldn't be necessary. But I don't think we live in an ideal world. As Lao Tzu said, "Losing the way of life, men rely on goodness. Losing goodness, men rely on laws."


As to your point that you can't see how anyone could assert that the desire of the individual to have power over their creations could be stronger than the desire of others to ensure that users have free access to those creations...well, I have an equally hard time seeing the opposite point of view. I have great respect for Richard's desire to have that outcome for his own work. But when he starts telling other people that they have no right to seek other outcomes, and to persuade users to accept restrictions in exchange for some value, we have to part ways.


But this all digresses from my original point. Whether or not companies use IP restrictions to cause harm is moot. We know they do. But I argue that it's the excesses (e.g. the abuse of monopoly power to distort what would otherwise be a free exchange between buyer and seller) that are the problem, and not the fundamental choice of a creator to put some restrictions on the use of his or her work. And what's more, I argue that the GPL relies on this very right, this most fundamental right, as the basis for its own assertions about what users MUST do if they accept the terms on the use of GPLd software.


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  1. Please don't muddy the waters
    2001-11-28 21:44:26  fredsmoothie [View]

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