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Weblog:   Dragging the Butter
Subject:   Please don't muddy the waters
Date:   2001-11-28 21:44:26
From:   fredsmoothie
Response to: Why we need a range of licensing models


I thought we were nearing consensus on some essential points, but perhaps I was mistaken.

First off, I never said anything to the effect that I "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." We were talking about the moral weight attached to different desires, NOT the strength of the desires themselves.

We had agreed, I thought, on the following points:

1) That the argument is *primarily* a moral, ethical, and philosophical one;

2) That the main practical consideration (the possibility that the promise of the benefits associated with exploiting an unnatural monopoly would spur creative output) rests on assumptions -- that this mechanism works or is neccessary -- that are currently unproven and possibly unprovable.

Are you saying that the strength of one's desires is the sole determinant of moral value? That seems frighteningly relativistic; Hitler's desire to eliminate the Jews of Europe was extremely strong and I hope you and I both share a worldview which does not correlate the strength of that desire with a corresponding moral value.

What I said was (and this is specifically in regard, remember, to your core concept of "freedom zero" and Kuhn and Stallman's response that freedom zero is not about freedom, but power), that I don't see how someone can attach greater MORAL WEIGHT to the desire of one individual to control what others do with information they've been given (with or without compensation) than to the right of those users to know what the software does, to fix it themselves if need be, and to help others fix it.

I don't believe that there's any proof that proprietary software licensing is *needed* to spur creative output; you have not provided any such proof (though you still keep repeating that the assumption is valid without supporting it). In fact, it seems to me there is more evidence to the contrary in the long stream of creative effort throughout human history prior to the 300 or so years since copyright came into being.

So if we agree that the idea that monopoly protection of IP in the form of copyright spurs innovation is a faith position, HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY ASSIGNING A GREATER MORAL VALUE TO THE CREATOR'S DESIRE TO CONTROL HIS CREATION AFTER IT'S CHANGED HANDS THAN TO THE RECIPIENT'S DESIRE NOT TO BE CAPTIVE TO THE WHIM OF THE CREATOR IN THE FACE OF THE NEED FOR CHANGES OR THE DESIRE TO ENRICH OTHER RECIPIENTS WITH A GIFT OF THE CREATION? Especially with regard to software, which, please remember, sometimes controls airplanes and nuclear reactors which have the power to take human life, AND OFTEN THE END CONSUMER HAS NO FREEDOM TO CHOOSE OTHER SOFTWARE. I can't choose what software is in my car or my cellphone; I should be able to fix it. The air travel authorities should be able to inspect and fix the software which runs out air traffic control system because NO SANE PERSON THINKS THE LIVES OF TRAVELERS IS WORTH LESS THAN THE LEISURE OF SOFTWARE AUTHORS.