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Supporting Free Software by means of Civil Disobedience?

Free "as in freedom" Software supporters, including the Free Software Foundation love to talk about freedom. "It's all about freedom", we say, freedom of computer users to know and control what runs on their computers, to copy and share it with others and to modify it as they wish. The idea that software by nature cannot even be owned, is a popular one in the Free Software movement.

Yet there is a problem few seem to come even close to realizing yet if they did it could send shivers down their spine because it puts everything they think they know or believe on its head and makes this whole fervor around "freedom" seem somehow misplaced, like hacking the branches of a tree you want to cut down, and doing it for so long you can't remember when you started.

And that problem lies in the simple fact evident in a logical following of the idea that "software cannot be owned". If software cannot be owned then copyright is invalid as a tool of attaining freedom, period, especially if you actually use it to your advantage. At best your actions contradict your beliefs (in which case you act hypocritically). At worst, you aren't even aware of the gross contradiction you are peddling while genuinely believing that you have it right and that the people whom you condemn as immoral should be punished for what they're doing (as Richard Stallman said "Proprietary software should be illegal").

Copyright by definition assumes ownership over what most Free Software supporters would claim cannot be owned, yet those same supporters cheer on GPL being successfully tested in courts, enforcing exactly the law which at its core contradicts their premises while calling it "brilliant" because it supposedly turns copyright on its head into "copyleft".

Unfortunately, they do not realize that all they are doing is changing the terms, nothing more fundamental than that. They are simply enforcing their vision. They are NOT admitting people true freedom. If you should distribute a GPL program without the terms attached or without the source code, because you own the medium on which it resides and software itself is unownable, FSF or Software Freedom Law Center would condemn it as an illegal act and in some cases threaten extraction of money from you by means of a lawsuit.

Is that promoting freedom?

No it's not. It's just another variation of forcing other people to live according to your own opinions.

If you are truly about freedom as it relates to software, then you would at least admit that copyright nor copyleft are the means by which to achieve it. You would fully acknowledge that every transaction between two people is solely the business of those two people even when such a transaction involves sharing of a program written by you and originally provided under the terms of the General Public License. Even if you adapted GPL to be used as merely a contract between two people independent of the copyright law, the agreement to share under the same terms would still be solely between the one sharing the program and the one getting it. If you aren't the one sharing it, even if you authored the original copy, you are NOT party to the agreement and thus have no say whatsoever as to how will other people share it with each other.

If 10th person down the line shares the program with 11th under same terms as agreed and then 11th person breaks those terms by sharing the program to the 12th person under different terms the only one 11th person is liable to is the 10th person, NOT the 9th person nor the 1st person (being the author of the original copy) or anyone else. This is not how FSF, SFLC etc. operate, however. If you get glibc from a random server somewhere on the internet rather than from GNU.org and then give it to someone under no terms whatsoever, it is still FSF who think they can sue you over it, which is completely inconsistent with the belief that software cannot be owned.

I made a late correction in the above paragraph. Instead of 12th person being liable to 10th person I should've said 11th person, since it is 11th who broke the agreement with 10th. That was corrected now.

What, then, are they supposed to do if they wish to maintain this consistency and to be able to truly claim that they support freedom?

They should support civil disobedience to copyright law while striving to operate independently of copyright law. They should thus release software either in public domain or explicitly state that they aren't relying on copyright while providing programs to people under agreements which are solely between them and the user who downloads or obtains from them, without pretension of legitimate control over transactions which DO NOT involve them, and are instead between people further down the distribution line.

I'm gonna quote Kevin Dean from a recent article he was quoted in at LinuxInsider.com regarding the Mono controversy.

Quote:

If information is not owned, then "systems proclaiming the ownership of information should simply be ignored," Dean said. "Yes, I'm advocating civil disobedience. Just as the European Pirate Party encouraged civil disobedience, and then made that issue the forefront of their campaign efforts, so should Mono users."

Accordingly, "I strongly encourage every distro to adopt and make use of Mono," Dean said. "The number of applications that depend on it clearly demonstrate that it is a good tool.

"I also encourage every distro to stand strong in this decision, to contest the potential day where Microsoft sues and STILL include Mono, even if some court says, 'You may not do this'," he said. "We've seen this work with so-called 'non-free' formats like MP3 and encrypted DVDs (libdvdcss), and by simply refusing to cater to draconian restrictions, we've seen these technologies flourish and prosper."

There may be some in the Free Software movement who are uncomfortable with rejecting the idea that the author of software is its owner, Dean noted -- "the GNU project, for instance, might balk at the idea that they do NOT control how software they wrote is used by developers around the world," he said. "But consistency and ethical conduct are the price of freedom."

And if this seems too radical of a strategy for anyone then at least do not pretend to be "all about freedom". Consistency, lack of contradictions, is the only way to be truthful and with integrity. Everything else is a fraud.

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Comments

 

Your claim of hypocrisy is ridiculous. The Open Source community did not create copyright. Yet we are bound by it, because it is law. Turnabout is fair play. It is entirely fair to take a tool/weapon that is being used against you and turn it around and use it to dis-advantage those who would dis-advantage you. If copyright law ceases to exist, the GPL becomes meaningless. In the meantime it is perfectly fair. And if you don't like the GPL, don't use it--release your code under the BSD license. Your choice.

You are correct about the confusion between authorship and ownership. But that goes directly back to the artificial situation created by copyright law.

Your explanation is also faulty. "11th person breaks those terms by sharing the program to the 12th person under different terms the only one 12th person is liable to is the 11th person". No, the 12th person is not liable under any circumstances, even if he distributes. He was not given the GPL with the code, so he can't be obligated by it. Only the 11th person is liable, for distribution without following the rules. You have apparently not read the GPL. Or perhaps you are an MS troll, deliberately spreading misinformation?

 

The true freedom you're talking about is akin to Marxism. Nice in theory, but human nature dictates that things just don't work that way in the real world. Without some rules, anarchy and corruption ensues. Copyright and GPL just ensure that the rules are played by. It *isn't* "all about freedom", but protecting others from exploitation. Should major corporations be allowed to advocate civil disobedience, steal, manipulate markets, exploit customers? If it is good enough for you, then in your perfectly free world, why shouldn't they? You're no better than the people you're criticising by saying that you can break rules, but not everyone else. Copyright is here, so it is the rule *everyone* has to play by, like it or not.

 

I think you miss understand what the author is trying to say. The point is that GPL cannot destroy copyright because it is based on it. It may force revisions of copyright but so long as it is dependent on copyright it cannot abolish it.

 

Copyright isn't the problem but. Copyrighted material can be reimplemented easily. Patents are the problem, especially in the case of Mono.

 

"You would fully acknowledge that every transaction between two people is solely the business of those two people"

Oh really ?
So 'true freedom(tm)' is in fact the Law of the Strongest ?
(if every transaction between two people is solely the business of those two people, then, consequently, the enforcement of the terms of the transactions is also their sole business, hence the Law of the Strongest)

Such absolutist notion is untenable, just like the 'proprietary software should be illegal' absolutist position is untenable.

Copyright, Patents, are not inherently evil. Their genesis is rooted in a societal compromise which purpose was to favor conservation and therefore faster accumulation of knowledge. The problem in recent decades has been to unilateral push of the equilibrium of that compromise in favor of copyright and patent owners.
In the US, for instance, the copyright protection was 28 years (14+14) up to a hundred years ago. In the last hundred years it grew all the way to 'life + 70 years'. This insane and unjustifiable indulgence to the greed of ever more massive copyright owners is, in my opinion, the main cause of the current backslash against copyright.

Regarding software specifically, there is a particular condition that make copyright (and even more patent) apply to software problematic. The intent of favoring the preservation and accumulation of knowledge is lost on binary only software. In other word, giving binary-only software copyright protection, is essentially allowing a company to operate on 'trade secret' while squeezing the advantage of the compromised designrd to promote the conservation of knowledge.
At the very least, proprietary software should be obligated to deposit their source code in escrow to benefit from copyright protection (and of course such protection's length should brought back to sane duration).

Nothing like proceeding from a false premise

 

Your argument is self-defeating because it proceeds from a false premise. In fact, your argument is nothing more than a load of contrived bullcrap. I could put forward an argument that software patents and copyright are akin to paedophilia and make up any number of statements to support it.

Anonymous 1 wrote:

Your claim of hypocrisy is ridiculous. The Open Source community did not create copyright. Yet we are bound by it, because it is law.

Does that mean one is obliged by law to release their stuff under a copyright license? As far as I know that's not the case. And even if you do release under a copyright license, if you truly believe software cannot be owned and that pretending otherwise and asking people to follow your rules in transactions not involving you would be unethical, then the license you use would essentially waive exactly such impositions. This is perfectly possible. Such a license would be even less restrictive than BSD, but even if it is BSD, solely putting a clause that says that you wont pursue legal action would be enough to remain consistent with your "software cannot be owned" position.

And it is this consistency exactly which I am calling for.

Anonymous 1 wrote:

You are correct about the confusion between authorship and ownership. But that goes directly back to the artificial situation created by copyright law.

As pointed out above, even by law, such a situation is possible to route around. You do not have to use copyright and if you do you can use it in a way that makes your non-ownership explicit and thus waives the threats associated with copyright law. Otherwise you can simply release under public domain and ask direct recipients to agree to a few conditions to download a copy from *your* server (but such conditions wont apply to downstream users).

Anonymous 1 wrote:

Your explanation is also faulty. "11th person breaks those terms by sharing the program to the 12th person under different terms the only one 12th person is liable to is the 11th person". No, the 12th person is not liable under any circumstances, even if he distributes. He was not given the GPL with the code, so he can't be obligated by it. Only the 11th person is liable, for distribution without following the rules.

You're right. I jumbled the numbers. What I meant to say that the 11th person is liable only to the 10th person, but not the 9th or 1st or anyone else. 12th person has no liability. I am gonna correct the article (and note the correction). Thanks for pointing it out.

Anonymous 1 wrote:

You have apparently not read the GPL. Or perhaps you are an MS troll, deliberately spreading misinformation?

I made an honest mistake with the numbers above. I own this site (among others), a site with a continuing pro-FOSS history. You really think I could be an MS troll?

Anonymous 2 wrote:

The true freedom you're talking about is akin to Marxism. Nice in theory, but human nature dictates that things just don't work that way in the real world. Without some rules, anarchy and corruption ensues. Copyright and GPL just ensure that the rules are played by.

It's not marxism as I am not a marxist and the perspective from which I am talking about is quite different. I am NOT advocating against there being rules. I am pointing out a contradiction that is inherent in supporting and using copyright in a way FSF, SFLC and their supporters do while believing that software cannot be owned. It is talking one thing and doing another. That's the core of my point. If you don't think software cannot be owned then you shouldn't act as if you own it because that in reality results in imposing your own arbitrary rules to people whom you never even dealt with and whom took nothing from you (they made a COPY themselves).

And if you please that in itself is a rule. It's just not the rule I or anyone else made up. It's natural law. Nothing in nature functions without a certain balance. You don't have to turn to me or anyone else for a complete explanation of it because it is enough to look around and into yourself and be honest and see if contradictions ever work out.

Anonymous 2 wrote:

Should major corporations be allowed to advocate civil disobedience, steal, manipulate markets, exploit customers? If it is good enough for you, then in your perfectly free world, why shouldn't they? You're no better than the people you're criticising by saying that you can break rules, but not everyone else. Copyright is here, so it is the rule *everyone* has to play by, like it or not.

You're putting words into my mouth there. I never advocated corporations be allowed to steal and manipulate markets or exploit anyone. Nor did I say that civil disobedience is only for me, but not for them. And no the two are not at odds. Copyright compliance with which you're advocating here has played a big part in making those corporations what they are. It is a key element to the corporatist society that developed in the western world.

Nothing will ever change if you always play by the corrupt rules, even when it goes against your integrity.

Anonymous 3 wrote:

"You would fully acknowledge that every transaction between two people is solely the business of those two people"

Oh really ?
So 'true freedom(tm)' is in fact the Law of the Strongest ?
(if every transaction between two people is solely the business of those two people, then, consequently, the enforcement of the terms of the transactions is also their sole business, hence the Law of the Strongest)

Equating the sovereignty of an individual in its transactions with others to "Law of the Strongest" is quite the leap. If that's the case then perhaps it's best that every transaction you ever had today was supervised by a third party you didn't invite? But it isn't, is it? So why should some transactions be regulated in such a way while others aren't? Isn't it the "law of the strongest" in cases where it isn't?

As far as enforcement goes, however, you're right it is your business, like it is your business whether to sue someone or not (a right that is admitted to you in the current system). Pity for you if you don't have enough money to pay the lawyers and if the one you're suing has far more connections and money than you do. Law of the Strongest? There we go. So your point is at best moot.

But it doesn't stop there. When I say every transaction should be solely the business of the people involved in a transaction I am speaking about voluntary interaction. Thus one is only obliged to what he already agreed to. Enforcement would work the same way. The only reason why anyone would ever be right to enforce particular terms is because those terms have been agreed to, which is often not the case with law (even copyright law), because that's where you are forced to abide by the rules you have never previously agreed to. That seems more consistent with the "law of strongest" than what I'm advocating.

Anonymous 4 wrote:

Your argument is self-defeating because it proceeds from a false premise. In fact, your argument is nothing more than a load of contrived bullcrap. I could put forward an argument that software patents and copyright are akin to paedophilia and make up any number of statements to support it.

All those loaded words and not a single bit of substantiation. Identify the premise you're talking about and then demonstrate to me why it is false. Then we can talk.

 

"If that's the case then perhaps it's best that every transaction you ever had today was supervised by a third party you didn't invite? But it isn't, is it?"
Yes it is. Every transaction I ever had was 'supervised'... by the society, I was operating in, laws.

"As far as enforcement goes, however, you're right it is your business, like it is your business whether to sue someone or not".
That is but ONE type of legal system. Not everybody operate under the Anglo-saxon adversarial system. Heck, even the anglosaxon system shy away for this adversarial system when things get serious (criminal proceedings)

"Pity for you if you don't have enough money to pay the lawyers and if the one you're suing has far more connections and money than you do. Law of the Strongest?"
Indeed. But a Tu Quoque fallacy is not going to do the trick here.

"I am speaking about voluntary interaction."
And how is that determined in a 'solely the business of those two people' system ?

"Thus one is only obliged to what he already agreed to."
Obliged by whom ? You are in a 'solely the business of those two people' system, why would any third party be suddenly compelled to 'interfere' ? It's not anyone's business , unless YOU need help ?

"The only reason why anyone would ever be right to enforce particular terms is because those terms have been agreed to"
How to you establish the terms that have been freely agreed to (agreed upon in a 'voluntary interaction' context)
Who has the burden, in the 'solely the business of those two people' system, to make that determination and why.

"because that's where you are forced to abide by the rules you have never previously agreed to."
Have you been ask to agree to the corpus of law of the society you were born into ? Should you have ? what if you disagree with some part, Should you be able to pick and choose with article of the constitution/civil code/etc... you agree with and which one are not opposable to you because you have not agreed to them ?

"SFLC and their supporters do while believing that software cannot be owned. It is talking one thing and doing another. That's the core of my point."
1/ The copyright law, as it stands, attribute exclusive ownership to the author, by default. whether you want it or not. Therefore one HAS to associate a waiver of some sort to give up this 'ownership'
2/ It is perfectly consistent for the author to want to share with like-minded people. If you do not agree to share, then I'm not sharing with you either. That is the 'meeting' of the mind you are suggesting (the voluntary interaction). As it turns out there is a way to work within the existing copyright law to do just that.
3/ Once you have agreed to these terms, you should not be able to turn around and ignore them, and you can't suddenly claim that you did not agree to the terms. In other words, the hypothetical scenario of yours where GPL is forced on you unwillingly is non-sens. If you are the receiving side of the transaction and you don't agree to the terms, by your own admission you should simply walk-away. If you are on the providing side, that mean that 1/ you are the author and decided to use that license, therefore are willing by definition or 2/ you were the receiving party in a previous transaction in which you presumably willingly accepted the terms - and therefore by your own admission these term are rightfully enforceable.

Quote:

Yes it is. Every transaction I ever had was 'supervised'... by the society, I was operating in, laws.

Laws do not regulate every single thing you do with other people (yet...). And this thing you call "society" as far as I can tell and given nobody could ever demonstrate otherwise is not some sort of an entity that can do things like "supervise". It's just a concept, like number 5 is a concept. Only individuals can supervise and I'd be willing to bet most your transactions weren't supervised by some third party individual. For all intents and purposes these transactions were the business of you and whom you transacted with.

Quote:

That is but ONE type of legal system. Not everybody operate under the Anglo-saxon adversarial system. Heck, even the anglosaxon system shy away for this adversarial system when things get serious (criminal proceedings)

Whatever legal system you're advocating, if it requires uninvited intrusions on people's mutual interactions the result is one way or another gonna be the same or similar. The intruder is already "the stronger" one and those whom have enough influence on it are also gonna be "stronger". If however all individual interactions are solely the business of the involved actors free to associate and interact with whomever they wish, there is at least reciprocity. By definition of it, one cannot gain power over another.

Quote:

Indeed. But a Tu Quoque fallacy is not going to do the trick here.

I see, I didn't realize I was doing a fallacy. Thanks for pointing it out. I know it proves nothing on my part.

Quote:

"I am speaking about voluntary interaction."
And how is that determined in a 'solely the business of those two people' system ?

Well, it's in the very word "voluntary". There is no one size fit all system that is imposed on anyone as means of determine acceptable from unacceptable interactions. If I choose to do business with you and you agree to that and we agree to certain terms under which to do it, we have created a "law" between us all by ourselves, one we BOTH agreed to and are thus both bound by.

Quote:

"Thus one is only obliged to what he already agreed to."
Obliged by whom ? You are in a 'solely the business of those two people' system, why would any third party be suddenly compelled to 'interfere' ? It's not anyone's business , unless YOU need help ?

If I agree to do have something done for me only under certain terms or if I agree to do something for someone under certain terms, then I am obliged to that. Prior voluntary agreement is the only thing that creates obligations. Like if I say I am going to give you a program if you do not copy it with others and you agree you are obliged not to share because you agreed not to. I doubt I can make that any clearer. Smiling If you do copy the program though you are obliged to pay the damages or do whatever is specified in the agreement to compensate for your violation of the agreement.

Same way, a third party gets involved only if invited by both parties and if (s)he agrees to get involved. Nobody is compelled to anything if all interaction is voluntary.

Quote:

How to you establish the terms that have been freely agreed to (agreed upon in a 'voluntary interaction' context)
Who has the burden, in the 'solely the business of those two people' system, to make that determination and why.

Again, both parties. They both work out the agreement between each other, even if all it means is I offer you a piece of paper stating my terms for the service I provide and you either accept them and get my service or reject and walk away.

Quote:

Have you been ask to agree to the corpus of law of the society you were born into ? Should you have ? what if you disagree with some part, Should you be able to pick and choose with article of the constitution/civil code/etc... you agree with and which one are not opposable to you because you have not agreed to them ?

I obviously didn't agree to the laws of these other people. I was never asked. I was just told "these are the terms". Of course for those laws/terms to be valid I should've been given a chance to agree or disagree and be bound by it only if I agree. Of course if I disagree I should not receive their services either, but they make that difficult by forcing in some industries all competition out (literally).

Quote:

1/ The copyright law, as it stands, attribute exclusive ownership to the author, by default. whether you want it or not. Therefore one HAS to associate a waiver of some sort to give up this 'ownership'

But if software cannot be owned then saying it is owned changes nothing and in reality must represent something else. It's like being told you can fly despite the fact that this isn't true. Obviously you wont be flying when you throw yourself off the skyscraper, you'll be hitting the ground.

Same with copyright, you don't own the copyrighted works despite them telling you to. Instead you're claiming a right to control other people's property (since software cannot exist without a medium telling people whom didn't get software from you and thus never had an agreement with you, that they should use or copy it under certain terms is like telling them how they may or may not use their computers).

Still, I don't necessarily disagree that it is essential given the circumstances to explicitly state that you do not agree with copyright's assumption of control. If you don't, however, people who haven't gotten the software from you directly are within moral right to simply disobey copyright and share as they please (if they don't mind the obvious threats aimed at them for doing so).

Quote:

2/ It is perfectly consistent for the author to want to share with like-minded people. If you do not agree to share, then I'm not sharing with you either. That is the 'meeting' of the mind you are suggesting (the voluntary interaction). As it turns out there is a way to work within the existing copyright law to do just that.

There is, but FSF and SFLC aren't doing that. They do want to control how people who got GNU software (for example) second hand, share it.

Btw, in the article, the civil disobedience part mainly refers to the users. I quoted Kevin Dean who basically noted distros should use Mono even if MS successfully sue, in order to prove the lawsuit ineffective while arguing a moral right. He also mentioned that it largely worked in case of mp3.

Quote:

Once you have agreed to these terms, you should not be able to turn around and ignore them, and you can't suddenly claim that you did not agree to the terms. In other words, the hypothetical scenario of yours where GPL is forced on you unwillingly is non-sens. If you are the receiving side of the transaction and you don't agree to the terms, by your own admission you should simply walk-away.

No contention there if I get it directly from the author and (s)he clearly provides me with the terms. But if I get it from someone else who does not provide it with the terms or even explicitly says I can use it however I wish, then FSF's claim of the right to sue me would be unethical.

Quote:

2/ you were the receiving party in a previous transaction in which you presumably willingly accepted the terms - and therefore by your own admission these term are rightfully enforceable.

Yes, if I was getting it from the original author. If not then author's terms don't count.

Ah this turned out so long and kinda redundant, sorry. Thanks for putting up with it.

 

I'll skip on the first part. on the practicability of a 'pure' libertarian system. (just a parenthesis though : I am not 'advocating' any particular law system. I was merely pointing out that there are more than one, with a different set of benefits and flaws)

Allow me to concentrate on one aspect of your reasoning that evade my understanding.

"Yes, if I was getting it from the original author. If not then author's terms don't count."
Let's say you have A the author, B the first hand recipient and C the second hand recipient (that received the 'work' from B)

A enter in a transaction with B, in which the agreement is that B is allowed to use,modify,re-distribute the work on the express condition that if he redistribute the work he will do so under the same conditions. That is the contract between A and B. These are not A's term, these are A and B mutually agreed upon terms. By you own admission, B is 'obligated' to respect these terms he has agreed to.

When B and C initiate a transaction, B can not ignore the term of the A to B transaction, The only terms he can offer to C are the same terms he got in the A to B transaction (that is what B agreed to). At that point C can accept or refuse. Please note that A has no influence on the B to C transaction. Only B has, due to his own action - that is the agreement he entered into previously, in which he freely accepted the obligation to - if he ever re-distribute the work - to provide the same terms that in the A to B transaction.

 

The author seems to be making a basic mistake in thinking freedom entitles you to do anything, it doesn't, freedom comes with responsibility.
I live in a free country, but do I have the right to do anything I want, can I stab someone?
I have the right to free speech, am I allowed to preach hate and violence to foreigners?
My local park is free for anyone to use, am I allowed to ride my motorbike around it?

Freedom comes with responsibility, laws (and free software licences) should protect that freedom, so I don't have to worry about getting stabbed, so I shouldn't have to suffer racist abuse, so when I go to the park I shouldn't have to worry about getting run over by an idiot on a motorbike.

I agree that present copyright law, and by extension free software licences gives that the original author the right to dictate/gift the amount of freedom given in a piece of software, they can give up all rights and make it public domain (which seems to be what the author is proposing), the problem is, is that there is nothing to police that freedom and so it could be very easily taken away.

Quote:

Please note that A has no influence on the B to C transaction.

(...)

I think you're absolutely right. What I was trying to say can be summed up in what you said here:

Quote:

Please note that A has no influence on the B to C transaction.

That's it. That's all I meant. The terms of A have nothing to do with C in a transaction between B and C. The terms in question at that instance are solely B's terms. The reason I emphasize this point so much is that if B broke the terms with A and gave C a copy without any terms, C isn't in any way liable to A whatsoever. It is solely B who is liable.

This does mean that at this point the program has essentially leaked and everyone except B can without liability share it between each other, but the fault of that is solely on B and if A wishes he could make sure that the agreed upon penalty should B do this and break the agreement is high enough to compensate for this leaking.

Of course, the higher the penalty the less likely is B to try something like that. But also the higher the penalty the more clear and easy to follow the terms must be so as to erase all doubt and all room for interpretation or else B might just not bother to enter the transaction with A in the first place.

Last anonymous above wrote:

The author seems to be making a basic mistake in thinking freedom entitles you to do anything, it doesn't, freedom comes with responsibility.

I agree it does, but I disagree with how you characterize this responsibility. If you are free that means you are thinking and deciding for yourself rather than relying on others to make the choices for you and just stop thinking. That means you have to think and keep thinking in order to provide for yourself, in order to have integrity and in order to not endanger the freedom of another.

The kind of responsibility you are talking about seems like just another variation of somebody else thinking for you in order to protect you from the consequences of your own actions. I'll address your specific examples.

Quote:

I live in a free country, but do I have the right to do anything I want, can I stab someone?

You do not have a right to stab someone, but this is not in any way because the terms and conditions of a monopolist company you call "government" say you can't, but because you too do not want to be stabbed or because the person whom you would stab can defend him or her self from you. Thus it becomes a costly proposition. The responsibility not to stab people is all on you, not on somebody else who imposes himself as your protector without giving you choice of protecting yourself or choosing somebody else. The latter option is exactly opposite of taking responsibility. It is forceful outsourcing of responsibility from you and only the ignorant or the fools allow this to happen and even defend it.

Quote:

I have the right to free speech, am I allowed to preach hate and violence to foreigners?

If you are actually threatening people, no, because that is effectively an act of coercion ("if you do or don't do or think as I say I will do this or that to you"). The reasoning is same as above about the stabbing.

Quote:

My local park is free for anyone to use, am I allowed to ride my motorbike around it?

If your park is "public property" as people call it today, it is either the property of the government or it isn't owned. Given the claims of the government that this property is everyone's at the same time, which is impossible because "ownership" implies exclusive not inclusive control, that property is in fact not owned by anyone until somebody homesteads it. This means that you do have the right to motorbike around it, but at the same time others have the right to prevent you from doing so by either putting obstacles or homesteading it before you and prohibiting you from doing so.

If a park is private property the owner can decide whether to let you do that or not, depending on what his interests regarding the park are. I would assume that if he wants the park to be a peaceful place for people to rest, have picnics etc. he would probably have a "no motorbiking" rule.

I know some of my ideas sound radical, but all I ask is for some truly honest consideration and curiosity. If you don't quite understand something or even if you outright disagree, tell me exactly why and what problem you have with it and I'll be happy to explain to give you further context and complete the picture, albeit I guess it might be a good idea to anchor the discussion to the issue of copyrights.

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I agree that present copyright law, and by extension free software licences gives that the original author the right to dictate/gift the amount of freedom given in a piece of software, they can give up all rights and make it public domain (which seems to be what the author is proposing), the problem is, is that there is nothing to police that freedom and so it could be very easily taken away.

Not quite. I don't necessarily care if one calls it "public domain" or simply uncopyrighted or whatever else. Part of what makes civil disobedience an act of disobedience is that it is outside of the system completely. If certain elements of what you're doing happen to be fine by the system that's cool, but fairly irrelevant. All it means you aren't threatened sanctions for doing it. You can release software without copyright, but under the contractual terms that apply one-to-one, as espoused in the discussion above, which is in fact something I hope to do with Nuxified.org or at least my articles on it after consulting people from this community.

Thank you

 

"If your park is "public property" as people call it today, it is either the property of the government or it isn't owned."
False Dichotomy.

"You do not have a right to stab someone, but this is not in any way because the terms and conditions of a monopolist company you call "government" say you can't, but because you too do not want to be stabbed or because the person whom you would stab can defend him or her self from you."
What you explain is an utilitarian justification of the prohibition to stab someone. I do agree with the rational, but the effective source of the prohibition is rooted in a "Social Contract" (google is your friend)
In other words, even If you had suicidal or masochist tendencies, and didn't mind being stabbed, the prohibition would still stand. The prohibition is meant to protect others in the case you are not smart enough to come to the conclusion that stabbing others is not a good policy.

"I know some of my ideas sound radical"
No quite. Libertarian on principle is interesting, the problem is that mankind is mostly constituted of greedy-short-sighted morons, which make the theory completely un-practical.

"That's it. That's all I meant. The terms of A have nothing to do with C in a transaction between B and C"
That may be what you meant, but that is not what I said. A has no part in the B to C transaction but the term of the A to B transaction have something to do with it.
you completely skipped a core part of the argument: 'These are not A's term, these are A and B mutually agreed upon terms. By you own admission, B is 'obligated' to respect these terms he has agreed to.'

'C isn't in any way liable to A whatsoever. It is solely B who is liable.'
Not quite. C is not per se liable, unless one can established that he new about the A to B restriction and therefore new that B's offer was not legit, but he is still in a situation were his transaction fall, due to the lack of standing of B, and therefore the benefit of the transaction(his access to the work) also fall. His recourse is to sue B for his damages, but he is not entitled to profit from B's misgiving.
Let me rephrase: C acquire some privileges regarding the 'work' from B through a 'contract' between B and C. B happen to have failed to follow the term of the contract with A that gave him the authority to enter in a contract with C, as a consequence the B to C contract is void, and C loose his privileges regarding the 'work'. C can sue B, A can sue B, but A can also sue C if C disregard the fact that his has no rights to the 'work' anymore.

"You can release software without copyright"
No you cannot. Most copyright law regard the copyright attribution as implicit to the creation. You can associate a license that essentially grant all your reserved right to everyone. but it is still under 'copyright'.
In some legislation some rights cannot be waived or attributed or even sold. These are what typically designated under the heading 'Author's Moral Rights'.
(see USC 17 section 106a for an example in the US, or L.121-1 à L.121-9 of the 'Code de la propriété intellectuelle' for a French example. - http://www.celog.fr/cpi/lv1_tt2.htm)

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False Dichotomy.

How so? Just saying it's false doesn't make it false without demonstrating how.

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What you explain is an utilitarian justification of the prohibition to stab someone. I do agree with the rational, but the effective source of the prohibition is rooted in a "Social Contract" (google is your friend)

Social contract is not a contract. A contract is the "meeting of the minds", an agreement between individuals. Social contract could be a real contract only if you actually gave every single newborn once (s)he was able to decide if (s)he agreed with the terms of the contract or not. Only if (s)he agreed would (s)he be bound to it. Otherwise social contract is simply an imposition.

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In other words, even If you had suicidal or masochist tendencies, and didn't mind being stabbed, the prohibition would still stand. The prohibition is meant to protect others in the case you are not smart enough to come to the conclusion that stabbing others is not a good policy.

Social contract protects nobody. Those are words on paper. Words alone cannot protect people even if you burn them to the stone and call them gods commandments. A suicidal or masochist man obviously wont be stopped by a social contract and neither would he mind the fact that police might kill him. He is suicidal, remember?

So your point is moot at best. A person able to defend himself or to choose someone whom he will entrust with this is just as fine in dealing with such people as police. Note that police are nothing but a defense agency with a monopoly nobody is allowed to compete with. But I should be able to choose another defense agency if the police isn't doing their work, or is even being oppressive (which is the case far more than most people realize, since they still justify prohibition of victimless crimes).

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No quite. Libertarian on principle is interesting, the problem is that mankind is mostly constituted of greedy-short-sighted morons, which make the theory completely un-practical.

In fact, there is no other way you can account for "greedy short sighted morons" than pure libertarianism. In every other system, that is system where there is a coercive monopoly, it makes it too easy for such morons to take control. The government presents a one-stop-shop of power over others which such morons then can focus on. Without such one-stop-shop, they would have a far tougher time getting their ways (assuming they do want to get their ways by means that include coercion).

A good example in democracy is lobbying, campaign contributions, cronyism etc.. They all serve the morons you mentioned far better than anything in a voluntary society can (because *everyone* in a voluntary society follows their interests to the fullest while defending themselves - nobody is forced to operate with a single company (like a government) or else it wouldn't be a voluntary society).

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Let me rephrase: C acquire some privileges regarding the 'work' from B through a 'contract' between B and C. B happen to have failed to follow the term of the contract with A that gave him the authority to enter in a contract with C, as a consequence the B to C contract is void, and C loose his privileges regarding the 'work'. C can sue B, A can sue B, but A can also sue C if C disregard the fact that his has no rights to the 'work' anymore.

Ok, I can agree that the contract would be void if C specifically knew B is not in a position to offer such a contract. However if he did not C would still remain without liability. That is, he would essentially be a victim of fraud on B's part.

But again, that still isn't quite the premise under which FSF and SFLC operate. They're under a whole different paradigm where they consider copyright as enough moral justification for them to sue people down the line regardless of whether they're aware of A to B terms or not. They defer to the copyright and its assumptions.

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No you cannot. Most copyright law regard the copyright attribution as implicit to the creation. You can associate a license that essentially grant all your reserved right to everyone. but it is still under 'copyright'.
In some legislation some rights cannot be waived or attributed or even sold. These are what typically designated under the heading 'Author's Moral Rights'.

That's within the system. Civil disobedience implies acting outside of the system which includes completely ignoring what the system assumes and supposes and making your own pronouncements as valid in themselves. I believe no law is valid unless there is prior agreement by the bound. It's hard for some people to detach themselves from the equation of legal = moral, but some critical thinking should be enough, as in examples of following laws people WOULD clearly brand as wrong.

For example, if a law said you must jump from a skyscraper if you lived in cities and reached 60 years of age, who would consider that law moral? Who would say "it's a social contract"? Who would justify it as they usually justify laws; the people elected the lawmakers thus their laws are valid. All that would be thrown out of the water, which says everything that needs to be said about the real validity of the "social contract" and the "laws" of the coercive monopolists (government).

Regards

 

There are multiple thread... it's going to be hard to follows them all.

"How so? Just saying it's false doesn't make it false without demonstrating how."
There are other form of property tha 'individual' or 'government owned'. For instance 'communal land'. These are NOT government own, these are owned collectively by each individual of the commune (as in city, village. but this is more often seen in agricultural village), hence the False Dichotomy Fallacy. It would help If you did some homework, and did not force me to spell out the obvious.

"Social contract is not a contract."
How care. I took the care to put quote and capitalized the term "Social Contract". I didn't name the concept, and I'm not arguing semantic here.

"if you actually gave every single newborn once (s)he was able to decide if (s)he agreed with the terms of the contract"
And in the mean time, until he/she is able to decide ? BTW who decide when he/she is able to decide ? And even better, what if he/she disagree in part or in all ? How does that work if you decide that some part of the contract do not apply to you ? Let's say You decide that your right to listen to loud music is more important than my right to sleep ? what then ? (and please to not tell me that a loud music lover should be smart enough to realize that at some point he will want to sleep too, that's would be an unrealistic cop-out. You cannot build a system on the assumption that everybody will be smart and reasonable.... debate are fun, but reality has the bad habit of having the last word)

"A suicidal or masochist man obviously wont be stopped by a social contract and neither would he mind the fact that police might kill him. He is suicidal, remember?"
What's your point ?

"A person able to defend himself or to choose someone whom he will entrust with this is just as fine"
And what about all the others ? The one that cannot defend themselves (and BTW there is always someone bigger and stronger) or afford their own private Blackwater's BodyGuard ?

"Note that police are nothing but a defense agency with a monopoly nobody is allowed to compete"
Yep. Your point is ? Or more precisely, could you elaborate how multiple private police would works and how that would improve the situation ?

"But I should be able to choose another defense agency if the police isn't doing their work"
How do you determine that the police doesn't do 'it's work', what happen if we disagree on what 'doing it's work' mean in a given context, should I sent my private police against yours ?

"In fact, there is no other way you can account for "greedy short sighted morons" than pure libertarianism. In every other system, that is system where there is a coercive monopoly, it makes it too easy for such morons to take control."
You missed an essential part: "mankind is __mostly__ constituted.." these are not only the handfull that try to make a carrer as politician, but also the vast majority of morons that elect them.

"A good example in democracy is lobbying, campaign contributions, cronyism etc.. They all serve the morons you mentioned"
Nope, not the morons _I_ mentioned. lobbying etc. do not serve these morons, it use them. (again I'm not talking of politician, bu of the people that elect them)

"Ok, I can agree that the contract would be void if C specifically knew B is not in a position to offer such a contract. However if he did not C would still remain without liability. That is, he would essentially be a victim of fraud on B's part."

We agree on that.

"But again, that still isn't quite the premise under which FSF and SFLC operate."
Actually, in essence they do. the the limited case above we agreed that C end-up without a basis for his use of the 'work', due to B wrong-doing. Even if C was in good faith, and therefore not liable, the net result is still that his has no transaction to justify his use of the 'work'. If he keep using it despite then knowing that the B-C transaction is void, he becomes liable. Not because of B, but because of his own actions following the discovery of B's wrong-doing. Again C is entitle to go after B, but that doesn't mean that he can sel-vindicate at the expense of A. (by pretending that the benefice for the B-C transaction are still valid)

"It's hard for some people to detach themselves from the equation of legal = moral"
I have no problem making the distinction. I am allergic to the infusion of 'moral' into the law. 'moral' is such a loaded and ill-defined terms that has been and is used to justify just about any kind of crap.

Who would say "it's a social contract"?
Please do me a favor: Google "Social Contract" and get acquainted to it's actual meaning. The discussion will be very hard if we get stuck on semantic (hint: no the 'Social Contract' philosophical concept is not about claim that each and every laws passed are valid, justified or even necessary.). The notion of Social Contract is not about the content of the individual laws, but about the basis of their legitimacy or lack thereof.
I suspect that you will find Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's version appealing...

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There are other form of property tha 'individual' or 'government owned'. For instance 'communal land'. These are NOT government own, these are owned collectively by each individual of the commune (as in city, village. but this is more often seen in agricultural village), hence the False Dichotomy Fallacy. It would help If you did some homework, and did not force me to spell out the obvious.

You're assuming I agree that what you call "communical land" actually is property. I don't. Ownership means exclusive and absolute control over the owned thing which by definition excludes the concept of collective ownership of any kind. If it's exclusive only a single person can own something. All other arrangements are merely contracts with that person. So I stand by what I said. Public property, since it cannot be collective, is either owned by individuals in the government or not owned at all. Government officials usually claim a contradiction (it's owned by everyone at the same time, which is impossible).

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And in the mean time, until he/she is able to decide ?

Those responsible for his or her life can decide (like parents).

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BTW who decide when he/she is able to decide ?

He or she himself or herself. Once (s)he demonstrates the capability to think for self that right should be admitted. The only reason people make this subject so complicated is because they so often cannot bear the fact that even young people can think for themselves, especially if their decisions defy the adult.

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How does that work if you decide that some part of the contract do not apply to you ?

There is NO contract before agreement so what you're describing is impossible. If some terms you disagree with then those terms are no longer in the contract between you and the other person. If that means the other person wont do business with you then there is no contract at all. There is nothing in between.

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Let's say You decide that your right to listen to loud music is more important than my right to sleep ? what then ?

Then we have a dispute obviously, if you fail in trying to negotiate with me. Such disputes can be brought to private arbitration which is certainly better than just using the government, a company nobody was given a choice to support, to force me to obey you (or vice versa).

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"A suicidal or masochist man obviously wont be stopped by a social contract and neither would he mind the fact that police might kill him. He is suicidal, remember?"
What's your point ?

That bringing up suicidal or masochist people to argue against private defense doesn't work.

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And what about all the others ? The one that cannot defend themselves (and BTW there is always someone bigger and stronger) or afford their own private Blackwater's BodyGuard ?

They can pool the money together, each chipping in, to buy the services of a defense company that would work for all of them. This is a voluntary undertaking, unlike with government police which was not hired in such a manner, but rather imposed. There are also charities, even today, which sometimes help more than the state's welfare can. Also, please don't assume they're so much better off and well protected with police being the only option. Often it's exactly police they need protection from.

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Yep. Your point is ? Or more precisely, could you elaborate how multiple private police would works and how that would improve the situation ?

You would have a choice of whether to pay anyone for protection (or protect yourself) and if so whom to pay, rather than simply be coerced to pay the single company for the service. That fosters competition and incentivizes the defense agencies in question to do their best. The usual objection here is the fantasy that this would lead to gang warfare, but that ignores the fact that forcefully warring with other defense agencies is far more expensive than actually providing a genuine protection service.

Only governments can wage those kinds of wars because they have no checks and balances other than those they arbitrarily impose on themselves (and then as usual break them one by one). There is no better regulator than the free market, in every single industry. There is no valid reason whatsoever why defense industry should be an exception.

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How do you determine that the police doesn't do 'it's work', what happen if we disagree on what 'doing it's work' mean in a given context, should I sent my private police against yours ?

Its work is simply protection or whatever you hired them to do other than infringing on the freedom of another. If we disagree what a protection agent should do then we simply choose different protection agents. There's no reason to then send them to war with each other, that's just ludicrous (and if they want any further business than two of us, they'd refuse such orders). Their work isn't to police people, nor is this what they're hired to do. Their work is to protect the one who hired them.

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You missed an essential part: "mankind is __mostly__ constituted.." these are not only the handfull that try to make a carrer as politician, but also the vast majority of morons that elect them.

And I'm not talking about only the politicians, but everyone. If most people are such morons then why give them the right to choose how YOU should lead your life (so long as they have some sort of a majority). When one begins to invoke the point that humans are so corrupt and then support a government, there's no juicier contradiction. If humans are so corrupt then that's the last reason you'd want any of them the right to rule you coercively, no matter the justification (social contract, majority vote or whatever other little scheme one can think of). It's all the more reason why you should rule yourself and be bound solely by laws/contracts you agreed to.

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Actually, in essence they do. the the limited case above we agreed that C end-up without a basis for his use of the 'work', due to B wrong-doing.

Only in the limited case, and even then that's sort of like an accidental match. They didn't come to their conclusions the way we did here as far as I know. They defer to copyright law as is not to the rigorous analysis of contractual agreements between individuals like the kind we did here. Their behavior and the Free Software movement would've been far more disruptive if these are the terms in which they talked and there would probably even be an attempt to create a GPL equivalent as a contract that operates outside of the copyright system (whether that's legal or not).

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(hint: no the 'Social Contract' philosophical concept is not about claim that each and every laws passed are valid, justified or even necessary.). The notion of Social Contract is not about the content of the individual laws, but about the basis of their legitimacy or lack thereof.
I suspect that you will find Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's version appealing...

I do, though I could go even as far as to say that not even the agreement to negative rights is necessary once every human being becomes fully aware and fully willing to take responsibility for self. Once every human being refuses the coercive rule of others coercion is naturally neutralized. So the only agreement necessary is the agreement with yourself: "I will not be coerced!" thus becoming willing to disobey the coercers and defend yourself from them.

The reason I'm so defensive against the concept of a social contract at all is because it is commonly used to justify the socialist order (with a coercive monopoly and all..).

Anyway, this is a really multithreaded discussion, and in big part off topic. If you will, I'm able to agree to disagree or perhaps take it elsewhere (PM maybe..). I give you credit for at least not being a typical apologist for typical forms of government. Smiling You just express skepticism about my propositions.. I'd like to recommend an excellent article for you which I think should provide a good context here: Anarchy Isn't The Answer.

Regards

 

"I'm able to agree to disagree "
That's not the point is it? The point is learning, growing. The idea here, for me, is not to convince you that I have the Answer(tm), but probing if you own your positions (as in - you can provide an argument in support of them - which you do) and then dig-in the part where we reach different conclusions to find out why (such discrepancies, between two rational beings, boil down to faulty logic or different postulates).

I invite you, if you are so inclined, to continue this by email: libervisco at lunodia dt com

 

I must admit I haven't read the whole discussion yet, but I disagree with continuing this discussion in private by e-mail. >:-(
All I can say for now, is that I am far from convinced that anarchy is a good idea. ^^

I see. I admire such an approach Anonymous. Smiling

KIAaze wants us to continue here so I guess it wont hurt.. Feel free to respond to my post above in full if you'd like. Also.. registering might help to make sure to differentiate you from any other anonymous that may interject. Smiling

Thanks

 

I think you miss understand what the author is trying to say. The point is that GPL cannot destroy copyright because it is based on it. It may force revisions of copyright but so long as it is dependent on copyright it cannot abolish it.

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