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Re: [ox-en] (Im)material (was: Value of software)

On Thu, 13 Jun 2002, Thomas Uwe Gruettmueller wrote:

Hi Graham!

On Tuesday 11 June 2002 01:16, Graham Seaman wrote:
You seem to be saying that software has a special, immaterial
form, which distinguishes it from other goods. I am saying
that there is nothing special about it in this way: all goods
have a design (the 'immaterial' part), and a physical

Hooray! Now I'm not alone on this list, anymore. Thank RMS! :o) 

Hi Thomas...

That sounds like the topic must have been already discussed on the
German list - can you point me to any threads in the archives? Or
do I just search for 'Thomas'... ;-)

So, the material instances of a piece of software are the RAM 
chips, hard drives, CDs, tapes, papers and brains that 
constitute a "copy" of it.

The design, however, is an abstraction of the properties, shared 
by all of the material instances. As both, a CD copy of M$ 
Bullshit 1.0 and a paper copy of M$ Bullshit 1.0 start with the 
sentence "Satan wants you", the abstract "M$ bullshit 1.0" also 
starts with this sequence of characters.

IMHO, this is very clear in English:

"I've just bought a copy of M$ Bullshit 1.0" refers to one 
material instance that has changed its owner in regard to 
material property,

Even this I'm not sure about: if the program were a book, then
that sentence would make perfect sense. But I understand MS etc want
to change the law so you are not even allowed to resell a disk you
have bought (ie. removing 'first-sale rights' in US terminology, I 
believe). And if you can't resell it you don't really own the physical 
copy you have..
I'm not sure if this is true, or if it is, how far US law has accepted 
this idea - do you know?

 while "I've just installed M$ Bullshit 1.0" 
refers to the abstract form. It is irrelevant which copy was 
used. There has been at least one copy involved, but it could 
have been any.

In German, one usually would say, "I've just bought M$ Bullshit 
1.0" to indicate that a copy has been bought, which is quite 
confusing, because literally read, it means that the abstract 
thing "M$ Bullshit 1.0" has been sold, which is the intellectual 
property of M$, and they certainly won't sell it.

In English too. Most people just assume the sentence above is true.  and 
are surprised when you tell them it isn't. But I think this confusion
is quite helpful to MS and others who want software to seem like a normal

OK, so I agree with 99% of what you wrote above (minus the gratuitous MS
insults..). I just assumed this would be the normal opinion on the list.
Isn't it?





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